Studio Stories – Taxus Cuspidata from Japan

Sometimes I work on nursery trees, sometimes I work on client’s trees……and sometimes if I’ve been a really good boy I get to work on my own trees. Hopefully these regular visits will give you an insight into what goes on behind closed doors……….

Studio Stories – Taxus Cuspidata from Japan

This very old hollow trunk Taxus originated in Japan. I am not sure how long it has been in Europe but I have had it for about 5/6 years.

At the end of April I repotted the tree and carried out some general structural pruning to prepare the tree ready for styling in the autumn.

Studio Stories – Old Sagaretia repotted

Sometimes I work on nursery trees, sometimes I work on client’s trees……and sometimes if I’ve been a really good boy I get to work on my own trees. Hopefully these regular visits will give you an insight into what goes on behind closed doors……….

Studio Stories – Old Sagaretia repotted

The before pictures in the deep Derek Aspinall pot were taken on the 23rd February. The actual repotting was carried out on the 25th.

I have had this tree for more than 20 years and kept it indoors…..so you can keep them alive! It is a seriously old tree……the cracking of the bark on the deadwood almost suggests that it may have been in a fire at some time.

There are no heavy roots in the pot only fine feeder roots……hence the need for the construction site underground to support the leaning trunk and keep it stable.

The tree was placed in another smaller Derek Aspinall pot. The foliage was then drastically reduced to take pressure off the roots.

The final picture was taken on the 5th April with the tree now back in leaf and recovering nicely from it’s ordeal.

Studio Stories – Stocky little Larch!

Sometimes I work on nursery trees, sometimes I work on client’s trees……and sometimes if I’ve been a really good boy I get to work on my own trees. Hopefully these regular visits will give you an insight into what goes on behind closed doors……….

Studio Stories – Stocky little Larch

This Larch arrived at the nursery last June. With lots of branches to choose from I thought this was a really good piece of raw material.

A few weeks ago I realised it was still for sale on the external benches. This was an ideal opportunity for us to do the styling work and repot the tree at the right time of year.

So……branches were selected and wired. Surplus ones were removed. The heavy top of the trunk was made into deadwood and extended into a Shari to   give an illusion of taper and to appear more natural.

I am pleased with the result of the first styling. We have improved our stock and helped the tree on its journey to realising it’s true potential. With the recent milder weather the buds are already beginning to burst……the start of its recovery from the work carried out!

 

Studio Stories – Kiyohime Maple…..bonsai have good days and bad days!

Sometimes I work on nursery trees, sometimes I work on client’s trees……and sometimes if I’ve been a really good boy I get to work on my own trees. Hopefully these regular visits will give you an insight into what goes on behind closed doors……….

Studio Stories – Kiyohime Maple…..bonsai have good days and bad days!

As a bonsai get’s older it often has quite a story to tell……changes of ownership, style, pot,…….times when it flourishes, times when it struggles….. so just like us it has good days and bad days.

These two Kiyohime Maple garden trees entered Europe from Korea around 2003 and arrived at our nursery the following year. You can see how large they are in that they were easier to move about the place on a pallet.

One of my students selected what we thought was the one with the best potential for conversion to a bonsai. The initial pruning/styling was carried out on a class and you can see the before and after pictures below.

I created a garden around the main entrance to the greenhouse in preparation for our Newstead Bonsai events and decided to use the remaining Kiyohime Maple. You can see things taking shape below.

The following spring disaster struck! The Kiyohime is one of the earliest maples to leaf out and following some mild weather the tree was leafing out and making a very nice image. Unfortunately we got caught out by a severe overnight frost which basically took away most of the top of the tree.

Unlike most maples the Kiyohime is not apical dominant but grows strongest to the side. This growth habit would undoubtedly hinder the trees recovery.

The tree continued to lose branches and looked very poor indeed. I transferred the tree to my garden border hoping to stimulate a quiet sheltered recovery. After a couple of years the tree stopped deteriorating and started to put out some new growth.

One side of the tree had gone and it was never going to make an attractive garden tree again. I decided the best possible future for the tree was now as a bonsai so in December 2011 I lifted the tree and potted it into a large bonsai pot. This was just before we sold off the garden centre in February and my heart attack in the March of 2012.

Fortunately we have recovered well together. The tree has been nurtured in my garden amongst my private collection and grows stronger every year. You can see how big and healthy the canopy has become.

