Advice on styling nursery stock callistemon

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TimIAm
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Advice on styling nursery stock callistemon

Post by TimIAm » April 14th, 2019, 9:27 am

I haven't cut a single leaf or branch on this. Ignore the wiring, ignore the pot etc. etc. I am just trying to decide what I am working towards and would appreciate any suggestions.

It is still sitting in a plastic nursery pot, I have it in the larger pot so I can play around with what the final placement might look like. The twin trunks are still thin enough that I can get pretty much any shape out of them. Still just playing around with shape and any wire currently on the trunk is just to support the wire on the branches while I play with the shape, not to hold the trunk in place.

I'm not thinking of putting it in a tiny pot yet. I just want to sort out general direction and then getting some shape into the trunks while they are still small and flexible enough.

Here's what it looks like now:
t1.jpg
First option I was thinking was a windswept style like this. Maybe I would rotate it a little so it didn't sit below the line of the pot surface.
t2.jpg
Second option was my original plan which would also be a windswept style (note, please ignore current leaf / branch placement, I would wire them so they were all going towards the same direction), but it would involve rotating the base of the tree and be more elongated and less brushy.
t3.jpg
Any thoughts, suggestions, completely different ideas are all appreciated. Thanks!
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robb63
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Re: Advice on styling nursery stock callistemon

Post by robb63 » April 14th, 2019, 11:28 am

Hi Tim and welcome
Option 1 for me but you can go many ways with young stock like this.
I would make a decision when repotting the tree next October or November
The surface roots you uncover and the trunk just above them usually influences the future direction.
Don't be worried about pruning back long strait branches too thick to bend with wire, like bottom branch[option 1]
Callistemon are tough as old boots and will back but even after the severest trunk chops
The more movement you bend into the trunk and branches now the better.
Good start for now.
Hope you enjoy your bonsai journey
cheers

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Re: Advice on styling nursery stock callistemon

Post by shibui » April 14th, 2019, 5:32 pm

I think this callistemon has plenty of good options to work with. I also like the look of the cascading tree but several things stand out as it is.

I also picked up the straight sections Robb mentioned though I have found even more of them - marked in red - and the more I look the more I find. Currently don't look too bad but in another year when all the existing leaves age and drop you will have some very bare, straight branches with leaves only at the tips. Wiring and bending will change straight areas but will not address lack of side branches or change of taper in long branches. Pruning, while it may appear to be a step backwards short term, is a great long term way to promote changes of direction, ramification and taper in branches and trunks.

The area circled in blue also seems distracting. Branches crossing and many coming from the same place stop the eyes from following the flow of the design :imo:
Tim Callistemon.JPG
Both are just small things that can easily be addressed if you wish to take my opinion.

You will probably find that pruning is a great help to simplify bonsai designs. It can sometimes be difficult initially but in bonsai, less is often more. Cascade is a style I think has origins in really harsh conditions so I feel that sparseness goes hand in hand with cascade. Some bonsai gurus have used the term 'negative space' to refer to the areas in or designs where there is no branching and no foliage. An older saying mentions leaving spaces for the birds and butterflies.
See if you can find some spots where spaces would be better than branches in that design.
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TimIAm
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Re: Advice on styling nursery stock callistemon

Post by TimIAm » April 14th, 2019, 9:17 pm

Thanks both for the detailed replies. Plenty for me to think about.

I agree, that section in blue is too busy and I will need to think about how to manage that. Totally agree on finding taper and finding some way for the design to flow so that the eye can follow.

Now I have a checklist of things I need to get sorted. Will go back to staring at it for a few days and will post an update in a few months. Cheers.

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