No Dec. 17 Workshop… and other words of wisdom

Happy Holidays, everyone!  Here’s John’s latest

It’s been awhile, you Death Angel Toadstools, of which many of you are giddy glad, but we must cover some Bonsai Territory before the Season reduces us to slobbering blobs of poison protoplasm.

First, I want to call everyone’s attention to the exponential improvement of our Young Blood members like Aaron, Adam, Nathaniel and the few others.  These budding studs are going after the Bonsai art like a pack of rabid wolverines chasing a sick moose. Unfortunately, they also pose an existential threat to the psychic well-being of your Succulent Sensei. Somewhere, these little roaches have gotten the idea that they should have THEIR OWN ideas, and worse, that they should work on their OWN material, instead of letting me snatch it out of their hands and work it myself!! This tendency must be nipped in the bud. Have you watched them work? They have the intense, nervous eyes of animals who sense they’re in trouble, but don’t quite know where it’s coming from. It’s unsettling…..

Now, a few housekeeping details that might be of interest. The Greives’ gave me a copy of “Principles of Bonsai Design” by David de Groot, and I am going through it now. Normally, I take a pathetic, insecure delight in finding things wrong with these books, but I must admit that this is a dense and thorough presentation. As much as I love John Naka’s “Techniques 1&2″, the damn things are getting crazily expensive– close to $100 used for #1, and forget about #2. De Groot is about $40, and stands up pretty damn well to BOTH Naka’s, all in one volume. Definitely recommended….

Did any of you hook up with Wild Bill, our new Californicator, on an order to his source? Check also Bonsai Vision LLC on line. This poor devil lives in the St.George, UT/Las Vegas area, and grasps the needs of his fellow Desert Trolls. He has a good sale going until 12/20, and has a fixed shipping charge of $9 and change— hard to beat. I have not made direct contact with BV, but have ordered several pots, which arrived at lightning speed.

” A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit”

Mathew 7:18

But, dear friends, in our world it ain’t a good tree unless it’s in a good pot. Therefore, let me review our recent discussion of how to know, at least hopefully, how to pick a proper pot for a worthy tree. First, the simple math. For an upright tree, formal or informal, The pot length should be about 2/3 the height of the tree, and, impossibly for us, the depth of the pot should equal the diameter of the tree above the nebari– basically, the thinner the trunk, the shallower the pot. Use round pots for trees like bunjin, and add in squares and hex’s for cascade and semi cascade, where the mass of the tree winds up outside the imaginary cylinder above the pot surface. Be careful of glazes, saving them for some deciduous, and most flowering specimens, choosing wisely for color complementing, etc.

One of the concepts a bit alien to us is the Asian notion of male and female. Those of you who have intellectual troubles with such designations may need to suspend your ideas for awhile. Here are some descriptions which I’m cribbing from De Groot…..

Masculine characteristics of tree:

  1. Formality– straight trunks, defined foliage outlines, more symmetrical branch balance
  2. Strength–powerful rootage, nebari, thick trunk, heavy branches, coarser foliage
  3. Drama–Sharp, angular movement, dramatic direction changes of trunk line, pointed apex, sharp triangulation of foliage
  4. Appearance of great age– rough bark, deadwood, dark colors of bark or foliage

Masculine pots:

  1. Angular, rectangles, squares, hex’s
  2. Formal—- straight walls, plain feet, no glaze, no decoration
  3. Elegance— straight lines, clean profiles
  4.  Dark/earthtone colors

Feminine trees:

  1. Informality— graceful trunk movement, irreg. outline
  2. Gentleness— rounded curves in trunk and branches, soft foliage, rounded masses
  3.  Graceful—thine trunk, fine rootage 7 BRANCHES, FLOWING LINES
  4. Youthful vigor— smooth bark, no jin or shari, light color bark and/or foliage, flowers or fruit

Feminine pots

  1. Curved form–oval, round, lotus
  2. Informal— curved walls, tapered outline,decorative designs
  3. Refined–smooth textures, glazes
  4. Light colors– creams, pastels, blues, even brighter colors

The tricky part is that no tree — as no human– is totally masculine or totally feminine. And pots the same— my favorites are masculine-line pots with feminine “cloud feet”, for example. You’ll get the hang of this quickly, and it makes ordering pots sight unseen less risky…..

So there you have it, Evil Fruits….Plagiarized from David de Groot !!! We will expand on this as we get into potting season. AND REMEMBER, let’s get these crazed young members under control before your Succulent Sensei grows old and fat like some neutered cat, with plump little fingers and soft hair on the back of his neck.

Do It Now!!!!