Studio Stories – Japanese White Pine (Pentaphylla) First Styling

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 – Japanese White Pine (Pentaphylla) First Styling

I think I must have acquired this tree some 12/13 years ago. It was part of a batch of similar pines which were in deep blue plant pots. The trees were ideally suited for cultivating as garden trees in a Japanese garden setting or for training as bonsai.

This is the last remaining tree from the batch and it was potted in to this bonsai pot in theJuly 2009 008 spring of 2009. The tree grew well last year and looks a bit leggy but has good colour and strong buds.

Because of his somewhat unkempt appearance I am sure most students and visitors walk straight past him and don’t even glance in his direction…….the ugly duckling scenario springs to mind (…..would you like me to pass you a handkerchief!)

September 2013, I decided it was time to have a closer look at the tree with a view to wiring and styling into a more attractive bonsai image.

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Initially I removed any branches that I thought were surplus to requirements. Older weaker needles were also removed. The tree was now ready for wiring…..don’t all run away…..

Wired and ready for positioning the tree should hopefully look a little more straight forward…….at first glance here it looks like a load of octopuses are having a brawl.

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Start with the lowest branch and work your way up. A new front has been selected to take into account the position of the major branches and a wider nebari.

There are several, probably too many heavy branches near the apex but there is a large space in the lower section of the tree. One of these branches will have to be brought down to try and solve both problems.

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Most students struggle with the apex when styling their own trees. It is a case of finding the right line and then relating everything to it. There seems to be a lot left at the top but nothing is cut off. It all falls into place and then any corrections required to the branches already placed can be undertaken.

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The tree is now well on it’s way to making a classic Japanese white pine image. The two lowest branches are optional….they could be removed to expose more of the trunk and still retain a good profile…that decision will rest with the eventual new owner.

If the tree is still with us in Spring we will probably repot to sort out the new front and toIMG_2113 IMG_2117 improve the roots around the base of the tree. I could remove a lot of the needles and fine tune the foliage clouds to obtain a more pristine final photographic image but the tree’s health and wellbeing is more important than my ego!

It’s nice to think another ugly duckling is on the road to becoming a swan and I am sure he will now turn a few heads in the polytunnel………I am the one who said I didn’t name my trees ………the elbow….stag….dancer…….duckling…..swan……maybe I need to start taking the tablets again……….

 

Topical Times – Autumn in the bonsai garden

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

Topical Times – Autumn in the bonsai garden

The colours are getting better day by day. As one tree fades and the leaves begin to fall another tree takes over and the green begins to change. At the moment the weather conditions seem perfect.

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Trees catch fire in crimson and gold so the contrast with the evergreens is stronger than ever. Newly bared branches are with us for the winter but will soon be pruned back to shape.

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The bonsai are gone…..safely tucked up in their winter quarters but not before being looked over to check on their progress this year.

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Big John has certainly improved on his ramification and is finally beginning to look the part! The first picture was taken in March, the last two in October.

Latest News – Pre Christmas class availability, 2014 class dates released

November/December Availability

23rd Nov         Maples Three              Sold out

24th Nov         Open workshop           Sold out

27th Nov         Midweek workshop      1 place left

30th Nov         Open workshop           4 places left

1st Dec            Larch Two                    Sold out

8th Dec            Open workshop         4 places left

11 Dec             Midweek workshop    3 places left

14th Dec          Open workshop         5 places left

15th Dec          Xmas special              1 place left

22nd Dec         Open workshop          8 places left

Jan-July Dates 2014

The new class dates for our Spring/Summer schedule 2014 have just been published.

You will find them under courses in Bonsai Classes and Information.

I hope there is something for everyone within this schedule. There are plenty of general open workshops as well as the popular specific species classes to help you with Junipers, Maples, Pines, Satsuki Azaleas, Larch, and Taxus.

There is a technique day on grafting and air layering, whilst a raft planting could be created in our Forest class.

Bonsai aesthetics is a relative newcomer for those of you interested in improving your bonsai styling.

We have also included extra Beginners classes to cope with the increased demand.

We have provisionally allowed for academy levels five and seven but if we can attract just a few more students we will also run a level one course.

