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 Post subject: Photo Essay: Mushrooms
PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2006 9:31 pm 
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This thread is for discussing Will Heaths' photo essay, "Mushrooms"
http://www.artofbonsai.org/feature_arti ... shroom.php


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 3:33 pm 
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A most excellent and appropriate article...Very well done Mr. Will...I have for quite some time been an admirer of your study and knowledge of the world of mushrooms, and it is indeed a pleasure to see you sharing that knowledge in a manner that may strike new territory in the field of accents for bonsai...
I also think the 'Alcohol Inky group on drift wood' is a most memorable composition that is able to stand on it's own in any viewing situation...The photo is 'art' in and of itself...

In my opinion this is by far the most outstanding work I have seen published by Mr. Will, and I do hope there will be more of this type of innovative work from him in the future...
Regards
Behr


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2006 10:14 pm 
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Thanks Behr, when one stretches the set boundaries, encouragement goes a long ways. I truly appreciate your kind words.

Fiona Wallace sent a picture of mushrooms in their natural environment to me after the article was published so I took the liberty of adding it to the main article. They are indeed beautiful Fading Scarlet Waxy Caps.
Will


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 11:11 am 
I couldn't agree more with Behr . . . . a very well-written article about a very innovative idea. I particularly enjoyed the reminder that practicing the cultivation of bonsai requires an eye for trees in their natural habitat, therefore any way to recreate that habitat tastefully and in miniature is acceptable. I would be interested in any other unconventional ways in which more realism is brought to a bonsai display.

With regard to the mushrooms themselves, the specimens you featured are beautiful. I particularly liked the alcohol inky arrangement. Some notes on the cultivation of mushrooms would be helpful as I'm sure your readers aren't well-versed.

Finally, I'd also be interested in dwarf varieties or thoughts on how to bring the mushrooms down in scale. I wonder if that's even possible. In the wild, they grow "in scale", i.e. begin as near perfect replicas of their adult forms which indicates good potential as kusamono.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 11:25 am 
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Thank you.
I am currently writing an article on the actual cultivation of mushrooms in containers, I am hoping to complete it soon. Unfortunately, many mushrooms do not seem to take well to container cultivation and my experience is limited only to those that have been successful, although I continually experiment with new species.

Fortunately there is a huge industry that cultivates mushrooms for sale and consumption, so I have the experience of these growers to build upon.
Like the fruit on all fruit trees, the mushrooms (in a sense, also a fruit of an organism) size and shape is determined by genetics and can not, to my knowledge, be reduced in size. So we must choose mushrooms whose size will not overwhelm the container and that are best in scale with the bonsai. Luckily, mushrooms come in all sizes and colors and even many different shapes, so there is a vast range to choose from.

On another topic Mxia, could you please take the time to read our user name policies located at http://artofbonsai.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=403

Will


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 7:37 pm 
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Lovely article. Funji are a beautiful part of the natural world and seem every bit as appropriate as weeds, flowers, stones, and grasses for use as accent objects.

There is obviously a great deal of development, both horticultural and artistic, waiting to take place -- but that's the fun part, in some ways, because it gives you a chance to truly innovate. I'll pass over the horticultural, because I know you are working on an article on the subject, but simply thinking about artistic issues:

  • What conventions of color and form should we use when matching mushrooms and other fungi as accents to bonsai as primary display objects?
  • Do fungi suggest places and seasons as accents plants do, and how can we make the most of this to create a sense of place in our displays?
  • What kinds of display containers are appropriate? Based on your experience, small kusamono pots seem to be one reasonable approach; attractive pieces of hollowed wood seem to be another. What sorts of lines, textures, and forms should the containers have to complement the lines, textures, and forms of the mushrooms?
  • What about mixed accent plantings, with both ferns/mosses/groundcover and mushrooms? When would one want this, and when one want to display a mushroom or set of mushrooms without plant accompanyment?


And forth; I could go on and on but I'm sure that better questions will arise as you develop the art of mushroom accents.

One final comment. For me, much of the delight of kusamono comes in allowing nature to take her course; much of the delight comes in "seeding" (by small propagules, runners, or seeds) the pot in February or March and waiting until June to September to see of one has a winner or yet another failed composition. One short-cuts most of this delight when one simply lifts a plant from a 4" nursery container and puts it into a kusamono pot three days before a show.

One thing that I really like about using mushrooms is that - given the difficulty of transplanting and the short-lived compositions that would result - working with mushrooms really forces the artist to let nature take her course.

With my best regards,
Carl


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2006 9:43 am 
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Carl Bergstrom wrote:
  • What conventions of color and form should we use when matching mushrooms and other fungi as accents to bonsai as primary display objects?
  • Do fungi suggest places and seasons as accents plants do, and how can we make the most of this to create a sense of place in our displays?
  • What kinds of display containers are appropriate? Based on your experience, small kusamono pots seem to be one reasonable approach; attractive pieces of hollowed wood seem to be another. What sorts of lines, textures, and forms should the containers have to complement the lines, textures, and forms of the mushrooms?
  • What about mixed accent plantings, with both ferns/mosses/groundcover and mushrooms? When would one want this, and when one want to display a mushroom or set of mushrooms without plant accompanyment?
And forth; I could go on and on but I'm sure that better questions will arise as you develop the art of mushroom accents.


