Developing an Unpromising Sierra Juniper Bunjin–student work from Seasonal

This is a product of my Seasonal sessions. A few years ago I bought this weedy looking Sierra juniper, removed the field soil and repotted it into a pumice/akadama mix in a plastic nursery pot with help from Seasonal students in 2009, and styled it with a Seasonal group in 2010.

It really did look unpromising at first, but I’m proud of my student’s work. They made a significant bend in the main trunk in hard dead wood—which originally was as straight as an arrow—and wired the top branches. Then this spring we repotted it into the bonsai container it is shown in. We tried a few display options and possible companion plants in our summer Seasonal last week (July 2011), which included several of the students who had seen it through from the beginning.

It was a lovely transformation, this tree, my student’s efforts. They brought what was nothing much to something of note. Rilke says something appropriate in his Letters to a Young Poet:

“If you will love what seems to be insignificant and will in an unassuming manner, as a servant, seek to win the confidence of what seems poor, then everything will become easier, more harmonious, and somehow more conciliatory, not for your intellect—that will likely remain behind, astonished—but for your innermost consciousness, your awakeness, and your inner knowing.”

The Sierra juniper at it's first styling, just after making a bend in the trunk. May 2010. The long jin on top was later removed.

25" high. July 2011. Tricky to get the lighting right in a photo that will express the back and forth movement of the simple trunk. I've never been satisfied with images of bunjin, which require the viewer's presence for a sense of scale, subtleties of movement, and evocativeness. To critique this, I think the apex could be smaller and more compact, it seems a bit loose and rangy for the thin trunk.

6 Comments

  1. Jeremiah Lee says:

    Great use of this material!

  2. crataegus says:

    Always glad to be borrowed, Wayne! Thanks–

  1. […] in debt. I’ve been borrowing from Michael Hagedorn (Crataegus Bonsai) for years. It’s a debt that can only be repaid by appreciation. This strange and wonderful […]

  2. […] Bunjin style Sierra juniper from Michael Hagedorn’s Crataegus Bonsai. The article is titled Developing an Unpromising Sierra Juniper Bunjin – student work from […]

  3. […] Bunjin style Sierra juniper from Michael Hagedorn’s Crataegus Bonsai. The article is titled Developing an Unpromising Sierra Juniper Bunjin – student work from […]

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