Today the weather was a bit better than the day before and even became sunny. Yesterday was chilly and most guests wore a light sweater or jacket. Today was warmer and by Tuesday the forecast is for 93F!
The day began with Ron Maggio giving a well organized program on suiseki. He covered different topics than Marc Arpag’s lecture yesterday and brought several fine quality suiseki from his collection to share with the audience. He spoke a bit about the history and background of individual suiseki which is important to the Japanese suiseki lovers because it shows the respect for the stones and remembers everyone who enjoyed them in the past. Each stone has its own story and some were quite interesting, humorous and educational. He showed one of his favorite stones which was a present from a retired Japanese bonsai professional in Kyoto, Japan.
Next Marc Arpag gave a demonstration on refinement. He used a cascade style Bird Nest Spruce for his program which he has been training for about seven years. He did not like the Chinese training pot and could not wait to put it into a finer container. Before transplanting Marc spoke about training spruce bonsai and showed the beginning of fine wiring and a bit of adjustments to some of the branching. When he was finished working on the tree he prepared a “scoop pot” which was hand made by DaSu Pottery in DeMoines, Iowa. The pot was perfect for the bonsai and Marc transplanted it while the audience asked questions.
The last program for the weekend was my special demonstration. I had a large piece of bog iron stone which was collected in Alabama over 30 years ago. Last century it was over six feet long and I had a Japanese black pine planted on it. The tree died and the rock broke into two pieces so they were put out back for additional weathering. Last year Jim Dolce needed a special rock for a Juniper and the smaller section was perfect for his new planting. A few weeks I decided to use the larger section for my demonstration and began it’s preparation a couple of days ago. I used a leaf blower to remove all the dust and fine particles of stone dust from the surface so tie down wires could be securely attached. It was sitting on a tripod turntable with wheels and suddenly it decided to roll. Well, I was not lucky and my precious stone broke into three large pieces. I tried for half a day to glue it together, but could not. So, I gave up and had a back up forest pot selected to be used for a year and then to be planted on the stone in the future. Alan Adair showed up and saved the day by gluing the rock together. He used a special contractors calk which is industrial strength. We let the stone dry for two days, just to make certain it would hold. Although the large stone looks flat, it actually is on an odd angle with small pieces of stone naturally serving as legs to hold the stone at a good viewing angle. Thanks to Alan for coming to the rescue.
In April I found five single trunk Fernspray Hinoki Cypress at a small nursery in Pennsylvania. They were all upright growing in two gallon pots. They sat behind my studio since April waiting for me to use them for my forest. I’ve been kind of busy this year and decided to use the Open House demonstration for the forest planting. In August the trees were thinned out and the root balls were cut in half in preparation for the demonstration. I first began by explaining the difference between a forest composed of individual trees and those by a single tree (sinuous and raft style) by using the bonsai I had selected for display as examples.
As I began talking Harvey Carapella and Marc Arpag began by wiring the single trunk of each of the five trees. Then they removed most of the soil in preparation for planting. Before they finished I took the opportunity to show how to attach the tie down wires to the stone. Several different methods were discussed and two were shown. The other wires were already attached beforehand. After misting the stone first a small wall of peat much was applied to the rock at the edge of the planned area for the roots.
Ron Maggio then took over as my assistant and held up each tree, by the top, not the bottom trunk while I positioned each specimen. Some bonsai soil was added to keep the trunks in the exact positions I wanted. Then Ron and I tied the wires, added a bit more soil and finally added moss over the entire soil surface. A couple of Satsuki azaleas and perennials were added to provide interest and hide a large root. Some dwarf creeping thyme which trails was planted on the one area where the crack was visible. It was hidden at the end. The trimming started, first with branches growing into adjoining trunks. As I trimmed Ron used small pieces of copper wire as “hair pins” to securely attach the moss so it would not move, especially on the slanted sides. When the trimming finished a couple of branches were wired for better positioning. When looking at the completed forest planting on the rock we discovered that the back side was also suitable for viewing. That was not an accident, but planned out weeks ahead of time. I do not suggest transplanting and creating a rock planting with winter hardy species at this time of the year, spring is best. Since September is not the best time for transplanting evergreen species in the Upstate New York area, I’ll give the new planting maximum winter protection by keeping it in my heated greenhouse which is maintained at about 50F for the winter months.
The entire weekend was a success because of all the hard work of Diane feeding us and helping in the stuio and the Upstate New York Suiseki Study Group who set up the stone exhibit and helped answering questions. Ron Maggio and Marc Arpag presented great lectures on suiseki. Harvey Carapella and Marc Arpag gave interesting bonsai demonstrations. Both Marc Arpag and Harvey Carapella assisted Ron Maggio and me with my demonstration. Not to be forgotten is my “Monday Senior Crew” who worked hard for several weeks to get my garden ready for the many visitors.
Bob Pfromm, Rick Marriott, Paul Eschmann, Tom Friday, me, Doug McDade
Next Autumn we will be hosting the 4th US National Bonsai Exhibition, and will be having an Open House during the event, but not programs in my garden. Several demonstrations and lectures will be presented at the Exhibition which is only five miles from my garden. Enjoy Autumn while you can, because you know what is coming up next…