Author Topic: Theoretical Questions About Super Twisty Junipers  (Read 3131 times)

jtucker

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Theoretical Questions About Super Twisty Junipers
« on: July 25, 2011, 11:25 PM »
Hi All,

I'm curious about the super twisty junipers. I'm new to the forum and have been browsing the fantastic photos of all your trees. It seems like there have been a lot of these almost corkscrew-type junipers lately. Master Boon has shown several of his great works, and I believe I've seen a few from Master Suthin (of whom I haven't heard before this forum--very impressed!) as well.

I've taken a yamadori style workshop with Jim Gremel, so I at least have some understanding of one of the methods used to develop these trees.

My question is more artistic/theoretical: Is there a point to where the gnarly, uber-twisted trunks begin to take away from the aesthetic value of the trees? It seems like some of the twists and accompanying shari could create the appearance of inverse taper and can disturb the overall visual line of the trunk... Also, I'm curious horticulturally how these gnarled twisted trees get created in the wild. (I've been out among the California Junipers and would never deny that this type of tree really exists and happens in nature (-:) But what actually causes the twisting and is there a theoretical limit to what could actually happen naturally?

I by no means want to insult folks' trees... I'm just hoping for some of the wise ones to weigh in and illuminate the how and why of these very cool looking trees.

Thanks!

Jason
 

MatsuBonsai

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Re: Theoretical Questions About Super Twisty Junipers
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2011, 08:38 AM »
Anything from wind and snow to animals (and utility vehicles) knocking, breaking, and scarring them.

I also vaguely remember seeing a program document with time lapsed satellite photos (I think) of junipers rolling down hills, rooting as they go, over a period of several years.  I haven't been able to find any reference to what I think I remember online, so I could have imagined it, I guess. :)
 

garywood

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Re: Theoretical Questions About Super Twisty Junipers
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2011, 09:36 AM »
Jason, aesthetic preference is personal and only the viewer can judge how much.  The horticultural point, don't discount genetic anomaly. I was in the White Mountains studying the Bristlecones and came across a downed tree that had very tight clockwise twist its entire length. Not very far away there was another tree with  a very tight twist with counter-clockwise movement its entire trunk. 
Wood
 

jtucker

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Re: Theoretical Questions About Super Twisty Junipers
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2011, 02:05 PM »
Interesting points guys! I've heard from several folks that a genetic mutation is also responsible for some of the pomegranates that develop twisted trunks. Otherwise they're just normal pomegranates!

I guess it's going to be difficult to find a dividing line between gnarly/natural looking and contrived corkscrew. Therein lies the work of masterful discernment and technique. :-) Would love to hear more thoughts!
 

John Kirby

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Re: Theoretical Questions About Super Twisty Junipers
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2011, 02:38 PM »
What is natural? Go to the mountains and look around, maybe you think something looks unnatural because it doesn't comply with the mundane- that with which we are frequently most comfortable. Does the tree below (image borrowed from Goldenarrowbonsai.com, I tried to buy the tree when it was first collected, no luck) look natural? Should it be discarded because it doesn't conform to a standard image of a Ponderosa Pine? Hmmmmmmm
 

jtucker

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Re: Theoretical Questions About Super Twisty Junipers
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2011, 01:00 PM »
I don't think anyone (especially me) is trying to say this x is natural and y is not natural, therefore x should be bonsai and y shouldn't be bonsai. Most fantastic trees in nature don't look like bonsai; they look like trees, thankfully. Naka's BT2 has some nice pictures of corkscrewed-ish trunks on p. 211 and 281.

The conversation that brought this up in my brain is here:
http://bonsaistudygroup.com/shimpaku-juniper-discussion/twisted-shimpaku/

It was agreed upon that the tree looked a bit "contrived." I was just looking for the point at which a yamadori-style crosses over from looking like yamadori to looking contrived.

I'm definitely not wanting to light the fuse on the whole "naturalistic" bonsai debate... just curious about the several junipers within the yamadori style that have been wound up like a corkscrew. Is there an artistic breaking point at which they cease to look like they were collected from a harsh environment and begin to look like human creations?
 

GastroGnome

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Re: Theoretical Questions About Super Twisty Junipers
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2011, 01:46 PM »
For my two cents on what looks great and most natural, Jason, I would check out the Taisho-en website, here:
http://taishoen.org/shopping-shos.htm
Master Urushibata does some fantastic shohin Junipers, imitate those twists and gnarls and you cant go far wrong!
 

jtucker

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Re: Theoretical Questions About Super Twisty Junipers
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2011, 06:25 PM »
Thanks so much for that link, Gastro! What I gather from Master Urushibata's trees could be that too much uniformity within a twisted/corkscrewed tree is what hints at uniformity and human intervention? The trees on his site have some amazing and (if I hadn't seen trees like this in nature) almost incredible trunk movement. But what makes those trees look natural is the lack of repetition: the same curve isn't replicated over and over.

Perhaps a tree becomes contrived if each bend looks exactly the same, man-made or machine-made.

I just wish I could read Japanese!

Jason
 

bwaynef

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John Kirby

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Re: Theoretical Questions About Super Twisty Junipers
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2011, 09:13 PM »
Um, since Mr. Urushibata buys his trunks from members of the Japan Bonsai Growers Collective, there may be some uniformity. If you don't like these, then figure out how to do it without being formulaic. Jim Gremel does pretty well, but since you already seem to have the answer that you seek, maybe you have done so already?
 

jtucker

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Re: Theoretical Questions About Super Twisty Junipers
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2011, 02:07 AM »
I think they're fantastic trees, and I didn't notice uniformity in the trunks (not to say that none exists, I just didn't notice it if it was there). Hopefully I didn't come off as trying to say I didn't like Mr. Urushibata's trees for some reason. To my eyes, I didn't really see anything formulaic between the different trees on that site. I wasn't even thinking of it that way. I was seeing individual trunks that had dramatic, yet unpredictable movement, which I think is what makes a bonsai (Mr. Urushibata's especially) breathtaking.

When a tree has dramatic yet predictable movement, maybe that's what makes it look contrived. I don't have any authority on the subject or the wealth of experience that you and many others on this forum have, which is why I posted the question in the topic. The LACK of the same curve/angle/line repeated (within the same tree) in Mr. Urushibata's trees on the link is what helped me see the difference between a "contrived" tree and a masterful tree. To me, his trees appear natural and masterful, and not one bit contrived or formulaic/uniform. Looking back on my previous post, I don't think I was very clear in my writing.

My apologies, sincerely. I didn't mean to come off like I was criticizing anyone's trees. Really, by looking at my trees, anyone would say that I don't have a talented/knowledgeable leg to stand on. I was truly only looking for everyone's input, especially those like yourself, John, to help me understand why some trees were considered/agreed upon to be contrived and others were masterworks. I feel like GastronGnome's link really helped me at least figure out a jumping off point in my head, but I still would really like to read what you and anyone else with more experience than me (which is mostly everyone on the forum) thinks about what makes some twisted/corkscrewed junipers look natural/beautiful and other twisted/corkscrewed junipers look contrived.
 

John Kirby

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Re: Theoretical Questions About Super Twisty Junipers
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2011, 05:59 AM »
Darn, I was hoping that someone had figured out how to do it. I've heard some say that if you have seen one, you have seen
them all is just wrong. Keep working on it.