Lesson #21:
COMPLEX 360° LANDSCAPES
              The first such landscape was "Creating a Bonsai World" as the featured demonstration at the grand opening of the Fuku-Bonsai Center in Kona in 1992 using Dwarf Azaleas.  It was later mounted on a 4' diameter turntable and took 25 years of pruning to mature.
 
             The second "The World of Bonsai Aloha" in December 2013 was planted with older Dwarf Schefflera and was impressive soon after completion.  It was created on a 48" diameter revolving concrete disc with three distinct views.
 
              Soon after,  a third was begun to explore more challenging concepts. Compared to the first two,  this would be about half the size.  It would have multiple views and would be based upon a fantasy theme. 
 
              The right photo of a Chinese "Dragon-pole" was the inspiration.  Although I would not attempt such an literally accurate copy, my effort would feature an interpretation of dragon-poles and creative fantasy!
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DEVELOPING THE THEME & CONCEPTS

                Bonsai is a thinking man's game, especially in those applications that require planning.  Japan's grand master Saburo Kato shared his basic concept (paraphrased):  "Either build your plan around the rocks, trees or idea that you have: or develop your plan and create or obtain the components that you need!"   Of course that's common sense. If you want to train a specific tree,  learn as much as you can about it's natural traits and how others have trained it. Identify the distinctive features and design to take advantage of the positives.  But also identify the negatives so your plan will resolve or hide the negatives. The first two complex landscapes began with extraordinary rocks. 

                CREATING A BONSAI WORLD featured a rare form of lava that had swirl marks that could be arranged to suggest strata and create dramatic cliffs, valleys, and river scenes.  This panoramic type applications require very small plants, detailed pruning, and require many years and a lot of effort to create the details in the plants.

               THE WORLD OF BONSAI ALOHA featured one large exceptional rock that suggested the major scene.  The challenge was then to find and utilize other rocks to create two more complimentary and contrasting scenes and the trees to match the scenes.  But for the creation to resonate, it needed a plausible narration or story!  That's what I try to emphasize to the members of the Fast Track Study Group! 

               DON'T START UNTIL YOU HAVE AN EXCITING PLAN! In our Introductory Workshop Package, we include a small accent rock and often how that rock is used will greatly improve to either create a scene, to begin training the roots in a distinctive manner, or lift up the tree to create a visually wider trunk-root area.  Those who make the effort to think about the most effective use of the rock will be rewarded with a bonsai that has the added creativity that is the hallmark of the best bonsai. This is the most difficult part of creating a bonsai.  It's the part that makes each bonsai distinctively yours to start the sacred bond between a plant and its owner-trainer.  Without that bond or individual effort,  you just have an uninspiring potted plant.

               Too often too many brag about how fast they can wire or train a tree and while they may look like bonsai,  they are too often boring.  Upon careful study, the creation did not take advantage of unique features or did not address the negatives that remain. Speed in training does not justify not creating the best possible result with the materials available. Saburo Kato was an exemplary bonsai master that had an extraordinary horticultural knowledge and is largely credited with successfully introducing Ezo Spruce into Japanese bonsai.  In supplying him with the trees used in his "PEACE FOREST" created at the International Bonsai Congress in Hawaii in 1980, I've had the opportunity to understand his meticulous planning and in this article, I'll try to pass on his lessons, but using a challenging new creation as an example.

                To me,  "dragon-poles" suggested the tall vertical lines of the Japanese formal upright style which is considered by many to be the most difficult. It represents the highest level of integrity. The parallel vertical lines are featured in many of Kato's Ezo Spruce forests and John Naka's Goshin. Compared to the dark natural rocks of the two earlier complex landscapes,  the idea of light-colored, sculptured, glazed, monumental  columns was challenging.   I creating an original interpretation from Hawaiian coral, assembled them with non-traditional techniques,  glazed them to create a contrasting aura, and planted them using trees of contrasting styles that told the story and celebration of Fuku-Bonsai!

