Artist Spotlight – Ed Clark   Leave a comment

 

I ran into Ed Clark several year ago during meetings at the Fresno Bonsai Society. Ed always graciously donated maples for the yearly exhibit for the club to sell and raise money. It was not untill several years later and the bonsai swap meets that we became lasting friends and bonsai colleges. I gave the assignment to my bunker partners Curt and Rod to interview Ed for the bunker. I introduce Ed Clark.

Ed graduated from college with a degree in plant sciences and set up shop soon thereafter in 1972 growing maples for nurseries. Commercial growing is much different from growing material for bonsai. The commercial grower is interested in only growing the plants long and slender and potting up when necessary. At the height of his commercial growing Ed propagated over 200 species of maple. During this time he had as much as 15 acres devoted to the growing of maples.

In 1981 Ed threw in the towel and decided that commercial growing of maples was pretty hard to do in the central valley heat. He did landscaping for a number of years and decided to open a retail nursery with all the maples he had still growing. Growing trees for the public, and selling tree to the public are two different animals. The property was cut back to 5 acres and the nursery was doing well.

In the early eighties Ed tried his hand a bonsai. While he has many trees from this era many of them are now gone. I have one of them and have shown it many times as the Wizard of Oz tree. Ed had renewed interest in bonsai in the nineties and his interest has been energised recently after a meeting at his nursery with George Muranaka. During this time George and Ed compared notes and traded stock. George showed Ed his techniques for twisting black pines. Ed was very interested in this technique. Ed saw some very unique trident maples growing over stones. Since Ed was already growing tridents the switch to stones seemed a no brainer. No one I know of is producing tridents over stones at a commercial level. Next Ed had seen some Itoigawa juniper and fell in love with the material. Since pines and juniper were out of Ed’s wheelhouse, much of his expertise so far has been experimental. Ed has taken many trips to Oregon to find juniper is liners but has had little luck in finding them. Once they find out he is a propagator and grower they seem to become very greedy with the material. He began looking for a larger specimen to work with with the right attributes for bonsai. Again the growers were tight fisted with the stock.

Ed was able to find some large junipers to take cuttings from and has not looked back. He has hoop houses that he propagates his material in and they are full of young and medium-sized specimens. The juniper has also undergone the twisting program for bonsai interest. His junipers are now really looking good and I will update this after a visit in March with better photo’s.

This is a shot of Ed Clark in front of his booth at the 2014 Fresno Swap meet. In this shot can be seen a large trident on the left and many small pines and Itoigawa twisted up and ready for bonsai.

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Some of the twisted pines.

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Trident over rock. Ed has lots of these going for the future.

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One of the larger Itoigawa

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These are a few of the maples and pines I have bought from Ed over the years. Many of them are in production on their way to becoming bonsai. This trident I bought from Ed at this years GSBF convention.

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This is after I took off all the branches for the production of bonsai. Its not that one can’t use the branches that are on the tree, its just that I want the branches in different places and I want them to have scale and taper with the trunk.

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This was a Fresno swap meet purchase a few years ago. Once again I took off most of the branches.

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Here it is in training after two years. I call it Pit Bull.

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The first year I met Ed at the Swapmeet, he had these maples in plastic bags bare rooted. I bought four of them.

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This is how this one looks now. This year it will be planted in a bonsai training pot and ground layered to get rid of that root base, then it will be on its way to better bonsai.

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I purchased this tree in 2011 from Ed at the Fresno Swapmeet. This is one of the trees he started in 1981, 34 years ago. He was training this as bonsai.

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This is where I am with the tree currently. Ramification is slow but is coming along. The roots on this one were in really bad shape. It is just now starting to become strong again. this should be a good year for the tree.

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This is a sampling of the shohin pines I have purchased from Ed. These are the result of learning the techniques from George Muranaka and then moving on and working it on his own stock. I suspect this is all the result of the video’s shown by Lindsay Farr and his World of Bonsai series. This technique leaves the wire in the trunk building girth fast, using a low sacrifice and letting it grow. This is just a small sample of those I have. I think I have ten of these now perking along towards becoming shohin bonsai.

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In March of 2015, Ed and Linda Clark will be the host of a Ted Matson Shohin Workshop. It will be a four session seminar, with two each day. I have signed up for both  on Saturday. Ed will have all of his material there for sale or you can bring your own material for Ted’s assistance

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Here are some close-ups of some of the material that Linda sent me in an email for the seminar. these are just representative shots as there is so much that nearly anything can be found. These pics of the pines are taken right in the hoop house and will be available for selection on the day of the seminar. I may buy a dozen or more again

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Here is a shot in the hoop house with the pines. All of these have been wired and are prepared to grow thick trunks. He told me he has some of these in the ground and I can look for something out there if I want. Who would turn that down.

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This last shot is the hoop house with the Itoigawa in it. These too are all twisted up and are ready to be turned into great shohin junipers. The trunks on these range from 1/2 inch to an inch. There are also some large ones on the ground in pots that are twisted up but larger. There are also some in the field.

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There you have it. Ed Clark in my backyard. What a lucky guy I am. Will be visiting the nursery soon to add more pictures.

What a great way to start the year…2015 promises to be something really special. I wish to thank Curt and Rod for their help in composing this entry for the Bunker and hope to see more work from them soon. They are a hoot.

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