As TS/Hurricane/TS Isaac is still hammering the Mississippi Delta and our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected, it makes us think of the ravaging effect nature can have on people and their environment including trees. When Hurricane Charley hit our neighborhood in our city in Central Florida, over 400 oak trees were down. It was a strange time having no water or electricity for days and having to chop and move fallen trees to get to the main road. For months and years later, the remaining trees were affected. Most had their leaves blown right off and at their rebirth the leaves were so close to the huge branches – just like after we do a hard chop on a bonsai. A trip to Georgia and seeing the lush, green leafy trees reminded me of how much our landscape had changed. But ultimately, secondary and tertiary branching happened and the trees’ leaves filled out and normalized. Then new trees were planted and we compared their upright branches to the downward, heavier, gnarly branches of the older trees that seemed much more aged after the storm. Bonsai! That’s the look I had been trying to achieve. All we have to do is look around and emulate what we see. Easy, right?
I started paying more attention and was encouraged in a Peter Warren Chinese Elm workshop in May to wire correctly all the time. Then in July at Tropical Bonsai School, I noticed that some of the best-looking trees were older trees that had been gifted or inherited from older club members. They had substantially more movement in the branches - natural aging. Wiring, care & time had combined to create trees worthy of exhibit display. The significance of wiring became very clear, proper wiring, that is. Also key is to remove the wire at the right time – not too soon, not too long. Like a clay sculptor, with passion we sculpt our trees with wiring and carving to create our ‘masterpiece’. Also, like a painter or sculptor, practice, practice, practice paves the way to the finest works of art. I’m still a fan of ‘clip and grow’ for some tropicals that aren’t conducive to wiring, but when there is opportunity wire will improve the trees faster and better. Take a look at the Wiring Techniques video on Orlando Bonsai and tomorrow when you’re in the bonsai garden or at the next bonsai exhibit, take a new look at the trees with only wire and branch movement in mind. Then, as always, take action when the time is right!
- Majestic old live oak tree
- ( at the Enzian Theatre looking out from the Eden Bar)