                

CREATING MY SCENE & WORKING TOGETHER!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

                  THE WORLD OF BONSAI ALOHA was the result of almost a year of planning.  We had obtained the rock many years before and it was brought to the work area in mid-2013 with actual assembly of the rock scene in November and planting in December.  Planning for this third complex landscape had also been simmering for several months,  especially as we began to make progress toward ending our 25-year long battle for survival.  With the World of Bonsai Aloha still in the training area in the background, the cutting of the first coral was done on the December 31, 2013 to end a great year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                  As we ended the first year of publishing the Journal of Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai,  we had completed the planting of The World of Bonsai Aloha.  But with the  Bonsai Clubs International understanding that we would publish simultaneously in the April 2014 issue,  our editorial team continued their focus on root-over-rock plantings and Ryan Chang and Jay Boryczyko joined me to jointly research and create 360° complex landscapes with the goal of the three of us creating and publishing in the May 2014 issue. So I had just a few months to bring them up to speed as we had established a steep learning curve challenge!  

                 In January 2014,  I had locked in the concepts of my coral dragon-poles and ran a trial to create a "footed concrete pancake" that would permanently hold the assembled and arranged dragon-poles into position. I recognized that I had a major engineering challenge of how to hold the pieces in proper permanent alignment.   An article on basic root-over-rock plantings was written and posted at www.fukubonsai.com/4a17.html.  An article on creating a footed concrete pancake was written and posted at www.fukubonsai.com/4a18.html These would serve as resource materials for doing complex landscapes.           

        In February 2014 I had completed the design concept of the Dragon-Poles and created my first concept plan for "DRAGON-POLE ISLAND" and the three main scenes.  Once this important objective was drawn out, it was easier to visualize and I kept adding mental details and started to address    the many challenges that would needed to be resolved.  Trials had begun to try to find the best way to extend some poles to make them taller. 
         Initially I envisioned using an 18" diameter container and  full-size mock-up was made.  A "Wire-Ladder Cage" was invented with 1x2 welded wire bent with pliers to be able to hold the tall dragon-poles securely in position while being concreted and made to be parts of a permanent arrangement. 

        An article about Wire-Ladders was written and posted at: www.fukubonsai.com/4a18a.html.

           Using a system of a vertical dragon-pole support with two angle braces, I figured out how to hold the tallest pole in position, using wire to tie the pole to the "wire-ladder-cage" in 2 or more places. 

           The third tallest Dragon-Pole was extended with a piece of PVC plastic pipe and this was also attached to the wire-ladder cage with wire. The second largest Dragon-Pole was locked into position and using some horizontal sticks and masking tape, all was secured to keep the first three in position.

           In multiple rock plantings, forest arrangements, or complex landscapes,  the arrangement of the three largest components is the most important. They should have a pleasing variation in height, bulk, and character that is consistent and complimentary to each other.  Success or failure rides on these first three components so it is necessary to take your time at this stage.

           It is especially important to visualize the position of each plant and to be sure that there are enough space for the needed root systems.  By keeping the structural components compact, there would be a generous amount of root area. 

          Once the first three dragon-poles were locked in, I realized that an 18" diameter would be too small and I shifted to a larger oval container that would be 27" x 22". I enlarged the "island",  cut it out of 1/2" plywood, chiseled out three cavities that would be the tripod supporting legs, and used a Makita die grinder to taper down the edges of the form to be used to create the "concrete pancake" that would hold all the components together. 
          This was the final test prior to concreting.  The central support post was shortened so the entire structure could be lifted off, the concrete placed, the assembly repositioned into the wet concrete, and all locked in.  The photo shows the new exhibit collection container which is a fiberglass tray that waitresses use to bring dishes to customers in restaurants.
                    In the February 2014 issue of the Journal of Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai,  Ryan, Jay, and I introduced our 360° Complex Landscape project with Ryan's introduction at www.fukubonsai.com/1a94n.html and Jay's at www.fukubonsai.com/1a6z4.html.   Jay updated progress in the March 2014 issue at www.fukubonsai.com/1a6z5.html  and again in the April 2014 issue at www.fukubonsai.com/1a6z6.html. 

