Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Pacific Bonsai Museum "Natives" Preparation - Yellow Cedar

Date published: 2017, April 18
Source material: 2017, March 18

          The final tree of the five Dan Robinson trees he and I prepared for the Pacific Bonsai Museum "Natives" Exhibit was an Alaska Yellow Cedar (Xanthocyparis nootkatensis - although there is some phylogenetic controversy around this name). This tree was estimated to be 700+ years old and it looks even older with the help of Dan's training. The appearance of naturalism, gnarliness, and a story that depicts a difficult and storied life history are the highest artistic aspirations for Dan Robinson's trees. The detail on the carving of this trunk is particularly stunning. and hard to believe it was man-made. Which deadwood features were man-made and which were already there when the tree was collected the tree is a mystery only Dan can tell you - I certainly could not make a guess.
The tree back in April of 2016. It caught my eye on my very first visit to the garden.
           For those of you who saw my previous four "Natives" tree preparation posts, I did indeed plan to post all five trees in the week leading up to the opening celebration (a recording of the artist panel from that day can be found here for Mirai subscribers). Although my student life interrupted those plans, I thought this impressive tree still deserved to be shared. Lately, I have more post ideas than I have time so I will have to play by ear.
          The main operations we were performing to ready this tree were a surface clean-up of the rock the tree is planted on as well as removing old wire and pruning some of the profoundly drooping foliage. Lessening the weight of the foliage reduced the drooping without eliminating the characteristic entirely. The species has naturally drooping foliage to alleviate weight from snow loading in its native altitudes and high latitudes. As usual, I'll let the photos do most the talking as this work was not highly technical.


          If you made it to the end, tell me - do you think this tree looks natural? This tree's secret is that upon collection, Dan made a flat cut on the trunk without realizing the tree's future direction for styling. The two dead branches at the right of the last picture are actually glued to look as though they were once branches on the original tree in the raft story of the bonsai.

EDIT: Another student of Dan's was able to provide me with images from the tree's initial styling back in 2011. Enjoy!

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