Memory Lane – Juniper Ittogawa…..”The Elbow”

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 – Juniper Ittogawa…..”The Elbow”
In my recent blog on the “Stag” I said I didn’t go overboard with naming my trees and then hear we are talking about “The Elbow”……in this instance I feel the name is really appropriate and announces well-deserved individuality.July 2006

When the tree arrived from Japan in 2006 it caught my eye immediately……and so did the price tag……this was a serious Juniper.
I didn’t buy him straight away and the tree was reserved by someone else. Later in the summer I was given a second chance to acquire the tree. This time there was no hesitation.
The tree was displayed in a tokonome setting at our 2nd Newstead bonsai extravaganza in September 2006.
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Here it was selected to be exhibited in Belgium at the 6th Ginkgo Bonsai Award in September 2007 and is pictured in the book commemorating the event.May 2007

It is hard to believe that this tree was created by grafting a young Ittogawa sapling onto a section of an old yamadorii Juniper. You have the best of both worlds….ancient deadwood and tight easily managed/refined foliage.
To the right the tree is seen eyeing up his new pot in May 2007.
The tree also featured in our “Introduction to Bonsai” DVD.
Having successfully grafted young Ittogawa onto old garden Junipers myself I can appreciate more and understand just how trees like the Elbow are created.
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The pictures above show exhibition preparation work in progress during 2007 and highlight the tree’s deadwood.
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 2008 and the tree was displayed again at our third Newstead event but then again he had to because he was the model for the specially crafted slate/bronze trophies!
The following year a client expressed serious interest in the tree and so a commercial decision had to be made and the tree was sold. I still miss his presence on the nursery but hope my client has enjoyed him as much as I did and that he continues to flourish.

Studio Stories – The “Stag” becomes a “Dancer” (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 – The “Stag” becomes a “Dancer” (Part Two)

Part one of this blog was posted under Studio Stories on October 13th 2013.

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We left the tree in September 2010, growing well but the branches are generally too long and the foliage mass is becoming too large.

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Making the canopy more compact required new strong foliage growing from inside. I decided therefore to go back to basics with this tree and prune the branches back as far as I could without jeopardising it’s health or vigour.

During 2011 and 2012 the tree was well fertilised and encouraged to grow. As the foliage inside emerged and became stronger the outer branch tips were cut back harder.

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The three pictures above were all taken this year and show the tree in the studio in April, in my garden in July and again in the studio in September. The tree has again been allowed to grow strongly.

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Notice how strong the tree is, how compact and vibrant green the foliage is. September 2013, it has taken 3 years but at long last the tree is ready for a new styling.

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There is a large, heavy branch which passes in front of the trunk. Taking great care I want to get this branch behind the trunk so that the foliage mass it carries is below the deadwood rather than in front of it. Whew…..!

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One of my helpers Len takes over and after cleaning/treating the deadwood, he wires all the branches ready for styling. Three remaining long branches to the rear will be removed completely. Notice the curves and deadwood to the trunk which are now visible inside the tree.

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The solid mass of the once rampant animal has lost it’s weight. The lower branch will be reduced in-depth and allowed to extend more to the left.IMG_0958

The projecting antlers have become the describing arms of the artist’s performance. Make no mistake this is still a very strong tree, but one with perfect poise and balance, resting on a tip-toed single live vein. A problem tree transformed ……the “stag’ has indeed become the “dancer”…..and a mighty fine one at that!!!

Latest News – Bonsai Classes – Latest availability/Academy 2014(Updated)

From and including the open workshop on Sunday 3rd November all Sunday bonsai classes will now take place from 9.30am to 3.30pm.

Saturday and Wednesday bonsai classes will continue to run from 10.00am to 4.00pm.

November Classes Availability

Wed 13th Midweek workshop                       5 places left only 1 place left

Sat 16th Extra time                                         2 places left only 1 place left

Sun 17th Junipers two                                   2 places left only 1 place left

Sat 23rd Maples three                                    Sold out

Sun 24th Open workshop                               3 places left only 1 place left

Wed 27th Midweek workshop                       4 places left 2 places left

Sat 30th Open workshop                                3 places left

Bonsai Academy 2014

It is looking as though we will be running year 5 and year 7 classes.

