Topical Times – Late flowers on the sales bench

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

Topical Times – Late flowers on the sales bench

Think of flowering bonsai and you immediately think of Satsuki Azaleas and rightly so……..they can be so spectacular when in flower. Some of my students still insist on referring to them as “girlie trees”……..sadly it’s their loss!

This example has attractive variations of a red flower and was quite a bush by the time it finished flowering. After repotting and extensive pruning there is a smart little tree inside that looks good even without the flowers.

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We always have a lot of starter material/trees in training for sale and some of these are still showing fruit or flowers. Whist you are working and developing these trees you can at least have some seasonal colour on your bench.

These Hibiscus bonsai have produced some super flowers.

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Potentilla and Crab Apple bonsai.

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A Buddleia ready to flower and a Russian Vine with a sweet white flower.

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It is surprising what you can do with everyday garden plants. Even some of the more obscure varieties will respond to being trained as bonsai.

I hope this small selection will entice you yo have a go.IMG_1620

At the time of writing all these trees and many more are available for sale.

Not to be outdone the Hydrangea at the side of our classroom entrance simply had to muscle in on the scene……….maybe it’s not so bad…….

Classroom Corner – Some recent visitors

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 – Some recent visitors
One of the good things about open workshops is that you never know what trees or projects will arrive on your turntable…..there is always a sense of excitement and anticipation.
On any one class upwards of 20/30 trees may be the subject of discussion, advice or practical work. These classes become an excellent learning opportunity and source of inspiration for everyone involved.
The pictures below provide a snapshot of some trees who have recently paid us a visit.
This air layer had been put on the maple at a class earlier in the year and now the tree was back for us to check the result…….a good result as you can see the new roots. The small tree with it’s new roots could be safely removed and potted into a mix of akadama and chopped shagnum moss.
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The vigorous Korean Hornbeam was in need of some pruning back and branch selection. Some branches were left long to continue growing.
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Drastic as it may sound the  White Pine needed it’s top cutting off to create a smaller more mature looking tree with a rounded foliage mass.
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The wiring and styling of this Juniper Chinensis achieved quite a transformation. Some earlier pictures of the tree are also included to help you appreciate it’s development and history.
Originally a tall multi-trunked tree with no real character or individual definition. I believe it may have been part of a larger group planting.
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This second Juniper Chinensis Blaauws Variety had lost it’s shape but had grown well. It was in danger of reverting to a “bush” but it’s surprising what a bit of wire, a bit of pruning and a bit of repositioning can do.
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 Always a pleasure to welcome trees back to the studio no matter how long it’s been since their last visit…….to check on their progress……to keep them on track, to redirect any who have lost their way to becoming a better bonsai!

Memory Lane – The Trident Maple with the hanging branch

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 – The Trident Maple with the hanging branch
DSCN0110feb02As you would expect this tree originated in Japan. A substantial and old maple of great individuality due to it’s long hanging branch. The tree did not stay with us long and was soon sold but this post illustrates the work carried out to the tree on the nursery in the spring of 2002 shortly after it’s acquisition.DSCN0112
The second picture shows the interesting deadwood around the bend in the trunk.
The tree does not appear to have had a detailed pruning for some time. Most branches are heavily congested with badly directed and crossing twigs.
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The hanging branch is pulled in towards the trunk to improve the balance of the tree. All the branches are carefully pruned and thinned out. You can clearly see the difference in the before and after pictures.
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This work was carried out in February so the tree was also repotted at the same time. This solid fibrous rootball is so typical of a Trident maple growing strongly. When trees like this are in training I would normally repot every two years.
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 April….. the tree has leafed out and now needs to be thinned out to stimulate more growth. Once again you can see the difference in the before and after pictures. The final picture shows the result of this work in May where you can clearly see all the new red buds beginning to emerge.
I would have loved to have had this tree for a longer period to really work on the refinement but when you are in the business to sell trees you simply can’t keep them all!

Studio Stories – Grafting two old Junipers

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 – Grafting two old Junipers

IMG_1336These two old Junipers have probably been in Europe for more than 20 years. They were both imported from Japan and one of them came from the garden of Hideo Kato.

The deadwood on both trees is quite extensive and the liveIMG_1363 veins are very pronounced. No doubt these two trees sitting on the bench together could reminisce about the times long ago in Japan when they must both have looked quite magnificent……..what a conversation that would be to eavesdrop on………

In Europe they have both experienced good times and bad times. They share the same problem……….”the foliage”.

IMG_1360The foliage on these old yamadorii junipers can become compact but the problem is that it has a continual drooping habit. It would be hard to imagine being able to display or exhibit these trees without them being totally wired.

This drooping habit also impacts on the tree’s wellbeing in that the foliage tips can become starved of light and it’s an unnecessary drain on the trees energy resources. Branches weaken easily.

Basically I decided to tackle the problem “head-on”… messing…….the problem is the foliage …….so let’s change it!!! I decided to act now whilst the existing foliage was still strong.

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Note – this work was actually carried out in June. Some branches were removed to allow for the positioning of the grafting junipers and also to allow light into the grafted material.

Two Juniper Ittogawa that we had grown from cuttings would be grafted on to each tree. I studied each tree for some time before finally deciding where each graft would be fixed. Once this had been decided I made slots on the old junipers and firmly secured the Ittogawa cuttings in place.

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The trees were placed in a polytunnel for protection and for the higher humidity. Their progress will be monitored on a daily basis.

