Classical Bonsai MasterClass Session II

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The second session of the Classical Bonsai MasterClass began with discussing a different alcove display featuring a cascade style Kiyo Hime Japanese maple, just leafing out and ready for bud pinching and trimming. After discussing the formal display tradition and principles we went over how to correctly control the new growth of both developed and undeveloped deciduous bonsai. Since this bonsai was not bud pinched last season, most of the terminal buds will be shortened to maintain a compact form, yet presenting a light elegant feeling.

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Wiring techniques were the main topic of the morning PowerPoint presentation. After a brief explanation of basic wiring, we quickly changed the topic to more specific applications for bonsai shaping and refinement. John Wiessinger brought in an old collected American larch from a bog in Maine. Relocating a lower heavy branch would improve the design. A sharp trunk splitter was first used to dislocate the desired branch from the trunk to create more branching in empty areas. John watched the process and did not cringe as the branch was popped out of the trunk, bent and relocated. The newly positioned branch was held in place with wire and a guy wire. Cut paste was used to fill in the open would to promote a quick callus covering. Small pieces of flakey American larch bark were pressed into the moist cut paste to disguise the open bark wound.

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Each student worked on their own bonsai, and when an interesting technique was used, everyone came to watch, discuss and learn. Kip Neal brought a huge Forsythia for additional training which he dug from a landscape a few years ago. In the first session he began to carve the massive lower trunk and completed the process during the second session.

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Then we all moved into the garage where there was more room to use the reciprocating saw to easily and quickly remove the old heavy roots. I guided my assistant, Alan Adair, with the cutting process while the students intensely watched as we sawed through the heavy woody root system to allow the tree to sit lower in the large training pot.

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Coarse soil with horticultural charcoal was used for most of the potting mix to promote fast growth of new branches from the old trunk. As the new adventitious buds grow each new shoot will be wired into the new desired positions.

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After a full day of studying classical bonsai art training techniques we went for a quick dinner then everyone retired to rest for tomorrow’s final session.

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