Triple Threat Bonsai Demo / Lecture

This past weekend was the fall open house at Natures Way Bonsai Nursery located just outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The weekend consisted of a demo/lecture Friday night, demos/lectures and free food and drinks with other events all day Saturday and ended with a demo Monday night for our club the Susquehanna Bonsai Club. First and foremost the entire weekend was free which is always a plus :). This years 2 special guest bonsai artists were Rodney Clemons from Atlanta, Georgia, USA and Yamil Collazo from Puerto Rico.

Rodney is known as the Kingsville Boxwood “king” and Yamil specializes in tropical species such as Ficus. However, both are great artists and work with any species of trees and rock plantings as you will see. Friday night started the event off by a free, open to the public, triple bonsai demo/lecture from Rodney, Yamil and the well-known bonsai artist Jim Doyle (owner of Natures Way Bonsai). It was a small gathering of about a dozen people, which was great since we then were able to get more involved and work with the bonsai artist. For this demo Rodney worked on non-other than a Kingsville Boxwood, Yamil a Ficus (can’t remember exact species) and Jim an Alpine Fir. 

Rodney resides in Atlanta, Georgia where he operates a bonsai nursery named “AllGood Bonsai, LLC.”. 

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Here is the collected Kingsville boxwood that Rodney Clemons chose to work on for our demo. It’s a rather large specimen! Rodney is there somewhere behind it I promise 🙂 

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Finally the Kingsville “king” emerges from the behind the large boxwood. Let me introduce everyone to Rodney Clemons 🙂

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The major portion of work on this tree, as you will see in the next several photos, was to reduce all the overgrowth and clean out all dead and unwanted branches.

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Snip – Snip – Snip – Snip

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Looking at branch placement and the density of the canopy. 

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Snip – Snip – Snip – Snip

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Rodney removed the tree to have a look at the root structure but did not re-pot. This needs to wait until spring when a root prune and re-pot can take place so the health of the tree is not jeopardized. Also with Kingsville boxwood you typically will not wire much. They have an extremely thin bark and it is easily damaged and removed when being wired, so it is best to shape and style Kingsville boxwood by the clip-n-grow method. Kingsville are generally styled to look like an evergreen Oak species referred to as “Live Oak” that grow in nature in the Southern hemisphere of North America. There are similar species in Europe and Asia but are usually not referred to as ‘Live Oaks”. They are within the Oak species but are considered evergreen because they maintain their green leaves throughout the winter months. 

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And here I am hanging out with Rodney in front of the Kingsville boxwood he worked on. 

Next we move onto Yamil Collazo.

Yamil is from Puerto Rico and because of that he has incredible skill and knowledge dealing with tropical species of bonsai. 

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Here is the Ficus that Yamil chose to work on. I don’t have much knowledge in Ficus so I’m not sure of the exact species. Anyone out there know?? Even though the tree was pretty big with lots of branches ,it had one major flaw. If you look at the trunk right after the curve it just shoots straight up with no movement or taper. 

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So to get some character into the tree and eliminate that very straight trunk Yamil decided it needed to first be positioned  at a different angle. 

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After securing the tree, Yamil started removing unwanted branches. 

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And off goes a portion of the straight trunk! You can see it laying on the floor in the background. Definitely had some thickness to it!

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Adding wire to the remaining branches and positioning them. 

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Here is the final tree at the moment. Down the road it will be re-potted at the new angle and the process of branch ramification will begin. 

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Here I am posing with Yamil and the Ficus he worked on. 

And last but not least….. Mr. Jim Doyle.

Jim is the owner of Natures Way Bonsai Nursery located outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Jim has been involved in bonsai for longer than I have been alive and has traveled the world and worked side by side with some of the best bonsai artist/masters known to bonsai. He also is involved with the infamous Walter Pall and the International Bonsai Academy doing a yearly bonsai demo/lecture/study weekend known as “Woodstock”. Jim decided to work with a collected Alpine Fir which is quite unusual for a species in bonsai. This Alpine Fir was collected in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado several years ago. Alpine Fir have a history of dying after being worked on, which is why they have been excluded as a suitable species for bonsai however, Jim has been able to successfully work on and keep them alive. 

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Jim starting to work on the collected Alpine Fir. Even though this looks and is a small tree it is estimated that the tree is around 75 yrs old. Due to the high elevation where they grow and constantly being covered in several feet of snow for months at a time, they grow VERY slow. 

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He has that focused look of “What branch is next?”. 

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This and the next couple photos are of Jim pruning and styling the tree.

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And the tedious task of wiring begins…………

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Here I am posing with Jim after the initial styling of this collected Alpine Fir. 

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This is how the couple of hours of demo played out. All 3 worked on their trees at the same time and rotated turns discussing what they were doing. 

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And of course I can’t leave out the fact that we had lots of free snacks, beer and great music from the talented guitar player and club member Aaron Gainer. 

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more about this past filled bonsai weekend! 🙂

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