This blogging lark is becoming quite regular. I guess it is because I am all alone and have no money to go out drinking if I get any free time.
Last night was spent working on getting a ahead start on the post flower pruning of the hundreds of satsuki that we have here. Trees that are not going to be on display or are not up for sale are worked first, removing the flowers and flower buds so that the tree does not tire itself out. Pruning back satsuki is an essential technique for keeping them healthy. It generates new growth which keeps the tree going, and it also enables the branches to ramify and develop. Pruning needs to be done before the end of June so that the new growth will have time to set flower buds. A good explanation can be fund in this months Bonsai Focus.
I have a funny relationship with Satsuki...I have been doing them sice I started Bonsai, they are fun to do and have taught me some essential skills, but compared to thin trunked aged pines and twisted Junipers, they lack a certain depth. Without a doubt they are very pretty when in flower and can be interesting when styled but...they are not beautiful. Don't get me wrong, I love them, especially Aozora and Hoshi no Kagayaki which are not only lovely trees but have wonderful names, "Azure Sky" and "Brilliant Star"...cute and pretty.
The closest you come to wabi-sabi with an azalea is the pile of semi finished flowers and unopened flower buds on the floor when pruning. The flowers work so hard to be pretty and they are discarded by the way side. Buds which have yet to open are robbed of their potential and thrown in the mud. There is something quite lonely about a deflowered tree, slightly naked, used and then put back on the bench. For one week, it is the centre of attention but then...it is finished. I enjoy the pile of used flowers that builds up after a day of pruning.
Satsuki shows are a big reason behind their popularity. There are a number of awards and categories based on trunk thickness and height. The awards are as much for good cultivation as they are design and artistic ability. There is a great freedom with Azaleas and they are made into some interesting shapes, but the standard triangle of foliage on a thick trunk is hard to escape from.
This week there are many shows on and this morning the Chief suddenly decided that because of the rain we would all go up to see the shows and learn something. What I learnt is that in typhoon conditons, driving on the expressway when there is a torrential downpour and standing water on the road is not a good idea and should be avoided at all costs. Some idiot cause a pile up which delayed us for an hour. It was worth it though to see The Chief walking around in this slightly un-Chiefly pink cardigan. People change when there are flowers around I guess.
Morimae is doing an exhibition at the moment at the same place and we popped in today. It is superb, the man has incredible taste and the ability to put things together. Sadly my battery died as soon as I took one picture when we got there so you will have to wait until I can go another time. The Chief is off to Germany in a few days so I will pop up then.
Some of my favourite trees from the Satsuki show....The Prime Minister award winning Osaka-zuki which belongs to one of our customers, a shohin sized and an absolutely perfectly made Akemi no Tsuki (named after the daughter of the guy who cross bred it). I wish I could show you the branching structure on this tree. The amount of work that has gone into it is outstanding.
Except for the rain we had fun and saw some pretty trees, picked up a few things and got home in time for tea.