TREE HEIGHT

Share your success stories about defoliation, bare rooting and anything else relating to maintaining healthy bonsai.
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Re: TREE HEIGHT

Post by Jow »

Hi all. While shimpaku are very popular I am not sure that the top trees differ in price that much. That said shimpaku do pack a premium at the moment generally in japan and elsewhere. Part of this is because they require less frequent maintenance and therefore are cheaper to have maintained over time compared to say black pines that need seasonal work a few times a year (which most owners pay professionals to do). Also they are just popular.

As for the wider discussion going on here I don't think it is ever black and white. Much like fine art there are many styles to admire from abstract, figurative, contemporary installation etc. none are particularly better than another but appeal to different people and express different things. Part of the beauty of it all is the difference of styles, trends and opinions.
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Re: TREE HEIGHT

Post by wrcmad »

treeman wrote:
wrcmad wrote:
As is most of the best rated, and most valuable art. :)
In Japan, the best rated and most valuable bonsai are Shimpaku Junipers that were shaped by nature. Their value lies in their trunks and branches not the clipped hedge (''art'') on top. That is only transitory and can always be changed. These are valued at 2 to five times any black pine. (maybe more...Jow might be able to clarify that) The whole point of bonsai was originally to capture the experience of nature in some way. That is where the true artisty is (or used to be). Modern bonsai has strayed from that concept in many circumstances. (IMO)
You are probably right – yamadori shimpaku probably are valued highest. However, my point was not to rate a species by value.
My point was that often the best art is contrived.
Although the shimpaku you speak of are a good example – excessive amounts of convoluted deadwood, bleached to a dazzling luminous white, and flanked by live vain that has been polished and buffed to a brilliant ochre, topped with a seemingly conflicting perfectly formed, healthy, bright green crown, and finished at soil level by a luscious velvet-like moss. A little contrived? Yes. But very artistic, and representative of the expression trying to be conveyed by the artist.

If bonsai is to be considered art, then it needs to be considered that the aim of art is not merely to produce beauty (beauty cannot be defined objectively, and therefore cannot be used as a criterion to define what is, or is not, art), or to provide pleasure, enjoyment, or entertainment. Art is a means of communication, and is a means of evoking expression. More often than not, this is achieved by using artistic form and content which is representative of the expression (artistic expression) trying to be evoked. This is where the seemingly exaggerated ratio guides come in to play.
Thus, IMHO in bonsai, straight-up replication of a plain-vanilla tree in nature often misses the mark in this respect.
Last edited by wrcmad on January 28th, 2016, 2:42 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: TREE HEIGHT

Post by bodhidharma »

I remember a thread exactly like this a long time ago where contributors got a little hot under the collar and from memory, was locked. 2009-2010 or something like that :o anyway, glad to see we are not heading down the same road here. When i visited Omiya it struck me that, yes, Junipers were popular and i was lucky enough to see first hand one that was reputed to be 1000 plus years old. Having said that it was the black and white pine that was prevalent (Read everywhere) and maples also were high on the list. This seemed the norm in most of Omiya. From memory though, the highest paid for a tree was a white pine and it was reportedly sold for 1.25 million U.S? Anyway, on the subject of ratio's, it will always boil down to a persons preference as some like Sumo and some like tall and skinny and does it really matter in the scheme of thing's. I love highly ramified tree's shown naked, which is certainly not the norm for Aussie tree's hence i don't work much with them.
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Re: TREE HEIGHT

Post by treeman »