We would also like to start a new year one class and have several students interested but do need more. If you have recently completed our beginners course or are interested in bonsai and want to learn more then this could be for you.

For more information or if you want to enrol please contact the nursery as soon as possible because we are already planning our class schedule for next year.

Further details about our bonsai academy can be found on the website under courses and information.

Topical Times – Beginners Two Class October 20th 2013

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

Topical Times – Beginners Two Class October 20th 2013

We have just enjoyed a splendid beginners weekend. On saturday we had a group of 8 taking part in Beginners One and on sunday we had a different group of 6 completing Beginners Two.

During part two we discuss the practicalities of keeping bonsai but most of the day revolves around the first styling of raw material. Students select a piece of raw material from our stock and then I discuss with them the various styling options available.

Once a decision has been made I prune away everything I don’t think we will need. The student then wires the remaining branches with the help of Derek and Ian. After any deadwood has been created and the tree wired I can then position the branches to try and achieve the desired style.

This is a first styling so we are not trying to create a pristine show-like image. The health of the tree and the ability to recover is much more important. Sufficient foliage and long growing tips are left on the tree.

The students have the option to purchase their tree at the end of the day and everybody is generally keen to take their tree home.

Already I have received e-mails from two students attending the class and it is nice to get some positive feedback. Ian wrote “thank you for a great day at the weekend,I love my new Mountain Pine and I was very impressed with what you did to everyone else’s trees. I would also like to say that the choice of quality raw material was amazing.”

David also contacted me and said “Just a brief e-mail to thank you for a really interesting day yesterday. As you said it is unusual to see so many transformations from raw material to completed first styling in a 6-hour period and there seemed to be some really interesting material worked on the day. I certainly feel I learn a lot every time I come over to Newstead.”

I hope you enjoy the series of pictures below. If you are interested in attending a bonsai beginners course please contact the nursery or keep checking the courses section for when new dates are released.

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Classroom Corner – Sometimes it’s all down to one branch….!

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 – Sometimes it’s all down to one branch….!
Bonsai come to classes in all shapes and sizes, evergreen and deciduous, starter material and specimens. Sometimes the advice is simple and straight forward…..maybe just one branch needs to be removed.
Sometimes it can be a bit more drastic…….when the best way forward is to remove everything except one branch and just work with this.
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Susan’s Hawthorn lacked taper and structure. Extensive deadwood is created to taper the trunk, the planting angle is altered, and a side branch will become the new trunk line.
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Rob’s Hawthorn appears to have a nice foliage shape but there are multiple trunks which are too thick and parallel. The selected trunk can give better taper, form, movement and character.
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Dean’s Pyracantha has branches and trunks in all directions so you just know the solution will be drastic!
After air layers had been removed from Frank’s Trident Maple the base had been allowed to sprout and grow freely. It was now time to make a new selection.
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Lou’s impressive evergreen Oak already has a good canopy but rather than fatten up the lower branch it is better to remove it and open up the space.
Phil’s San Jose Juniper raft suggests a windswept location with the trunks and branches growing towards the left. Once the strong branch growing in the wrong direction at the front right corner is removed unity is restored to the whole composition.
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Sometimes one branch can become so important that it defines the whole identity of the tree. The crucial point is often identifying the branch and then deciding how to deal with it……..get it wrong and………….!!!

Memory Lane – Newstead Two September 2006 – Group Plantings

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 – Newstead Two September 2006 – Group Plantings
In the early days of my bonsai hobby/addiction like most partners my wife got dragged along to every exhibition or nursery visit. Not dragged as in screaming and kicking but generally quite willingly…..after all there are always shops and restaurants near enough to every venue!
In those early days she appreciated the trees but as a general rule was always attracted to the forest or group plantings. I think this is a general trend amongst many exhibition visitors especially the non-bonsai enthusiasts.
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People relate to the group planting almost immediately because they relate to nature and it’s representation in miniature. Many of our individual tree creations often require a greater understanding to be fully appreciated. I have often overheard serious bonsai enthusiasts criticising a tree in an exhibition situation when it is quite clear that they don’t really appreciate what in fact they are looking at.
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Using relatively young material it is often quite easy to create a very mature looking forest in a relatively short space of time whereas the individual tree needs maturity and refinement to have a true wow factor. The inexperienced viewer finds maturity and comfort in a familiar rural scene.
Our Newstead Two Extravaganza in September 2006 contained a good and varied selection of forest plantings and clumps. Different species were used, both conifers and deciduous varieties in varying sizes.
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Some were presented in pots whilst some were on slabs which took that natural landscape quality to another level.
I hope these pictures will serve as a stimulus to some of you to have a go at creating your own bonsai landscape. To those of you who joined us over that weekend I hope this is another nostalgic reminder of a truly memorable bonsai event.
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 Thank you to all those enthusiasts who kindly exhibited their prized possessions bringing moments of pleasure to the visiting bonsai public and those they dragged along with them…….!

