Author Topic: my slightly awkward larch  (Read 7234 times)

Leo in NE Illinois

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Re: my slightly awkward larch
« Reply #30 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?

John Kirby

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Re: my slightly awkward larch
« Reply #31 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?


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Re: my slightly awkward larch
« Reply #32 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.


P.S.  this isn't collected material, and I've decided it is most likely a Japanese larch

Leo in NE Illinois

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Re: my slightly awkward larch
« Reply #33 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.