My point was that often the best art is contrived.
wrcmad,
No doubt but bonsai cannot be placed in the same catagory of all other art forms. The best examples (at least to me) are those which exhibit the least amount of contrivance. Whether the work was contrived in even the most artificial way, the aim is surely to produce a piece which conveys a complete lack of apparent artificiality. On the contrary, something wich conveys the maximum amount of naturalness. If that is not the aim and bonsai art is simply catagorized along with painting or sculpture, then we can go ahead and produce a ball on a stick and call it a bonsai.
IMO, if the bonsai in question blatently exhibits this contrivance - regardless of the skill required to achieve it and regardless of the age or bark texture, it is an inferior work when compared to others which do not. The Black pine above is such a tree as are more and more of the modern interpretations appearing at the moment.
You may disagree with this contention and that is fine but you cannot then complain that my potted ball on a stick is not bonsai art.
Although the shimpaku you speak of are a good example – excessive amounts of convoluted deadwood, bleached to a dazzling luminous white, and flanked by live vain that has been polished and buffed to a brilliant ochre, topped with a seemingly conflicting perfectly formed, healthy, bright green crown, and finished at soil level by a luscious velvet-like moss. A little contrived? Yes. But very artistic, and representative of the expression trying to be conveyed by the artist.
Agreed. Very artistic and more than a little contrived. Almost plastic in appearence! I feel that this kind of thing has pretty muched reached it's conclusion and I predict that it won't be long before we start to see bonsai design starting to return to its more natural origins.
There is at least one Shimpaku collector in Japan who thinks most are overworked and refuses to follow that trend believing that the natural character of the tree is of the utmost importance. I am firmly in that camp.
Of course most of my own trees have been or are in the proccess of being styled in the modern way and this is something with which I am grappling with at this very moment. It is much more difficult to style conifers in a more natural and individualistic way as there is no concrete formula for doing so as yet. And perhaps there cannot be because each tree will now be unique. Definitely not the case at the moment!
Last edited by treeman on January 29th, 2016, 5:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TREE HEIGHT

Post by wrcmad »

treeman wrote:
My point was that often the best art is contrived.
wrcmad,
No doubt but bonsai cannot be placed in the same catagory of all other art forms. The best examples (at least to me) are those which exhibit the least amount of contrivance. Whether the work was contrived in even the most artificial way, the aim is surely to produce a piece which conveys a complete lack of apparent artificiality. On the contrary, something wich conveys the maximum amount of naturalness. If that is not the aim and bonsai art is simply catagorized along with painting or sculpture, then we can go ahead and produce a ball on a stick and call it a bonsai.
IMO, if the bonsai in question blatently exhibits this contrivance - regardless of the skill required to achieve it and regardless of the age or bark texture, it is an inferior work when compared to others which do not. The Black pine above is such a tree as are more and more of the modern interpretations appearing at the moment.
You may disagree with this contention and that is fine but you cannot then complain that my potted ball on a stick is not bonsai art.
Actually, I don't disagree with you. I respect (sometimes in absolute awe of the skill required) the artist who can produce a piece which conveys a complete lack of apparent artificiality. It is very difficult and requires a very special ability.
I also distinguish strongly between bonsai and topiary. :P
However, in bonsai, it is often both very skilful and creative to produce a tree with features a little left of centre, unique, or somewhat contrived, while still representing or conveying that natural aged look that anyone can relate to.
It is often the little pieces of contrivedness (if that is a word :lost: ) that produces a double take, or brings the viewer back for closer inspection or a second look.
It is also the creativity, imagination, or boldness of the artist that can pull this off effectively while distinguishing their tree as a standout or different to the run-of-mill that I admire - it too is very difficult.
Like Ryan Neil states - if you have a viewer want to invest their time looking at or inspecting your creation, then you have achieved your goal - you have created something that the viewer values enough to invest their own time admiring, rather than just a passing glance. :)
Last edited by wrcmad on January 29th, 2016, 7:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: TREE HEIGHT

Post by treeman »

wrcmad wrote: Like Ryan Neil states - if you have a viewer want to invest their time looking at or inspecting your creation, then you have achieved your goal - you have created something that the viewer values enough to invest their own time admiring, rather than just a passing glance.
I can't agree with this statement. I believe your primary goal should be to achieve what you set out to achieve for yourself not for others. Everyone likes recognition and appreciation of their work of course. That is completely natural. However working primarily for the admiration of others is in my opinion, selling yourself short. Apparently this kind of thing is going on quite a lot in Europe at the moment. Winning prises at the big shows is the goal. The quickest way to do that of course is to by top quality Japanese bonsai and put it in the show with your name on it and you win.
Another example is where works so obviously created to shock or get lots of oohs and ahhs are put up for viewing.