Two weeks ago the tree was repotted into a large but much shallower bonsai container…..more appropriate for a Maple of this character. It is now actually starting to look the part even in it’s winter image. There is excellent scope for carving and deadwood on the left hand side of the tree.

This tree really does have a story to tell……but hopefully now it can recall the bad days of the past but look forward to many chapters full of good days in the future!

 

 

 

 

Studio Stories – Andrew’s Yew gets off to a good start!

Sometimes I work on nursery trees, sometimes I work on client’s trees……and sometimes if I’ve been a really good boy I get to work on my own trees. Hopefully these regular visits will give you an insight into what goes on behind closed doors……….

Studio Stories – Andrew’s Yew gets off to a good start!

This was one of a number of trees we had acquired from an old Yew hedge. Baring in mind that Yews are generally slow growing there must be quite some age to this hedge.

Most people tend to walk straight past this material…..it can be uninspiring with it’s heavy trunk and sparse branches. When we potted these trees up just over two years ago there was no foliage on them whatsoever so all the greenery is recent confirming root growth and recovery.

Andrew was undeterred and when I showed him a picture (see below) of what I had in mind for this tree he was actually quite excited! We discussed the tree at length and I made an initial branch selection removing all unwanted foliage.

I marked on the trunk where I thought the shari would run and the bark was stripped off. Andrew did most of the carving work at home and for a relative newcomer to the hobby he has done a fantastic job.

We are already carrying out refinement work on the deadwood and I hope that this year we can start work on the foliage areas. The good thing is we don’t need massive branches because the foliage clouds will be relatively small and tight to the trunk in sympathy with the image we have created.

One thing is for certain…..nobody will just walk straight past this tree again!!!

Studio Stories – Mugo pine makeover

Sometimes I work on nursery trees, sometimes I work on client’s trees……and sometimes if I’ve been a really good boy I get to work on my own trees. Hopefully these regular visits will give you an insight into what goes on behind closed doors……….

Studio Stories – Mugo pine makeover

This pine arrived in the studio showing signs of good recent growth with strong buds ready for next year.

It was now a little bit overgrown and had lost it’s shape. It was simply a case of a little selective pruning, some rewiring and some repositioning. The tree’s shape is redefined and he is now ready for the next growing season.

Studio Stories – National Bonsai Society Raft demo

Sometimes I work on nursery trees, sometimes I work on client’s trees……and sometimes if I’ve been a really good boy I get to work on my own trees. Hopefully these regular visits will give you an insight into what goes on behind closed doors……….

Studio Stories – National Bonsai Society Raft demo

A few weeks ago I was asked by the National Bonsai Society if I could help them out. A speaker was unable to attend their next meeting and as I had been running a bonsai school for the society this year they wondered if I could step up to the breach at short notice.

One of the topics they were interested in seeing was a raft style landscape planting and could I oblige? It’s not the ideal time for doing a raft planting because of the root disturbance involved so I had to try and look for something that would overcome this problem.

Amongst my pot collection I found a substantial landscape pot originally made by William Vlanderan and subsequently modified by one of my students. The large hollow in this pot would enable me to plant the rootball of the raft tree with minimal disturbance. Stones projecting at one side of the pot could be incorporated into the landscape design.

Next I had to find a tree which offered potential for creating a raft style forest. I was lucky…..almost immediately I stumbled on two Juniper Communis at the front of the nursery that had been there for several years. The branches on one in particular had been allowed to extend to promote vigour but now the foliage mass was really too far away from the impressive short trunk.

I reallly thought I could do something with this tree and it would be the best use of the material because almost all of the foliage would be retained. To save time on the demo evening I tried to identify which branches I thought I would be using and asked my helpers to wire them ready.

I was generally pleased with how the demo went. I encountered some problems……one was getting the rootball as far to the left as possible because I needed the forest to take up the whole slab and not just half of it. One of the trunks I wanted to use was too high out of the ground so I had to build it up to blend it in and create depth.

The whole thing was brought together with the help of keto, a few rocks and some moss. I am really pleased with the outcome considering the whole thing was prepared and executed at such short notice. Some windows of bark were cut away underneath the trunks to encourage them to form new roots so that the original rootball can be removed in the future.

