For lack of a better title…The ‘Boot’. Long time followers of this blog know that I often name trees so that it’s easier to identify them. Not in the sense that they are serious NAMES that are sometimes given very, very good bonsai in Japan. It’s easier (and more fun) to say, ‘Let’s bring the Boot into the studio today’ than ‘Let’s bring the fourth Vine Maple to the left into the studio today’.
So. The Boot. I collected this Vine Maple about a year and a half ago. Vine Maple is one of our more curious, long-lived understory trees here in the Pacific Northwest, USA. It looks a bit like Half-Moon Maple, but it’s far more vigorous. And we can collect it! Having old, yamadori deciduous nearby is lucky in the extreme. Given other ring counts in the area, this tree is about 90 years old.
I’d been looking forward to doing something with this one ever since collecting it. I had very little idea what that ‘something’ might be, until this winter I was toying around with these interior supports I’ve been using for a couple of years, and wondered if a cantilevered bonsai was possible. We see so many trees growing off nurse logs up here, and some of them feel a bit precarious…
Like some of the other tree projects going on here, I used the sculptural idea of the ‘found object’ rather heavily. None of the branches of this maple have ever had wire on them, the challenge was to use what we found to its best advantage, without manipulation.
Enjoy the photo essay!
Our Vine Maple, tilted at the angle and viewed from the front we thought was most interesting. It does have a big rotted hole on the other side, and that, given the age of this tree, was also a possible front. Gnarly little tree.
Some earlier work on the back. The left large branch is very straight, so we cut it off and carved it out…
…leaving this hole, which was designed to harmonize with the larger, natural hole.
Bobby beginning our soil removal.
Beginning to play around with the nylon support. (My grandfather, long since passed, wore this jacket when he was puttering around in his massive gladiolus beds. Since learning that I’ve worn it nearly nonstop in the bonsai garden).
Our best guess at how the tree should rest on the support.
Bobby securing the counterweight…
…and tying on the sphagnum, tucked around the roots. This is another interesting angle of viewing, and gives a better sense of the projection toward the viewer from our chosen front.
The root mass floats a bit above the table, which looks like the odd rotted wood formations covered in moss that one sees here in the Northwestern forests, with curious plants growing off them. This tree is still a bit of an ugly duckling, with some branches like the straight lower left one that I’ll shorten eventually, after the tree gets established. These are remarkably strong trees, however. The root strength is similar to Trident Maple. Small leaves are bursting out now, only a week after assembly. Somehow ‘assembly’ feels like a better word than ‘potting’, yes?