What is involved in preparing for a world class bonsai exhibit? A lot of mossing, a lot of repotting, a lot of cleaning, and a lot of work. Late winter is usually a very busy time with repotting. Throw in a winter bonsai exhibit and all the preparation that is involved with putting such a show together makes for an incredibly busy week.
Here, Boon and Sue are setting the correct position of this very large Corkbark Japanese Black Pine into this antique Japanese bonsai pot. Preparing a tree of this caliber for a bonsai exhibit doesn't just happen. This tree has been scheduled for this show for more than a year. That meant that decandling was timed to ensure the needle length was even and appropriate for a tree of this size. The branches were wired and rewired to ensure proper layering and shape. An appropriate pot was selected and the tree set into position a few days before the start of the show.
A lot of photos were taken during the Intensive. This is a very useful tool in bonsai. Here, you can see what this large Japanese Black Pine looked like before it was repotted. One of the pot choices turned out to be visually too small to carry the weight of such a powerful tree. The last pot was chosen for it's size and shape. This pot complemented the tree very well and was cleaned up and oiled with walnut oil before the start of the exhibit. With the pot selected the tree can now be potted up and the soil mossed for the show.
John Kirby of Von's Gardens worked on this Shimpau Juniper. The slender, elegant trunk of this tree looked incredible in this nanban pot. This type of pot with it's rustic and rugged look and finish is not to be oiled with walnut oil. Instead, the pot is cleaned with water and a soft cloth.
Why moss the soil? Applying a fine carpet of green moss to the soil finishes off the tree nicely. This hides the coloed soil components (akadama, lava, pumice, and charcoal) and helps keep moisture in the soil while the trees are in the display hall. If applied correctly the moss will look very natural and complement the tree nicely. Finding enough moss of the right size and texture is sometimes difficult. Some may wish to try to grow their own, while others collect the fine carpets from sidewalks, parking lots, and hotel flower beds.
And finally, here are the trees as they looked in the display hall. What do you think, was it worth all the effort?
Read more about "Ascending Dragon" on Chris Johnston's blog, Bonsai Sashi-no-eda.