Saturday, 23 January 2016

Other People's Ideas

I love going to bonsai workshops. They're a great place to look for new ideas while socialising with people with whom I have a shared interest.

When I joined my club eight years ago, things were slightly different. I needed all the help I could get in terms of style choice.

Since then experience has taught me that styling choices are subjective and that even the most accomplished bonsai artists may make suggestions that I don't agree with. Tastes differ, and life would be dull if that wasn't the case.

My problem has been developing the self-confidence to say no. Slowly I'm learning not to be rushed into any decisions I may regret later - most of the time. Sometimes I still succumb to pressure, but not as often as I used to.

In October 2015 I had the rare opportunity to go to a workshop attended by members of several of the clubs in my province. One of the trees which I took to that workshop was a small Syzygium which I'd air layered off a larger tree about a year ago. I knew it had too many branches but was undecided which ones to remove.

October 2015 - before workshop. The wires were there
 to secure the tree in its pot and were no longer needed.

Had I opted to remove only the lowest branches, it had the makings of a fairly decent broom style tree, but it was not to be.

One of the people at that workshop was a foreign guest. I'd already "met" her on Facebook and seen glimpses of the work she was doing, so when she decided that she wanted to work on my tree I gave her the go ahead.

As it turned out, her ideas were very different to mine and I came away with something that will in time probably become a fairly conventional informal upright tree. At the time the top was very bare, while the lowest branches were left as sacrifice branches to fatten the trunk.

October 2015 - after workshop

Since then it has filled in quite a lot.

January 2016 - before work

Today I decided to bring it inside for a quick tidy up, and not a moment too soon, because some of the wires were starting to bite quite badly.

Scars where wire has bitten into a branch

The branches held their position reasonably well when the wire was removed, so I decided not to rewire the tree for now. Instead I only removed a little unwanted growth from the trunk while it was still young enough not to leave unnecessary scars.

Unwanted new growth on trunk

I left one young twig though because I felt that the tree needed an extra branch in that area. It's got a lot of catching up to do, so I will have to let that one grow unrestricted for quite a while.

Zoomed in to show gap I'd like to fill

I also discovered one small branch which hasn't grown back since it was pruned and is almost certainly dead. Though I haven't removed it yet, I'll probably have to grow a replacement. Fortunately, as I've already shown, Syzygiums tend to produce masses of buds everywhere, so hopefully growing a replacement won't be a problem.

In time this should develop into a nice little tree, but I can't help feeling that it terms of style it will never really be mine.

After removing wire and unwanted growth on trunk - January 2016

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