                   Each of us were addressing the challenge from different angles. I was sculpturing and assembling vertical coral columns.  Ryan was creating "assembly builds" by gluing soft Hawaiian lava with a coating of concrete. Jay was working with the densest materials and using power tools to cut and shape Michigan Feather Rock that is glassy and sharp!  Our internal email chains made suggestions for each other's projects and we all learned. 

                   I tried to stay in front by writing articles so that the informational resources would be available when they reached that stage.  I felt responsible for pushing Ryan and Jay into this extended challenge and having done so, in trying to help them, I learned a lot more! In they sharing their progress, planning and results with Journal readers, I think they also learned much more and will be able to assist future Fast Track Study Group members!  The establishment of fellowship, common interests,  and mutual assistance are major desirable factors  to incorporate as we develop a Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai community! 

                   In many ways, this was the situation when American bonsai was in its formative stages in the 1960's and 1970's.  Then,  those interested were very widely scattered and there were relatively few national educational bonsai resources in English except for the American Bonsai Society and Bonsai Clubs International.  In participating I made personal contact and was able to correspond with those who later went on to form bonsai organizations and became regional leaders. 

                   For most, the challenge was to create regional practices for growing traditional temperate climate outdoor bonsai in their region.  We learned which temperate climate trees would not grow in the warmer tropics and which tropical trees could be successful in temperate climates if protected during the colder seasons.  Tropical bonsai, especially ficus became more popular nationally because of its vigorous and durable growth characteristics, high-success, and relatively easier cold season requirements. 

                   Fuku-Bonsai's True Indoor Bonsai™ is the only form of bonsai in which the same plant can be grown throughout the United States as interior temperatures are maintained between 65°F and 80°F with interior heating or air conditioning.  That's our natural temperature range in Hawaii and Dwarf Schefflera grows well here year around outdoors and in our ideal growing climate, can utilize techniques that would not be successful in other areas.  This allows us to produce large quantities of high standard plants with stout trunks, multiple trunks, and low branches within 1" of the soil line and a shallow complex root system within 1/2" of the soil line.  Our 2-4 year prepared bonsai stock is the key component of our Introductory Workshop Package and all bonsai have exciting high standard potential.

                   At one time True Indoor Bonsai was not taken seriously and negatively compared against the masterpieces of traditional Japanese bonsai that were already hundreds of years old as "Nature's Bonsai" when they were collected and training began. In contrast, True Indoor Bonsai are "Nursery Bonsai" that are born to be bonsai with training begun when seedlings and cuttings are only a few months old.  We professionally cull out weak plants and those with poor bonsai traits. So each tree has exceptional potential compared to standard nursery plants. 

                  DRAGON RAMPART demonstrates that True Indoor Bonsai can be just as complex as the finest Japanese traditional bonsai.  But in addition, it can be grown indoors by anyone, anywhere who can grow houseplants.  And they develop much faster.  The three trees using in Dragon Ramparts are about eight years old and the arrangement will mature in just a few years.    It is a celebration of Fuku-Bonsai's True Indoor Bonsai and demonstrates the potential for a popular American bonsai.

 

             March 2014 was an eventful month of progress and with the planned enlargement of the concrete pancake,  there was significant improvements and additions to the planned details.  It was determined that there would be three ways to display "DRAGON RAMPART:"   1)  A concrete disc with a turntable with rounded stones,  2)  In the black oval tray, and 3) In a Chinese marble display slab. 
            

 

           Fifty-one 1/4" drain holes were drilled and 34 small plexiglass squares were super-glued to lift the tray up for drainage.  This oval tray could be used in our exhibit bonsai collection at the center with the marble tray as a more formal option.

            Creating the concrete pancake was done on March 15 when all plans were complete. 