Spring classes often fill up very quickly with many people coming to classes to carry out all their repotting work. So take a look, see what you fancy and contact us to reserve your place.

Best bonsai wishes…….

john.

Classroom Corner – Beginners Two November 2nd 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 November 2nd 2013
A couple of weeks ago we held the second of our Beginners Part Two course. Such was the demand that not only did we have to fit in the extra dates but on this particular class we had 10 participants instead of the usual 8.
We never know which pieces of raw material our students will use until they arrive on the day and make their selection. This time most students opted for pines but you will find a juniper and a spruce.
After a brief general introduction it was straight down to work……discussing possible styles…….making decisions and removing branches……..wiring and creating deadwood with the excellent help of Derek and Ian.
Once each tree is fully wired I can then help with the branch positioning and styling.
With one of my helpers missing and two extra students it looked like being a really long day but everyone worked well and Derek and Ian simply excelled themselves……..10 trees wired and styled………practicalities discussed……….and an early finish at 3.30pm.
I think everyone enjoyed their day with us and when you look at the results of their endeavours below it’s easy to understand why!
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Memory Lane – Keith’s “Joy of Bonsai” Juniper

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

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

Memory Lane – Keith’s “Joy of Bonsai” Juniper
Keith started with a Beginners Course at my old place some 20 years ago and still attends classes on a regular basis. It’s not that he’s a slow learner…..far from it……he now has a large and superb collection of bonsai which are a true credit to him.
It’s just that over the years his enthusiasm and dedication has never faltered and just like DSCN0857the rest of us he appreciates that there will always be something new to learn. Keith is a past winner of the UK’s New Talent contest and he represented the country in the European Final at the World Bonsai Federation’s Congress in Munich.
Keith has demonstrated at bonsai clubs and also at major UK bonsai events. It was at one of these events, Dan Barton’s “Joy of Bonsai” in Bath 2003 when the featured Juniper first arrived on the scene.
I believe the Juniper had originated from Korea and Keith purchased it from me as a piece of raw material. In the picture above you can appreciate from the tree itself and the photograph on Keith’s bench just how far this tree has come.
The tree has attended several classes over the years and has developed very well. The first picture below shows how the tree looked when it was exhibited in Newstead 3 our bonsai extravaganza in September 2008.
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Recently the tree was brought to one of my midweek classes. It had been cleaned out and totally wired. It was now becoming too dense and the beautiful shari/live vein were somewhat hidden.
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 Repositioning the branches the first thing was to remove a branch in the centre which would open up a view into the tree.
Several large branches were becoming too long/strong and had to be removed.
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We were now able to style the tree letting in more light and creating a taller less dense canopy that was more in sympathy with the size of the trunk and it’s splendid deadwood.
From humble bonsai beginnings this tree really has come such a long way……..but then so has it’s proud owner…….

Studio Stories – Andrew’s Juniper…Pure Literati!

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 Juniper…pure Literati!

Andrew and his tree’s are regular visitors to the nursery. I never know which trees he will be bringing until he actually arrives. Recently he attended for a one-to-one session and brought with him three junipers.

All the trees were in good health with strong growth and vibrant colour. Two of the trees IMG_2022basically required a discussion followed by a light pruning/branch selection. They were then left to grow strongly next year. Selective pruning would be carried out during the next growing season to encourage growth in the right areas to prepare the trees ready for their next restyling.

The third juniper, a Chinensis, had not been back for over 2 years and having grown very strong was now becoming somewhat bushy.

The twisting trunk with it’s twisting shari is really outstanding and it’s beauty simply can’t be captured in a two dimensional photograph. There are so many hidden twists and turns.

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The canopy is now overpowering the trunk. A branch is removed from the centre to open up the trunk more. You can see just how many heavy branches are projecting too far from the trunk.

Two lower branches are projecting in opposite directions and are in conflict. Suddenly when one of the lower branches is exposed I have a nasty thought……just imagine removing everything else and keeping just this single small triangle of foliage.

The simple brush strokes attributed to the learned Literati from which the name comes and the sparseness of foliage associated with the style are clearly evident.

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Many students wish I would keep these nasty thought to myself but Andrew knows me well enough and is feeling quite brave!!!

