Bonsai Study Group Forum

General Category => Deciduous Bonsai Discussion => Topic started by: Hotaction on December 26, 2009, 04:13 PM

Title: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: Hotaction on December 26, 2009, 04:13 PM
I don't think I've posted this tree here yet, so here goes.  The work I've done to this tree so far has erred on the side of caution.  The health of the tree was in question, therefore only minor shaping changes have been made to set some movement for the future.  The first pic is the tree when I received it October 2008.  The next are current.  I wired it late last winter/early spring, followed by a repot in march.  The wire was removed in summer, and it was again rewired recently.  I will prune back in the spring when the buds begin to push.

Dave
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: JTGJr25 on January 19, 2010, 10:36 AM
Good start Dave I like your vision for the tree.  One thing I would suggest though with your branches.  All the branches seem to be bent in a way that makes them bow downward.  In other words they curve downward instead of angling downward from the base of the branch.  You try to compensate for this by bending up the trips of the branches but this is not how a larches branches should be placed. 

Scroll down this link of Hans Van Meer's blog and study his larch.  http://blogs.knowledgeofbonsai.org/hans_van_meer/2009/03/ (http://blogs.knowledgeofbonsai.org/hans_van_meer/2009/03/)
This tree doesn't illustrate what I'm saying in the best way but I'm sure by studying what he does you can take a better approach next time you wire your tree. 

Keep up the good work.

Tom
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: bwaynef on January 19, 2010, 12:12 PM
It looks like you have a pretty good idea to proceed with on this tree.  I appreciate that you're concerned with the health of the tree rather than doing too much too fast.  Are you planning to repot it this spring?

I like that you've wired it completely, but be careful that your wire is being used to best advantage.  There's one (comparitively) thick branch that's wired but the wire doesn't seem to be affecting any movement on it.  Another word of caution would be that you need to make sure you space your coils at less acute angles so that the wire will be stronger and able to hold bends better.
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: Hotaction on January 19, 2010, 02:30 PM
Thanks fellas,  Your comments and suggestions are most helpful.  Wayne, as this was my first full wiring job, i can see where your tips are going to help in the future.  I can see where alot of things will just become second nature with time and practice.  I stopped bending one branch because I started to crack it off from the trunk, so I backed off. (another hard earned lesson)  Also, I can see where copper will prove very usefull in the years to come.  The Aluminum just doesn't want to hold shape without being extremely conspicuous.  All in all, it was fun and challenging and I look forward to progressing in my wiring skills.

Dave

edit: Should I be thinking of repotting in spring?  It was in bad condition when I got it, and the guy who helpped me repot it last spring, just ripped the dead daugter trunk from the old twin planting off, and then ripped some more roots off before stuffing it in the pot.  (as I looked on in horror) I had never repotted anything before, and so sought help from a more "experienced" member.
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: Jay on January 19, 2010, 03:37 PM
Hotaction,
Larch are very particular about having their roots fooled with. The BEST time to re pot Larch is just when their buds are swelling in the spring. That gives you about a 3 to 7 days window. Re potting at other times has been done but of what I know you chances for success is much much better if you follow this schedule.

If you are just lifting the tree and not touching the roots and soil around it that is a different story, but if you will be doing root work wait till this window..... and yes I have several Larch collected in Vermont and have re-potted with no problem following this simple rule.

Jay
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: Hotaction on January 19, 2010, 09:21 PM
Jay, thanks for the tips of your experiences.  However, I'm still wondering whether or not you would give the tree another full year to recover after the rough handling the previous spring? Let me hear your thoughts, anyone feel free to chime in.

Dave
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: Jay on January 20, 2010, 07:15 AM
A few thoughts on your concern about re-potting this spring:

My feeling is when in doubt wait.
You say you had never re-potted before and asked for help from a club member last time, good idea. Asking and receiving FIRST HAND advise is far far better than getting it online. That of course assumes the person you are receiving the advise from is knowledgeable and not just a friend. Seeing the tree in person is worth much more than pictures.
I would  ask around the club and get someone who has Larches and who is able to give you advise first hand.