The planting has a real natural landscape feel about it especially with the varying heights and trunk thickness of the trees together with their placement following traditional group planting guidelines. I must admit I get a lot of pleasure just looking at this new creation!

img_0150 img_0153 img_0154

img_0155 img_0151 img_0156

img_0282 img_0283 img_0152

img_0289 img_0285 img_0284

img_0287 img_0286 img_0288

 

 

 

Studio Stories – Spirea sprouting!!!

Sometimes I work on nursery trees, sometimes I work on client’s trees……and sometimes if I’ve been a really good boy I get to work on my own trees. Hopefully these regular visits will give you an insight into what goes on behind closed doors……….

Studio Stories – Spirea sprouting!!!

If you have read the student blogger’s article on “Hanby pruning” you will have seen the pictures of a rather large Spirea Japonica.

This tree was brought into one of my academy classes for discussion and some associated light pruning! The tree was just so vigorous but basically we had to remove everything….leaving the large base and three fairly thick trunks.

Almost all the new branches were too thin and growing in the wrong place. It was necessary to let the tree have this period of unrestrained growth to help it recover from being transplanted and to build up it’s vigour.

I think some of my students thought I had gone a bit too far this time…..even for me …but it really was necessary and two weeks later we already had a result! You can see how the tree is sprouting from everywhere again but this time we need to control the new growth and pinch away all buds that are not required.

Looking really good for next year now…..so maybe this Hanby pruning is not so bad after all!!!……..

img_6982 img_6984 img_6983

img_0131 img_0132

Studio Stories – Yamadorii Buxus….a change of direction!

Sometimes I work on nursery trees, sometimes I work on client’s trees……and sometimes if I’ve been a really good boy I get to work on my own trees. Hopefully these regular visits will give you an insight into what goes on behind closed doors……….

Studio Stories – Yamadorii Buxus….a change of direction!

The time had come to do something with this tree. It is a very old collected tree from France with some characteristic deadwood but this has left a large bulge in the centre and the trunk base below divided in two.

In it’s existing stance and pot it just does not look right. I thinned out the foliage removing all branches and twigs that I thought we could do without. All the remaining branches were wired and you can see in the first pictures that the tree is now ready for styling.

To try and overcome the problems described above I thought about changing the angle of the tree. The separate branch on the opposite side of the bulge could be used to create a lower foliage mass in a half cascade style. Planting the tree at this angle would make more sense of the deadwood bulge and the divided trunk base. It looks more natural for a tree growing like this hanging out off a cliff or over water.

Repotting the tree into the crescent pot continued the theme and again helped to promote a more natural composition. Adding some moss and miniature ferns could really bring this planting to life.

With the branches suitably re-arranged to accommodate the new style, the change of angle, and the new pot I feel much happier about this tree. The tree now has a more positive future where ongoing refinement should lead to the development of a seriously good bonsai.

IMG_6783 IMG_6784 IMG_6785

IMG_6793 IMG_6792 IMG_6786

IMG_6795 IMG_6794

Studio Stories – Catching up with my Korean Juniper

Sometimes I work on nursery trees, sometimes I work on client’s trees……and sometimes if I’ve been a really good boy I get to work on my own trees. Hopefully these regular visits will give you an insight into what goes on behind closed doors……….

Studio Stories – Catching up with my Korean Juniper

The last article relating to this tree was published on the 4th June 2015 under the Topical Times heading and described how the tree was repotted in the spring earlier that year.

The tree was allowed to grow unchecked for the rest of the summer to recover from the repotting process and he continued to grow well.

Spring 2016 and it was time for the tree to move forward again. I thinned out the foliage and removed any branches that I thought would not be required. My helper Len then set about carrying out a detailed wiring of all the remaining branches. This is a very large tree so it was quite a task but Len rose to the challenge magnificently and performed his usual excellent job!

It was then down to me to reposition all the branches and give the tree it’s next styling. I was really satisfied with the outcome as the tree continues to make good progress. There is now already a lot of back budding inside the tree which should help us achieve the greater density in the foliage clouds that we are aiming towards.

This is a very powerful impressive Juniper bonsai!

IMG_5843 IMG_6009 IMG_6010 IMG_6011 IMG_6012 IMG_6787 IMG_6788 IMG_6790 IMG_6791 IMG_6863 IMG_6864 IMG_6865