The original idea that I had to hire Matt was for a group workshop for the Bonsai Society of San Francisco. I’m the incoming president and have been the show chair for the last couple years; so, I have a personal interest in seeing the group further the quality of its show material. And in my opinion, the best way to get your trees into show shape is to work on them as intensely as possible with the help of a highly competent artist.
There were six people participating in the workshop, and it was a great group. We each basically spent the entire day working on one tree. I wired out a large old bunjin pine tree that I’ve had for eight or more years but that hadn’t been wired in at least three years.
The tree that I worked on was a tall and old pine that I bought from my friend Aaron. Aaron had bought the tree not too long before selling it to me from Tim Kong. Tim is not a pine lover, and the tree was in a state of serious neglect, most likely having come from some old collection in San Francisco.
The problem with old neglected pines is that the branches are usually too long and have no budding anywhere near the trunk. In many cases the only thing that can be done is to get the tree healthy and then graft back branches in closer.
About right now I find myself trying to justify the choice of front. I had previously reached the same conclusion while at a workshop at Boon’s house last year where we removed the lower section of the large branch on the left or back depending on your perspective. You can see that in this post on BonsaiTonight.com
I think it’s important to remember that in Bunjin style, the quirkiness of the branching and the trunk are the most important aspects. While the tree looks great from the front where it is an informal upright, it looks less conventional and shows off some of the old branching better from the slant-style front. But, it’s in a round pot, so I can change my mind any time I want to!