Meet Clive Taylor– A Master of Koto Hime Japanese Maple Propagation & Bonsai Training Techniques

CLIVE

Clive Taylor is a long time serious bonsai hobbyist who lives just south of Detroit, Michigan, in the town of Gibraltar. His home is situated on a peninsula facing Lake Erie, a beautiful setting for his bonsai collection. Although most of his bonsai are Koto Hime Japanese maples, Acer palmatum ‘Koto Hime,’ other maple species and cultivars can be seen as well as few others.

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In addition to mastering maple propagation he is creative and an innovator as well. His large Japanese red maple forest has a prominent rock in the foreground. It continued to be pushed away from tree roots so Clive inserted a bolt in the back of the stone and bolted it to a tree in the back to prevent additional movement.

KOTO HIME LARGE

KOTO HIME FORMAL

KOT HIME LONG BRANCH

Professionally, Clive was an excavating contractor for over 30 years and was known as “The Pond Man” because he installed water features. Now retired, he spends his time as a serious bonsai enthusiast with his hobby started over 40 years ago. He was a “closet enthusiast” according to long time friend, Jack Wikle. Clive successfully worked quietly by himself perfecting his propagation and bonsai training techniques. He is a member of the Ann Arbor Bonsai Society in Michigan and has displayed several of his trees in their shows.

KOTO HIME ROOT:ROCK

Through the decades Clive has mastered the propagation and training of maple bonsai specializing in the Koto Hime Japanese maple. In the early 1980s he purchased a small rooted cutting from me and the rest is history. The plant was grown then cuttings were taken and trained for bonsai.

KOTO HIME MULTIPLE TRUN RED POT

He has successfully experimented with thread and approach grafting techniques used to add branches, roots and trunks to improve bonsai design. Considering that branches of Koto Hime Japanese maple are quite thin and brittle this is quite an accomplishment.

YATSUBUSA ? MAPLE

DESHOJO

KOTO HIME SHOHIN FOREST

Many of his trees are air layered and some have been ground layered to improve surface root display. All of his trees are extremely healthy and have produced numerous long shoots which will provide additional cuttings, air layers or branches for grafting.

KOTO HIME AIRLAYERED BRANCH FOREST

Several months ago Clive sent me some photos of his best two Koto Hime Japanese maple bonsai and wanted to give them to me for their future development. On the way home from the Midwest Bonsai Show we stopped at his home to see his collection and pick up the tremendous gifts he so generously gave me. We went over the history of these two large and heavy bonsai and then envelopes came out with old photos of their development during the past 35 years.

ALL MAPLES ALL MAPLES 3 ALL MAPLES 2 ALL MAPLES 1

Because of health reasons Clive is reducing his bonsai collection and has donated specimens to the Hidden Lake Garden Bonsai Collection. I was fortunate to purchase 18 additional maple bonsai. An envelope with old photos accompanied each specimen and we took a considerable amount of time explaining his past development and future development of the maple bonsai. Many of the trees will be added to my personal collection and others will be sold to bonsai hobbyists so their excellent health and care can be continued.

GOLDEN FULL MOON FOREST

A large Golden Full Moon Japanese maple, Acer japonicum ‘Aureum,’ is planted in his front yard. Although seedlings do not necessarily come true to their parents, Clive was able to select several seedlings which did have the distinctive golden and wide leaves and created a forest bonsai.

GOLDEN FULL MOON

Another “true” Golden Full Moon Japanese maple was grafted by Tony Mihalic, Wildwood Gardens, in Chardon, Ohio, over 40 years ago. It is planted in a large Sara Rayner container.

KOTO HIME LARGE FOREST

FOREST NEW FRONT

But most of the bonsai are Koto Hime Japanese maples. His two prized bonsai are a large forest, which has grown together and a large root over rock style bonsai. The forest bonsai are cutting from the original cutting he obtained from me in 1980. The smaller trees in the forest are younger cuttings. Perhaps the front might be slightly changed or perhaps another tree added to the right side. But, that’s a future project, as such a change must be seriously studied. The new design change might become an article in International BONSAI.

