The Swedish bonsai society has had its annual meeting in the past weekend. We were in Göteborg, in the botanical garden, and as usual I had to start my visit with a walk in the park. I was first surprised to see these blue flowers everywhere, to me they look like crocus which you only see in spring. I learned that they are called tidlösa in Swedish (autumn crocus, meadow saffron or naked lady) - Colchicum autumnale.
Another plant that caught my eye was this: with big leaves and something that looks like blueberries on long red stalks! Very decorative! The sign said Paraplyblad (umbrella leaf) - Diphylleia cymosa.
But the main reason for my visit was of course about bonsai. The botanical garden had invited the Japanese bonsai master Kunio Kobayashi (to the left in the picture) for the weekend. It was a great honour for the members of the Swedish bonsai society to have the opportunity to meet this bonsai master. The public was also invited and there were about a hundred people that had taken the chance to see the master in action.
What you can see in the background is a sort of basic explanation of bonsai, and the difference between bonsai and gardening. Kubayashi meant that gardening (I think he meant growing flowers) is about "superficial beauty" - while bonsai is about "deep beauty". I don't know what I should say about that...
On Friday evening he demonstrated bonsai on two pines. This is the first tree. It is a pine originally found in a bog in Sweden, transformed into bonsai by a member of the Swedish bonsai society. Kubayashi talked about the hard conditions the tree had survived and how the wind and snow had shaped the tree into what it is today. That is "shaped the trunk" - the master meant that the crown looked like it had been growing in a green-house. It did not say the same message as the trunk. To make the two parts of the tree speak the same, he wanted to thin out the crown, let in the light.
He talked a lot about this: wind and sun, hard conditions, how important that a bonsai should show signs of what had happened during the years. To show old age.
He talked about lines - but also about space. The line of the trunk is important, but also the space beween branches. The light should be let in.
So he also did some small improvements on the trunk. Here you can see how he is working with a chisel on a jin. I think the owner of the tree was a little nervous when Kubayashi suddenly started to hammer on the trunk with this tool... And one person in the audience asked why he did these marks in the bark - he answered "I added a few years".
The result is an amazing bonsai!
The second tree was another pine - pinus parviflora or pinus pentaphylla. The tree was originally donated to the botanical garden many years ago. It has not really been bonsai-shaped during all the years.
Kubayashi turned the pot on the side and made the tree into a cascade. He said the transformation of the roots into a cascade-pot would take two years.
He had a special way to use three scissors at the same time! Or, of course, he held them at the same time in the hand, and used them separately, but without having to put one down to pick up the next!