During my Open Workshops on Friday and Saturday Harvey Carapella brought his Smoke Tree, Cotinus coggygria,bonsai to share and be photographed. He has been training this bonsai for many decades. This plant is not commonly trained for bonsai, or in the landscape as well. The Purple smoke tree is much more commonly used in the landscape because of the purple foliage. There is also a Golden smoke tree, but I have discovered it is not too vigorous in a container.
Harvey’s Smoke tree bonsai was featured on the front cover of the 1986/NO. 1 issue of International BONSAImagazine. He is the art director and also designs the magazine. Harvey purchased the tree in 1975 for $1.00 and it has been completely container grown for its entire life. This bonsai was a much taller and had a different elegance, but the top suddenly died. He then allowed the Smoke tree to grow and created an entire new dynamic bonsai from the lower living branch. Many shrubby species are not long lasting and the wood often rots. Therefore design options must always be considered.
EASTERN WHITE CEDAR
Harvey Carapella also brought one of his collected Eastern White Cedars, Thuja occidentalisfor refinement during my Open Workshop. Actually another name for this species is American arborvitae, but that name does not sound as exotic as “Eastern White Cedar.” Harvey and did an excellent job refining and trimming the bonsai, he always does. It is not easy to create and maintain the foliage of this species.
BUTTERFLY JAPANESE MAPLE
My Butterfly Japanese maple, Acer palmatum‘Butterfly,’ also looked especially good so I photographed it to capture its beauty. This Japanese maple cultivar has mostly variegated green and white foliage. It naturally has small delicate foliage and an upright growth habit. Thus, young branch tips are usually wired downward. The new growth is often tinged pink. The colorful variegated foliage colors do not always present a fine, quiet refined feeling. However such a colorful bonsai adds diversity to a bonsai collection.
FULL MOON MAPLE
The cascade Full moon maple, Acer japonicum,was also looking good, so since the photo studio was set up, we photographed it as well to record the its development.
I began training this bonsai in 1972 upon returning home from my bonsai apprenticeship in Omiya Bonsai Village, Japan. It has been trained in the two line cascade style and presents a colorful display of flowers each spring and is always colorful in autumn.
The Full moon maple was well developed, one of my favorite developed bonsai. Usually a colorful ribbon was tied to the lower branch to caution people not to damage the lovely branch. As many of my bonsai are, this Full moon maple is often changed in the garden according to season. It is always tied down with one or two pieces of sissy wire.
In autumn 2015 upon returning home from a trip I noticed the beautiful branch lying in the driveway. Although the tree was securely tied down, the strong wind must have moved and wiggled the container so it fell to the ground and broke the long branch. In 2016 the tree was trimmed a little and transplanted into a much more shallow container. I just allowed the tree to grow to see what could be done in the future.
A new shoot suddenly developed in 2017 where the original lower trunk was growing. I simply allowed it to grow. This spring it was wired to give the straight branch some movement to make it more interesting. The wire is nearly ready to be removed since the branch is becoming thick. I’m not sure how long or large the future bonsai will end up, but I’m enjoying the journey of training the maple.