But waiting (patience) is not necessarily a bad thing. Oh, the only Larch that I have lost was due to my being over aggressive (I just had to see it in a pot) and re-potting to a Bonsai pot from a training pot an 'almost' healthy tree.

You make the call
Jay
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: bwaynef on January 20, 2010, 08:28 AM
I have no larch ...but the soil this one is in looks suspect.  That was why I was wondering if you were planning to repot it.
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: Hotaction on January 20, 2010, 12:55 PM
Wayne, the soil is actually a nice coarse mix.  I added some small particle turface to the top to help with moisture retention.  After asking for help last time, and the debocle that ensued, I'm content on doing it myself from now on.  I have boons repotting video and that should help out. 
 
I see alot of threads showing trees that recieve more repots than years in training.  I also hear advice given to let a tree recover at least a year after drastic rootwork.  It just seems a little conflicting to me and wonder what others would do. 

I have a more appropriate sized drum style pot I could put this in, and I imagine i could get away with just lightlypruning some of the longer roots, but I can just as easily wait till next year.  Well, I guess in the end it is up to me, but lets hear it form you guys first.

Dave
 
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: Jay on January 20, 2010, 01:10 PM
Dave, Sorry to hear that you had the  debacle last year, but don't give up on local help. As you attend your club's meetings you will learn which members are truly knowledgeable and which ones are full of themselves. You will also learn which of the knowledgeable ones enjoy helping others.  No surprise, there are members of clubs that 'think' they are better than they are or who just will not give your tree the time it deserves. I know there are numerous knowledgeable individuals in the Albany to Rochester corridor, many of which will help you out.

my two cents
Jay
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: Hotaction on January 20, 2010, 03:05 PM
Jay, thanks for the replies.  The club in Syracuse isn't "hardcore" so to speak.  Mainly just members who enjoy plants and tending to their little trees.  It is for the most part a begginers club, although there are a few members with 20+ years experience.

I've had the chance to meet Bill V. out in Rochester on several occasions, and heading the other direction, I've been to a workshop out at Pauline Muth's.   Both great bonsai people.  I feel that I've learned alot over the year and 1/2 I've been doing bonsai.  Yet nothing can replace the experience I'll gain once I have more time under my belt. 

All in all, I'm happy with the progress I've made and I'm eager to get the chance to do more "hands on" work with my plants. 

Dave
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: John Kirby on January 20, 2010, 03:27 PM
Hi Dave,
If you have watched Boon's video I believe that you have heard one of the key tenets: we repot to make the tree strong and healthy. The premise behind the approach is to keep the roots growing strongly (like the top) and to provide as good an environment as possible. The one year rule is something of an enigma, in some cases you can wire and style a tree (healthy) and if it is the correct season, repot it the next. In other cases, such as your tree, a non aggressive styling can be followed in the next fall/winter with repotting or vice versa, in others- a freshly collected or recovering tree, following a drastic restyle perhaps, you might want to wait at least a  year to repot. This all depends on species, growth habit, condition, etc.

So, while I appreciate all of the caution, I would also suggest that the first thing one should do with a tree is to get it healthy and strong- typically by getting it into a soil mix that can facilitate root health. I often hear about demo trees that die after being worked aggressively, often these trees are in nursery containers and soil or are in very poor root health (freshly collected, etc). You very rarely see a strong, rapidly growing tree have difficulty with the styling process.

Nice Larch,
John
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: Jay on January 20, 2010, 03:30 PM
Dave,
When I first got serious about Bonsai I was living in Warwick NY (Orange county by the NJ border). The club I joined was in New Jersey about an hour to an hour and a half away. The Club in Rochester is about that for you. I went to a couple of the Rochester clubs meetings when I was visiting Bill Valavanis' place to look at stock. I can not begin to tell you how helpful, open and reachable he was as well as most of the club members. If (a big if) you can do the drive to Rochester a few times a year to go to a few meetings you will not regret it!