KOTO HIME LARGE ROOT:ROCK

KOTO HIME ROCK CLOSE UP

The root over rock style bonsai is another large and heavy planting. The stone is from the Ibi River in Japan. The large tree on the left is the main focal point while the younger tree on the right is still in development. It has several roots in the back of the stone which are growing all the way down into the soil. Clive constructed a hardware cloth wire cage to hold additional roots.

KOTO HIME SHOHIN

There are several multiple trunk bonsai which have been created by approach grafting trunks of different height and thicknesses for good design. Branches were then thread grafted into exact locations.

KIYO HIME SMALL

KIYO HIME LARGE

When Clive purchased his original Koto Hime Japanese maple cuttings from me he also purchased a Kiyo Hime Japanese maple as well. This cultivar has also multiplied and several large and small size Kiyo Hime Japanese maple bonsai have been developed. This cultivar tends to have a horizontal growth habit while Koto Home Japanese maples are strongly vertical.

UKIGUMO MAPLE

Ukigumo Japanese maple

KOTO HIME SHOHIN LONG BRANCH

KOT HIME MULTIPLE TRUNK BROWN POT

I truly appreciate the generous gift from Clive and will continue the development of many of his maple bonsai. Several of the other maples will be available for sale at the upcoming 2015 Autumn International Bonsai Open House & Sale on September 5-6, 2015 in Rochester New York. Perhaps some might travel with me to my sales area at the Artisans Cup Exhibition in Portland, Oregon, on September 25-27, 2015.

International Bonsai Arboretum Autumn 2015 Open House & Sale

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The International Bonsai Arboretum 2015 Autumn House & Sale will be held on September 5-6, 2015, in Rochester, New York.

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Bonsai lecture/demonstrations by award winning bonsai artists: Harvey Carapella, Marc Arpag and Wm. N. Valavanis will be held daily at 11am and 2pm.

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WNV WIRING

Bonsai and supplies will be on sale as well. Classical bonsai will be formally displayed and explained to better appreciate their beauty. Come, join us and walk through the beautiful bonsai display area as well as the sales area, growing area and tropical house containing numerous unusual indoor bonsai.

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Recent award winning bonsai will be formally displayed and discussed.

KOTO HIME

RAF SCOTS

LARCH SINUOUS

The Suiseki Study Group Of Upstate New York will be holding a special Suiseki Exhibit on September 5-6, 2015 at the International Bonsai Arboretum in Rochester, New York. Approximately fifty fine suiseki and companion plants will be on display from members from New York state and Pennsylvania, as well as a lecture on suiseki each morning at 10am by Marc Arpag.

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All events are free and everyone is welcome to join us celebrate autumn in Upstate New York. Questions? wnv@internationalbonsai.com

2015 AUTUMN OPEN HOUSE

2015 38th Mid America Bonsai Exhibit

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The 2015 38th Mid America Bonsai Exhibit, sponsored by the Midwest Bonsai Society, was held on August 14-16, 2015. It was held at the beautiful Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, Illinois, just north of Chicago. The Midwest Bonsai Society has had considerable experience hosting this annual exhibit and it was well organized, judged and hosted.