Here are a couple of examples:

This first one, although not so bad and easily remedied has the rediculous jin streching into the sky which has no other meaning to me than to catch the eye. What else could it possibly represent? The scale (or size) of the tree is from the soil surface to the top of the crown (more or less) That is the ''tree'' and you can imagine the centuries it took to reach that height. Where does the tall jin which is totally out of scale come into the illusion?
j1.JPG

This one, well what can I say other than it's not a even a bonsai. I'm sure people will be investing their time and inspecting this creation. So I guess in that respect, the creator has achieved his goal (if that what it was)
j2.JPG
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Re: TREE HEIGHT

Post by wrcmad »

treeman wrote:
wrcmad wrote: Like Ryan Neil states - if you have a viewer want to invest their time looking at or inspecting your creation, then you have achieved your goal - you have created something that the viewer values enough to invest their own time admiring, rather than just a passing glance.
I can't agree with this statement. I believe your primary goal should be to achieve what you set out to achieve for yourself not for others. Everyone likes recognition and appreciation of their work of course. That is completely natural. However working primarily for the admiration of others is in my opinion, selling yourself short.
I can see your point, however... "working primarily for the admiration of others" is not how I interpret this statement.
Personally, my primary goal is very much to achieve what I set out to achieve for myself... but I also like to use other peoples reaction as a yardstick of my work, or confirmation that I am on track, so as to reassure myself I am not kidding myself, or wearing rose coloured glasses in regards to my own creations, and possibly garner some feedback that will help me improve. :)
Additionally to this, if bonsai is to be considered an art, and my interpretation of art (as posted near the top of this page) is that it is primarily a form of communication and a means of evoking expression, then by definition it follows that it should be (and maybe needs to be) shared with others, as has been the case with any artform for many centuries. Otherwise, is it correct to call it an art?
In this context, Ryan Neil's statement may have more credibility than you give it.
Outside of this context, then I suppose the active bonsai fraternity should abandon club shows too for the reason of egotistical motives.... and while we are at it, the Bonsai Progression Series thread in this forum? :lost:
Last edited by wrcmad on January 30th, 2016, 9:09 pm, edited 10 times in total.
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Re: TREE HEIGHT

Post by Rory »

This is getting very deep and over my head in some parts.
As far as I can gather.... Mike, myself and a few others are saying ...
Don't get too hung up on rules of how your bonsai should look if you want your bonsai to look like a real tree.
Otherwise you may end up with an artistic form of a tree, instead of a tree.

There is nothing wrong with either philosophy, but some people may not be consciously aware that they are styling their tree nothing like that of its forms in the wild, when this is what they actually wanted.

As is so often said....
"in the wild, the trunk often..."
"In the wild, the branches go like this, not like this..."
"In the wild, this branch wouldn't survive because it's shaded by...."
And so on and so on...

Yet still their end product looks contrived and not at all like the tree in the wild.

All I can make from that, is that many enthusiasts like to take certain traits of the species, and apply that to a standard blueprint of a bonsai and mash it together. The result is often just another blueprint for a perception of a tree.

It's like when you look at a model, then draw it by memory.
You will usually produce a much better and realistic drawing by having the model there and drawing what you see, not what you think you see.

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Re: TREE HEIGHT

Post by Kevin »

bodhidharma wrote: Anyway, on the subject of ratio's, it will always boil down to a persons preference as some like Sumo and some like tall and skinny and does it really matter in the scheme of thing's. I love highly ramified tree's shown naked, which is certainly not the norm for Aussie tree's hence i don't work much with them.
Sorry everyone, just a quick question to Bodhidharma:

Bodhidharma, from your earlier post, your description "HIGHLY RAMIFIED" has had me thinking about the definition when relating to bonsai (I do know what you mean).

Obviously a bonsai of many hundreds of years would automatically fit the description of "highly ramified", but due to the plants age, you would not be able to physically see this feature.

My Questions:

1. Can a bonsai of many decades or less be "highly ramified"?
2. Is your answer an opinion or bonsai fact or both?

While i'm here - my :2c: worth since the subject matter has strayed from bonsai height. Personally, certain bonsai styles repulse me due to how they have been worked and presented. When i look at these specific (highly popular) bonsai styles / specimens all i can see is the Dr SEUSS characters of old. This is just one character - Google Dr Seuss, look at his characters. To me, a specific bonsai style, especially when presented as Shonin - all i can see are those ugly Dr Seuss cartoon characters.
fox1- Dr Seuss.jpg
Sorry, but, while on the subject - it is my 2 bobs worth.

