Dee George interviewed us, with Q &A for the Farm Show article
that she was writing. The farmshow.com kindly gave us permission use the Q &A
on our web site.

1)   What types/sizes of trees do you work with? Why do they work best?

2)   Can you explain how you do it or do you keep that a secret?

3)   How long does it typically take to grow your art?

4)   Do you water and fertilize more than usual or just let nature take its course?

5)   How do you move your art — cut it off or transplant it to a new site?

6)   How do you market your creations?

7)   What do Pooktre pieces sell for?

8)   Can you provide a couple of examples of unusual items and where they went?

9)   What do you think makes your work special or unique?

10)
Do you have a favorite piece or two? Why are they special to you?


11)   Do you train others how to do this?

12)   Anything you can offer people interested in this art.

—–

1) What types/sizes of trees do you work with? Why do they work best?

The tree species that we have used the most is wild plum (Prunus
myrobalan). We have been trailing Black Cheery (Prunus Serotina) and we
are happy with the process so far. The type of tree is not the reason
for the even and balanced growth however – it’s the method of
shaping the trees that results in even or uneven growth. We guild out
tree’s growth onto predetermined design pathways. This is a
very gentle but time consuminig way of shaping. We evolved our
techniques of shaping trees in complete isolation from the rest of the
world. With our techniques we know what will or won’t work and we can
reproduce any of our pieces (which we’ve done with our favorites).


2) Can you explain how you do it or do you keep that a secret?

We haven’t been keeping it a secret, but we haven’t be running around
telling all and sundry either! About a year ago we decided to write a
book about our process Knowledge
to grow shaped trees
.
This book consists mainly of photos
with explanation text. It goes through how to choose a tree type to the
finished piece. We are flat out trying to finish the book and we plan
to release it as a printed book and then an ebook.




3) How long does it typically take to grow your art?


We have two different styles of art. One is the trees that are to
remain alive and the other is the trees the are to be harvested so that
they can be enjoyed indoors. The shaping of the tree takes place in the
first few years, depending on the length of the piece as to the time
needed. Once the shaping is finished most people don’t see the
tree/trees and will walk right pass the young trees. The trees need to
mature in girth before people notice them. A grown neck piece takes
about 1 year from seedling to be ready to be worn. Other pieces have
taken 8 or 10 years before they mature enough be photographed. Our
people trees are one example. Most of our pieces take

8 to 10 years as we like to do the bigger projects. Our photos have the
date of planting marked on them for the living pieces. The harvested
pieces have the date of planting and harvest marked on them.

4) Do you water and fertilize more than usual or just let nature take its course?

For the most part we have let nature take its course. In a few really
dry years we have watered.


5) How do you move your art — cut it off or transplant it to a new site?

As we have both living art and harvested art, we do both.


6) How do you market your creations?

We haven’t done any marketing beyond having a web site. That is not a field
that we excel in. However we have appeared on television in Australia
and cross Japan. We were invited to be the featured artistes at the
world Expo 2005 Japan at the Growing Village Pavilion.




7) What do Pooktre pieces sell for?


We have never sold a piece. As far as price goes, when we are asked
“how much” our answer is “make us an offer”. So far no one has, but we
are being asked much more often these days. When we do sell the first
piece it will set some kind of bench mark. Our work has only been shown
once, at the World Expo 2005 in Japan.We have been told that the effect
of our trees on the bonsai community has been profound.


8) Can you provide a couple of examples of unusual items and where they went?


In 2005 we sent 8 harvested pieces to the World Expo in Japan, 6 pieces
returned to us. One person tree and the bed ends were donated for
different causes in Japan.


9) What do you think makes your work special or unique?

The producer of the Growing Village John Gathright said that we have
the most refined pieces in the world, and that they rarer that the
finest jewels.


10) Do you have a favorite piece or two? Why are they special to you?

For me (Becky) its the mirror that Pete and I designed and planted
together in 1998. When we were planting the seedling it had a nice root
system, and Pete said let’s use the roots as a stand for the mirror. I
did most of the cleaning up of the mirror and I was carrying our second
child during this time.

The trees are Pook’s passion. For Becky they are a creative outlet.

For me (Pook) it’s the people trees. On the day that I first
conceived

the idea, it was this flash of inspiration. I drew it full height on
the kitchen door with large Niko (indelible ink) pen. It was in 1998.
The excitement of that first realization that I could grow a man is one
that stills echoes through to today.


11) Do you train others how to do this?

We haven’t yet but we are open to the idea of doing so and are in the
process of developing design and consultation services as well as

writing our book. We want our knowledge to be passed on and built upon.
We want it to develop from being just our knowledge to human
knowledge.


12) Anything you can offer people interested in this art.

Most people seem to think tree shaping takes too long. That’s not how
it should be viewed, rather think of it like this: the time you spend
shaping a tree is captured by the tree, then amplified. Twenty, thirty,
fifty or maybe a few hundred years from now people will be able it see
a tree shaping that you did today. Whether or not you chose to shape a
tree, the time passes.

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