Studio Stories – The “Stag” becomes a “Dancer” (Part One)

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 – The “Stag” becomes a “Dancer” (Part One)

I have never been one of those artists who has to give each new creation a dramatic awe inspiring name. I suppose it doesn’t help when one of your students has a splendid little Trident Maple he affectionately christened “The slug”……..just imagine a bonsai exhibition featuring Kimura’s “Dragon” and Chris’s “Slug”!!!…..need I say more.

Specimen trees arriving at the nursery are often here for quite a while. It’s an obvious pleasure to work them, refine them and improve them. There is a need to keep records and pictures so when you have several trees of the same variety a distinguishing name is a great help and a point of reference.

The old Juniper that is the star of this blog set out from Japan at the beginning of 2005 and arrived at Newstead towards the end of the summer. The first picture of the tree was taken in January 2006.

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Removing some dead bark enabled the correct line of the living vein to be clearly identified.

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Thinning out the foliage was quite a task but this had to be done before the tree could be wired. Some of the long leggy branches would have to be removed to open up the lower section of the trunk.

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The tree was wired and styled, the deadwood was treated with lime sulphur. It was then repotted into a round drum pot made by Walsall Studio Ceramics.

The styling completed it was now fairly obvious why this beast of a tree was catalogued as “The Stag”.

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With routine feeding and maintenance work the tree performed well for the next few years and after general exhibition preparation work made appearances in both Newstead 2 (September 2006) and Newstead 3 (September 2008).

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December 2008 and the foliage is starting to droop again. Attempts are made to try and rescue/restore the show image but you can clearly see that the length of most of the branches is becoming a much more serious problem.

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May 2010 the tree is repotted. It looks very healthy and is a good colour but shape wise it is beginning to resemble the tree in the first picture from 2006.

September 2010 and the tree is growing well but all the branches are so long and the foliage mass is becoming too large. There is limited back budding due to the density of the foliage.

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Drastic action is required but this is a very good tree……Part Two of this blog will bring you up to date with the tree and the work completed this week……and it’s coming soon!

Topical Times – Greeting Cards inspired by our bonsai!

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

Topical Times – Greeting Cards inspired by our bonsai…….

……..have just arrived at the nursery.

At the beginning of summer I was contacted by Emma and Sara of Lonetree Cards Ltd to ask if they could photograph some of my trees as the basis for a new range of greeting cards. I was happy to oblige and arrangements were made.IMG_1850

One of the trees used was from my own collection but most were from the nursery sales benches. Some of these trees have since been sold so if you have purchased a tree from us this summer take a closer look next time you are in a high street card shop……you may get a pleasant surprise.

I will let Emma and Sara take up the story in their own words……..

We had the most wonderful day at John Hanby Bonsai School. John was kind enough to let us and our camera have a good look about and we found the trees beautiful, inspiring and peaceful! We were sad to have to leave the serenity of John’s gardens but hope we have caught the essence of his wonderful trees in our new range of greeting cards “Bonsai”.

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About Us

As sisters, a lifelong, joint passion for photography, design and illustration, and a love of all things paper has led to our new venture, Lonetree. Working from our studio on the edge of the Yorkshire Wolds we have waved goodbye to our past lives as an architect and food buyer and embraced the world of running about with camera tripods and hoarding paper and colour swatch books with glee!

We have just reached our first anniversary and our cards can already be found stocked in Liberty of London, Tate Britain and Paperchase as well as lots of lovely independents throughout the UK.

We also sell all of our designs from our online shop

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Our Design

Lonetree takes its inspiration from life and at its heart is the capture of the everyday object on film and the interpretation of that object to create unique and intelligent designs.

