Topical Times – Big John is defoliated!

A regular update on the life and times of John Hanby’s Newstead Bonsai Centre……..

Topical Times – Big John is defoliated!

Th timing for this work was just about spot on……although a little later than normal because of the recent cold weather which had slowed down the growth on most trees.

You can see how dense the canopy was from different angles and the difference defoliation makes as I work down the tree. The branch refinement becomes clearly visible and hopefully more twigs will be created with the next flush of growth.

Topical Times – Another delivery of pots!!!

A regular update on the life and times of John Hanby’s Newstead Bonsai Centre……..

Topical Times – Another delivery of pots!!!

Following an extremely good run of sales from both visitors and students the pot room was once again looking sparse.

At this time of year demand is always high so I acted quickly and organised another delivery. So now we have a good stock of pots and compost for all your repotting needs.

Topical Times – A simple Jin….but what a difference!

A regular update on the life and times of John Hanby’s Newstead Bonsai Centre……..

Topical Times – A simple Jin….but what a difference!

My first Wednesday class of the year took place this week. Keith had bought this dwarf Scots pine in our Christmas one day sale and it was now here ready for it’s first styling.

We discussed the various trunk lines and options before deciding which branches to remove. Large stubs were left on the major trunks for the creation of deadwood i.e. Jins.

Keith had not been feeling too well recently and as a Manchester Utd supporter determined to get his money’s worth asked if I would create the jins. Keith is extremely capable at doing this work himself but under the circumstances I was happy to oblige.

The jins were created simply by using a Jin plier and concave cutter. Cutting into the wood, removing bark, and peeling back produces some excellent textures and natural looking convincing results.

The tree is now ready for it’s first wiring which hopefully Keith will get round to ¬†as soon as he is feeling better. Once the tree has been wired and styled we can have a look at the jins again to see if they need removing, shortening or bending harmonise with the tree’s new shape.

Get well soon Keith I want to see it finished!!!

Topical Times – First Classes 2017

A regular update on the life and times of John Hanby’s Newstead Bonsai Centre……..

Topical Times – First Classes 2017

This weekend saw the first classes take place from our 2017 schedule. Saturday was an open workshop and three of the participating trees are shown below.

Sunday was a deadwood and carving session so as expected this proved to be a somewhat boisterous affair with a lot of noise and mess in both the classroom and workshop areas. Students used a combination of both hand and power tools. I tried to encourage them to do most of the practical work themselves whilst I provided them with instructions, guidance and the occasional demonstration. It worked well with some excellent results at the end of the session.

Back to Saturday and as usual there was a really varied mix of material both in terms of species and the level of training. I selected three examples below.

Ben’s Juniper Ittogawa originated in Japan and had some excellent Shari and live veins twisting around the trunk. Together we discussed the branch selection and after some pruning Ben was left to wire and position those that remained. I helped with the final tweaking but he did a good job on his first workshop with us.

John’s pine was a piece of raw material ready for it’s first styling. Once again branches were selected and the tree was wired. The initial styling was carried out leaving a larger profile at this stage to help promote vigour and back budding.

Dereks’s Taxus had been the live part of a wrap around tanuki bonsai but the deadwood had rotted away. This remaining live section had made a good tree in it’s own right but now the canopy was too wide. A lot of thought went into the selection of which branches needed to be removed as this was quite a substantial amount. The branches were then wired and repositioned to create a taller tree much more in keeping with the shape and character of the trunk.

A great start to the new year to warm me up with tools now sharpened and raring to go………bring it on!!!





Topical Times – Fame at last…….

A regular update on the life and times of John Hanby’s Newstead Bonsai Centre……..

Topical Times – Fame at last…..

Just received the latest copy of Bonsai Focus today and there proud as punch on the front cover was my Privet bonsai. Several people had told me about it but this was the first time I had seen it.

I am indebted to Farrand and all at Bonsai Focus for selecting this tree for the cover of their magazine. The humble privet is so readily available and yet much maligned by the bonsai public. I hope the picture will alert people to what can be achieved with this material.

I suppose this tree was one of those “find of a lifetime” bonsai. It was a really old interesting stump with no branches when I started but together we have come a long way.

The picture was taken in May earlier this year when the tree was in an exhibition staged at the Ginkgo Bonsai Centre in Belgium. I had been kindly invited by my good friend Danny Use to join his Kei Bonsai Kai group and other invited guests in putting on this exhibition.

There is a full page picture of the privet inside the magazine and also a picture of my Euonymus which was also exhibited at the event.

Hope you enjoy the pictures below…….can’t help smiling…..Fame at last…….after only 25 plus years……..I hope you will forgive me if I savour the moment!………

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Topical Times – Student Blogger…..Hanby Pruning!

A regular update on the life and times of John Hanby’s Newstead Bonsai Centre……..

Topical Times –¬†Student Blogger…..Hanby Pruning!

This article was written by one of my students and it is the first time I have published an article written by a guest blogger! I must confess I do find it hard to relate to the subject matter of this particular blog and hope that my students will be able to enlighten me on future classes.


I recently realised there are 3 types of pruning:
Minimal, Moderate & Hanby

Minimal – a classic example of this is removing mainly foliage & very occasionally a strayIMG_6982 branch to enhance the shape of the bush/tree. Box hedging if maintained regularly will require minimal pruning.

Moderate – again this requires mainly foliage pruning but it may also be necessary to remove several branches at certain times of year. Many garden shrubs/ trees require this type of pruning to keep the gardens appearance appealing.

Hanby – this type of pruning is called Bonsai. Removal of almost all foliage & branches. Hanby pruning requires an expert eye to observe the trunk IMG_6984of the tree/ shrub & removing everything to expose this!!

Hanby pruning ….. Only for the experts!

Topical Times – Euonymus late summer pruning

A regular update on the life and times of John Hanby’s Newstead Bonsai Centre……..

Topical Times – Euonymous late summer pruning

There have been previous blogs relating to this tree and the first picture is a reminder of what this tree was like when we started out together.

The second picture shows the tree on vacation in Belgium in May……well it’s the nearest he will get to a summer holiday this year……both of us in fact!!! Danny Use had kindly invited us to participate in the exhibition with his Kei Bonsai Kai group and the Euonymous was given a tokoname setting.

Since returning home the tree has grown well. He had been thinned out and refined for the exhibition and then allowed a period of growth for recovery.

You can see how strong and bushy he is but now the foliage mass is too dense again. He is in danger of losing his shape. It was time to intervene with scissors, pruning shoots and leaves to recover his appearance…….but also to promote better health by allowing light and air to penetrate the foliage mass.

I hope that visitors to the exhibition in Belgium enjoyed looking at this tree because I certainly get a lot of pleasure looking at him every day!

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