Oak for Deadwood Inspiration

This tree is one of the best that I have seen for gaining inspiration for the use of deadwood in broad-leaved or deciduous bonsai.

It is Sessile oak [ Quercus petraea ] , a species native to the UK. as well as large parts of Europe. This tree is located in a field just east of Carlisle in the north-west of the country and appears to have suffered a lightning strike some years ago that has caused this damage.

This is conjecture, of course, but it would seem that the dead portion of the tree that lies on the ground was ripped out by the lightning strike , both causing and revealing the hollow trunk that we can see in the next photo.

The next series of pictures show the interesting texture now seen in the deadwood areas.

The effect is clearly created by a combination of the physical nature of the damage, and the way that it has then been modified by the actions of fungi causing rotting of the timber in the interior.

Notice the remarkable complexity of the split and torn wood in the upper portion of what we would term in bonsai to be sabamiki . Very difficult to emulate this using machine tools !

A close up of this same area.

Finally a close up of the actual texture of the timber surface showing how everything follows the grain of the timber, a characteristic that must be born in mind when using machine based cutting tools in attempting this sort of effect in our bonsai. The machines allow us to easily cut across the grain but this rarely appears convincing as it is so ” unnatural ”.  Even  the best exponents of the creation of deadwood in bonsai struggle to get near what nature itself achieves !

The more that we look at and study trees like this one the better able we should be to produce an approximation of this sort of feature where it can be an appropriate part of our bonsai design.

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One Response to Oak for Deadwood Inspiration

  1. Kristian White says:

    Wow, love the photos of the Sessile Oaks! I have some small Sessile Oak trees that I started from acorns a friend sent me from Scotland. Haven’t found many pictures of mature trees! Thanks, Kristian

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