Oh Snow!

Last week we had the first bit of snow in Obuse. It wasn’t much, but I love the snow and totally geeked out about it. This means that winter is definitely here and its time to get the tops and sides put on the greenhouses. The next day we started to do so. Soon all will be covered and I my hands won’t freeze off every time I go to water, but I’m sure they will as soon as we start shoveling the piles and piles of snow Obuse sometimes gets. Enjoy!

A little bit of snow falling in the morning.

Bonsai on display at entrance

A little bit of snow on the roof of the Big House and Tea Room

A cascading white pine that has been beaten down by years of snow!

Like the deer in the picture above, Matt knows what this first snow means...snow season and a lot of shoveling!

I say..."Let it snow"

I will be heading back to my home to North Carolina on the 21st of December for about a week for the holidays, can’t wait to see all my family! Thank you everyone for visiting!

Posted in Around the Nursery | 7 Comments

Heavy Metal

In my last post I mentioned that I had used rebar on a shimpaku and I had a reader ask about this technique. Great question! Rebar is sometimes used in situations when branches need to be guy wired down or up and there is no existing anchor point or strong anchor point on the tree such as jin, or a piece of deadwood. Rebar can also be used in situations where large or thick branches need to be moved and the existing jin on the tree is not strong enough to support the tension. Sometimes we use rebar when there is a need for a guy wire and there is no suitable anchor point in the area where we want the guy wire to be anchored to. We can attach a piece of rebar and will instantly have that anchor point in a precise location.

Shimpaku with rebar

Hidden in this Red Pine is rebar.

 The first step is to figure out the general direction you want to pull the desired branch or branches. Next you will want to find at least two points on the tree where you can lay the rebar and secure it with copper wire. Normally you would want this to be in the crotch of a jin. This is so you have a place to secure the rebar with copper wire and it will not harm the tree. Sometimes it is unavoidable to have the rebar touching the bark of the tree, and in these situations you will want to protect the bark using rubber padding.

The anchor points I used to secure the rebar

In the picture above you can see that I attached the rebar to two pieces of deadwood. The rebar is sitting on the top of the lower jin and is under the top jin. I first secured the rebar to the lower jin and then secured it to the top jin.

The lower anchor point

A side view of the lower anchor point

As you can see in the picture above I placed a piece of rubber padding between the rebar and the bark of the tree to protect it from rubbing and scaring the live vein. I tied the copper wire in the back of the tree so when view from the front its cleaner looking to the viewer. It’s the small details that makes the differences and help elevate you technique to the next level. I would like to take a minute to thank Mark who asked about this technique. When I went back to this tree, which is the last one I wired, to take these pictures I noticed that I had forgotten to twist the guy wires. You can see this in the picture above. This is another small detail that makes your work look cleaner and unobtrusive to the viewer. Thanks Mark!

The guy wires attached to the rebar

On this shimpaku I used the rebar to pull down two branches. I tied a piece of copper wire just above the two guy wires to prevent them from slipping up the rebar.

A large Red Pine with rebar

On this large red pine rebar was used to pull down a large branch. A total of three points were used to secure the rebar to the tree.

This is the top anchor point for the rebar

As you can see the rebar was laying on the bark of the pine, so a piece of rubber padding was used for protection.

The middle anchor point for the rebar

It may be a little hard to see, but the rebar is actually attached to a dead branch that has yet to be carved. You can see the flat cut that was made.

The lower anchor point for the rebar

Because of the way the rebar was placed, it is not sitting flush to the jin at this lowest anchor point. It is still secured with copper wire to provide as much support as possible.

Hopefully this post will help you better understand how to use the rebar technique. I have also seen my sempi use rebar to pull a branch up. It was on a cascading juniper. The rebar laid on the top of the pot and was secured with wires running up through the soil.

You do not used rebar every time you need to guy wire branches, just went a suitable anchor point is not found on the tree. Make sure you are careful not to damage the bark and always protect places where the rebar touch bark and live veins.

On a final note, the owner of the last shimpaku I wired came by the nursery today to pick up the tree. He was pleased with the tree and thanked me for my hard work. That made my day and is one of the many reasons bonsai is so rewarding for me!

Shimpaku on display for client

Thank you for visiting!

Posted in Technique | 6 Comments

A Few Before and Afters

In my last post I said I would have more posts soon and now it has been over 2 months. I am very sorry its has been so long since, but it has been very busy lately around the nursery. In this post I am going to get right to the point without much explaining. Here are a few trees that I have wired recently.

An akamatsu before wiring

This akamatsu, or red pine, was the first tree that I had completely wired in some time, so it was like getting back on a bike after not having rode one in a while. Some of the wire I put on was too weak and others were too strong. Some of my wiring lines were too tightly coiled together while others were too far apart. I corrected all my mistakes and by the time I was finished I felt my wiring skills were back on track. Good thing because Oyakata gave me a few more trees to wire soon after this one!

Akamatsu after wiring

This tree was bought at an auction so after I finished we placed this tree along with a few others that were for sale in an outdoor display area. While Matt and I were setting the displays, Yusuke slipped away and made an accent plant, one of his favorite activities, both slipping away and making accent plants! I’m not sure of the name of the flower.

Akamatsu displayed with accent plant

Next up was a white pine. Before I began working on this tree Oyakata told me that it was a really nice tree and that it had just regained its health this year, so I was to make sure I did a really good job with it. No pressure!

Goyomatsu before wiring

Goyomatsu after wiring and on display

Again for this tree I pulled most everything down, separating pads and make the overall shape more compact. Oyakata didn’t make any adjustments and said I did a good job, but I did have some help from my sempai Matt, that always helps! My main issues was getting the apex as compressed as it needed to be, but with a little advise from Matt, I believe it turned out well. What do you think?

Shimpaku before being worked

This shimpaku came from the same auction the akamatsu came from and I was given the task of cleaning it up and getting everything back into shape. Overall the tree didn’t need a whole lot of wiring. Mainly pulling a few of the larger branches down and a few detail wiring here and there to clean the lines up and get wild branches back into shape. I also pinched back long shoots and did a little thinning to allow light to reach interior branches.

Shimpaku after

Again this tree was placed in an outdoor display area with hopes that a client would fall in love with it and can couldn’t live without having it in his or her collection!

Shimpaku on display

Last for today’s post, another juniper. This material was brought in by a client to be wired. It had grown out quite a bit and was ready to get into shape.

Wild and crazy shimpaku before wiring

I began by cleaning out the dead needles and unnecessary needles in preparation for wiring. I then cleaned the deadwood with a power washer. I also pulled out the power tools and smoothed a bit of the deadwood that was rough and showed tool marks from previously having been carved.  Next step was to apply raffia to the lower left branch and add a piece of rebar which would provide an anchor point for guy wiring down the branch. Then on to wiring beginning with larger wire first.

Shimpaku after work. Notice Matt in awe of my amazing work!

In my opinion this tree is not the best piece of material in the world, but it’s part of the job working on what comes through the door and doing the best job on it as you can. I believe I accomplished this.

Hoped you enjoyed reading the post. Again sorry I have been slow on getting another post up, but I will try to keep them coming often. Thank you for visiting!

Posted in Before and After | 10 Comments