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The Chicago Botanic Garden has a significant and wide variety of fine bonsai, mostly donated by members and friends of the gardens. Curator Ivan Watters has taken excellent care of the bonsai collection for over ten years and retired last year. Upon Ivan’s retirement the Chicago Botanic Garden hired their first full time bonsai curator Chris Baker.
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Many of the bonsai from their collection are displayed in two outdoor open courtyards on unique tables. Rather than showing photos of bonsai alone I thought I’d share photos of how the bonsai are displayed on the tables, complete with the white glass backgrounds, sound alarm and even a horizontal light strip in front.
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It was very interesting and educational that Chris Baker displayed both a sinuous and raft style bonsai near each other so people could clearly see the difference.
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Blue Moss Cypress trained in the sinuous style with the original horizontal trunk in a curved design.
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This Juniper bonsai has been trained in the raft style with the original horizontal trunk in a straight line.
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The formal Mid America Bonsai Exhibit is held in a unique room with a hemlock wooden tall ceiling. Again I’m sharing many photos of the overall display so other groups can see the set up and perhaps get ideas for their own shows.
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The “Best of Show” entry composed of a three point display of a Trident maple, Kokonoe Japanese five-needle pine and companion planting was displayed in a large alcove. It was displayed by Gary Andes from Tennessee.
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The First Prize in the professional division was awarded to an American larch bonsai trained in the sinuous style by Wm. N. Valavanis. Preparing this bonsai took considerable time and I also displayed it at the MABA Bonsai Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, last month. Since that time I spent an additional four hours of preparing it for this exhibit and that does not count the daily pinching of the new growth. Last week many hours were spent selecting the display table, hanging scroll painting, companion planting and the wooden base for it. When the Larch bonsai won the award it was displayed in the front alcove with the Best of Show bonsai. However since the three point display would not fit in the smaller area, it was put in the larger area which meant that my larger Larch bonsai was displayed in the smaller area. This did not allow the necessary space to completely display the hanging scroll and companion planting. They could have been squeezed into the smaller area but the beauty of the Larch bonsai could not be appreciated. So I simply did not display the scroll and companion planting. Actually two companion plantings were selected, prepared and brought to the show. One might think the  time spent preparing the complete display which was not shown was wasted. However, I do not consider the preparation time wasted as my friends and I learned as we tried and discussed many different combinations. That’s called “on the job learning.” Besides, I enjoy that type of exercise… .
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The Second Prize in the Professional Division was presented to a Rock Mountain Juniper trained by Mark Fields from Indianapolis, Indiana.
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Many vendors from across the country brought a wide variety of material to sell. Workshops and demonstrations completed the weekend event.
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The Mid America Bonsai Exhibit continues until Sunday afternoon. If you can, try to attend to see some fine bonsai.
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Just for fun I displayed an unusual orange glazed container with a Firethorn bonsai and a Golden Acorus companion planting. Last November when I found this great container at Kunio Kobayashi’s Shunka-en Bonsai Museum in Tokyo, many friends wondered what could ever be planted in the container. I found something… .

Montreal Bonsai Bus Trip

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Every few years our Bonsai Society of Upstate New York takes a bus trip to expose our members to interesting bonsai collections. In the past we have visited Canada (Montreal Botanical Garden and David Easterbrook); Washington, D.C. (National Bonsai & Penjing Museum, Kennett Collection and Sean Smith); and Boston (Arnold Arboretum, Suthin, Bonsai West and New England Bonsai Garden).

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GARDEN 8

GARDEN 4

On July 18, 19, 2015 our group of 22 members and friends revisited Canada to once again see the bonsai collections at the Montreal Botanical Garden, David Easterbrook and Serge Rubidoux. On the way home we visited Pauline Muth’s bonsai studio.

GARDEN 3

We were fortunate to have Eric Auger, Curator of the Japanese, North American and Tropical Bonsai Collections guide us around and answered all questions. He first took to areas not open to the public to see bonsai which were not on display, his workroom and overwintering greenhouses. Since the Chinese Penjing Collection was closed he showed us through the Tropical Bonsai Greenhouse. The entire botanical garden was beautiful, especially with the colorful flowers.

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GARDEN 2

After moving all of us with golf carts Eric showed us the Japanese Bonsai Collection and many members also strolled through the Japanese garden. There have been several significant bonsai donated by Susumu Nakamura, the Nippon Bonsai Association, City of Tokyo, Government of Japan and others, which included some magnificent specimens. Our members quickly recognized several of the bonsai, which the Montreal Botanical Garden displayed in the past four U.S. National Bonsai Exhibitions.

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GARDEN 1

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After another short golf cart trip we went to the North American Bonsai Collection, which had some large and stunning bonsai from several different artists. George LeBolt from New Jersey donated a large number of his finest bonsai, as well as David Easterbrook and Nick Lenz.

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We then checked into our hotel across the street from the Montreal Botanical Garden and had a “delightful” evening at a Brazilian restaurant. Fortunately, the lighting was dim and a few of our members were enticed to join the dancers, so the photos did not come out well. But, if you look on Face Book, you might recognize a couple of us.

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The next morning our private bus took us to visit the collection of architect Serge Robidoux. His garden was exquisite, not a blade of grass was out of place. Around the perimeter Serge had his bonsai displayed on multi level benches as well as monkey poles. A small water feature in the center of the yard created a peaceful focal point surrounded by many bonsai he has collected from the Canadian wilds over the past twenty years. Although there were some cultivated bonsai, the collected Larch and Pines were superb. Hopefully a few will be displayed in the next U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition.

