This morning we started our semi-annual event featuring bonsai displays and the Third Upstate New York Suiseki Exhibit. Photos from the stone exhibit were posted yesterday.
The studio is transformed from a teaching facility to a reception area after classes finish in late May. Bonsai are periodically displayed according to the season, what looks good and who is going to visit. The display for the weekend features a Washington Hawthorn with the fruit beginning to turn red. The Japanese maple leaves on the hanging scroll are also turning red. The companion plant, same that was used at the Midwest Bonsai Show, is a bit different now. The bright yellow Tiger Eyes Sumac is beginning to turn color and fall and the Toad Lily is beginning to bud since it blossoms in autumn. After finishing the display I suddenly discovered something strange, to my taste. Both the container of the bonsai and companion planting are both glazed, and even the same color! I rarely do that and could have easily switched containers to another round unglazed pot. In fact, this planting was in a round unglazed pot, but it was switched to the blue glazed pot for display with the RAF Dwarf Scots Pine displayed in Chicago. For my taste, the containers for the main bonsai and companion should be of different shapes (asymmetrical/symmetrical) and unglazed/glazed. In other words, a round or square container is used with an oval or rectangular container.
In the garage four different bonsai displays were set up as backgrounds for the suiseki lectures and bonsai demonstrations. They are attractive and easy for the speakers to comment on or used for teaching purposes. For example a Golden Hinoki Cypress forest of individual trees was displayed as well as a forest of Rock Cotoneaster, however, it was created by only one plant in the sinuous style, often misnamed “raft” style in the west. This was displayed for my original demonstration.
Golden Hinoki Cypress
Valavanis Dwarf Cypress
Marc Arpag began the programs for the day with an excellent introductory lecture on suiseki. He used several of his stones as examples and covered quite a bit of information in only one hour. People liked handling his suiseki as they were passed around.
Next Harvey Carapella trimmed an ancient Eastern White Cedar which is actually an Arborvitae. In the bonsai world we use the name Eastern White Cedar because it sounds more exotic than the common old Arborvitae. Harvey’s bonsai was originally a demonstration by Arthur Skolnik from Toronto over 25 years ago for our local club. He has changed it dramatically and now it is potbound again and began to form cones. The first thing he did, with Marc’s help was to remove all the cones because the take energy away from the vegetative growth. Next Harvey trimmed all the long shoots and wired a few. The bonsai will be transplanted into the same container in spring.
My demo began at 2pm and the topic needed to be changed at the last minute because of an accident, which I’ll explain tomorrow. Today I demonstrated with a bonsai which belonged to a long time student and good friend who recently passed away. His trees were kind of neglected during the past few years because his poor health. You can see the healthy vigorous weeds in the before photo. The tree is a Mugho Pine he has been training for over 30 years in a container. Once it was displayed on a huge flat rock. The horizontal trunk line was not of interest to me and seemed weak, so I first changed the angle, after weeding. Upright the trunk is much more powerful.
Mugho Pine before shaping
Trunk angle changed
Marc assisted me in removing the old long needles and wiring. In August I sold a youngster a bonsai at the Park Avenue Art Festival. The kid took great care of it and the plant grew so the wire needed to be removed and trimmed back. So I invited him to the Open House to watch the demo, along with his younger brother and father. He seemed truly interested and watched intensely, so I invited him up to help remove the needles which I think he seemed to enjoy. I feel its important to encourage the younger people since the old timers are quickly going “dormant” so a younger generation must be prepared to take over our trees when we go dormant as well.
A chisel was used to split the first branch because I wanted a low hanging branch. The tree was not difficult technically, but the literati style bonsai is a bit more complicated than it appears. So, we finished the bonsai and people left. However, I was so pleased with my newly designed bonsai that I hobbled upstairs in the studio (on my hands and knees, no pressure on my broken foot, remember?) and selected four possible containers, which Marc brought downstairs. One was the right and we transplanted it. However there was a strong root on one side and the planting angle needed to be adjusted, but the bonsai still looks good, at least I think so. This is only the first re-design of the bonsai and will look better in a couple of years after it fills out and is further refined.
Mugho Pine after re-style demonstration
The rain today did not stop visitors who came from Long Island and two hours north of Toronto, Canada. Other visitors came from closer distances and everyone had a good time looking at the suiseki and bonsai and went shopping as well, some even left with my new book, autographed too.
Tomorrow another suiseki lecture and two bonsai demonstrations, hopefully I’ll work on the tree originally planned.