I came across this morning this highly illuminating example of a mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana) repotting by the team at Crataegus bonsai. Here is the tree before repotting, growing in a box.
and here is the final result:
It truly looks as if a piece of the wild was chopped off the mountain and is being offered on a tray.
My gut feeling was that they tilted the balance too far towards aesthetics compromising on function. I thought that in a case like that, it would have taken a few more years in the box developing the bottom roots and discouraging the rest by slow removal of soil.
Clearly my gut feeling is wrong as their composition, which is based on their far superior experience to mine shows. This is not a tree planted in a pot, this more similar to a slab planting. To me this was somewhat of an eye opener in the sense that shows how far you can go to push aesthetics without impacting on function. I was debating whether to put this post on design or horticulture but as the horticultural (functionality) aspect of it was what bothered me the most, I chose to post it here. What are you Miraiites thoughts on this?
I was torn after watching the blog, and decided the best description is pushing technique to the max and achieving a unique tree that speaks to the areas they love to grow. I learn so much from watching the amazing technique and originality. Most will either love it, or hate it…either way a reaction has been achieved.
I had a “huh?” moment when I was looking at the final product, after reading the blog. It’s like you said:
Maybe it’s that when we picture a slab, it’s for a forest planting, or the mound is kept low. Maybe it’s that we really expected a sold looking pot for such a large tree. Either way, what we expected is not at all what we got, but I think that the tree is all the better for it. They managed to take a tree, that in their own words, had more interesting branches than the trunk, and they gave it a platform that displays and accentuates those branches, more than anything else. It’s a beautiful example of using what the tree is already giving you, and making the most of it.
I agree. When I saw the blog post it was like, ok they took the tree off the box, placed it in the tray with a bit of soil underneath and and a bit of a mound near roots touching the tray and covered the the root ball with muck. Do they not care for all the roots not surrounded by soil? where or on what are they going to grow? it felt like half a repot. It reminded me of the Monty Python song Eric the half a bee:
Half a bee, philosophically,
Must, ipso facto, half not be.
But half the bee has got to be
Vis a vis, its entity. D’you see?
But can a bee be said to be
Or not to be an entire bee
When half the bee is not a bee
Due to some ancient injury?
Half a repot
without a pot.
Will half the roots
go to rot?
With all that muck
wouldn’t they be better off,
with some wall made of moss
where the roots would breathe,
instead of rot?
That’s it, I spent all my creative energy in this before 7 am and I still have the whole day ahead of me. Damn.
Hmmm… think of it as a kokedama or a kusamono. If those can thrive, this tree could possibly thrive too. I’m sure they have planned our the aftercare. Michael Hagedorn knows his stuff and wouldn’t set this tree up to fail.
of course Michael knows his stuff. That is why it was an eye opener, the extent to which you don’t really need a pot…
he also had a tree where he used a lazy susan. The muck + moss is the trick.
You mean he planted the tree in a lazy susan? I’d like to see a picture of that.
The lazy susan’s all covered up by the planting. If I remember correctly, it was a plastic one instead of wood. Not sure if he had transplanted it already. He mentioned it in Bonsai Empire’s Fundamentals course.
Image was downloaded from cretaegus.com portfolio
I really like the portfolio of Michael Hagedorn, some really innovative and all incredibly beautiful trees.
This is a good example beginning with the end in mind. Working with the tree to get to the end point vs. forcing and rushing the tree. They “told” the tree, this is what we would like to happen, and we’ll give you all the care that you need. Tree responds with health. When all the signs or readiness are checked, they deemed the tree ready to be repotted in the super shallow pot.
Bonsai is an awesome art and discipline!
I really like the styling work that Michael did on the tree, and I like the planting angle. I don’t line the shallow pot/slab planting look. To me it doesn’t really suit the tree. I think it would look much better in a more traditional pot, or maybe somewhat of a crescent pot. Either way the pot should be deep enough to mostly contain the rootball. Not everything is a candidate for a slab planting.
I agree, I also don’t like it so shallow for this tree but I am happy to know that one can do it.
Michael was just down here for a day long workshop Saturday and I got to visit with him for a few minutes after it was over. Always great to see him. This tree looks great. I never would have seen that idea done that way. There’s just no end to some peoples creativity. We can all be thankful to have these folks in our neighborhood:sunglasses:.