Rocky Mountain Juniper: No Guts No Glory

(Ok… so I know I was supposed to put up part two of Bonsaication next… but have you ever been so gripped with inspiration you could not resist the impulse to create?? That’s where I found myself on the evening when I was supposed to be finishing the other story – vacations are almost as hectic when you return as from before you left – and I could not ignore the creative fire that had been lit. So I hope you’ll enjoy this as I leave you hanging on the other for a little bit longer. BUT the good thing is that you’ll find, when I get to that section – which is all about our collecting trip – that having read this will inspire your mind when you look at the trees we collected. Sometimes the obvious isn’t always the best, learn the skills to make trees do ballet and all the world suddenedly has infinite possibilities. Don’t close your mind to an idea just because it seems impossible.)

The other day Eric and I bartered with our friend Will Hiltz for several NICE antique pots in exchange for a raft planting Siberian Elm that Eric had. Being a very generous kind of guy, he threw in a RMJ he had collected several years ago. This tree originally had two crowns, but the one which had inspired it’s collection had died back, leaving a long trunk horizontal to the soil line.

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Part of the reason we entered into the barter was that when Will had seen the elm during a visit he had such a strong and clear vision for what he would do with it. I found myself feeling much the same thing when I saw this RMJ. I knew exactly what I would do with it. I asked Eric if I could have it… and he gave it to me, not having any strong feelings about it for himself. We often will negotiate trees between us… I recently found a gorgeous collected Korean Hornbeam, which I gave over to him, because he’d been seeking one for some time.

Anyway… I got home this evening and decided it was a great time to work on the juniper. Essentially my plan was to excavate the heavy deadwood to the live vein and move the limb over the center of the trunkline.

To accomplish this, I used the new Terrier bit we got from Dale to remove the wood…

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The heartwood was removed just to the point of being along the vascular tissue to the inner side of the vein. You want to be careful not to remove too much.

After the channel was excavated, a section of the deadwood in the main trunkline was also excavated so the moved branch would have a space to move into. Then the channel had several pieces of aluminum wire measured to fit and was fixed into place with some electrical tape.

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I then began the process of tight wrapping the limb with hay bail twine, which we often talk about but haven’t documented all that well. As the twine is being laid firmly against the limb, it’s being unwound so that it lays flat. Eric assisted me with the wrapping, as it’s always easier with two people than one… though it can certainly be done alone.

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Once the whole branch was covered tightly to close up the channel, a spine of heavier wire was laid against the outside of the limb, and the twine was laid against that back to the base of the limb. Heavy gauge wire was then applied to the branch, and the bend was very easily accomplished. The prep work took longer than any other aspect of this evenings work, but it’s essential to a successful bend of what would otherwise be an impossible move. De-lamination of wood is only prevented when great care is taken to evenly spread the force and tension over the whole length of the limb.

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The tree was slip potted into a container which would be able to be it’s home for the next few years, and was covered with sphagnum to help keep the soil evenly moist as we head into our drier season. The tree will be kept in mostly shade for the next few weeks… I’ll let you know how it does. I would have preferred not to have to move it, but the basket was shattering whenever you touched it.

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I’m very happy with the resulting image, and will work on foliage placement if it exhibits strong growth next year. To give a sense of how it was bent and twisted, I’ll leave you with this last photo for the moment… and will definitely get a better photo of it when I get a chance in general.

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Kindest regards,

Victrinia

Bonsaication: Part One

Some people take vacations… we tend to take bonsaications. A bonsaication by definition is a period of time when you run away from your normal life and immerse yourself in as much bonsai as possible. Some people have to drag their significant others on such trips, promising tempting rewards somewhere along the way. But being one of those rare couples whose passion is equally steeped in a love of bonsai, it can make for a particularly enjoyable time away. Our bonsaication involved getting off the beaten path and traveling through the high country of the Rocky Mountains to go to the ABS/BCI annual convention in Denver, Colorado… followed by a languorous visit with family and a collecting trip in Wyoming. This first installment covers some of our journey through the Rockies, and our time at the convention being assistants to Daniel Robinson, who was among the headliners for the convention. We got to embrace old friends, make many new ones, and share our passion with so many wonderful people.

3085 miles, or 4965 km… 12 days… 1 bonsai… 9 collected trees… 6 Sara Rayner pots… and other odds and ends later, and I can only conclude it was one magnificent trip.

The great thing about a bonsaication is that you want to find yourself in the middle of wild and rugged country. After leaving Washington we eventually found ourselves in northern Utah going through the Logan Canyon Scenic Byway… We were able to get a few photos… but really it was so tight and narrow you often missed pullouts going through it. It was even amusing, when using a super telephoto lens on my Canon, to have someone ask me if I had spotted critters… only to be met with disappointment when I told him I had spotted trees…. lol

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Eventually we found ourselves in Garden City, Utah… where we took the usual vista images and the obligatory portraits… (well of Eric at least).