Jay
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: Hotaction on January 20, 2010, 03:59 PM
John, nice explanation and that is what my rational made of all the conflicting advice that can be found out there.  JasonG often talks of working collected trees after a few months and others need a year or two.  I guess that's part of the beauty of this hobby, becoming aware of the plants in a way that you never did before.  Listen to the tree, and it shall guide the way.  Thanks again for taking the time to make this a clearer point for everyone.

Jay, I've been to the Rochester club a few times now, and it is well worth the drive.  If bonsai clubs were baseball, they are in the big leagues.  I'll definitely be heading there for the national exhibit again this year.  I hope to be able to make a couple other meetings as well.

Dave
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: Hotaction on March 30, 2010, 01:05 PM
Just figure out how to do the panoramic thingy ;D

Oct '08 (when I first got it)-today.

Dave
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: Hotaction on April 19, 2010, 02:08 PM
OK, here goes again. Had problems the first time.
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: Hotaction on August 26, 2010, 03:14 PM
a quick update

Dave
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: Hotaction on March 11, 2011, 03:17 PM
Practicing with the new phone and thought I'd update  before spring.
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: Hotaction on March 19, 2011, 04:17 PM
Repotted this one at my club meeting this morning. The pot is by Dale Cochoy. 

Dave
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: Mike Pollock on March 21, 2011, 12:32 PM
Here's a virt I did of Dave's larch.

I see a bunjin style tree here with the slender trunk with slow taper.  I "removed" a bunch of the lower branches, added some bends and took the kink at the top out. I also made the pot smaller (wish we could do that to our pots).  That is about it. This work is all achievable in real life I think. I would put a piece of rebar into the pot and use fulcrums to make all of the bends at one time.

What do you guys think?

Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: Mike Pollock on March 21, 2011, 12:35 PM
a side-by-side comparison.
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: Hotaction on March 21, 2011, 12:50 PM
Mike, great virt! Thanks.  As a matter of fact I was looking the other day and considering what changes might make for a better tree, and that is pretty close to a version I had imagined.  The problem is that the base really has a left to right flow to it.  I feel with the canopy having the right to left movement, the tree may be much llike a GI JOE figure with his legs spun around backwards.  I really do like the virt, and thanks for taking the time to do it. 

Dave
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: Mike Pollock on March 21, 2011, 12:59 PM
I bet you could spin the upper trunk around to make the top match the base.

And in case you're wondering, I don't own stock in a raffia plantation...  :)
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: Hotaction on April 12, 2011, 11:12 PM
Spring time...
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: Hotaction on April 13, 2011, 02:01 PM
Spring time...in the rain.
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: Hotaction on May 06, 2011, 02:10 PM
more spring time pics...starting to fill out.  I'll take the all the wire off this week, as it is going to be in my club show next weekend.
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: bonsaiTom on May 06, 2011, 08:13 PM
Hey Mike,

C'mon up to Little Falls for our show and see this beauty for yourself.  It's a whole lot better 'in person'.     ;D

Tom
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: Hotaction on May 17, 2011, 01:29 PM
Now with moss for the show...
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: Hotaction on March 19, 2012, 01:09 AM
Re wired
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: exitsanity on July 10, 2012, 06:59 PM
An earlier comment called out the 'bowing' of branches with the rewiring. It seems that you've managed to alleviate this a bit.

I have a couple of collected larches myself and I wired one and had this same problem. What techniques can be used to prevent the 'bowing' and get more of a hard angle like the examples I butchered:

Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: Leo in NE Illinois on November 15, 2012, 02:27 PM
An earlier comment called out the 'bowing' of branches with the rewiring. It seems that you've managed to alleviate this a bit.

I have a couple of collected larches myself and I wired one and had this same problem. What techniques can be used to prevent the 'bowing' and get more of a hard angle like the examples I butchered:

This is not just at exit-sanity, but I have looked at many an American Larch, in the wild, doing what they do. They do not grow this way. The illustration by exit-sanity is fine maybe for a fir or spruce, but in nature the larch branches shoot out radially, at a 90 degree angle to the trunk. And near the apex they can exit the trunk at an upward angle. The American larches do not form lengthy pendulous branches. Most US native larches I have seen do not even have very long branches. The over all canopy diameter is not much more than 20 feet for a tree with a 1 to 2 foot diameter trunk. Where I have seen longer branches they tend to shoot out straight, then arch downward at some distance from the trunk. So I would not insist that the illustrated style is the 'only correct' style.