           The assembly was lifted off the form which was covered with aluminum foil and clear kitchen plastic wrap.  A "rope" of rumpled aluminum foil about 1/4" high went around the form and taped down and the concreting began first to fill the depressions that would be the three tripod legs, then around the outer edge.  Pink coral dust was thrown onto the edges of the wet concrete for some texture but to tint the dried concrete closer to the natural coral color.
            Once the entire form was covered to the 1/2" thickness, the assembly was replaced into the marked locations to settle into the wet cement. Small stones and cement was placed under the dragon-poles where support was needed and between the wire-ladder-cage to bond it to the dragon-poles.
            The various Dragon-Poles were positioned following the plan.  Horizontal sticks were taped in appropriate places and the taller columns taped to keep them into position until the concrete dried.  Smaller scrap coral pieces had been drilled and sculptured to serve as accent pieces either for edging sections of the concrete pancake or to be a part of "character groupings."  The Dragon-Poles and accent pieces were largely position utilizing similar design standards of traditional groups used extensively in Japanese garden design and rock arrangements. 

             Sections of the "wire-ladder-cage that were exposed were partially covered either with coral accent rocks or 1/8" wire mesh, textured, and coated with cement.  Small scrap pieces of coral were fitted in any small openings and coral dust saved from the sculpturing was embedded into the wet cement.  The cementing was very detailed and took much of a full day.  The tapes and sticks were removed the next day and the assembly watered down occasionally and allowed to cure for several days.

            This photo was taken on March 27 after the concrete had largely cured an the three "islands" had been sculptured to get a preview of how the arrangement could appear on the Chinese marble display oval.

           Although the concrete color was good the stains on the coral were very distracting and it was decided to use an oil-based white primer sealer, ivory enamel, an antiquing stain to enhance the texture, a clear gloss polyurethane.  This would eliminate the porosity and make the coral more durable. 

           The photo was taken as the white primer-sealer was completing on the largest Dragon-Poles.  The objective as to create a more uniform appearance like glazed ceramics.  It is very unlikely that anyone would mistake these for natural rocks so the goal was to clearly establish that this complex landscape was based upon fantasy.
           At the end of March 2014, the assembly had cured and painting was completed and it was ready to start planting.  The project was on schedule for completion before the end of April to be in the May 2014 issue of the Journal of Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai

           Ryan and Jay were also making good progress.  As difficulties were identified,  solutions were found and everyone made steady progress.

PLANTING "DRAGON RAMPARTS" - APRIL 6, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

              "DRAGON RAMPARTS" is a celebration of Fuku-Bonsai's 25-year long battle for survival that began in 1989 with the spraying of defective Benlate contaminated with weed killers that caused over $30 million of losses. During that battle we were forced to develop all new crops as contamination residue prevents us from growing our original Brassaia crop.  Fortunately Dwarf Schefflera is immune to the residual contamination and it is a superior durable houseplant for our True Indoor Bonsai™. 

              The key to our recovery was learning to create "SUMO"  with low branches, multiple trunks, and trunk character within one inch of the soil line and a compact shallow root system within 1/2" of that soil line.  That made it possible to create our popular small and desk size Hawaiian Lava Plantings, and later when increased production built up sufficient inventory, to make available the Introductory Workshop Package that is now the easiest and most successful way to learn (and teach) bonsai to anyone, anywhere who can grow houseplants!  So the oldest (but smallest) of the three plants selected was a "sumo" trained as part of the 1:10 Project in a 5" shallow dish that is now about eight years old.

            The 1:10 Project portal and introduction at www.fukubonsai.com/1a6.html explains the basics of having a very shallow container whose diameter is ten times the depth of the container.  If these ratios are used, the plants are emphasized rather than seeing skimpy beginner plants in deep heavy pots.  

              The largest tree is a "ROOTS" which was our second major styling innovation that was one of the original trees when we launched the "1:10 Project" on April 26, 2014. It is in a 9" saucer that has a depth of less than 1"!   It's hard to believe that it was just a few short years ago. "Roots" have become the most popular style selected by visitors to the Kurtistown Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center.

