Bonsai Study Group Forum

Species Specific => Satsuki Azalea Bonsai Discussion => Topic started by: Dale Cochoy on July 02, 2009, 07:42 PM

Title: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: Dale Cochoy on July 02, 2009, 07:42 PM
I wasn't quite sure where to put this article since it is not a satsuki azalea but instead a kurume variety. I guess it could also have gone under 'carving' as that was a major portion of the styling. I hope it's okay here.

This tale starts 10 years ago. I was doing a bonsai demo at a local county park office and when I was all done one viewer stayed to talk a while. It was his first viewing of anything bonsai related other than "Karate Kid". It seems he was a retired lawyer who had decided to rebuild his late father-in-laws wholesale nursery up near lake Erie. It had set empty since his FIL had died about ten yrs earlier. He was making great gains in refurbishing it and planting up some exotic conifers, etc. He told me there was a lot of old stock there he couldn't use and didn't want and I was welcome to come up and dig for free.
I took him up on it and removed several old eastern white cedars, an old huge ginkgo and this Kurume azalea. His wife said it was about 75 years old and was planted near the house and chopped back several times. Before I got to it there was recently some chopping.
I decided to dig it and it actually came out fairly easy, A beautiful root base and flare with a strange horizontal trunk coming off which had been chopped back long ago, ditto with the tall main top trunk.
I took it home , washed out the roots and cut it back to a starting position and potted it up. I INTENDED to start work on it the next spring.....
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: Dale Cochoy on July 02, 2009, 07:44 PM
NOW, JUMP AHEAD TEN YEARS!

OK, ....so....I procrastinated. It sat in my garden growing, sprouting, blooming, etc. for ten years. It blooms fantastic with HUNDREDS of small pink flowers. Here are a couple shots of it blooming two years ago
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: Dale Cochoy on July 02, 2009, 07:48 PM
I finally decided to jump into it this spring and my friend Matt came over to help.
First we had to do a serious preliminary cut back.  
My Jack Russell Terrier 'Monte' is modeling it for scale. Also boards on table are 5 1/2" wide.
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: Dale Cochoy on July 02, 2009, 07:55 PM
After we got it selectively cut back enough to work on we removed it from the mica pot it had been in for TEN YEARS!! .  I wish I'd taken a picture of the pile of cuttings/branches! We raked it out, trimmed some roots, hosed the root ball with full force, cleaned around the rootbase  and squeezed it into a chinese ceramic oval that was about 5 1/2" deep inside.
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: Dale Cochoy on July 02, 2009, 08:05 PM
Next I spent a couple hours carving the dead trunks  and stubs that ran horizontal and vertical. While carving out the dead I built taper into these large sections. I decided to keep the horiz. trunk as it added quite a bit to the size and would allow me to create a nice low crown and, mainly, because it was an intrigueing trunk that I did not recall seeing elsewhere in books. It had some interesting large roots at it's end that really clasp the trunk down.  Also, had I removed it I would have been left with a HUGE scar that, in Ohio, would NEVER heal over and, in fact, might kill off that side of the tree!
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: Dale Cochoy on July 02, 2009, 08:12 PM
More carving.
When I was done carving I smoothed my woodworking out nice with sanding flap wheels. 
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: Dale Cochoy on July 02, 2009, 08:20 PM
Now it was time to do the first and preliminary wiring of this new bonsai in training. I did the wiring about a week later after I was sure nothing was going to die off right away after the carving and repot. It took most of an afternoon. I found I could get a nice rounded shape and crown with all the branches I had. A few were simply too heavy to bend without killing so I used pull-down wires to get them into the ballpark and then wired the smaller branching. Next year I can really improve this after I get a lot of buds breaking back ( which is going great right now) . I'm pinching off suckers I don't want and letting new twigging fill-in where I want it.
BTW, I did not lose even one twig to death after all this work!!
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: Dale Cochoy on July 02, 2009, 08:28 PM
Now that the tree was cut back and many branches removed, the carving done and wiring done I could now actually get my hands into the tree for my next step.   I used my old trick of mixing acrylic latex paints, with a tiny bit of lime sulfur, to comouflage the carving as best I can with the colors of the trunk. I do not want this much carving to stand out. It will never heal over and will eventually rot away if not treated somehow. I don't WANT it to be part of the 'design' in this tree as with conifers, etc. I don't want to see it! The color matching helps hide this very well. I took a picture of the colors I used for blending. After the first go-around dries you can touch up the colors a bit.

I hope you enjoyed this tale of a 'starter' bonsai.  The pot is about 21" across, and, as you can see, the tree is wider than the picnic table!
I wonder what this 'stump' would have sold for at Kokufu Ten  green club?

I'll take a few pictures this fall after it fills in quite a bit and post them here.

Dale
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: Dale Cochoy on July 03, 2009, 10:37 AM
I love it, but would not the aged bark not help with the finished look?
Although I have seen your work with the lime sulfur up close and can attest that you blend them beautifully, I feel that you might be selling this old surviver short by making the bark look younger but that is just my opinion and up front in person may be what I need to see what you see (You can ship it to me  ;D).
What tools did you use for the carving?

