Wednesday, April 25, 2007

a very unusual spruce - part 4

1) spring 2005
2) today
3) today with the wire retouched

Picea abies, European spruce, 40 cm, pot by Derek Aspinall

9 comments: said...

First, let me say that I love your site. Your work is simply wonderful. That having been said, I do not understand the large jin on the left side of the base of this tree nor the thin vertical jin on the top of the first major branch. Both seem out of place and cause my "eye" to focus on them as flaws rather than allowing me to enjoy the natural harmony of the remainder of the tree. Why did you leave them?

Walter Pall said...


well, yes, I know that this is controversial. I don't do bonsai to sell my trees ( I would have to please the mainstream taste). I have given up the notion that bonsai HAVE to be beautiful. I think that this would be a call for bonsai kitsch. Bonsai have to leave an impression (not necessarily a positive one, mind you). Bonsai should be UNIQUE and absolutely not cookie cutter.
This one especially is about generating hate-love with the viewer. It is SUPPOSED to make the viewer think 'if this ugly jin were much smaller I could like it or even love it.'. You will never forget this spruce. But you will forget great masterpieces from the Kokufu Ten albums.
Since around ten to fifteen years bonsnai has started to become more of an art than a craft for many. You will have to get used to creations that you wonder about.

I have probably the largest collection of styled spruce. I own around 100. I will not tolerate another look-alike spruce in my garden. Any look-alikes will be sold. This one is a keeper.


btw, the vertical jin from the main branch was an accident. It broke and I forgot to take it off or glue it back onto the old position.

Anonymous said...

Thank you taking the time to reply, and I do understand your view on the "art" of bonsai. I share it. I guess that I am just not as confident in showing a tree that provokes a "dislike" response along with so many other trees that scream, "Look at me, I am the single best and most unique of my species!"

Thank you again for taking the time to teach us through your work.

Anonymous said...

If I have to be honest, I like it the way it is except for the vertical jin, but that will be corrected soon I suppose. The jin on the bottom is making the stem interesting. Otherwise the stem is to straight en boring.

Just my opinion..

Marko said...

Hello, Mr. Walter

Yesterday I was walking on the midle (high)mountain area and saw so many diferent and unusual trees which are shaped by the greatest master - the Nature.
So ... Yes, I like this spruce very much.
Regarding to your very famous colection of spruces many of them are probable yamadories so I'd like to ask you to 'trust' us a few most important points to keep the spruce yamadori alive. For me it looks that keeping spruce alive is much more diffucult than for example larch.

Many thanks for your blog.


Walter Pall said...


Spruce and European larch are some of the most difficult trees to collect. You may well speak about hybrid larches, which are all over the UK, Central Europe and even in some parts of America. Usually they are called Europena larch, but they are not. They are Larix kaempferi x europea, a hybrid. They are much tougher and not so difficlut to collect.

I would warn folks to try to collect the European (Norway) spruce, Picea abies, and the true (mountain) Europena larch, Larix decidua. Even experts have a survival rate of clearly less that50 %, often only 20 %, very often the whole batch dies. Reasons: UNKNOWN.

Rune Kyrdalen said...

Hi Walter. As you know I collect a lot of old Norway Spruce and my survival rate is around 40- 50 % , I prepare the trees one year in advance by fertilizing and removing the bushes around the trees to heat up the ground and improve the root growth in that area. The fertilizer makes the trees grow more and stronger before collection so they have more stored energy from photosyntesis when i collect them. I cut as few brances as possible when I collect the trees. I only collect in august/september (late july in the high mountains) (before I started these preperations before collecting my survival rate was close to zero.)
Now many of the trees I collected last year are budding out and I have a question for you. When do you transplant your collected spruces. When they bud out in spring or in late summer after they have created next years buds. Do you leave them for many years in the original soil or do you try to repot into better soil as soon as possible (without disturbing the roots if possible). The trees I collect normally grow in peatlike soil, or eveen bogs and it starts to decompse in the pot after a year or so and it seems to me it would be wise to change the soil, but the spruces are very sensitive to rootdissturbance in my experience, in short; how do you do it?


Rune Kyrdalen said...

Just one comment to why the survival rate on Norway spruce is so low. Of all the trees I collect I inspect the rootball of the ones that die, and in most cases there are no fine roots in the root ball, only large logs. I always dig as large a root ball as possible and it often looks like I get a lot of fine roots but often the roots doesn't belong to the spruce to be collected. Spruces that grow in areas with low soil fertility have very long roots and in my experience the most common reason for the collected spruces to die is too few absorbing roots.
The ideal situation is to find a spruce in a crack in the mountain and just lift it up just like how one can do with many pines, but they don't come like that (Not in Norway anyway)


200xth said...

In case you want to see any updates on the tree(s) above since this blog entry, here are the links to each tree(s):

1) European Spruce #35