Environmental Credentials

All our cards and envelopes are made out of FSC accredited paper stock that has been produced by wind power by a carbon neutral paper mill. Our printing is all done in the UK by a company who can boast to have been featured on Sunday Times Green List as well as being the first carbon neutral printer in the World. They ensure that 99.4% of their dry waste is diverted from landfill and recycle 90% of their press rooms solvents – pretty good going we say! We know that we can always do more and although we are only a little company we continue to look at ways in which we can improve our environmental footprint.

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We also sell all of our designs from our online shop

The bonsai greeting cards can also be purchased directly from the bonsai nursery.

Classroom Corner – Academy Class – Yamadorii Pines

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 – Academy Class – Yamadorii Pines
On a recent Academy Level Six session I divided the class into two groups and provided each group with similar yamadorii Pinus Sylvestris. Both trees were originally collected on the Alps and were in a batch of similar material which arrived at our nursery some 7/8 years ago.
The trees were potted into these plastic bonsai training pots about 5 years ago. The trees struggled for a period after the repot but had now recovered and grown well with many new strong buds apparent.
Each tree had good green foliage and excellent mature bark but the trunks were long and relatively thin with most of the branches a long way from the tree’s base. The students were tasked with finding a solution in order to style the trees.
Tree A
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This long arching trunk has heavy hanging foliage over to the right and far away from the tree’s base and pot. The lowest branch which is nearest the base could be used in styling the tree but it is very thin and only has foliage at it’s tip.
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Solving this problem would involve grafting another branch onto the existing branch to create denser foliage nearer the trunk. The angle of the trunk could then be altered more vertically as required to create a tree more in the literati style but with an adequate amount of foliage to form a triangular canopy around the trunk.
The branches were wired for health reasons so that the tips could face the light rather than dangling towards the ground.
Tree B
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This tree is similar in appearance but does have more useable foliage closer to the trunk.
The upper part of the trunk carrying the foliage is quite thick but with the right technique could be bent back almost 180 degrees to bring the foliage in a lower position surrounding the trunk.
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Longitudinal wires would have to be used in addition to the normal wiring and the upper branch would also have to be wrapped with raffia. Once this work was done the branch was carefully bent over into position and it moved without any problems.
Unused branches were made into deadwood whilst all the remaining live branches were wired in the normal manner. The branches were then positioned to provide a neat triangular canopy of foliage around the trunk.
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Suddenly we have a very plausible compact image in the Japanese bonsai style. The leggy tree we started with has disappeared. In the future when the raffia is removed and the canopy becomes denser this image will look even better and more natural.
This was an excellent academy session. Two similar difficult trees had to be dealt with using different methods to find a solution, both perhaps a little drastic, but at least now both trees have a future we can all look forward to seeing…….

Memory Lane – Demo Day Taxus Cuspidata Part Two……Now….

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 – Demo Day Taxus Cuspidata Part Two………Now….
Part One of this post was published on the 23rd September 2013.
Following the styling and repotting in the spring of 2010 the tree was allowed to grow and recover. The first two pictures taken in September 2010 show elongated shoots and the raised rootball following the change of angle during the repotting.
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The third picture shows the tree on the sales bench in the spring of 2013. By this time the raised soil level has been reduced and exposed more trunk line into an elongated surface root. The wire on the branches has been removed. The tree has continued to grow with minimal pruning.
On the 11th September 2013 I decided it was time to revisit this tree and start it’s journey to the next level. The first two pictures show the tree before work commenced.
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Detailed examination of the live veins revealed that some areas had died back naturally (the best way….let the tree decide!) and so the shari’s could be extended. Lines were marked and the bark removed.
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The shari towards the top and front of the tree is straight and bland. Adding texture and depth with a hand tool has an immediate effect and this work can be taken further at a later date.
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Once the cleaning work and whitening of the deadwood was completed the foliage was pruned and old needles were removed. The tree was then totally rewired and all the branches were repositioned.
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This tree has changed so much since it’s somewhat unceremonious arrival into Europe in 2005. Undertaking the task of a transformation like this over a period of years and witnessing the result is indeed one of the joys of bonsai and why we all do it…….if this tree doesn’t sell I would be delighted to carry on the task for many years to come!