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After another bus ride we arrived at the new home of David Easterbrook. The new large five acre property was spacious and David explained his plans on designing his new bonsai garden. He had recently moved 34 truckloads of bonsai, plants, containers, display tables, cement blocks, boards, greenhouse heating equipment and more. The temporary set up in his driveway housed his evergreens and larch, while in the dappled shade across a fence, on the grass, housed his deciduous bonsai. It is extremely difficult and quite time consuming to move an entire bonsai garden, but with a few friends, David finally had all his bonsai in his new garden. He explained his plans for a 100 x 35’ greenhouse for overwintering and two level bonsai studio complete with a mezzanine for container display. Although David was not set up to show his bonsai, we were fortunate to allow us to visit. But, we all look forward to returning in a few years to a superb bonsai garden and studio.

DAVID 1

David’s partner, Celine, surprised us and served all 22 of us a delicious luncheon, which took her a few days to prepare. She is called the “Martha Stewart of Canada,” an honor well deserved. We all sat near the pool enjoying our visit with David and Celine.

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On the way home to Rochester, New York, through the rain we stopped by the studio of Pauline Muth in West Charlton, New York. We quickly entered her beautiful modern studio, complete with a wine cooler, through the rain. Suddenly all our cell phones had a flood watch warning, then a tornado warning. The containers and supplies were inside so a few were purchased by our members. After a while the rain let up and members went outside to see her bonsai. On the way home we enjoyed a beautiful sun setting over western New York. Our thanks to Marc Arpag who arranged all our visits and our generous hosts, Eric, Serge, David, Celine and Pauline.

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A Summer Bonsai Display

HYDRANGEA DISPLAY 1

In May 2014 I was picking up Pro-Mix at a feed store and looked around in their nursery yard. I was not looking for anything in particular, just looking, and my eye was caught by a couple of new hydrangeas. Note I was looking at shapes, not species. Two specimens had beautiful natural untouched cascade shapes and I purchased the most interesting plant.

HYDRFANGEA

HYDRANGEA FLOWER 2

HYDRANGEA FLOWER

The new plant, Great Star Panicle hydrangea, Hydrangea paniculata ‘Le Vasterival,’ was growing in a two gallon can. After purchasing the Hydrangea it was potted in an expensive Japanese container and shaped into a cascade style bonsai.

Only a few branches were pruned and a couple pulled down with guy wires. I designed the bonsai so it could be viewed from several sides. This spring a larger container was required and the bonsai was planted in an old blue glazed Chinese container.

In 2014 the Hydrangea was displayed in my alcove in the left to right direction. This year the bonsai was displayed from the other side presenting a right to left eye movement.

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2014 Display left to right eye movement

The eye movement of a bonsai is important when designing a display in an alcove or exhibit. Sometimes a left to right design is needed for the exhibit and often a right to left design is required for better balance of the entire display or exhibition.

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Two different companion plants of Chameleon plant, Houttuynia cordata, were selected. This herbaceous perennial is invasive and can easily take over a garden. In Asia the Chameleon plant has medicinal uses and is also used for salads or garnish. The stems are aromatic when crushed. It requires quite a bit of water and my companion plants are always sitting in a shallow basin of water. Both plantings are in unglazed round shallow containers.

COMPANION

Two Chameleon plants, suiseki and water basin for companions

YELLOW RAFT

BROWN RAFT 2

Two different colored bamboo rafts were selected for the companion planting. The yellow bamboo seemed a bit bright and the brown raft looked better.

ROCK

A coastal stone suiseki was also used to present a cool feeling with the delicate white flowers of the Great Star Panicle hydrangea. I selected an unglazed oval water basin to contrast with the round glazed container of the bonsai. A Chinese quince burl flat slab was used to contrast with the water basin. A bamboo raft was also tried and seemed to fit the summer dispay.

SUISEKI SUISEKI 2

Next one of the Chameleon plants was removed from the container and placed on the sand in the water basin to present a different feeling of the cool foliage against the water.