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Eventually we made our way through beautiful country in Wyoming… and to Denver. I’m skipping the country in Wyoming for now… you’ll get enough of that in the next portion of the trip.

We had a wonderful time poking around the vendor area… and I was most intrigued with getting to meet Sara Rayner and see her amazing work. That we only got away with 6 pots was an amazing act of discipline. lol

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Eric and I lent a hand to the folks participating in Daniel’s Black Pine workshop… as well as Eric assisting with the Demo Tree. We had originally all thought to work on it… but it was really a two-man tree… a third would have slowed things down. Which wasn’t a great disappointment for me… I went off and hung out with friends instead. I would have helped with the Alaskan Yellow Cedar workshop the next day, except I wasn’t fit for it (too much hanging out with friends lol)… so Eric stepped up and assisted with that workshop. Sadly, I do have a photo gap… in that I don’t have a finished photo of the demo tree or the cedar workshop.

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(Alaskan Yellow Cedar – Daniel Robinson’s demo tree)

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Last but not least… from this leg of the trip… I wanted to post a few of the trees/stones which were shown. Mostly there were conifers, and being a conifer-girl, I realized later that I largely missed all the deciduous trees. Sorry about that… lol

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(No idea what this was actually paired with… I was so charmed by the accent I forgot to take a photo of the tree. o_O)

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We hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into the first half of our bonsaication!

Warmly,

Victrinia

Sneak Peek of a USNBE Entry…

This is a sneak peek of a Chamaecyparis pisiferaTsukumo‘ that I am entering into the 3rd US National Bonsai Exhibition in NY next month. I’m still working on tweeking it, but I got the custom table today, which was made by Jerry Braswell. I finally settled on which accent planting and jita I would use to accompany it. A little more tweeking and it’ll be really sweet… so this is just a sneak peek for you all. I’ll be sure to get better photos before it actually goes.

Eric will be giving his own sneak peek of the tree he had accepted later in the week (when I can get a good photo).

Enjoy! And if you love the stand look forward to seeing a more detailed look at how it was built by Jerry.

Warmly,

Victrinia

US National Bonsai Exhibition Entry by Victrinia Ridgeway

Clearly it’s Larch fest…

I adore Larches… the first time I found out a conifer could blow it’s needles and enjoy a winter silhouette I was hooked. Then I saw the Nick Lenz Larches at the Pacific Rim… one of which ranks as one of my favorite bonsai of all time. There’s something so perfect in being able to appreciate the chartreuse glow of new foliage on a early spring evening that I find captivating.

Nick Lenz Larch at Pacific Rim, Taken with Canon 40D, EF 70-200 f/2.8 L
Eastern American Larch by Nick Lenz on display at the Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection

So needless to say we have a few in our collection, and one that I’ve always enjoyed having was one I picked up a few years ago. It was started from seed to be bonsai, and was originally a workshop tree that apparently Daniel had helped style initially… then much later it came to me in 2009. I liked it because the lines reminded me vaguely of the Lenz Larch at the Rim.

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Japanese Larch in 2010.

I ended up working on this larch the same day Eric was working on his new larch shown in the post before this one. I was enjoying the April sunshine watching Eric work, and I kept looking at this larch. I had some heavy copper wire that had to come off of it that had been there since we got it. It had been loosely applied, but it was now time to come off. I actually had to buy a pair of mini-bolt cutters to get it off, since traditional wire cutters just weren’t going to cut it. After I got it off, I had an opportunity to evaluate the tree in a whole new way, because I could move major branches. I looked at Eric and told him not to get any ideas about it, because I saw what I wanted to do with it. He suggested I just get on with it… and so I did.

So three years of development and a half dozen guy wires later, and we have this……

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Needless to say I am deeply delighted with how it looks, and when I dug up that older photo, I was surprised at how much it had developed in that time. We’re so close to our trees sometimes, it’s hard to really grasp how much they change under our care in so short a time.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do… and the moral of the story is, in whatever way you can… photograph your trees even if you don’t think they look like much, you’ll be glad you did later.

Warmly,

Victrinia

Bonsai Photography

So when I am not playing with trees… frankly, I’m photographing them. So here’s some photos for you to enjoy. 🙂 These are a selection of trees from our 2010 regional convention that our club hosted. This first one is a Bougainvillea that Daniel gave to Eric and I as an engagement present. It was a raw stump when he gave it to us…

This last one took home the prize for best of show…