Matt Reel – Part 2

Posted by on Nov 20, 2014 | 3 Comments
Matt Reel – Part 2

At the same time that BSSF scheduled Matt for a demonstration for the Thursday general meeting, the club also scheduled him to do a group workshop on Saturday for six participants. That left Matt with nothing to do for Friday stuck in San Francisco. So, after the meeting was over on Thursday I asked him to work on a few of my trees.

I had commented to a couple friends that I seemed to be behind on my tree maintenance and wiring. I also had specifically left a couple trees to grow out in anticipation of the workshop that we had scheduled with Matt. As I thought about his skills and my own, I thought about my California juniper with grafted shimpaku foliage. I felt that I was able to style the tree initially to my satisfaction, but that in subsequent stylings I had struggled to get it to look as good because perhaps my experience with finely ramified shimpaku was insufficient.

I should mention that back in 2006 it was Boon who suggested the grafts and placed them – thus dictating the rough course to the initial styling of the tree. Boon’s abilities to develop stock into bonsai are quite good and I must thank him for this tree.

The tree in 2006, a little while after two grafts were added.   In this photo they are just behind the main jin.  The old California foliage is the stuff that's spiking up.

The tree in 2006, a little while after two grafts were added. In this photo they are just behind the main jin. The old California foliage is the stuff that’s spiking up.

The tree in the January 2012 BIB show.

The tree in the January 2012 BIB show.

August 2013 cleanup of the tree.  This was a maintenance session since the tree had gotten too full.  I thinned the foliage, added a little wire and Boon reset the branches.

August 2013 cleanup of the tree. This was a maintenance session since the tree had gotten too full. I thinned the foliage, added a little wire and Boon reset the branches.

November 2014, as Matt first saw the tree.   The foliage is quite dense and the top has continued to get bigger.   The challenge for Matt will be to reduce the size of the apex while keeping the tree looking good.

November 2014, as Matt first saw the tree. The foliage is quite dense and the top has continued to get bigger. The challenge for Matt will be to reduce the size of the apex while keeping the tree looking good.

Matt took one look at the tree and said that he would be delighted to work on it. He made a sidelong wish that he could work on more mature specimen material here in the US. (If you have some, let him work on them! You wont be disappointed!)

It took Matt about three hours of thinning and styling to finish the tree. After he did, he asked me what I thought. At first I was a bit confused by the apex, having been so accustomed to the larger and more rounded style. But after a couple minutes of contemplation I was wholeheartedly onboard with the styling. Matt mentioned that for this tree, reducing the size of the pads and adding more levels of foliage makes it look more complex while also increasing the apparent age. My favorite bit is that the now-tiny apex seems to float like a little cloud above the rest of the foliage layers.

After Matt's cleanup and reduction of the apex.   The tree seems to have a more mature character now, in addition to branch pads that look like clouds, rather than pillows.

After Matt’s cleanup and reduction of the apex. The tree seems to have a more mature character now, in addition to branch pads that look like clouds, rather than pillows.

Thanks Matt!

January 2015 Edit: Adding a shot of the side and back after the restyling.

Right side after restyling.   Back branch is to the right in this image and the key branch is projecting down and to the left.

Right side after restyling. Back branch is to the right in this image and the key branch is projecting down and to the left.

The back of the tree.

The back of the tree.

Detail of the right side of the base of the tree.   This is probably the most interesting of the deadwood on the tree.

Detail of the right side of the base of the tree. This is probably the most interesting of the deadwood on the tree.

3 Comments

  1. CD Willis
    January 17, 2015

    Do you have any shots of the back side? I’m curious. I have read that it’s preferred to have the live vein showing on the front of the tree with the deadwood, with exceptions of course. I wonder if this is repeated to tanuki and showing that the deadwood is from the actual plan and isn’t just a tacked whip.

    • CD Willis
      January 17, 2015

      Related, not repeated.

  2. Eric Schrader
    January 20, 2015

    I’ll see if I can show you a recent shot of the side. In this case there is a scrap of the bark showing wrapped around on the right side. The entire back of the trunk is covered in bark though. You are correct in that proving something is not tanuki is a reason for showing the live vein. But it’s a convention in Japan also because the contrast of the reddish vein with the bleached white wood offers a beautiful accentuation of the movement of the trunk For me, I prefer to leave the bark natural and not bleach the wood entirely. That means less dramatic contrast, but a more natural feeling to the tree.