SUIBAN PLANT

The Great Star Panical hydrangea tends to dry out quite quickly and it now sits in a shallow basin of water, thus the name “Hydrangea.” I’ve been watching and studying this plant waiting for the delicate white flowers to open again this season. It’s interesting that last year the Hydrangea opened on July 18th and this year on the 15th.

DISPLAY SUISEKI

Also included in my collection is a Climbing hydrangea, Hydrangea petiolaris, with exfoliating reddish bark and white flowers. This specimen is approximately three feet tall and is developing nicely as a literati style bonsai.

DISPLAY 2

When this Hydrangea display was arranged, some people did not understand or appreciate the subtle beauty of the naturalistic composition. Out of state visitors will be arriving tomorrow and I hope they take a few moments rest their eyes and think about this display in my studio.

DISPLAY 1

I enjoyed composing this Great Star Panical hydrangea display and hope others might like it as well. Enjoy this summer display in my studio alcove.

MABA 2015 Convention

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The 2015 Mid-America Bonsai Alliance Convention (MABA) was held on July 10-12, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The event was hosted by members of the Indianapolis Bonsai Cub held at the Clarion Waterfront Hotel & Conference Center.

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The exhibit was GREAT! There were 90 displays featuring 150 trees. Not too many exhibits have 150 trees, all in one room. The layout was quite good, but two of the aisles were a bit close to each other, but allowed people to pass while enjoying the beauty of the bonsai. Nobody seemed to complain because they were too busy studying the bonsai and how they were displayed. I was particularly impressed by most of the displays. Extra care was given to preparing the trees for formal display. The containers were clean; display tables polished and each bonsai had a companion planting. There were a great number of fine quality bonsai displayed. There were quite a number of shohin bonsai compositions too.

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Of course there were lecture/demonstrations and workshops as well as a large sales area, but for me, the exhibit was quite outstanding. Many people who have visited other exhibitions also commented on the quality of bonsai.

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Suthin Sukosolvisit, the featured artist for the convention spent some time judging all the bonsai in the display. It took considerable time and effort since there were so many excellent bonsai. After judging early in the morning he attended my seminar on bonsai evaluation. He needed to leave at 11am to conduct an hour exhibit critique. Then from 1 to 2 pm he had another critique, which was followed by his workshop from 2 to 5 pm. From 7 to 10 pm Suthin presented a lecture/demonstration with a large size Blue moss cypress, but it ended up considerably smaller in size. He had a busy day, but I’m sure he enjoyed it as much as his students.

SUTHIN

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Best Deciduous Bonsai by Barbara Bogan

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Best Evergreen Bonsai by Carl Wooldridge

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Best Native Bonsai by Neil Delinger

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Award of Merit by Wm. N. Valavanis

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Best Shohin Bonsai Composition by Mel Goldstein

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Best of Show by Wm. N. Valavanis

The convention also kept me busy on Saturday beginning at 9am to 12pm conducting a seminar on how bonsai evaluation. After an hour lunch I lead a one hour critique through the exhibit. From 2 to 5pm I taught my bonsai display seminar. After covering the theory, principles and techniques of bonsai display, participants split into three groups for creating a display. We all went into the exhibit and each of the three groups could freely take any bonsai, display table and companion planting to create their own composition. They brought all the material into the seminar room where they created some distinctive bonsai displays. I brought several companion plantings, flat slabs and a few scrolls which they could also use. Three beautiful displays were created and the entire group discussed each of them.

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That was a long day for me, teaching from 9am to 5pm with only an hour for lunch and three McDonalds sweet teas, but I got through it and had fun. Several of the students also participated in all three of my programs as well, but they did not have or need the McDonalds sweet teas. Congratulations to the Indianapolis Bonsai Club for hosting another successful convention and to the Mid-America Bonsai Alliance for sponsoring the event for their members and guests from around the country. I look forward to the next MABA Convention.

EARLY SUMMER BONSAI DISPLAY

SMOKE TREE ALCOVE

The alcove display in my studio is periodically changed according to the season of the year, expected visitors, bonsai class instruction or other special occasions. The period of late spring and early summer is particularily colorful. Because of the severe winter, spring arrived “late” and summer came a bit early. Enjoy a few of the displays composed in early summer.

