After the trials and tribulations ofmthe last couple of weeks, I'm back to my day job of messing up peoples trees. The last couple of days I have been working in Poland at Ibuki Bonsai, a nursery which I have visited several times a year for the last two years. It is good to see a slow and steady progression amongst the majority of trees, thanks mainly to the horticultural care and attention of the owner, Mariusz Folda.
One of the recent additions to the nursery was a Taxus Cuspidata, imported early this year. It arrived and was in a terrible state, weak foliage, poor colour and so I refrained from working on it at the time, allowing it to build up strength. It did so this year and so it was ready for a bit of a transformation.
Looking at the tree, there were several possible fronts and different options for the tree and on consultation with the bossman, neither of us felt really strongly one way or the other and I predicted that it would probably end up being almost equally viewable from either side. Perhaps this was the tree to replace the two sided shimpaku which escaped my clutches?
It had been roughly worked so I set about smoothing a few rough edges off, particularly the tool marks and disagreeable sections of the dead wood.
I soon got bored with that tool and so moved onto some iron bars and jacks...or as they say in Japanese "Jackee" in a high pitched voice that reminds me of the girls comic and does no justice to the power of the jack.
After slowly cranking and then screwing the tree in place, it was time to fiddle with the branches. As the tree had previously been styled the secondary branch structure was not too hideous. Bearing in mind the recent vigour history, the time restraints and the objective (make something potentially saleable to a wide audience), little fine wiring was done, but the main branches put in place and the overall structure set.
As it turned out the tree looked ok from two different orientations, so it was almost the tree I needed to replace the juniper that got away, which it seems has had an interesting history from shop to shop on the internet. I could decide where to stick my three bits of wire in the pot to define once and for all the front, so I leave it for whoever buys it, or for Mariusz if he keeps it. Personally I think it should be kept as both, swinging both ways, so depending on which side of the bed you wake up on, depends on the front...
Now, before people go crazy, this is not possible for every tree and it is not recommended to try, to be honest the dragon chasing front is the better by a distance, but tastes are different and so are potential clients. The tree looks perfectly good from both sides because, the fundamental branch structure is not created by cheating. Branches flow from the trunk in a natural way (except for one big one which may be a problem for some or an awesome character point for others), and so they look good from any orientation.
I once tried to tell an American student at Shunkaen that the tree he was making needed to be two fronted. It was a cascading rose and for displaying purposes, a bi-directional tree is useful if flower distribution is poor, or you have fewer trees to make up a multi-tree display. His response was "How? Where will my first branch be? And the back branch?". Say it quietly people, text book bonsai sucks the nut.
Btw. I will try and get some before pics and fom different angles....i did get these though..funny how we make trees in our own image...
On another note, I have found the next interrogation technique. Forget waterboarding, just put them on a 2 hour Ryanair flight next to not one, not two, but three non stop screaming babies. Begging for mercy before takeoff...