In June 2006 I had the pleasure of
visiting Denver Colorado to lead several programs for the Rocky
Mountain Bonsai Society as well as to give a lecture on container
culture to the Denver Botanical Gardens. My friend Larry
Jackel was my host for the visit. I was able to study Larry's
great bonsai collection and to pick his brain about the great
materials that he is collecting and using for bonsai. He was
also kind enough to share many of his special techniques that
he uses for his bonsai.
Larry works with Pinus flexilis -
Limber Pine, Pinus ponderosa - Ponderosa Pine, Picea pungens
- Colorado Blue Spruce, Juniperus scopulorum - Rocky Mountain
Juniper, Pseudotsuga menziesii - Doug Fir, as well as many other
Larry particularly loves working
with the old collected mountain material, yamadori. These
trees often have great deadwood and show the results of a great
struggle to survive in a hostile environment. One day we visited
several groves of trees at 10,000 foot elevation in the Rocky
Mountains of Colorado to see the natural environment of the Limber
and Bristlecone Pines. These trees are exposed to high winds,
dry summers and brutally cold winters. Somehow they manage to
survive but at great cost.
One living branch
is all that remains of this Limber Pine.
Pair of windswept
Pine growing out of rocky soil.
"Methuselah", thousands of years old.
We spent much of our time studying
how the environment shapes these trees. The wind, snow and ice
blast these trees and they often show greatly contorted shapes
as well as shattered trunks, and branches with much exposed and
eroded dead wood. Nature does a marvelous job of wearing away
the dead wood to reveal multiple wood colors, varying textures
and complex mixes of new and old erosion.
Many of Larry's bonsai trees show
the same types of dead wood as the natural mountain trees. After
much study and practice Larry has been able with hand and power
tools to shape the dead wood to be virtually identical in character
with the natural trees. He studiously avoids leaving any scars
that look man-made. Larry uses small tools to pull off layers
of wood fibers and also fine rotary tools to carve fine grooves
into the wood. Small chisels carve deeper channels into the dead
sunk into their bed.
Limber Pine, 24
inches tall, in training 8 years.
an elegant Ponderosa Pine, 28 inches wide.
bonsai, 20 inches tall, trained for 8 years.
contorted Ponderosa, height 23 inches.
on the above tree detailed by Larry with
fine carving tools and charred with a torch.
height 27 inches, trained for 2 years.
Douglas Fir, 33 inches tall.
Larry sets his bonsai trees into
a mulch bed. Pots are kept settled to their rims to buffer the
often brutally hot summer temperatures in his mile-high home.
Roots are protected and keep the trees healthy and vigorous.
Pot sunk to its
rim in mulch to protect the roots from summer heat and winter
Larry collects small numbers of mountain
trees for his bonsai workshops as well as for sale to lucky buyers.
To contact Larry click here e-mail