Judge #1: Interesting trunk, good start.
Judge #3: I like the starting material save one long shoot on left. The “passed” on idea is engaging but bonsai should not require well written explanations. Perhaps a name.
Trumpet Vine (Campsis Radicans)
This is my Trumpet Vine, that for many years, I saw as nothing more than your average backyard “weed”. Many years ago my Great Grandmother planted it along a fence in the back yard of the house I now live in. Over time someone had built up a pile of broken cement slabs next to the fence, as to raise the yard a little (the fence was a the bottom of a small hill). The slabs were about 4-6″ away from the fence, giving the vine very little room.
On the opposite side of the fence was nothing but open land, causing much wind to push against the vine and help shape it over time. With the harsh winds on one side and the rough broken cement slabs on the other, the vine became excellent “yamadori”. Though this vine had been through rough times, it braved its way through. When I was a very young I was close with my Grandmother and I see it as my duty to make this vine as beautiful as she was and to have it as a lifetime reminder of her.
Early this spring past I moved the cement slabs and dug up the trumpet vine. I placed it in a large plastic pot. Since then it has taken off very nicely and already has roots coming out of the bottom drain holes. I’ve very excited to finally start working on it.
One Quarter Progression
So…. Here I sit at the picnic table in my backyard, in deep thought about what I can do to this. There is so many possibilities and yet…
where to start? I understand that this is a contest of skill but I feel as though there should be more to grasp from this. What defines a
“good bonsai”? And if bonsai is “art” shouldn’t it be appreciated no matter the outcome?
As the moments rolled like waves in the 81 degree heat, I thought to myself “original”. “How can I make this original?” I want so badly
for this tree, NO! This ART! To break free from the boundaries we as humans with like minds have accepted as correct. This will not be a
novelty like so many before it have become. This will be a strange tree. An artistic creation, whether beautiful or ugly. Here is my
I began by removing some of the top branches to better see what I had to work with. I decide that the top will be left alone until
winter. If I do not like them I’ll cut them off and have new growth in the spring. Until then, lets enjoy the flowers.
I next decided the lowest branch will be turned into a jin (a large jin) and then the next lowest will be hollowed out.
My tree. My horrifyingly dead looking tree. Winter is always hard for me. Here we go.
So winter has hit and all the leaves had died off and I decided to cut off most of the branches because the shape was just too mangled for what I am trying to accomplish. After trimming the branches I decided it was time to turn the lowest branch into a large jin. My tools for this are nothing fancy, just a pair of old wire snips and a knife. I am hoping very much to acquire some nice carving tools at some point.
I’ll throw some jin seal later on when I carve out my next branch, which will be very soon.
Three Quarter Progression
Still winter and the brightness makes it difficult to take pictures. Here we go.
Still looking like a misfit.
Today I decide it’s time to hollow out the second lowest branch. I begin by stripping a bit of the bark and then go for the loppers. I take off about 4 inches (10.16 cm) of it and leave what is rest to work with. I then gouge out a bit with my knife and then decide it’s time to go get my power drill. I drill in a few inches and then continue to hollow out the rest with my knife. After I have the inside smoothed out some, I touch up on the bark around the opening. I’ll clean this up later on. I understand it’s still very rough but I’m not finished.
I finally paint on some jin seal, both on the jin and the hollow. Yes, it’s hideously yellow. It will turn bleach white.
Still looking like a misfit. But this is not over yet.
So…. here’s the end of the competition and I stand thinking to myself. Did I really think outside the box like I had so hoped? Did I really make something ridiculous? Yes, and of it I am very proud. I believe this to be very original and out of the 100+ entries of the past year along with this one, I think mine was very different. Let me tell this as a quick story.
There once was a tree. A great and powerful, standing above the week and casting shadows among the young. The age of a forgotten time, blown by the strong winds of endless years.
One day the tree stood tall and proud, admiring the view from above, but soon a loaming storm approached. The tree did not worry, as it had encountered many storms in previous times and loved the rain upon it’s bark and the drizzle through it’s roots. But this day… was different.
As the storm grew, thunder cracked and lightning burst through the sky like a golden flame of adrenaline. This lightening hit the tree and the tree found itself in a very unpleasant state. That night… our friend the tree pasted on….
And so began…
A new beginning.
Over the years this tree began to rot and new life began! As with all things, it came to an end and a new fight enters. A fight for new life and strength beyond the rest.
Here is my final. My tree is not actually dead and did not actually get hit by lightening BUT it is still dormant and at it’s base I planted 2 silver maple seeds, which now are growing. My tree appears dead with new life fighting to be the best and biggest. I waited till the absolute best moment to take the pictures for this, so the seedlings would be alive enough but I was taking a great chance with this because I really did not want the trumpet to start expressing life. That would have greatly ruined my plans.
As for the pot? There is not point to changing. I got my story, my expression, my originality across and the pot actually adds more to the character, as it is old and dead looking like my trumpet, center piecing the new life.
I’d like to thank the judges for their time with reading my entry. I know this is far off the beaten path of the other entries, but I felt a great need inside to express myself in this way. With most great things there is an end. And with that end… is a bright new beginning. Beginning. End. Life. Thank you.