This is a really exciting project. Combining the stature and deadwood of these massive oldIMG_1383 junipers with the foliage of the Ittogawa could result in two stunning trees of exceptional quality. As usual I am already impatient and eager to move on to the next stage but with grafting work patience really is a virtue and often the key to success.

This is another project I look forward to sharing with you in future blogs and hopefully to a satisfying conclusion……..make sure you keep in touch………..

Topical Times – Academy 6 2013 – Tanuki Update

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

Topical Times – Academy 6  2013 – Tanuki Update

This years academy 6 students were here again yesterday and we worked primarily on some yamadorii Pinus Sylvestris which will be reported in a later post.

However we did find time to check on the tanuki bonsai created earlier in the year and IMG_1564featured in previous blogs under Classroom Corner, posted on the 30th January and the 22nd April 2013.

All the trees are generally doing well and have put on some growth. Watering has not been easy as the newly potted root balls were relatively small compared with the size of the pots. However the potential problem of water logging appears to have been largely overcome due to the extremely free draining compost.

Any dead or weak branches as a result of the initial styling work were removed.

The new extended growth was tending to hang downwards so branches were gently wired and lifted towards the light to help the tree and it’s future growth.

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The trees have been fed and are all showing a good colour. I am already excited about how these trees will look once the foliage clouds develop and hopefully some good growth next year should see some real progress being made.

As always………I will keep you posted!!!……………………………..

Classroom Corner – Two Juniper Squamata Meyerii

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 – Two Juniper Squamata Meyerii
These two Junipers were recently brought into open workshops for advice on styling.
The first picture shows Roy’s Juniper shortly after being dug up and potted. Certainly inJuniper Squamata Meyeri Cascade (2) day 1 (500x292) this picture it does not really fire you up into a state of eager anticipation of what might be to come.
The tree appears to be potted quite deeply and from this angle appears to have more than one trunk.
IMG_1398This second picture shows how the tree appeared when it was brought into the workshop. The tree has already come a long way and has had a first styling. It now has a more definite form and appears to be very healthy.
The spreading branches are now too wide for this size of trunk and the foliage mass needs to be made more compact (I’m good at compact!!!). The jin to the lower left side of the tree is too long and is a distraction that needs to be reduced or styling at Johns 6-7-13 (3) (398x500)
I made a selection of branches and after some diligent pruning Roy was left to wire all the branches that were left.
The wired branches were then positioned and the result is shown in the final two pictures. The tree is now much more clearly defined with foliage that is in keeping with the final styling at Johns 6-7-13 (4) (375x500)character of the trunk. The tree has good taper and nice movement enhanced by the shari and deadwood.
The foliage clouds will be thinned out and refined further once the tree produces new growth and shows good recovery from the styling operation.
The potential which may have been lacking in the first picture is now clearly evident for everyone to see.
The second Meyerii was a larger tree and one that Jonathan purchased from our nursery. We acquired this tree in the autumn of 2011 one year after it had been lifted from the fieldIMG_1335 and potted up. The first picture shows how it looked when Jonathan bought the tree and attended an open workshop.
The first job was to clean up the trunk removing all the flaky bark and expose the smooth beautiful rich brown colouring IMG_1528below. Past pruning snags were turned into deadwood.
You can clearly see how strong and vigorous this tree is by the length of the new shoots emanating from the apex. This tree is ideal for styling and should recover quickly from the work to be carried out.
The next job was to decide on the line of the trunk and make a selection of branches. YouIMG_1529 can see in the next picture that there was a problem with the apex in that we had three branches to choose from. This was making the top of the tree far too big. We only needed one branch but it was important to choose the correct one.
After removing all branches we considered unnecessary it was then left to Jonathan to wire all the remaining branches.
Some pruning snags were also made into jins.
IMG_1535Jonathan positioned the branches himself and did a really excellent job. I just made one or two slight fine tuning adjustments.
The classic hanging branch to the front breaks up the trunk and creates hidden interest. Once the tree has settled down it will become clearer where the strong live veins are and where a shari can be safely extended up the trunk linking theIMG_1536 deadwood jins. With the added interest of the shari it may then become more appropriate to remove the hanging branch…….but we are in no hurry…….
The raw material has been totally transformed and created a really exciting tree with excellent prospects.
Squamata Meyerii is often underrated as bonsai material and yet it offers that wonderful contrast associated with Junipers………..strong blue/green foliage, excellent deadwood that bleaches perfect white, and the most beautiful natural reddy/brown bark.
I hope these two excellent examples might inspire you to give this tree another chance…..

Memory Lane – Display Garden – Newstead 2 September 2006

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 – Display Garden – Newstead 2  September 2006
August 2006 and we are running out of time. The show has been advertised, trees haveAug 06 001 been selected the display benches will soon be covered but what about the display garden?
Four tokonome’s are in the process of being built and some really heavy slate has still to be moved into position. Just to complicate matters further the tallest slate also incorporates a water fountain feature……brilliant!!!
The hole is dug and a large tub installed to contain the water reservoir. Five of us manage to wrestle the reluctant slate into position.
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Then there is the little matter of “John’s mountain” for a group of Yamadorii alpine pines.
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 Then of course there is the backdrop, tons of gravel, and of course some top notch bonsai.
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Sometimes it’s hard to imagine the blank canvas you started with when you look at the finished product. It really is worth all the hard work that goes into it. Many visitors can’t believe that we create these gardens just for the weekend and then afterwards they are totally dismantled almost immediately.
It’s just as well we have some pictures to look back on…….to remember, to reminisce, to stir up a fond memory………..