Generally we can work on just about every type of tree this month. If you plan to cut back and wire the tree (which is stressful for the tree), make sure you look for three signs of health that tells you the tree is ready to be worked on.
Tree is Bushy
Tree is growing Runners
Most of the Foliage has hardened off
Of course, you may not be planning on wiring your tree but you might decided to cut it back. If you do cut back during this month, especially if it’s hard cutting, be sure to protect the tree from the heat for a week or so before putting it back on the bench.
The only times we tend to work on trees when they don’t show us all three signs of health is when we decided to pinch the new growth. Pinching is just a type of cutting back and when you pinch a branch that is young, you’re doing this mainly to weakening it and cause it to divide. Since you’re weakening the branch by pinching, the branch doesn’t get thick either. In some cases, you may be pinching the whole tree or only part of the tree. Most of the time, you will be pinching runners on the exterior silhouette of the tree and not the new shoots growing out deep inside the tree.
For this month, you’re mainly going to be cutting and wiring. For Conifers, we will continue to discuss future design, cutback and thinning techniques. We will also focus on how to develop idea branch structures to helps maintain your Bonsai shape for longer periods of time.
Naturalistic vs Abstract and everything in-between
There is a lot to know and explore when it comes to bonsai styling. Generally we all tend to following a set pattern of what is correct and what is not correct in bonsai. Fortunately, Bonsai is much more complex than that which requires us to spend a great deal of time studying their design and meaning.
Generally speaking, everyone is going to create bonsai slightly or greatly different then one another. The key is to study the Bonsai piece you’re viewing and try to understand what the artist is trying to tell you. Sometimes the message is clear and in your face and sometimes it’s so subtle that it requires your upmost attention.
Natural is what I tend to hear a lot about when I view bonsai and work with many of you. Naturalistic styles are great because they remind us of what trees look like in nature and Bonsai people tend to like trees in nature so it’s very comforting when we see naturalistic styles and uncomfortable or awkward when we see more abstract stylings of Bonsai.
Abstract styles can be fun because generally the goal of Bonsai is to create an interpretation of nature and its age. Which means it's suppose to be, “not 100% natural,” Abstract stylings can free us from hardline rules and allows us to be more creative whereas natural styles can confine us to a certain shape or movement in the tree. The tricky part is that sometimes we can create a Bonsai so abstract that the viewer may start to wonder if the piece even is a tree at all or is it even required to be plant material in itself vs a piece of clay or marble, etc.
During our workshops, we will continue to explore different Bonsai styles for different types of tree species and find out what direction you’d like to take your Bonsai.