I do agree that one needs to be conscious of what style of branch image one wants to create, and to be consistent with using that style throughout the tree.

The question to Dave should be "what species of tree are you portraying with this American Larch?" If Dave is shooting for our native larch specifically, then the branches coming straight out from the trunk is correct. The subsequent long arch down might be too long to portray what I have seen as typical, but one really needs to wander in the woods. Find a few examples of trees that inspire. Take a few photos, and then look at what those trees actually do.

If Dave is shooting for the look of a fir or a spruce, then the downward angle right from the insertion at the trunk is appropriate. If he is going for American Larch, the angle of insertion to the trunk looks correct to my eye.

If I were Dave, I would not shorten the branches based on my comments right away. This tree needs to develop more exaggerated taper. The low branches need to be kept and allowed to lengthen while the top is kept in check until the desired taper has been achieved. If this were my tree I personally don't like the zig-zag at the apex, I would consider jinning the trunk at a point above the 5th, 6th, or 7th branch and then either grow a new apex, or maybe just using the jin as the apex. Both options will give you a shorter tree, which would make the trunk look more massive. But I know seeing the tree in person is quite different than a photograph. Dave should continue to do what he thinks is right. A tall graceful tree as a bunjin is also an alternate and worthy design goal too.

I know the Japanese and European larches have many more pendulous branches than the American larch. These species are distinct in  silhouette, and I am only familiar with the look of a wild Japanese larch from photos, our Arboretum plantings are not old enough yet to give the mature image. So I am addressing this from what I have seen of American Larch. Since Dave has a tree collected from the wild, it is safe to assume this is most likely an American Larch.

Just a thought that hit me, anyone care to comment on the angle of branch insertion appropriate for the different larches? Did I miss something?
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: John Kirby on November 15, 2012, 10:43 PM
Interesting, so we should only style trees to look like the native type?

What about satsuki azaleas or box woods, style them to look like shrubs?
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: Hotaction on November 16, 2012, 08:19 AM
Keep in mind, our forests in the east were dismantled by the timber industry when settlers arrived.  We don't really get to see the ancient forms of our trees in this part of the country.  Not to mention the larch I see in the wild are butt ugly, so some artistic license is put into play.
I agree the apex is a bit funky, and I have let extra growth develop in that area to provide a better option in the future.

Dave

P.S.  this isn't collected material, and I've decided it is most likely a Japanese larch
Title: Re: my slightly awkward larch
Post by: Leo in NE Illinois on November 16, 2012, 03:22 PM
Dave and John

My reply was a response to the post stating flatly that the angle of insertion for the branches into the trunk is "wrong". What I was trying to do is outline the choices. There is no black and white right or wrong. I was defending your choice as correct, because in my mind & experience larches do have that trait.

IF you are trying to mimic the particular species of tree, then one must really look at what that species does in nature. Yes, American Larches in the wild tend to be 'butt ugly", which is probably why Nick Lenz likes them so much. ;)

But if you are not trying to create a faithful representation of that species in nature, then you are in the realm of 'anything goes'. Well, anything goes if it visually makes sense, so with thought and insight you can plan out a very nice tree.

Myself, I like the look of old american white pines, P. strobus. Having spent 20 years playing with them, I realize that to create a naturalistic american white pine at less than 3 feet tall I really should give up on actually using an american white pine. The material most likely to give good effect in the overall image, I should use one of the junipers, one of the upright J.chinensis varieties, or maybe a Japanese white pine. Those 2 will be adaptable enough to create the image. So once I choose the image, I then need to follow the 'rules' in creating a juniper bonsai or JWP bonsai that looks like an old american white pine.

I basically my intent was to say what you are doing is "correct" if the image is consistent with the goal.

I have trouble expressing myself concisely in print.