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The Magician’s Formal Bonsai Forest



Masahiko Kimura 'The Magician' styled this Ezo spruce (Picea Glehnii) planting with a high mountain stand of conifers in mind (this shot is three years after the initial planting and two years after the intermediate shot - both are below).

Much of this post is from 2009 (our first year blogging). I’ve added some photos today and revised and added to the text. I hope these changes are helpful. 

Looking at the forest above, you might notice how the trees on the outside lean out in search of sunlight, which is what you would expect in a natural stand of trees. You may also notice how Kimura enhanced the feeling of age by removing or jinning about half of the limbs (compared to the intermediate shot below). Trees tend to shed limbs as they age. This is especially true of trees in forests where there’s competition for light; with more growth at the tops and edges and less in the shaded areas where branches tend to weaken and even fall off.  All three photos in this post are from Bonsai Today issue 26*


It's amazing what wire can do in the right hands. This intermediate stage is one year after planting (below) and two years before the top photo. It's quite powerful at this stage and I suspect most of us would be delighted to have a forest like this exactly as is. Notice how each trunk is wired and all are almost perfectly straight and vertical. One of the next steps will be to bend and lean the outer trunks and make more subtle adjustment to the inner ones.



Freshly planted. Kimura started with inexpensive, untrained trees. The placement of each tree is carefully thought out to create a natural and harmonious feel. We'll discuss some of the concepts behind placement in future posts. Meanwhile, an excellent book on the subject is Saburo Kato's Forest, Rock Planting & Ezo Spruce Bonsai.


A closer look at the trunks and ground cover


Close up of the left grouping



The right grouping

*The photos in this post are originally from Kindai Bonsai and are shown here courtesy of Bonsai Focus

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