             The featured tree is a "HAWAIIAN DRAGON" created by Myrtle and I when we introduced the 1:10 Project to our staff as posted at www.fukubonsai.com/1a6d.html  Both Myrtle and I are Asian zodiac dragons which are very different from the evil western dragons that were to be slain.  The above right photo show the tools and supplies to be used including sphagnum moss, fine top dressing, and cooked cornstarch to make the Fuku-Bonsai Cornstarch Keto-Tsuchi.  For more information on "keto-tsuchi",  study the formula and instructions posted as part of the above website link.  Other items show include tools, bindwire, Nutrient Granules, first aid gauze, water for rinsing hands, and hand towels.   

 

          The "Dragon" was bare rooted and carefully untangled from the wire armature that effectively gave character to the roots.
           The roots were lined up parallel and body media, Nutrient Granules, and sphagnum moss was added to form a 1" diameter roll that was kept in place with first aid gauze and further tightened with thin paper-covered bindwire. It was possible to make a slightly flattened roll of root that could be tied tightly to the second largest Dragon-Pole.    
        The top of the dragon was a few inches below the top with the horizontal branch resting on the top of the nearby dragon-pole. Perhaps in time, aerial roots will develop and travel down both poles! The top was first secured with bindwire and as the root was made tight against the pole, it was tied every two inches with bindwire.

          Cornstarch Keto-Tsuchi was placed between the root roll and the dragon pole, smoothly filling the joint on top and bottom, and later smeared over the first aid gauze.    There was a lot of room for the roots which reached the bottom.        

         The largest tree was a "ROOTS" in a 9" shallow 1:10 Project saucer less than 1" deep.  The tree was originally a 4LL8-Roots about 4 years old that went into the shallow saucer about 3 years ago so total age about 7-8 years old.

         The tree was also bare rooted and power washed to remove all potting media.  The largest branch and attached heavy aerial roots was severed and shown on the right with the rest of the tree at left in the next photo with the two screens.

 

         All removed potting media was rescreened with a 3/8" screen and a 1/8" screen.  Whatever was caught in the 3/8" screen was used to fill the wire-ladder-cage so the deepest part of the media had good porous drainage.  The medium material caught in the 1/8" screen was mixed with additional body media for the bulk of the planting.

         What came through the 1/8" screen has a lot of Dwarf Schefflera roots and this is ideal organic matter that was saved and used in the finishing stage.

 

        The small cut-off Roots section was tied to hide the exposed wire-ladder-cage and more medium material filled behind.  Keto-tsuchi filled the last remaining 1/4" and between the roots.

        Note that bonsai aluminum wire is forming a grid that will be left permanently in place to hold down the smallest Sumo that will be planted last.  The other main planting area also has a wire grid installed.

          With the small Roots section in place, the balance of the wire-ladder cage was filled with medium body media (with fines removed) and this was tapered down the slope to the edge of the concrete pancake. 

        The wire grid pretty much follows the slope of the media and is just below the surface so additional wires can easily be attached anywhere.  In the back, other loose ends are already anchored so there are unlimited tie-down options.   

         With the larger Roots section in place and a final grid of horizontal bindwire going across the vertical aluminum wire to secure the largest tree.

         Note that keto-tsuchi has been made into a 1/2" wide by 1" high wall that is positioned near the edge of the concrete pancake.  This allows just pouring in body mix to complete the planting to be surfaced with a thin layer of keto-tsuchi. 

 

        The smallest Sumo is about 8 years old in 5" diameter x 1/2" deep 1:10 Project dish.  To its right, the area has been surrounded by a keto-tsuchi wall and ready to receive medium body media with tie-down wires in position.  The tree was quickly and easily planted.  The total time for planting was about four hours and utilized one recipe of Fuku-Bonsai's Cornstarch Keto-Tsuchi which used 1/2 cup of cornstarch. 
          Initial primary view #1 with the Dragon planted high with the Roots at about the same level so there will be a heavy leafy canopy with the heavy part of the dragon trunk in front. This view shows the tallest Dragon-Pole from top to bottom and the coral is very prominent with the coral accents used for over half of the visible edges.

         The largest island is on the left and the two smaller islands placed to the right.  For formal exhibit, smaller rounded stones can be used without any container. 