Possibly you misunderstood the camp part. I did not paint any bark on the tree, ONLY the carved areas. If you look again at the pics you'll see how noticeable the carved/smoothed areas are. I use the paints to BLEND that color into the bark colors as closely as I can. Once the tree 'dirties-up' a bit they really blend in. The alternatives are to just let the large carved areas alone to rot ( and always show up like had been doing for years now) or lime sulfur which really makes them stand out which I don't want. If BT ever comes back up look up my old thread about serious carving on a huge bougie and notice how the carved areas just disappear. BTW, I had never seen anyone do this technique before I started using it.

For carving I used a Makita die grinder, my Samurai and Ninja Master, two sizes of core box router bits,  and about 6 different shapes of burrs. Then I used some sanding flap wheels to smooth it a bit. I usually don't use them  because the burrs  leave a pretty nice finish. I wanted to smooth out this large piece bettr though and shape it better.

BTW, I mentioned I used a tad of lime sulfur in my acrylic paint mix. I do this not for any protection effect but I found it knocks off any possible sheen off the paint finish and also gives it a 'smokey' finish.

Maybe to help illustrate the paint camo blending better  I'm enclosing two pics of my BIG bougie in which I did this after major carving and restyle. The carved areas are hardly noticeable and not much time has gone by since they were done.

Dale
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: chris s on July 03, 2009, 09:24 PM
Very Nice.  I really love the trunk.  Hope to see more pics of this tree in the future.

Chris
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: Dave Murphy on July 10, 2009, 08:46 AM
Hey Dale.  Great article and cool azalea.  I'm wondering, where do you see this tree going over the next 10 years?  Are you planning to leave the canopy alone, or are you planning on shortening the branches and bringing the canopy in closer to the trunks?  Thanks again,

Dave
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: BarbaraM on July 14, 2009, 10:52 AM
Thanks Dale, this was a great read.  After finishing the story I went back to the first pics.  The rafted branch was so little when you collected it.  Now it is so significant to the design.  It is amazing how much it developed over the years of rest.
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: Dale Cochoy on July 18, 2009, 06:02 PM
Dave,
This is a big tree and the canopy is nice and rounded. You are looking at it "unfilled". It is coming along nicely and I'll get some shots later in the year. It's filling in fairly quickly from the severe cutbacks.

Barbara,
Yes, you know I had to dig out those photos when I decided to do this and scan them. I hadn't realized it had grown so much EVERYWHERE! You lose track as years go by and all of a sudden realize....hey....this grew!

I'm expecting this to be gorgeous next spring as it has hundreds of flowers but since it has actually had some styling  the trunk will show nicely now also.

Dale
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: Dale Cochoy on August 06, 2009, 04:19 PM
An updated picture after a month.
It's filling in.
8" concave for scale.
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: bonsaikc on August 07, 2009, 10:28 AM
Dale,
It's looking great, and for what it's worth, I think Kurume belongs in the Azalea discussion forum even though it's not Satsuki.

It's a big one, and I'd love to see a formal photograph of it on a stand with a neutral background. For me, the layered branch to the left is so totally kurume that it really speaks to me. What is your ultimate plan for the tree?

Chris
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: Dale Cochoy on August 07, 2009, 11:40 AM
Chris,
My PLAN is pretty much the way you see it but with a more shallow potting next time around. I couldn't get that far this go around after 10 yrs in a training pot! It will be an oval pot also. The rootbase on this is very oval. About 2" more shallow.
The shape will be pretty much as you see but fuller/thicker and a nice rounded dome. Its only been about 6 weeks I think since the first cutback and wiring. I removed a BUNCH of suckers coming out all over and kept some in spots lacking branching so next wiring will direct those better and hopefully in a couple years I'll get some holes filled.
My biggest goal is to coax branching out ( I got a few already) and wire to cover the long carved horiz leg better. I don't think that will be hard to do.

D.
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: bonsaikc on August 07, 2009, 04:30 PM
I agree. It is well on its way and looks great. Thanks for sharing it!

Chris
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: Dale Cochoy on August 15, 2010, 01:03 PM
I'm wondering if a 'year later' picture would be in order?

D.
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: seth ellwood on August 15, 2010, 02:35 PM
Certianly.
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: bwaynef on August 15, 2010, 09:00 PM
Certianly.
+1
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: shimsuki on August 15, 2010, 09:25 PM
Stop teasing us, I also want to see it.
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: kcpoole on August 15, 2010, 11:10 PM
Dale,
It's looking great, and for what it's worth, I think Kurume belongs in the Azalea discussion forum even though it's not Satsuki.

Chris

Why would any Kurume not be allowed in an Azalea Forum?
Just because it is not Satsuki, does not mean we cannot use them does it?

Ken
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: bwaynef on August 15, 2010, 11:44 PM
Dale,
It's looking great, and for what it's worth, I think Kurume belongs in the Azalea discussion forum even though it's not Satsuki.

