Back along Mr Tanaka came back with a new kifu sized white pine.


The tree is setsu-goyo/grafted on to black pine base which many of us are familiar with being as many are exported around the world. Favored for their strength and size. This one however is very old, older than many you see and sets it apart some what. 

This tree also belonged to a famous collecter and customer who has since passed, Mr Ryoji Fukui. A  customer of shokuji-en(Ishi-San), formally residing in Nagoya and now Inazawa, it was the most famous nursery in Nagoya. Shokuji-en is famous for shohin bonsai and  Fukui-San was a shohin collector but, also had some very nice big tree’s.

There is a published book of Fukui-San’s tree’s but, this tree does not feature in it. The book contains many we’ll known tree’s including Kokufu winner’s.


I set about working the tree according to Mr Tanaka’s instructions with a slight front change. I had remove a branch at the front to show the trunk. 


It had been some time since the tree had been worked, was leggy and really needed a structure set. The tree also could do with a slight tilting to the right and in the future a more suitable pot change to show the real power of the tree. I look forward to seeing the pot selection Mr Tananka chooses and how much it will change feel of the tree in the near future.

One day before Mr Tanaka was set to go to Kokufu he asked me to style this tree for the sales area.


At the time it was just before we watered, it was close to lunch and I need to leave early that day (about 3:00) for personal reasons. Mr Tanaka and the guy’s were heading off to a customer’s for work after lunch.

The tree had been bought previously bought by Mr Tanaka on-line. It is old, good leaf and many things going for it. The only problem with the tree from an earlier inspection is its bad branch structure. Knowing this and with my time limit I knew my work was cut out for me (apprentice pressure). 

So I set about wiring, cleaning the tree and pulling old needles as I went. Quickly we got called for lunch but, I ate fast and I went back to work straight after (not really any time for a lunch break).

I didn’t have so much time to pontificate about which branches to cut or keep but, I tried to keep to Aichi-en style and improve structure best I could with still trying to make the tree look nice.

This was the final result.


I thought that it didn’t turn out too bad but, Mr Tanaka decided not too take it. Not sure if this was because he felt it wasn’t good enough or just decided to keep it. 

A little while back i was given this akamatsu/red pine to wire. 


This tree was first styled back in 2012 by Mr Tanaka for an Kinbon article.

As you can see the transformation was truly impressive and some awesome work. It completely altered the tree making compact and balanced. However as in any process of making a bonsai tree this is only the first stage and is never instant.

Following the styling only maintenance work has been performed on the tree. This included de-candling, pulling of needles and general care. 

The tree wasn’t de-candled last year and now was starting to loose shape. Mr tanaka decided it needed a second wiring and asked me to wire it. I started by pulling needles and removing any branches that had died.


After pulling the needle’s it’s easier to see how much the tree has got out of shape from a picture and it required cutting back quite a bit in areas to bring the tree back to shape.


This was the result after I finished wiring. 

I was pleased with it and Mr Tanaka only cut one small twig as his corrections. Before red pine where closest to the least favorite specie to work with but, my appreciation of red pine has only gone up & up recently, now to the point I believe they are one of the best in many ways.

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.