         Initial view from the right-back view #2.  This view features the largest Roots tree and the widest slope that will me green mossed. I may carve a few more smaller Dragon-poles and insert them into the slop in a cluster on the left side.  Note that the two small islands were moved to be in front of the accent edging stones. 
        Initial view of the left-back view #3. I was please with how nicely this view came out with just the small Sumo in the foreground and the leafy canopy with the Dragon-Poles extending through the canopy.  The largest island is positioned on the right with the two smaller islands in the same position as the above photo.
   
POST-PLANTING ADJUSTMENTS & DETAILING; APRIL 7-11, 2014

                Our keto-tsuchi is ideal for use in complex arrangements.  It can be used to create almost vertical slopes and thin mats of moss taken from other bonsai readily adhere and will grow well in the keto-tsuchi. Initially the exposed roll of dragon roots that are bound with first aid gauze and covered with keto-tsuchi will be mossed.  However, as the roots become fully established, the moss and gauze will be removed and the roots exposed. 

               This is an ideal time to study the planting photographs and to make any adjustments or design improvements.  I was especially concerned that the Dragon was not sufficiently visible and that the small dragon-pole to the right side of the front view seemed weak and ready to topple.  These and other concerns were address. 

               During all planning, I considered several display containers.  DRAGON RAMPART is the third major 360° landscape and while it is the smallest of the three, it is much more complex.  I believe there is enough media to keep the three trees healthy so its not necessary to place the landscape into a pot and add more potting media.  I liked the effect of the Chinese marble display tray but the oval and rectangular shapes that I have does compliment the landscape being attractive from all angles and a round disc to be fitted with a turntable will be commissioned.  Here are photos taken five days after the planting.    

 

 

        DRAGON RAMPARTS; Theme view #1: The arrangement is now mossed, the dragon now not as swirling up and the dragon and the second dragon-pole more visible.  One of the small "islands" was used next to the small dragon-pole and taller moss adds to create more stability.  The movable larger island adds to the horizontal interest on the left. 

 

 

        View #2 (clockwise 45°):  Notice the "boulder-like island" was placed n the slope below the Roots tree that is on top of the wire-ladder cage that is holding the taller dragon-poles upright. In the first theme view, small carved accent rocks provided interest, but in this second view, more of the concrete pancake is allowed to show.  The legs of the pancake holds it up about 1/4" to assure good drainage.

 

 

         View #3 (clockwise 90°):  This view shows the Dragon climbing the dragon-pole.  While the roots were kept compact with a gauze wrapping, the keto-tsuchi covering the gauze holds moss well.  Once the roots are well established the moss and gauze will be removed and the roots exposed. The largest Roots tree is coming into view.

 

 

          View #4 (clockwise 135°):  Note that the second small island is placed amongst the accent rocks that are part of the concrete pancake edging and that in this view all three trees can be clearly seen.  In the future the leafy canopies of the Dragon and the Roots trees will be heavier and thicker to shade the arrangement and the tops of the dragon poles may not be visible in the future in this view.

 

 

            View #5 (clockwise 180°):   This is one of the more attractive views with the three tallest dragon- poles in the center with the third largest visible between the two tallest dragon-poles.  The tallest Roots tree which is about the overall center of the arrangement will one day make this a shady scene and it is tied to that third largest  dragon-pole. The largest "island" is coming into view on the right.   

 

 

             View #6 (clockwise 225°):  The section of the largest Roots tree hides the wire-ladder cage and the dragon poles are attractive with the largest dragon-pole visible from top to bottom in this and the next four views.  So that tallest dragon-poles is seen in all views, but fully from top to bottom in five of the 8 views.  I think this is a large part of the reason why the arrangement is especially interesting.  

 

 

             View #7 (clockwise 270°):  This is an interesting view in which all three trees can be seen with the mossy slope on the left and the coral cliffs on the right.