Carl,
A well thought out list of considerations that, of course, are the same for any type of plant used. Your own work with companion plantings have always been an inspiration to me and your resulting balance of color, shape, and texture have often left me in awe.

Carl Bergstrom wrote:
One final comment. For me, much of the delight of kusamono comes in allowing nature to take her course; much of the delight comes in "seeding" (by small propagules, runners, or seeds) the pot in February or March and waiting until June to September to see of one has a winner or yet another failed composition. One short-cuts most of this delight when one simply lifts a plant from a 4" nursery container and puts it into a kusamono pot three days before a show.


This has been a pleasure for me as well, the process of "seeding" a prepared container with spores from the desired mushroom and then waiting for up to a year and sometimes longer to see if they grew and fruit, to see if you were successful, takes an extreme amount of patience.
I have driftwood and pots full of compost and soil under my benches and in my shed that, for all appearances, appear to contain nothing but dirt 10 months of the year. These must be watered regularly and cared for carefully as, even though one can not see the fruit, they contain living fungus. Forget them and all is lost. Many of the species I attempt to cultivate fail and I do not find this out until a year or more has passed and they fail to fruit.

Carl Bergstrom wrote:
One thing that I really like about using mushrooms is that - given the difficulty of transplanting and the short-lived compositions that would result - working with mushrooms really forces the artist to let nature take her course.


This is appealing to me as well. Mushrooms can not be transplanted at all. They are disconnected from the fungus as soon as they are dug up or picked. One may lift them from the ground and arrange them in a pot but they are already deteriorating at this point. Some species will discolor and dissolve within minutes, others may look fresh for a day, but none will "take" as they do not have roots, they are like fruit, pick an apple and try to plant it in a pot...

Mushrooms that are cultivated in a pot, on the other hand, stay fresh much longer and as one fruit ages, new ones are pushed up. I often get multiple flushes of fruit in the same year, sometimes I will get three or four different flushed in the same pot, each different in number and location.

It is indeed wonderful.

Will


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 07, 2006 1:26 pm 
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Very nice article Will, mushrooms are fascinating, i just had one quick question in regard to one of your statements. You say of one particular mushroom: "the Honey Mushroom also holds the world record for the largest living organism which grows right here in Michigan. One specimen was estimated to be over 450 years old." Now it may be that you meant it how you said it in which case i guess it is a very big old mushroom, but i suspect that that you meant to say that it is on world record for being the oldest living organism growing in michigan? Again, i maybe way off base.
Regards
Rowan


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 07, 2006 1:42 pm 
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Rowan Godfrey wrote:
Very nice article Will, mushrooms are fascinating, i just had one quick question in regard to one of your statements. You say of one particular mushroom: "the Honey Mushroom also holds the world record for the largest living organism which grows right here in Michigan. One specimen was estimated to be over 450 years old." Now it may be that you meant it how you said it in which case i guess it is a very big old mushroom, but i suspect that that you meant to say that it is on world record for being the oldest living organism growing in michigan? Again, i maybe way off base.
Regards
Rowan

That could be confusing, I apologize.
Changes have occurred and new discoveries have been made in the world of fungi which leads me to clarify my points made above and to post some updated information.
From "Info Please" (http://www.infoplease.com/spot/fungus1.html)
"Officially known as Armillaria ostoyae, or the honey mushroom, the fungus is 3.5 miles across and takes up 1,665 football fields. The small mushrooms visible above ground are only the tip of the iceberg.
Experts estimate that the giant mushroom is at least 2,400 years old, but could be 7,200 years old."

Between 2,400 and 7,200 years old, now that's impressive! Looks like the Michigan record has been broken.

Will


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2006 12:49 am 
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I just received the International Bonsai Magazine (Issue 2006/NO. 3) today in the mail and was surprised to see that Paul Goff made mention of mushrooms as accents in his article, "Bonsai On Display - The Landscape Within (Part 3 - Late Summer - Autumn Display).

On the first page of his article, Paul says, "Accent plantings for this season may include mushrooms or fungi, red stemmed grasses and mosses displaying autumn tints."

Although Paul doesn't show any accents using mushrooms in the article, he does show a Mugo Pine and a European Beech both which have mushrooms growing inside of the bonsai pot, similar to the ones I showed photographs of in this photo essay by Morten Albek and Carl Rosner.

Paul describes a wonderful display featuring the Mugo on page 23 and explains why there is no accent piece by stating, ".....is surrounded by autumn fungi, so I chose not to include an additional accent planting in this arrangement."

I always recommend International Bonsai and I especially recommend this issue for not only anyone interested in using mushrooms in bonsai display but also to anyone wishing to view and learn from quality displays.

As an added bonus, Walter Pall has an excellent article in the same issue, titled, "Developing Euonymus Bonsai."
Great issue!

Will Heath


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2007 12:12 am 
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I have tried some new species and my success or failure with these should be told in a month or so. I have also tried some tissue cultivation, with varying degrees of success. With luck, the fruiting bodies of last year will bless me again with mushrooms this year, continuing the cycle and prolonging the usefulness of an accent consisting of mushrooms.

Will


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