All bonsai have numerous before and after moments in their progression. You might say that every time you pick up your tools and start to work on a tree is a before moment and every time you put down the tools and walk away is an after moment.
We could have started this newsletter with any number of excellent before and after trees. But how many great two legged trees do you see? It’s a Sierra juniper (Juniperus occidentalis) that belongs to Bonsai Mike. You can see the potential peeking out underneath the foliage in the before shot. Still, even with good potential, the after shot reveals an impressive transformation.
You might divide before and afters into two other general groups. One is radical restyling and others is what I call maintenance styling, which is mostly just bringing an overgrown tree back to, and perhaps beyond, its earlier beauty.
Staying on topic, here’s a strikingly beautiful maintenance before and after by Naoki Maeoka.
Another maintenance before and after. This time the artist is Jan Culek. Most of what was done on the tree just above was also done here, though it doesn’t look like there was much wiring and no repotting this time. No variety is listed, but it looks like it might be a Shimpaku juniper.
Here’s one that involves much more than maintenance. It’s an Itoigawa juniper before and after by Gabriel Romero Aguade. When I first saw this one, my guess was that the transformation took years. But rather than settle on a guess, I decided to ask Gabriel Romero Aguade how many years it took. Here’s what he wrote... “From the first to the second photograph, 6 hours have passed. more or less.“ Go figure.
Before and after by our friend Robert Steven. The before photo was submitted to Robert by David Royinsyah. The after is one of a large number of digital simulations that Robert employs as a teaching tool. The tree is a Tamarindus indica, a type of tropical legume. The photos are from the Black Scissors Community.
Note: the following are my comments, not Robert’s.
First thing was to get rid of the ugly pot and replace it with something more natural whose lines and color complement the tree – what an improvement!
The rest of the changes are fairly subtle. What I see is a tree with a gentle prevailing breeze from left to right. With this breeze you get shorter branches on the left and extended branches on the right, with the foliage on the right extending beyond the tips of the branches. You might also notice some inner branches curving to the right.
Another change is the apex, with its nod to the right which further emphasizes the prevailing breeze. Beyond that, I’m sure there are other changes, but you’ll have to check with Robert about those.
And on that note I think it's about time to be after before & after. We could go on an on I'm sure. If you made it all the way to the end well thank you. Give yourself a little pat on the back.