Bending with shari

Posted: October 9, 2016 in Uncategorized

A while back three collected tosho which had been grafted with itogawa shimpaku foliage came to the nursery. They came from a nursery not too far from here but, they had been commission grafted by Iura-San some time ago. 

They were sold as a group, at one price. They were only bought to sell as business tree’s to buy, style and sell quickly. 

All three tree’s were raw and it was a first styling they had since being grafted.

Two of the tree’s were chunky and were pretty much just a case of bring branches down and make pads. I did these first but, haven’t posted about them.

The third tree was of the least value being a more skinny bunjin. 


As you can see from the photo’s the material has some interest but, is rather boring especially in the middle section. 

My idea to in fact solve this issue was to bend the trunk down to compact the tree on the second looping bend. In normal circumstances with just a live vein and no dead would this would be simple but, this tree had thick deadwood and tosho/needle juniper wood to add. Tosho wood is hard, very hard, often tougher than collected shimpaku wood and this was no exception.

One option is to cut the dead wood, separate the live vein and hollow the live vein. It would then be very pliable and bend very easy. The only problem with this is there would surely be deadwood that would look unnatural, look like it has been touched by man, no matter what you did. What I decided do instead was to bend the whole trunk. Judging by the position & angles I estimated that it would be possible to bend without damaging the live vein significantly. The deadwood would either break or fray, either way it would look more natural.


I placed an iron bar through a gap near the base of the tree and used a wood block to help brace the metal bar against the shari. Using the iron bar gave me more length and leverage to bend the trunk, which really was needed with such hard wood.


I then used the largest steel jack (we have) to start bending.

The wood was tough but, the tree bent without much difficulty with the right setup. Here is a picture as it started to split.


Here the tree got quite far and the live vein started to split a little too but I still wanted it more compact.


I proceeded to bend more which put more stress on the live vein but the cracks were vertically with the live vein and not across so still safe and the tree would survive.  The wood frayed and pulled apart a little but, didn’t break. 

This was the final damage on the live vein after bending.


This was the final position of the trunk after bending, held in place with a stainless wire and screw.


Initially before bending I thought that the first picture was going to be the front side     because it would hide the straight section behind the trunk. However after bending I change my mind because ther is some interesting deadwood which can only be shown from the other side.

I re-angled the tree, tilting it forward and to the left, creating a half cascade and wired the branches. The tree is very raw still but now with the bones set it should grow into a decent chuhin in time.


The tree has in fact survived well and didn’t blink an eye to its styling. Out of the three now this would actually be the most valuable and I look forward to seeing it transplanted, to its new correct angle and a more appropriate pot.

The yearly maintenance on black pines/kuromatsu (Candle cutting, needle pulling and any necessary thinning) has been going on now for a short while as we start pretty early at Aichi-en. We start with the biggest and work are way down to the smallest over the span of a month.

This is the second tree that I did this year.

  
 And after work.

  
There are many tree’s at Aichi-en, from recently purchased to the span of the nurseries existence.  This tree actually falls close to being here from the very beginning, one of the longest here and has seen all four generations of Aichi-en. From Mr Tanaka’s great-grandfather’s time, it’s been here for one hundred years. Originally a collected tree (yamadori) it was styled and designed by him. The shari isn’t actually original and was made by Mr Tanaka’s great-grandfather though, to look at it now you really couldn’t tell. 

This tree actually features in Mr Tanaka’s grandfathers book from twenty years ago. Recently an apprentice here decided to go home and Mr Tanaka kindly gave us a copy each.

  
 This book contains some pictures of old Aichi-en tree’s, some of which  were made here & still are here today and some that have been sold or no longer with us. 

This is the same black pine by, twenty years ago.

  
The tree has in fact not been changed or re-styled since. It does though gradually naturally fall slowly in the pot over time. Each time it’s re-potted it is re-angled back up but, it continues to gradually fall and hence the current picture angle of the tree. The tree has got wider/more full and although it’s not really visible from the photo’s the thickness of the bark has changed significantly. As Mr Tanaka said (as I made this observation) twenty years is a long time and tree’s develop a lot.

This is a picture of Mr Tanaka’s grandfather at the time of the book making.

  
This is a picture of the first two generations of Aichi-en. Mr Tanaka’s great grandfather and grandfather.
  
