Recently, Michael asked me to attend to the Cryptomeria Japonica forest planting that was hit with a fungal infection last year. This was one of the original fifty trees gifted to the United States from Japan. When leaf-browning symptoms first appeared, staff at the Museum treated the Cryptomeria forest with a fungicidal drench by the trade name of Subdue Maxx. Thankfully, the tree has now outgrown the infection and is ready for the next phase of its recovery – branch selection and clean-up.
Before doing anything, we pulled the tree’s file. The Museum keeps a file on each tree in the Museum, containing information and records about each tree, such as age, re-potting history, and history of disease. Knowing a tree’s history gives us valuable information before beginning work.
After some discussion we determined the front of the composition and the angle that best shows the arrangement of the trees in the forest. This forest was grown from one clump. “Clump-style” bonsai should have three or more trunks (always an odd number) growing from a single point. The natural equivalent might be a group of trees that have sprouted from a single cone, or a collection of mature suckers springing from the base of a single tree. All branches should grow outwards towards the light and create an overall triangular shape and composite crown.
The main tree in this piece has serious die-back, but we decided to incorporate that into the composition. We then shifted the second-largest tree closer to the center, creating the illusion of a very old and weathered forest and decided to tilt the pot back because the main tree leaned forward too far, this will be permanently corrected during its next re-potting.
This is just the next phase in this tree’s long recovery. When more branches have grown out, we can rewire and properly place each branch. after a full recovery refinement can begin again, always taking into consideration the heath and integrity of this very old Japanese clump-style forest planting.