bc forest – would you?

Sneak Peak

It’s common to have to redesign bonsai over time. A branch dies; you find a better front; and in the case of established forest plantings you lose trees, which have to be replaced. Here’s one of those cases, and what I’m thinking of doing about it. But would you?

BC Forest – Would You?

For those of you who have been following my blog for the past few years, you probably recall seeing this Bald cypress forest that was left to me by my late bonsai friend Allen Gautreau. This is the earliest photo I have of the forest, which Allen did a great job putting together and maintaining.

It is worth noting that the forest started out life as nine trees. Time and chance reduced the number, and when I got it there were five.

I decided to move the forest to a new container, a vintage tray by the late Richard Robertson, a few months later. I also did a little redesigning, as I thought the placement of the secondary group was too close to the primary. I also snugged the trees in a little bit.

The next overwintering claimed the largest specimen in the secondary group.

Here we are, in the third growing season since the repotting. All of the trees are doing well, but of course there’s that problem of the fifth tree. The obvious thing to do would be to plant another small seedling and get it on its way to maturity in the forest. But what if there’s another answer?

What if I go bigger – quite a bit bigger? I recently acquired this specimen, which looked like a natural future flat-top. I re-chopped it yesterday, and will start the crown-building process once I have the new shoots I need. But in the meantime ….

What if the original forest, with its original focal specimen, suddenly became the smaller trees? I’m thinking that the big tree will look best not out front, which is typical, but rather as a towering specimen that pushes the forest perspective in what would be the opposite direction from normal practice. We try to create the impression of depth in our forest plantings by having larger trees placed toward the front of the container. This is the most common way of doing things, and it works great. But who’s to say you can’t reverse that, under the right circumstances, and end up with a forest planting that works visually and artistically.

I’m thinking I’m going to do this soon. The question is, Would you?

Stay tuned for updates.

Update 5/17: I had a large forest tray on the bench that Byron Myrick made for me several years ago. Although the color would not be my first choice for a BC forest, the size seems to be just right.

I think there’s a lot of potential in this design. I’ll know if it’s paid off once I’m able to build the crown of the primary tree. I the meantime, I think this has the makings of a pretty nice forest. How about you?