GOLDEN SMOKE TREE

SMOKE TREE

The Smoke tree, Cotinus coggygeria, is a tall shrub or small tree in the garden. It is cultivated for the unusual flower clusters which look like smoke in spring.

GREEN SMOKE

The species has green foliage and fluffy yellowish flowers, but is not widely grown.

PURPLE SMOKE PURPLE SMOKE FLOWER

The most common Smoke tree is the cultivar ‘Royal Purple’ well known for the purple foliage and pink flowers.

GOLDEN SMOKE

SMOKE TREE FLOWERS

Another unusual Smoke tree cultivar is ‘Golden Spirit’ with brilliant yellow foliage and light pink flowers. All three of these varieties have a colorful red and orange autumn color. This bonsai has only been in training for three years from a two gallon can nursery stock. Perhaps with more water and a bit of shade the foliage would have been larger and more golden, but I’ve been trying to reduce the foliage and flower size by maintaining ‘intelligent neglect.’ Both the flowers and foliage are considerably smaller than the one planted in front of our home.

BAMBOO TABLE

Since it’s the summer season the display table I selected has a carved bamboo design. Because of the bamboo design a bamboo raft for the companion planting was not suitable because it would be repetitive.

SMOKE:BAMBOO RAFT

HOSTA PLATE

An oval ceramic plate was selected for the Dwarf hosta companion planting because the Smoke tree is growing in a round container. Since the Smoke tree is in an unglazed container, a Dwarf hosta in a blue glazed container was used.

SMOKE DISPLAY

A companion planting of Black Mondo Grass was also used because of the contrasting color of the foliage with the golden leaves of the Smoke tree. But it did not look good on a bamboo raft so a wooden slab was used.

BLACK MONDO BAMBOO RAFT

BLACK MONDO SLAB

WILLOW PAINTING

The scroll featuring a bird with weeping willow branches was selected to enhance the early summer season.

BERCHEMIA

BERCHEMIA

Berchemia, Berchemia racemosa, a shrub with vining branches which are elegant. The bonsai is in full bloom now and also has a few reddish fruit which actually developed last summer.

BERCHEMIA FLOWERS

After summer flowering the yellow blossoms drop and small brown buds develop. Most people think the plant has finished flowering and the remaining brown buds are trimmed. However, leaving the brown buds on the tree, through the winter will result in plump reddish fruit next summer. So, if you prune the bonsai so it looks tidy in late summer it will fail to form fruit next year.

BERCHEMIA FLOWER

BERCHEMIA FRUIT

The Berchemia bonsai is in full bloom now and also has a few reddish fruit which actually developed last summer. The rough bark looks old and is actually. I’ve been growing this bonsai in a container for over thirty years. Perhaps it gets fatter in the ground, but I’ve never seen a large specimen. Because of the long branches it has been shaped in a rather naturalistic form, even with a crossing branch in the front, but it does not touch the trunk.

BERCHEMIA HOSTA DISPLAY

The Berchemia is displayed here with a dwarf hosta companion planting. But this is a poor selection because both containers are round and also blue glazed. So I tried a small bird figurine on a round wooden slab, so it would contrast with the rectangular display table for the Berchemia.

 

BERCEMIA DISPLAY

BIRD

TIGER EYE SUMAC

TIGER EYES SUMAC

The Tiger Eyes Sumac, Rhys typhina ‘Bailtiger,’ is a rather new sumac introduced a few years ago. It’s grown for the bright golden lacy foliage and red fruit. The color is quite attractive in the garden and forms a focal point next to the outdoor alcove display area. Additional information on this cultivar and how this bonsai was created can be found in this blog from August 2013. The foliage has also reduced on this plant in only two growing seasons.

SUMAC ALCOVE

HOUTINNIA

A Dwarf hosta displayed on an informal style bamboo raft was tried to contrast with the bright yellow leaves and red flowers.

HOSTA

The geometric round wooden slab, with bamboo edging was tried, but the roundish ‘root display table’ of the Tiger Eyes Sumac did not contrast enough with the round wooden slab. At the end, a hand carved  informal wooden slab of uneven lengths was selected. This unusual slab was was a gift from Marc Arpag who also carved it.

WOODEN SLAB

BIRD PAINTING

A quiet black and white scroll painting featuring two birds was selected for this display.