Studio Stories – A Tale of Three Junipers (Part Three)

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 – A Tale of Three Junipers (Part Three)

Part one of this series was posted on 24th June 2013 and introduced the three similar Juniper Chinensis which had arrived in the studio for re-styling. Part two was posted on the 10th July.

This post will deal with the styling of the third tree.IMG_0887

This tree was really bushy at the apex and would need some extensive thinning out. A substantial branch on one side presented itself as a potential new trunk line.

IMG_0888This would enable us to create an extensive amount of deadwood on one side and incorporate a shari.

This could represent a tree almost in the windswept style butIMG_0960 really was more like one which had taken a battering on one side in severe weather.

Dean wanted to replant the styled tree with a rock and create a dramatic landscape scene.


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There were still a lot of branches left on the tree to be wired and positioned. It really is amazing how you can remove so much foliage from a tree and still finish up with a styledIMG_0966 tree that is almost as big as what you started with.

The tree looks well in it’s new shallow oval pot and will look even better once it is landscaped with an underplanting of moss. Once again a mix of 50/50 akadama and bims was used.



Three similar size bushy junipers all in need of a styling, all with their own particular problems to overcome. The result is three very different trees, each with their own individual character and now showing excellent potential for further development and refinement.

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Topical Times – Nursery border

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

Topical Times – Nursery border

Last Thursday we decided to take advantage of the continuing warm weather and finishIMG_0265 planting a border between my garden and the nursery. The open areas of soil had become a big attraction to both the dogs and the cat resulting in unwanted mess both inside and outside the house for which I would obviously get the blame!

IMG_0024It was really a case of looking through our sales areas for suitable material that would not only fill the space but also complement each other and the existing plants in the vicinity.

Plants were selected, holes were dug, root balls loosened and the whole thing came together really quite quickly.IMG_0020

Some of our granite lanterns were included with the planting. This gave us the opportunity to focus the lanterns in front of our visitors and also to display them in a garden setting.

IMG_0027The advantages of using mature plants can be seen immediately. A pleasing result is obtained instantly and the garden gives the impression that it has been there for a very long time rather than just a few minutes.IMG_0025

We will continue to try and offer suitable mature material, granite lanterns and oriental fencing panels for those customers trying to add a Japanese touch to their garden ……………….instantly!

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Classroom Corner – Deciduous tree workshop June 2013

An open window into the comings and goings of students and their trees attending our regular weekend and midweek bonsai classes under the ever watchful eyes of John Hanby.

Classroom Corner – Deciduous tree workshop June 2013
Some of the trees brought to this workshop had already attended earlier workshops held around February/March. Spring pruning had been carried out, branches selected, growing plans for the forthcoming season had been discussed and agreed upon.
With the trees returning in June it gave us a chance to assess the progress so far. Excessive or unwanted branches could now be pruned back and adjustments made to try and get the best out of the growth predicted for the remainder of the season.
Below you will find a series of before and after pictures showing the growth achieved to date and how we treated it in respect of each tree. Each tree was assessed individually and treated differently depending on what we wanted to achieve.
Despite the slow start to the season with the non-existent spring!… can see that most of the trees have grown really well. Mother nature has a way of ensuring that the trees will catch up whatever the seasonal problems placed in front of us.
I hope your trees are making the same good progress.
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Memory lane – Hollow trunk Cercis (Judas Tree)

Looking back….we can tell a tree’s story…..admire an image…..capture a moment…..remember a special event… inspired – to create a memory for tomorrow. 

I hope you enjoy this regular peep into some of John’s bonsai history.

Memory Lane – Hollow trunk Cercis (Judas Tree)
This tree was one of three Cercis trees which arrived on the nursery in 2006 as part of a larger purchase of bonsai raw material. It grew well each season as a proverbial large bush with the resulting dense winter image of unsightly crossing branches.
No surprise then that the tree was still with us in October 2008!
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We try to give customers the chance to buy the raw material but eventually the tree reaches a stage where he has to be worked…..time (and trees) wait for no man as they say.
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So the first job was to thin out the numerous crossing branches and make an initial selection. This proved to be quite drastic.
The heavy branch on the left could continue the trunk line and form an apex. Fortunately the centre of the heavy lower trunk was already rotting away……this just needed to be exploited further. This exploitation did get carried away a bit as you can see from the pictures. The poor tree suddenly found himself being attacked from all directions.
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Once the centre had been totally hollowed out the tree was repotted into a ceramic bonsai pot and the branch pruning was taken back even further.
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Some wiring was also applied. You can see that the hollow is May 09 002totally through the entire trunk. In Spring 2009 the tree leafed out without any problem and showed no sign of any weakness.
The tree was allowed to grow and recover. By the following Spring in 2010 work was under way in selecting and refining branches.
The unusual long internode growth pattern is strange to work with at first but worth persevering with. You can see how it is possible to improve ramification and reduce leaf size even with somewhat untraditional bonsai varieties.
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During 2011 the tree had a bad year with new foliage being attacked by a fungus. I lost some branches and the tree was weakened. However after some diligent spraying, feeding and all round good care the tree had a good 2012 and appeared to put the past problems behind him.
The last two pictures were taken this evening to show you the tree exactly as he is now. The hollow trunk has been opened up slightly down one side. The tree has already been pruned twice this year and as you can see is now ready for another trip to “john’s salon”. Just look at how the foliage canopy is beginning to develop…..I am really pleased with his progress.
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On a sad note………..The tree may have had many admirers at his perch on the sales bench but one was rather special. Barbara Wyles only attended our classes for some two years but with her enthusiasm and grateful appreciation she made an impression not just on me but on all her fellow students. She was a wonderful lady. Every time she came she spoke of this tree, she really liked him but she knew she just could not lift him on her own……if he could have lost some weight he would have had a really excellent new home!
Sadly, Barbara died on the 20th June 2013, she will be missed by many but her memory will live on with the Cercis because for me he will always be “Barbara’s tree”…………

Latest News – New Beginners Course and Extra Saturday Workshops(Updated 18th July)

August Class Changes

Due to excessive demand we have had to introduce another Beginners Course into our autumn schedule.

