Carving of a once great Podocarpus Tree

Hello everyone. Sorry Its been so long since I posted a blog. This new location is taking up an awful lot of my time. However, it is coming along very nicely. We are in the middle of digging the koi pond right now and should have it done by years end. It should have over 45 thousand gallons and have a few different water features. Oh yeah, and an awful lot of rock! This undertaking has been one long nonstop work day. However, the achievements have been great! For one thing, I have now had time to start to get back to refine the trees again. This 10 months of added growth have helped thicken branches and fatten trunks, so what I lost in “twiggyness” I made up for in better branches to put those twigs on. I also am going to put wires on all refined trees at shop to really start the ramification process and make for better bonsai. Also, I had a few lessons from a master carver or sorts and plan to include those teachings to deadwood in need of refinement.
I also have enough wood to build a lot more benches by winter so i will have the stock area refined nicely. It is coming together!
To see the wired and refined trees, take a look on the website. You can also see the trees on my “tree of the day” twitter feeds. My twitter account is : Jason_schley . Ill post a link onto website as soon as I know how. Also, the soil is coming along very well. In fact, my next blog will be of the specifics of bonsai soil characteristics and try to not only give you some of the knowledge ive learned from it over the years, but also try not to bore you with too much scientific jargon. Although some may like to discuss PH and micro-cellular infrastructure, I’m going to focus on granular consistency, rough texture for root development, drainage throughout the life of the mix, and how osmosis can be improved by mix sizes, textures, types, etc.
That is for another show.

This podocarpus was a Logo tree for a friend of Mine, Paul Pickel of Orlando Bonsai.He got my Blue Alps juniper and I got his Epcot tree. Then, I sold this tree to a good customer of mine and within 1 year it had issues with watering by his sprinklers and got really weak. At the correct time of year, I pulled it and put it cut off dead roots, cleaned up old soil, and put it in my New mix. This is what it looked like 2 years later .

IF you haven’t seen this tree before , you will notice a huge bare area on the top half of the tree. That is because 3 branches all died when the sap withdrew. This is common on a tree that survives some sort of trauma in nature. However, this was due to either incorrect watering all the way around the pot, or that organic fertilizer wasn’t removed in early spring and stopped the water from getting to roots because of clogging at surface. Both problems look the same and both can be avoided with studious care to your tree. The owner did learn from this mistake and has since stepped up not only to now correctly applying water, but also cleaning the surface of EVERY tree in Jan/feb and add new fresh mix so drainage isn’t hampered and the visual aspects of tree are improved. So this was considered a learning experience for him, albeit an expensive one at the time. I think it was a blessing in disguise as the tree had serious taper issues and the deadwood work needed serious refinement down the road anyway.
The first thing I did was cut living branches of the top of the tree off. They were too high up, were weak, and all coming from one place. The next thing I did was begin carving the deadwood into more of a cohesive unit to tell a story of how the top died off a long time ago and the deadwood, through rot and time, created hollows and motion, while also giving good taper and interest in deadwood design while making your eye “dance” up the deadwood, and not be board. The next thing I did was cut back the branches as the tree had 2 years to recover and needed to back bud closer to trunk to improve taper and fullness in design. I then separated the pads since I had so few branches to work with. Once This tree recovers, Ill repot it in spring in the same pot but at a different front.
I only had the Arbortech to work with, and had limited Depth to work with. Ill need to detail it out and go deeper in hollows once I get the correct tool for the job. Three different power tools and various hand tools seems about minimum for a really show worthy deadwood design. And Time. you need time if you want to really have great deadwood. Mother Nature helping age your deadwood design will work wonders. Flame helps soften machine marks as well, but at the expense of detail. Here are some pics of carving.
This area on base of tree is where another trunk was at first styling . It was cut to a flush cut instead of leaving a stub to carve, so I had to start the process of making it more three dimensional. I’m trying to get some interest in appearance of scar, as if rot would create depth and beauty. Im trying to make look as naturally as possible as this is going to be on the new front. I love the start.

Another angle

This is going to be my new front. I need to work the branches a bit more and give some of them a refinement tweak, but it is all there and once it gets repotted this will be one of the best I’ve done. Now I REALLY want it back! Oh well, Ill still be able to see it when I work on it .

I think its a good start.
What do you think?

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