Judge #1: A bit too early to exhibit.
Judge #3: Carving of apex looks nice. Suggest an angle with more living trunk as the front.
Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus)
109.2cm (43") Width: 73.6cm (29")
My tree that I am entering into the contest is a Buttonwood, the Scientific name is Conocarpus Erectus. The tree currently stands 43 inches not including the plastic nursery pot that has been cut down. The width is 29 inches. The tree was purchased from Wigert’s Bonsai Nursery of Ft. Myers Florida. I was told by them that it was collected. I am entering it in the contest because I think it is a tree that not many of your viewers are familiar with. It has awesome deadwood, like that of a juniper, that will end up being carved, and the foilage, pads up kinda tight like a ficus. I am going to bring out the deadwood and make it a focal feature, and then style the tree more in a natural looking design, like trees that Walter Pall does.
One Quarter Progression
Started working on the tree first by going through and Leaf-cutting. Cutting every leaf on the tree in half.
This accomplishes a couple of things, it makes it easier to not only visually see the existing branches, but
also makes wiring and working on the easier as well. With Buttonwoods, the practice of Leaf-cutting helps
promote new smaller foliage, and will help to greatly increase the amount of foliage, not to mention alot
less stressful to the tree than defoliating.
What I found was a tree with a trunk that was rather straight, but did have a nice sweeping curve to it,
from right to left. The really cool thing about a tree with subtle movement in the trunk, is that if one
carries this movement throughout the rest of the tree, all of a sudden, one has a very “alive” tree with
“alot” of movement. The top foliage is going to be removed… still deciding how I want the top. The last
couple of pics shows the deadwood front waiting to be carved.
After getting the main branch structure of the tree wired and set, it was time to work on the deadwood.
This tree had a vein of deadwood running straight up the tree that needed to be addressed. It also needed
the top reduce and deadwood created there, giving a perch for passing birds to rest upon.
The deadwood was carved and reduced using a simple dremel and small carving bits. It is very tedious doing
such a large job with a small tool, but I personally have found it works the best in creating a layered deadwood
look. So many hours were spent and will be spent on deadwood before the tree is through. It will over time now
all need to be reduced by softening it’s appearance, both through nature and further work. Lastly the deadwood
was lime sulphered.
Three Quarter Progression
Because I was able to get an early start with this tree in the competition, I was able to repot it.
Now normally I would have waited another year after the work that had been preformed to the tree,
But judging by the way the tree has bounced back, I felt it would be worth adding the extra stress to
the tree to get it into a soil that would let the roots breath better. It welcomed the change. I am not
certain of the origin of the pot and who it was made by. So for now I will just call it a Chinese pot.
I also have removed all of the main wire on the tree, seeing that most of the branches had set, or the wire
was beginning to dig in. There will be a final wire before the final pics, but for now… It is just hury up and
grow time !!!
Ok… Sadly I have some bad news to report, I went away on vacation and somehow this tree that sits in the full sun and loves water, didn’t get any and was allowed to dry out… So my final progression of the tree unfortunately is that of recovery. It seems to be stabling out, It is currently residing in a tub of water. so I don’t think I will lose the tree. The lower branches are beginning to send out new growth, but I might lose some of the top branches, and will have to rework the tree with these lower branches… Which really would not be a problem necessarily , and in the end might make a for a better design. For if one looks, there really was 2 trees in the initial design anyways. I myself, just prefer a fuller tree, and would rather it of remained as such.
So, this set back, unfortunately did not allow me to do further carving on the deadwood as I would of hoped too. I also postponed the wiring out and repositioning of some of the branches that are out of place. I did apply a heavy amount of moss, more than I would of normally, mainly to help retain moisture within the soil. Buttonwoods grow along the wetlands here in Florida, and are often found along side mangroves with their roots in water. So when they are stressed, a tub of water is the best remedy.
My overall impression of the work done ? Well, I original started out, as mentioned to do a tree styled more like Walter Pall, but when I began styling… I really felt the design and the movement of the tree would better be demonstrated with some layered padding. I really love the way that I managed to give this mostly straight trunk quite a lot of movement. I love the perch that was created at the top of the tree, which in my yard is often actually utilized by birds flying by to stop for a moment, and catch their breath. Lastly I feel the combination between the pot and tree works rather well.
Future of the tree ? Well this is pretty much up to the tree now. I will have to wait and see if I lose any of the top branches. If I do they will be removed, I will probably retain the tall trunk just make it completely deadwood, and will work with the lower foliage, making as full of a design as possible. It might need to be let grow out a little, but I think the design would be back up in running in no time !!! Thanks for the awesome experience, and the ability to compete with some very talented people, and to the other competitors, Good Luck !