It was nice to hear some stories behind some of the tree’s here at Aichi-en the other day whilst looking at the book with Mr Tanaka. With such a long history and heritage it is humbling to be a part of it, work with them and as today marks my official date of two years here since my return, after my trial period. It is nice to reflect, be grateful and think what the future holds. An apprenticeship is a marathon to be run daily, with ups and downs, It’s not all good or all bad, happy times and sad times. At the end of the day though I feel that I’m a very lucky person, this is a life changing experience and for certain it’s one of the best things, if not the best thing I’ve done in my life! The future is uncertain but, it certainly is bright.. Onwards and upwards…!!!!

After finishing the maintenance work on the developed Japanese maples and trident maples we then moved on to doing some work to tree’s in development. This tree has been here for a while and I felt it was time it could do with a little work. It was ideal at this time because the branches had now not been cut this year and there was length to graft.

  
 The tree is a yamamomiji/Japanese mountain maple with poor leaf quality. The leaf is not good because of the size is large and the inter nodal distance is long. At sometime it was partly grafted with Seigen and left to grow for the most part, probably to let the grafts take and heal the scar’s (which are healed now).

Here you can see the difference between the different foliage types. 

  
I then defoliated the tree to see what could be done and make the work more easy. I did however make a mental note on which was original foliage and which parts were grafted.

  
At the time I also remove the secondry branch on the left as it was un grafted, coming from an ugly position and not very beautiful being straight. 

I made four approach grafts using a saw, nail’s, hammer and wound sealant.

   
  

               

  
Three out of the four grafts that were made are Seigen grafted back on to the tree, to make two new branches and a new apex. The first, was a new secondary branch grafted in a better position. The second was on to the back branch as it was still yama momiji. 

The very top two parts of the tree after the apex splits in two are also still yama momiji leaf. The left  top will be cut in the  future but, is left for now for vigor. The right side will be used as the tree will be moving to a right direction and the main branch that side. 

The fourth and final aproach graft is yama momiji the graft is not to create a branch but to use to lower the apex by 11cm.  The middle section of the tree has little taper or movement so to improve the tree it has to go.

  

  

If all goes well, the graft will keep the apex alive as the middle section is cut out and the apex re-attached at a lower point. The reason for trying to do this is to speed up the tree’s development and the challenge is certainly appealing as it’s perfect material for trying this. It was messured with a clipper and the difference is very minimal and the chosen point should be a good fit.

At a later stage there will most certainly need to be some more branches grafted and the tree has a long way to go yet but, hopefully it is a step in moving forward.

Recently I was given this exposed root White pine to wire. It is a customers tree that he wanted wired.

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For an exposed root I think it has character, it’s pretty old and nice small leaf quality.

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I must say that I like the tree and I’m glad I was given it to work.

The 85th Meifu-ten exhibit was on earlier this month and I’ve just got round to sorting through the Photo’s. It is a local show but, is one of the biggest in Japan and it is on at the same time as Gafu-ten so often people will visit both in the weekend. I didn’t take pictures of all the tree’s but, the one’s I thought were worth taking a picture of.

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Recently I was give a goyomatsu/white pine to wire for Meifu-ten baiten/sales area. White pine’s need a lot of wiring at the best of times, this was no exception and was certainly the most wiring I’ve had to do on a tree yet. I missed my planned time to finish the tree but, not by too much. I was pleased to get it done in the end.

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I just hope that it finds a new owner at Meifu-ten this weekend.

The past Taikan-ten exhibition I was very fortunate to prep a display and tree’s for my good friends Mark and Ritta Cooper. The tree in question was a Momiji/Japanese mountain maple that has been at Aichi-en for the past 6-7 years and has previously been in Kokufu-ten exhibition.
It was always a tree that I admired here with an awesome trunk and superb leaf quality. The leaf quality is so good and the internode distance is so short it isn’t pinched in the spring. Certainly a rare find on any tree but, to find such a thick well tapered trunk certainly makes this a very special tree.
To cap it off, Mark and Ritta won a prize for the display and I couldn’t have been more pleased.
I’m very glad that it has found such good owners and I’m honoured that I had the chance to work on it before the exhibition. Thank you Mark and Ritta.

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