Vine Maple ‘Boot’ Revisit-

This composition is from March 2015. We had it in the studio for our annual fall trim and thought it might be fun to compare it with the original styling.

I’d intended this one to be a bit…awkward. Many paintings, sculpture, or other art I enjoy looking at again and again often have an element of the quirky or odd. I was investigating at the time about not just the visual balance we often talk about in bonsai, the synthesis of the design, but actual physical balance—where something does or doesn’t tip over, and playing along that edge.

This maple came out of a few particularly experimental years in the Crataegus garden, and it’s still one that visitors either pass by quickly as if they wish they hadn’t just seen that, or they stand there for a few minutes and call me over to talk about it. Nice to have a few like that in the garden.

The moniker ‘The Boot’ came about organically, like many nicknames do. We playfully name things in my yard, not as one would name a work of art, but to help communicate which tree we are talking about. For years then this has been the The Boot, as the levitated area off to the right looks like a raised mossy shoe.

A word about the ramification of Vine Maple, Acer circinatum. Ramification tends to progress…slowly. Vine Maple is a species with a genetic lineage closest to Full Moon Maple and Japanese Maple, and they are not predictably defoliated, with equally predictable reflush (a technique used often with more vigorous maples like Trident). The ramification of this maple resulted just from the spring growth, some of which bifurcated naturally, and at its own pace.

The raw, unworked Vine Maple in 2015, from the Cascades of the Pacific Northwest, at the assumed planting angle and front

The secret in the inside…a nylon board support, cut up and bolted together, with the tree ready for attachment

And at the end of assembly day, with the roots surrounded with sphagnum moss, and live moss held in place with wrapped nylon fishing line

Fast forwarding five years to October 2020, before the fall trim. Some lichen is creeping into the moss on the right.

After the fall trim in October, 2020

Try the original photo essay for more about this cantilevered creation.

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