 

 

              View #8 (clockwise 315°): This is Myrtle's favorite view as it best features both the Dragon and the Sumo trees.  It includes the most textured coral and shows the lease amount of planting media. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

             This Dragon tree is about 8 years old and one of the original 1:10 Project trees grown in a shallow saucer.  Dragon styling must begin very early.  It's our newest styling technique and we are still improving and creating more lively complex dragons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

              

          Several different types of moss were used to add details and interest.  The basic short green compact moss is used in most areas including to cover the protected roots.  A slightly coarser moss adds interest and a taller darker green moss is used next to the coral accent rocks.  The light colored sculptured rocks give this landscape a distinctive appearance similar to a Chinese rockery garden.    

 

           All three of the trees used in this arrangement came out of the 1:10 Project that uses shallow saucers that are ten times wider than it is deep.  The limited amount of root development allowed produce trees that are compact with tight branching and smaller leaves. 

           These shallow containers are recommended if you want to grow miniature bonsai or trees that will be ideal for rock planting or complex landscapes.

  

                 CONCLUSION.  "DRAGON RAMPARTS"  is amongst my most complicated efforts and was much more difficult than the first two complex landscapes.  The unique rocks used in CREATING A BONSAI WORLD are so attractive that each of the landscapes created with those rocks were stunning and successful.  That extraordinary sea cave rock dominates THE WORLD OF BONSAI ALOHA.

                  But Dragon Ramparts was a greater challenge in having a lot more details and engineering tasks to be resolved.  Being less than half the size of the two previous efforts,  there was less room for error.  The concept of a "footed concrete pancake" and the "wire ladder cage" are new concepts that worked really well.  Initially I thought I would be using a fairly large black oval try that would hold gravel and moisture or an oval Chinese marble display stand. Neither of these two solutions will allow visitors to turn it to view all sides.  So it sits on a wood disc with turntable hardware.  All sides are attractive.  I am now running trials on various mosses and sent an assortment to Ryan Chang and Jay Boryczko teamed with me on this project.

                  In some ways, Jay took on a greater challenge as the very limited amount of rock sculpturing experience made learning complex arrangement techniques a daunting task and we set a new more attainable objective and in this issue,  Jay introduces a major new design concept. 

                  Ryan began working on his project with a great head start and a clear concept.  It was wonderful to see him adding details, creating more interest and developing a truly original design! It was especially nice as I am completing this article after returning from a trip to Honolulu where I visited Ryan's home for the first time and was able to take the final photos of STARS OF UTOPIA and a few other photos to document his current status.  I am still amazed that our collaboration is only about 16-months old!  His STARS OF UTOPIA story is posted at www.fukubonsai.com/1a94q.html

                   I want Ryan to keep improving.  He has learned to develop optimum growth in full sun.  Now he needs to learn to transition his trees towards the refinement stages and must learn how to pre-acclimate the trees so their grow will slow for best acclimation to the light levels of outdoor semi-shade or bright homes and offices.  Moving plants from rampant accelerated growth towards refinement requires a major detailed training session that will set the future coarse of the bonsai.  It's necessary for Ryan to develop discipline and attention to detail while training to retain extra branches for future training options.  The only way he'll learn is to handle more trees and if so,  he'll run out of growing area. 

                   So as Fuku-Bonsai starts supplying the four Koolau Farmers garden centers,  I've asked Ryan to become Fuku-Bonsai's Oahu representative to be a resource for the Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai community that we will be building on Oahu.  Along with this community-building challenge,  I've begun research and study to develop complex landscapes that feature the sheer cliffs and Koolau Mountains that formed a panoramic backdrop for my early bonsai years when the Fukumotos lived in Kaneohe.  The story of Reconnecting to the Koolaus and Koolau Farmers is posted at www.fukubonsai.com/Koolau1.html 

                  We hope you enjoy this special Journal issue and also excited about things to come! 

                   ~~~David   (david.f@fukubonsai.com)

*** Return to the May 2014 issue of Journal of Tropical and True Indoor Bonsai
*** Go to Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation website
*** Go to Fuku-Bonsai website
       © Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation and Fuku-Bonsai , 2014