The Open Workshop on Sunday 4th of August has now been replaced with Beginners One whilst Beginners Two will take place on Sunday 25th August.

The Open Workshop on Sunday 18th August has been moved to Saturday 17th August.

The Open Workshop on Saturday 9th November has been moved to Saturday 2nd November.

Only a few places left in July but places still available on most August classes.

Studio Stories – A Tale of Three Junipers (Part Two)

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 – A Tale of Three Junipers (Part Two)

Part one of this series was posted on 24th June 2013 and introduced the three similar Juniper Chinensis which had arrived in the studio for re-styling.

This post will deal with the styling of the second tree. IMG_1181

The main problem with this tree is the branch half way up the trunk to the front and right. It is too heavy and has very heavy side branches which are too long and only have foliage at the tips.

It was decided to remove this branch and make it into deadwood. To make it look more convincing and harmonise with the rest of the tree the deadwood was extended down the trunk by creating a shari.

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The shari did not only create additional interest and link with the new deadwood but it also enhanced and emphasised the movement and taper in the trunk. The shari actually works IMG_1185well from both sides and looks very natural. It was created by following the natural lines of the veins within the tree.

The problem now was the remaining live branches. They do not relate to the shape or style of the tree. The top area of the tree is far too bushy.

The remaining branches were thinned out and they were all wired. All the branches could now be repositioned in a style more befitting the new slim trunk and shari.

The tree was then repotted into a more appropriate pot. At this time the planting angle was IMG_1186altered to lift the tree slightly and make it appear even taller.

The squat unbecoming bush of a juniper has been replaced with a tall elegant almost literati styled bonsai with much character, presence and a suggestion of greater age.

Watch out for our next Studio Stories episode which will detail the styling of the third and final Juniper in this series.



Topical Times – A Yorkshire Bonsai Garden

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

Topical Times – A Yorkshire Bonsai Garden

At last….warm and calm sultry summer evenings, a time for barbecues, for eating outside, birds singing, a warm summer breeze…..a time to relax. Time to enjoy the fruits of yourIMG_1448 labour, the well-tended(?!!!) garden, your favourite bonsai.

A few weeks ago my garden was badly overgrown. Last year, largely due to circumstances beyond my control it was almost totally neglected. I have been working hard on my days off, weeding, tidying and pruning……I still have plenty to do but I’m getting there.

IMG_1442The purist would say my garden has never seen “a Japanese garden”…. and I suppose I would have to agree. Mine is a bonsai garden….It is home to my trees (two marauding dogs, a cat with attitude, countless fish, and wild birds galore).

There is certainly a Japanese influence in my garden IMG_1450combined with reflections of nature. My sources of inspiration in creating my bonsai are repeated in the creation of my garden and therefore in my eyes the setting for my trees works well.

Apart from one outer border the rest of the garden has been created from a barren lawn during the last 4/5 years. It’s IMG_1438taken so long because I only used to get one day off a week and I had to do it in my spare time. Like I said before, I’m getting there!

Strolling around on this pleasant summer evening, camera in hand, I hope you enjoy a few images from Yorkshire, from a garden, a peaceful pleasant place I hope my bonsai are proud to call home.

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Classroom Corner – Beginners Two June 23rd 2013

An open window into the comings and goings of students and their trees attending our regular weekend and midweek bonsai classes under the ever watchful eyes of John Hanby.

Classroom Corner – Beginners Two June 23rd 2013
In June we held our most recent Beginners course with part one taking place on the 9th and part two on Sunday 23rd. Not everyone managed to make the second day and some have had to rebook on our next part two. Those who did make it enjoyed a great day and everyone decided to take their newly styled tree home despite some “lame protestations” from me!
I generally had to be on my best behaviour as my 10 year old granddaughter Izzy had booked on the class and was guaranteed to report everything back!
The students started by selecting a piece of raw material from the nursery stock. We discussed possible options, pruned away unwanted branches and then the students worked hard on their first attempt at wiring.
With my regular helpers Derek, Len and Ian keeping a close eye on them and stepping in when necessary the students soon had their trees wired ready for styling. I must say I was impressed with their efforts and I was able to move the branches wherever I wanted them. Len usually says I’m easily impressed but in this instance credit where it is due!
After the styling we discussed the practicalities of feeding, watering, pests/diseases and position. I hope we have inspired a few more people to take up this fascinating hobby.
I hope the pictures below, the results of our endeavours will inspire you……if you are interested in taking up bonsai our next beginners course is scheduled for October with part one on the 6th and part two on the 20th…..but hurry over half the places have gone already!
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