I did this next restyling in the first week of October 2010. I posted it that same week for the first time. I am glad that I can now re post it onto my blog because I think a lot of people might not have read it before!
a few days ago we had some surprisingly warm and sunny weather, so I decided it was a brilliant day to do some light bonsai work. The week before I had removed all the wire raffia, tape and plucked all the old needles. So “Wolfie” was all ready to be restyled again!
In 2003 I and Tony Tickle had the privilege to visit the wonderful garden and Bonsai collection of my friend Wolfgang Putz in Austria. Besides sampling from Wolfgang’s enormous collection of self-made snaps (11 o’clock in the morning), I was also lucky enough to swap with him one of my Yamadori Yews, that I had brought along, for this old Mugo Pine, that Wolfgang had collected himself! Wolfgang was very generous to us that day! He is one of the nicest guy’s I had the pleasure to meet and that’s why I named this little tree “Wolfie”! The nickname that we used when we spook about Wolfgang!
Below: Future backside.
In 2005 I was invited to do a two-day demo at the famous “Joy of bonsai” in Bath (UK). So I brought along “Wolfie” to give it it’s first styling. Because, Wolfgang had planted this tree tilted more to the right, that initial styling by me was don in a slightly different way and direction than it’s present design is. But the general idea never changed.
Below: During my demo at “Joy of bonsai”.
This main branch needed a lot of protection before I would try to bend it closer to the trunk. All along the length of that branch, there is a lot of twirling deadwood that made it almost impossible to bend. But it did bend and without breaking anywhere!
Below: Working on the deadwood.
Below: The final result of a day’s hard work.
Below: 2006. Here I repotted the tree for the first time. Because Wolfgang had planted this tree on a piece of Styrofoam, it had a wonderful flat root base! So I was able to plant it into a shallow round pot. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the root base on the right side, that was hidden before, was wonderful, so I planted the tree tilted more to the left side. Showing the whole width of the root base. And in this way, you can just see peeking over the right root base, a piece of the rock that “Wolfie” has his grip on, on its backside!
Below: This is how it looked in May 2006.
Below: In early 2009 “Wolfie” was repotted again tilted some more to the left side. And later that year I restyled it again to fit this new planting angle.
Below: A few days ago. I am finally getting used to working on a tree while sitting down. But I can’t wait to be able to do it standing up again! First, the large Jin/deadwood section on the left side was extended. Now it is running along the underside of the trunk to the right side. The Jin itself will be restyled, when I am more used to the new image of the tree. Then the tree was wired and the deadwood cleaned and treated with Lime Sulphur. I know it looks way too bright, but I know out of experience that it will become more natural looking in a few months time.
Below: With a soft brush on a slow spinning power tool, the excess lime sulphur is removed from the live bark. Now the deadwood is bleached you can clearly see the Shari that runs across this old curling branch.
Below: Than with the help of my trusty garbage bin with a turning wheel, the tree was elevated to almost eye level height. Working standing up, with the tree at this height is the best way for me to style a tree! I really need to be able to step backwards and forwards. And to bend sideways and up and downwards. Here I am just about satisfied for now.
Below: So here is the newly styled image of “Wolfie”. The first hanging branch, along with two other major branches, is removed. There is an exciting new empty space just above the first Jin on the left and the old empty space underneath the trunk is now more prominent and hold the tree up. Because of these new empty spaces, more of the amazing trunk movement is shown, with all its flaws and quirkiness. Now that the left Jin is lengthened into a Shari, even that long straight trunk section doesn’t bother me anymore. It makes this little tree more exciting to look at. There is even a piece of rock living in the middle of that part of the trunk. “Wolfie” must have picked up this pebble ages ago and they have been companions ever since. The grown and branches need to fill out some more and the Jins need more refining, but that’s for later!
I am really pleased with this new and more mature image of “Wolfie”. I hope you enjoyed this little story?!
Hans van Meer.
Below: This was my reply to the emails I received after I had posted the above story for the first time.
I am glad that you like “Wolfie’s” new image! It is such a strangely shaped tree, and it has been quite a challenge to find some sort of balance in its dis balance! I hope that that makes any sense? It is hard to see in these pictures, but this tree makes the strangest moves. This present front side is really the only front side possible, but that meant having to deal with that straight section and a root base that almost runs diagonally from the right front corner towards the left backside corner. Away from the viewer! And to make things even more difficult, two of the main branches are all naturally curled up and full of Shari, making it almost impossible to make big changes in their position. But it was an inspiring challenge to try to find the tree inside this Pine with its mind of his own! I tried to use its flaws? as a prominent part of my design. Why hide natures quirkiness and mishaps? They tell us the history of this old tree and all the struggles it had to endure in its long live high in the mountains. That’s why I fell in love with this tree, the first time I saw it at Wolfgang’s place. It’s obvious signs of struggle and hardship, made him special to me. So I tried my best to bring out the hidden beauty of these signs of the hard life it had to endure.
Below: 2009. A close up picture of the right side. The red arrow points to the present front side. I made a yellow dotted line across the length of the trunk, that if you follow it, gives you a good idea about the fact that some were in it’s past this tree was forced to grow into a completely different direction! He almost made a full twist on it’s self to the left side, that over time turned in to a knot. From that knot, the straight section start, leading into the Jin on the left side of the tree. Here you can also see the stone that “Wolfie” is holding on to.
Below: Another picture from 2009. Here you can see the small pieces of wood that I just to hold the very old branches into there new place after the wire was removed. The first white arrow on the trunk points at this knot in the trunk. And shows how this twisted part looks from the front side. Then when you follow the trunk line further upward, there is a second white arrow on the trunk pointing at a second full twist in the trunk line! And you have a clear view of how the main branches have grown in circles over decades.
It is such a fun tree to work on. And I can’t wait to find a great pot for “Wolfie”, but I still have a couple of years time to find that perfect one, so there is no rush!
Hans van Meer.