Author Topic: Creating a Boxwood Forest  (Read 5584 times)

johng

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Re: Creating a Boxwood Forest
« Reply #15 on: October 02, 2009, 07:01 AM »
I will try to post a couple more pictures this weekend.  I am not sure why, but perhaps it is the propensity for boxwood to have a natural growth pattern that mimics trees like Live Oak that has always attracted me(of course the trees in this planting are far from that style).  I do understand that many folks do not favor boxwoods because their leaves do not rustle in the breeze...of course neither do short needle pine trees or tightly pinched junipers and they don't seem to have any problem liking those species...hmmmm???

I have also wondered why it seems that so many of us get stuck emulating bonsai in our creations instead of trees.  I would even go so far to say that I have always looked to trees for inspiration but I have let my perception of bonsai have more influence when I am creating.  It is a hard habit to overcome...but I am working on it:)

John
 

rockm

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Re: Creating a Boxwood Forest
« Reply #16 on: October 02, 2009, 09:00 AM »
"Anyone who has the opportunity to observe mature trees in nature, and takes the time to actually study them, will find that very few trees conform to that idea."

The flaw in this thinking is that we're not really trying to imitate nature as much as we are interpreting nature. While it's nice to imagine trying to exactly imitate "natural" tree growth, we aim to manipulate the viewer's mind. Drooping lower branches, exposed surface rootage, flaking bark, rounded apex,  are all visual clues to humans that suggest age in a tree--it's pretty universal. Most of the other visual "cliches" used in bonsai are used because they don't so much mimic 'natural" growth, as they make a visual suggestion to the human eye. They're used because they work. "Natural" trees can have alot of visual appeal, or they can be a visual mess for the human eye. I've never seen a "real" tree that conforms to any bonsai model, but I've seen bonsai that use all of the above tricks that look like trees.

From what I've seen, Boxwood don't really have the same natural growth pattern as live oak.  I have both as bonsai. Boxwood is a shrub and has annoying 'shrubbish" tendencies that have to be addressed constantly--branches want to spring upwards and foliage is extremely dense, requiring attentive thinning-from the inside to the outside of branches.

Live oak is much looser in habit and throws branches every which way, up, down, in and out. It is extremely apically dominant and pushes large amounts of growth in the  crown. Boxwood pushes growth pretty much everywhere, a shrubbish habit...
 

bonsaikc

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Re: Creating a Boxwood Forest
« Reply #17 on: October 02, 2009, 10:16 AM »
I appreciate this discussion both for its straightforwardness and its cool-headedness!  ;D

I can see both sides of the issue, and while it's easy for those brought up in John Naka's USA to fall into the trap of "first branch, second branch, back branch" and never recover, it is also possible to go too far the other way and insist that species be styled only in ways that mimic their growth habit in nature (not that anyone here is advocating that).

A little more looseness or freedom in the thought process is a good thing here. I have trees that will be more stylized and some that will be more natural in style. Many times our definition of these terms becomes rigid or almost "sectarian." But to make beautiful bonsai, we have to be open to many things.

John, thanks for the video and the forest. Great stuff!

Chris
 

AJ

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Re: Creating a Boxwood Forest
« Reply #18 on: October 02, 2009, 11:27 AM »
Rockm,

It is tempting, and comforting, to conclude that people with ideas different from our own are being undone by "flawed" thinking. There are lots of different ideas about any given thing, and it seems unnecessarily limiting to believe that only one can be correct. It's helpful to keep in mind the possibility also exists that we might reach the wrong conclusion about another person's idea, because we might read things into it that aren't there, or not fully understand what's being said. For example, I never used the word imitate, and I didn't use that word because it doesn't express what I mean.

Here's another take on it: Bonsai is derivative of nature. To observe nature and have what you learn through observation influence your bonsai design ideas is in no way threatening to bonsai, and certainly not to the concept of bonsai as art. Approaching bonsai design this way is a great challenge. In order to do it, you have to step away from the conventional ideas about shaping miniature trees and think independently. Sometimes you come back to the conventional way because you find it makes sense and works best, but sometimes you find ways of doing that are more personally satisfying than the conventional way. This approach is not appealing to everyone. Perhaps it's only appealing to a limited few, but that doesn't mean the idea is wrong.

It doesn't matter to me if you agree with what I say. I put my ideas forward and people can read them if they choose, and agree or disagree as they see fit. Likewise, I don't feel any need to argue with you about how you think. I just don't feel comfortable saying nothing when someone misinterprets what I say and then makes a point of stating that my thinking is flawed.

AJ
 

rockm

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Re: Creating a Boxwood Forest
« Reply #19 on: October 02, 2009, 01:29 PM »
I didn't misinterpret what you said. I interpreted it. Thought about it. Came to my own conclusion about it and posted it. You just disliked my conclusion. I was neither tempted, nor comforted in making my statement. I pointed out that  bonsai is, and always has been, not completely about the tree, but about how humans perceive nature through the tree.

Here's my take--bonsai is not a derivative of nature, in my opinion. It is a manmade art. Trees are the medium. The raw material. They do not bonsai themselves, just as a stone cannot carve itself into a sculpture. Without a doubt, observing nature can certainly help you make bonsai, but someone who has not keenly observed nature can make an equally valid bonsai according to whatever vision they have in their heads. Adhering to strict "natural" guidelines is as much a barrier as adhering to "the rules."

 

MatsuBonsai

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Re: Creating a Boxwood Forest
« Reply #20 on: August 12, 2010, 08:39 PM »
A little over a year since it's creation, do you have an update for us?  How's the forest looking now?
 

bwaynef

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Re: Creating a Boxwood Forest
« Reply #21 on: August 13, 2010, 08:34 AM »
John,

I'd like to see how the development of the canopy is doing, if you get a chance to post a picture or two.
Me too.

Anyone who has the opportunity to observe mature trees in nature, and takes the time to actually study them, will find that very few trees conform to that idea. Perhaps some of the lower branches descend (more often they're horizontal), but moving upwards toward the apex the branches typically have an ascending habit. And in a forest or grove environment, where the trees grow in close proximity to one another, the great majority of branches ascend and lower branching is often absent. There are exceptions, of course, and different species will have their own distinct traits. Tuliptrees grow differently than Live Oaks, and neither of them looks at all like a Red Spruce.

Its been my experience that the primary branches of old* deciduous trees, particularly ones that are growing among other old trees in the forest, tend NOT to grow anywhere close to horizontal, tending more toward vertical.  Secondary (and/or beyond) branches assume the horizontal (or below) angle.  When in leaf its often hard to distinguish that its not the primary branches that are hanging below horizontal.  Except for some landscape plants, I've never seen a tree whose branches all are more vertical than horizontal.


*The ancient trees, particularly ones growing in more exposed conditions tend to have more horizontal (and below) growth from their primary branches.