Kevin
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Re: TREE HEIGHT

Post by Nate.bonsai »

Of course a bonsai of many decades or less can be highly ramified, as long as the owner has put the effort into encouraging secondary and tertiary branching. Certain species are easier than others for this.

I don't think that it is a matter of opinion, you can see and assess it very objectively.


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Re: TREE HEIGHT

Post by Nate.bonsai »

And I should add the converse. Age alone won't guarantee high ramification.

We have all no doubt seen many trees of '70 years trained' etc which still only barely have primary branching and little to no secondary or tertiary twigging.


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Re: TREE HEIGHT

Post by bodhidharma »

Kevin wrote:Obviously a bonsai of many hundreds of years would automatically fit the description of "highly ramified", but due to the plants age, you would not be able to physically see this feature.
Hi Kevin, that would depend on the tree being a conifer or deciduous.. Once a tree loses it's leaves in Winter the ramification can easily be seen. You can also witness it once the tree has been defoliated.
Kevin wrote:1. Can a bonsai of many decades or less be "highly ramified"?
Sure, why not. With our pruning and defoliating techniques and a good feeding regime it can be done in twenty or so years and in some cases even less.
Kevin wrote:2. Is your answer an opinion or bonsai fact or both?
A fact as i have seen it done and am heading in that direction myself.
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Re: TREE HEIGHT

Post by Kevin »

Thanks Mate,

I am here but only to think and learn more bonsai for what it is beyond the plants themselves from the people who live and breathe bonsai and / or make their living from this incredible living form called bonsai.

Life has taught me, as i have also taught many horticultural apprentices and trainees - YOU WILL NEVER LEARN UNLESS YOU ASK. Unfortunately, some may believe dumb questions, for which i will not apologise. Also, I, like everyone has their own opinion. My opinion may be stated but it will never be intended to offend or cause harm. Likewise your opinion will always be held highly and respectfully by myself.

To those who may not know, I have loved bonsai for 4 decades, i have practised bonsai (behind closed doors) for 3 decades. I am a 30 year fully qualified and practising Horticulturist, Arborist and Green- Keeper.

And I am here to humbly learn more about what i love - bonsai.

Thanks for listening and helping me. If i can be of any assistance to anyone, please ask, as i will do my best to help as much as i can.

Kevin
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Re: TREE HEIGHT

Post by Mojo Moyogi »

Kevin wrote:
I am here but only to think and learn more bonsai for what it is beyond the plants themselves from the people who live and breathe bonsai and / or make their living from this incredible living form called bonsai.

Life has taught me, as i have also taught many horticultural apprentices and trainees - YOU WILL NEVER LEARN UNLESS YOU ASK. Unfortunately, some may believe dumb questions, for which i will not apologise. Also, I, like everyone has their own opinion. My opinion may be stated but it will never be intended to offend or cause harm. Likewise your opinion will always be held highly and respectfully by myself.

To those who may not know, I have loved bonsai for 4 decades, i have practised bonsai (behind closed doors) for 3 decades. I am a 30 year fully qualified and practising Horticulturist, Arborist and Green- Keeper.

And I am here to humbly learn more about what i love - bonsai.

Thanks for listening and helping me. If i can be of any assistance to anyone, please ask, as i will do my best to help as much as i can.

Kevin

Welcome Kevin, glad to have you here. I'll be sure to fire you plenty of turf questions in particular :tu:

Cheers,
Mojo (also making a living from Horticulture)
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Re: TREE HEIGHT

Post by bodhidharma »

Kevin wrote:Thanks Mate,

I am here but only to think and learn more bonsai for what it is beyond the plants themselves from the people who live and breathe bonsai and / or make their living from this incredible living form called bonsai.
A gracious reply Kevin and i hope we can help each other out in the future :tu:
Mojo Moyogi wrote:Welcome Kevin, glad to have you here. I'll be sure to fire you plenty of turf questions in particular

Hey Moj, nice to hear from you and glad you are still in the land of the living.
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