Chris

Why would any Kurume not be allowed in an Azalea Forum?
Just because it is not Satsuki, does not mean we cannot use them does it?

Ken

This thread opened with:

Quote
I wasn't quite sure where to put this article since it is not a satsuki azalea but instead a kurume variety. I guess it could also have gone under 'carving' as that was a major portion of the styling. I hope it's okay here.

I'm sure Chris' post was referring to that.
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: kcpoole on August 18, 2010, 12:05 AM
Dale,
It's looking great, and for what it's worth, I think Kurume belongs in the Azalea discussion forum even though it's not Satsuki.

Chris

Why would any Kurume not be allowed in an Azalea Forum?
Just because it is not Satsuki, does not mean we cannot use them does it?

Ken

This thread opened with:

Quote
I wasn't quite sure where to put this article since it is not a satsuki azalea but instead a kurume variety. I guess it could also have gone under 'carving' as that was a major portion of the styling. I hope it's okay here.

I'm sure Chris' post was referring to that.
ahh my Bad as i did not realise the thread is in the "Satsuki" forum :-)
I entered from the new replies viewan did not see the forum it was in first

nice tree tho:-)

Ken
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: Dale Cochoy on August 27, 2010, 07:32 PM
Ok here are a few quick 'one-year later' pics I took today after removing a BUNCH of suckers, trimming and cleaning up a bit. I left several suckers that I am training to fill out some of the more bare areas around lower branches near the trunk and up into the canopy. I had lots to chose from. It's filled out quite a bit and I expect it to bloom beautiful again next spring. This spring it was at about 25% of previous years since it was so sparse.
The camo'd carving is toned down and blending in nice.
As stated previously with dates figured out this old collected Kurume is around 86 years old now.
It is all I can do to move this tree by myself, it is quite heavy. For size comparison the boards on the picnic table are 6" and boards on fence behind are 4"

D.
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: Dale Cochoy on September 03, 2010, 09:30 PM
ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
Yawn 
 ::)
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: MatsuBonsai on September 07, 2010, 10:28 AM
Wow, Dale!  I had no idea it was quite so large.  I've got a few trees that are right at the limit of what I can move by myself. 

Do you let it flower every year then?  My personal preference would be to see it more "padded out", for lack of a better term.
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: Dale Cochoy on September 07, 2010, 11:06 AM
Wow, Dale!  I had no idea it was quite so large.  I've got a few trees that are right at the limit of what I can move by myself. 

Do you let it flower every year then?  My personal preference would be to see it more "padded out", for lack of a better term.

First we let it fill out from the original massacre, then we work on padding, BUT, I don't want it to look like the typical imported Japanese  Satsuki with clouds, I want it to have the more rounded ( TROPICAL if you will) shape like a tree rather than a a twisty , narow trunk, cookie cutter imported satsuki.  Heavier trunk and shorter satsuki look more like what I am aiming for, especially since I left that left reaching trunk to widen the frame.
The back really looks better than it does in the picture, but, it will not be near as open as the front. I want as close to a round foliage frame as I can get.


In the past,I usually let it bloom every year, in fact, before I got around to styling it I never even picked off the old flowers. This year I did. I'm expecting a good show next season since it's filled out quite a bit. Go back and look at the 'wild' flowering before it was styled.
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: jlushious on June 24, 2013, 12:48 PM
Any chance we can get an update on this? Would love to see how it has shaped up these last few years!
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: Dale Cochoy on June 24, 2013, 04:26 PM
About two weeks ago I repotted it into a pot about 1 1/2" more shallow. L & W were about the same I believe.
I cut it back HEAVILY, about 80% of the foliage , removed a LOT of wire, added a bit more . it looks pretty stark right now ( not the first time!) but,  It should fill out fairly nice again by next spring.
Here is a shot with flowers in the greenhouse this spring, and a shot with old flowers before I started work that day,  and a shot after done with this years work.
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: jlushious on June 24, 2013, 08:59 PM
It's great, the wood painting/lime work looks seamless! Beautiful.
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: augustine on June 25, 2013, 10:21 AM
Dale,

Beautiful azalea. Are you doing anything else to prevent the deterioration of the deadwood? I have a few recently collected azaleas that have deadwood which will have to be addressed in the future.

Thank you and best regards,

Augustine
central MD 7a
Title: Re: A STARTER AZALEA BONSAI.....TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Post by: Dale Cochoy on June 26, 2013, 12:42 PM
Dale,

Beautiful azalea. Are you doing anything else to prevent the deterioration of the deadwood? I have a few recently collected azaleas that have deadwood which will have to be addressed in the future.

Thank you and best regards,

Augustine
central MD 7a


I'm not doing anything extra from what I've mentioned. I'm not noticing any deterioration and it's been several years.
I've used wood hardener over the years on things but I'd have to say that once rot sets in, it's going to keep rotting no matter what you do. But, others may disagree of course.