Kempinski’s Korner – December 2022

Winter Silhouette Show

Winter Silhouette Bonsai Show Dec 2022

Driving to Kannapolis, North Carolina for the first weekend of December has for the past 8 years started my Christmas Season. Steve Zeisel hosts the Winter Silhouette Bonsai show at his place of work, a beautiful building in a food science research park.  This event has evolved into a regional bonsai show with a limited number of fine trees on display.

One thing I like about the show is the exhibitors are free to do what they want for the display.  Most default to the typical two or three point display but not all, including me.  This year Steve asked me for two displays so I thought I’d share them in this month’s KK.

Last month I wrote about Buddhist Pine (Podocarpus marcophylla) and my first display featured a Buddhist Pine.  Since the Chinese view the Buddhist Pine with reverence and it has a big role in Feng Shui as a welcoming tree I decided to make a display with Feng Shui as its theme.  The Buddhist pine sets the stage on the left of the display as the entry tree. Feng Shui suggests a Buddhist pine could be used to welcome someone to a home.  Next to it I had a water tray (water is a Feng Shui element) with a laughing Buddha statue I found at a Japanese temple flea market.  Accompanying these on the right was a Paper Flower tree (Bougainvillea) with a flush of purple bracts.  The color suggested fire and the stands were earth. 

This theme probably only made sense to me and unless I explained it to someone I doubt anyone got the connection.  However northern trees are not in flower now and many folks seemed to enjoy the colorful splash of a bougy strutting its stuff.   It was selected as the best flowering tree but I don’t believe there was any other competition. 🙂

Buddhist Pine welcomed viewers to this display. Note the floating bougy bract in the water basin.
The Buddhist Pine welcomed viewers to this display. Note the floating bougy bract in the water basin. That was intentional.  I made the shallow stand under the bougy just for the show.

 Slash Pine, Pinus elliottii “Cousin It” on the left is a native Florida tree in a pot by Ron Lang
The Slash Pine, Pinus elliottii “Cousin It” on the left is a native Florida tree in a pot by Ron Lang. The pot features bullet holes (you know the Florida man) and a slash.  The Florida Elm, Ulmus Americana Floridiana, “Styled by Wilma” in a Tom Dimig pot. Note the subtle black frame to elevate the display.

The second display I set up was the “Florida Slash.”  The origin of the slash name harkens back to when old school Florida farmers would slice (i.e. slash) the Pinus elliottii trunks and collect the resin to make turpentine.  Soon Pinus elliottii came to be known as Slash Pine. The trees grow in the slash, an area of land just higher than the bald cypress domes but still swampy.  Here you can find the Slash Pine, and the Florida Elm along with pitcher plants and assorted weeds. Since I view display art with a broader view than most, I used the black short frame to simulate the land above the standing swamp water. I painted a piece of Masonite to show a Slash scene and then placed some artifacts related to the Slash on top of it. 

Several folks discussed the Slash Pine with me mostly about needle length but also about the wild weeping style and the awesome bark.  A couple of fellow artists said after seeing this they plan to try other native American pines and not worry about needle length.  That made my day.  In a way the slash pine stole the show as very few talked about the Florida Elm on the right – which I collected almost 20 years ago and it is one of my favorite trees in my collection.   

Items reminiscent of the Florida Slash including a Slash Pinecone
Items reminiscent of the Florida Slash including a Slash Pinecone (that opened up from the heat in the building over the weekend) and some turpentine in an antique jar.  The taller plant is a pitcher plant in a Sara Rayner pot and the shorter plant is a ground cover in a pot I made.  The antique screwdriver simulates the tool to slash the bark. 

Unrelated to my display, was Bruce Hartman’s big Brazilian Raintree that he got from Donne Emenegger.  I helped Bruce get the tree ready and it won an award as the Best Tropical.  Many northern folk had never seen such a large Brazilian Raintree.   Dr Reggie Perdue and Cossette also had a few trees on display, so BSOB did a fine job representing Florida.  

Now that the show is over, it’s time to get serious about Christmas.  Happy Holidays all.

Bruce Hartman's large Brazilian Raintree in a Chinese pot
Bruce Hartman’s large Brazilian Raintree in a Chinese pot.

Rob Kempinski

Rob is an internationally recognized bonsai artist and author.  He enjoys teaching bonsai at all levels and introducing newcomers to the pleasing art of growing miniature trees in a container.  Rob has authored many articles for bonsai magazines and journals.  He has published several books, many on the art of bonsai.

Rob's Texas Sage
Rob Kempinski showing his Texas sage

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