Restyling a Historic Ponderosa (in a Metal Pot) –
Years ago a friend dropped off an old brake drum, an old rusted thing from a car, and said ‘Put something in that’. I was pretty amused and said I would, and yet it’s taken me a while to find something worthy of it. We finally did, this spring, and it was the first time I’ve ever put a tree in a metal container.
I’ve featured this Ponderosa here before. Collected way back in the 80’s, it made its way onto the cover of BCI magazine in 1992. The lower branch was getting weak and last fall we had a post about cutting that branch off, and rethinking the inclination and front.
This spring we put the pine in the brake drum. I worried that the metal container would heat up a lot, but, interestingly, it hasn’t (more about that in another post).
Fall has arrived and the tree is plenty strong enough for a restyle. While looking at the pine again an edgier front possibility arose, and we went with that…
The Ponderosa pine on the cover of BCI magazine in 1992
Fall of 2019. A lower branch was cut off, with some blocks helping us think about what a restyle might look like. The only problem with this perfectly serviceable front is that it looks like a bonsai should look, when it’s being polite.
August 2020. In spring the Ponderosa pine was repotted into a rusted brake drum, at this new angle, but we found a new front, too. The decisions here were not easy (are they ever), as we had to give up an interesting burl of wood at the base of this tree for the new tucked in look. What I liked was the more interesting line from this view. Bunjin is all about line, not base, or nebari, so we sacrificed that to get a far more active trunk line. No major bends were done, just a turn of the pot 90 degrees. There is nothing I did here that a future owner couldn’t undo, with a return to the original front, which is a nice one. But, the original front felt a bit…prosaic…to me, and I wanted something edgier. The unusual container choice and the unusual front have a touch of simpatico. It’s a little less bonsai-like and maybe a little more interesting. To me at any rate.
Long term effects of the metal are uncertain and this unusual container may become a ‘display’ pot for the pine and not a year-round growing pot. We’ll continue to monitor it, though, and will report back.