A large amount of the upper foliage is removed to allow more light and air to the lower branch. The lower branch divides into two but only the front section will form the tree.

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Pruning everything away now and leaving only the small triangle could seriously weaken the tree. We will leave some of the upper foliage and the rear section of the lower branch until next season. Next year we will transfer the vigour from these areas into the small triangle of foliage and gradually remove it.

The small triangle has been wired and placed in position. There is good movement in the branch parallel to the trunk which is not clear in the pictures. The final removal of all branches not being used in the design will enable more jins and shari to be created in keeping with the flow of the design.

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Eventually the tree will be repotted into a more appropriate smaller round pot. The final picture shows the branches removed with the aid of the computer to give you some idea of the scale of this operation.

Andrew deserves all the credit for having the courage to agree to such a daring transformation. If we just thinned out the existing tree then the true power of this trunk would never be seen and it is basically just another juniper. When this new design comes to fruition the full potential of this amazing little trunk will be achieved and Andrew will have a showstopper in his collection that is not just ……pure Literati but……..pure Gold!…..

 

 

Topical Times – The remains of a Spruce!

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

Topical Times – The remains of a Spruce!

One of our academy sessions focused on air layering when different techniques on various species were discussed and practised. One of the varieties selected was Pices Abies Albertiana Conica.

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The problem with this material was that the trunks divided several inches above soil level. It was therefore necessary to create a new root structure at the point where the trunks split so that twin trunk or clump style bonsai could then be created and eventually potted in a shallow container.

Once the new roots had been formed the original base of the trunk and the old rootball could be cut away.

One of these was actually left with a couple of relatively thin branches which had sprouted on the original tree below where the trunk divided in to two…….what could be done, if anything with these remains?……..a few days ago we found out…..

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The trunk was laid almost flat in a training pot. The two trunks and all the remaining side branches were then wired and positioned. As the tree recovers and develops more of the bark on the old trunk can be stripped away to make the design look more natural.

When the tree is repotted into a shallow pot or on a slab and suitably landscaped with IMG_1918rocks, moss,ferns, etc this could make a very convincing landscape planting, simple and effective. Sometimes what remains is the start of something new…………

Latest News – January to July 2014 Class Dates Released

The new class dates for our Spring/Summer schedule 2014 have just been published.

You will find them under courses in Bonsai Classes and Information.

I hope there is something for everyone within this schedule. There are plenty of general open workshops as well as the popular specific species classes to help you with Junipers, Maples, Pines, Satsuki Azaleas, Larch, and Taxus.

There is a technique day on grafting and air layering, whilst a raft planting could be created in our Forest class.

Bonsai aesthetics is a relative newcomer for those of you interested in improving your bonsai styling.

We have also included extra Beginners classes to cope with the increased demand.

We have provisionally allowed for academy levels five and seven but if we can attract just a few more students we will also run a level one course.

Spring classes often fill up very quickly with many people coming to classes to carry out all their repotting work. So take a look, see what you fancy and contact us to reserve your place.

Best bonsai wishes…….

john.

Classroom Corner – Midweek Class October 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 – Midweek Class October 2013
Some interesting styling options emerged in our recent midweek class.
Kevin’s Larch had some heavy branches but the main problem was the two trunks in the centre fighting to become the apex. A decision had to be made and the one with the heavy scarring had to go.
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Heavy branches were removed or reduced in length and the whole tree was then wired.
The resulting image now has great potential and most of the problems have been overcome. The long lower jin will need to be shortened to a smaller straight stub.
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Alan’s small Juniper Ittogawa was ready for styling and he decided to go for a small upright tree rather than the cascade style. He had already pre-wired the tree but we removed many branches and needed to create a shari.
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Alan kindly removed the wire and then totally rewired the tree so the remaining branches could then be placed. With the removal of so much foliage it is important to leave the remaining growing tips long to maintain the health and vigour of the tree.
Stan’s Taxus Cuspidata has amazing tight curves in the trunk but there is a long straight section in the apex. This needed some heavy wire and careful bending to introduce some movement. With this new apex the tree now has a better front slightly to the left which also highlights the movement in the trunk.
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Dave’s garden Juniper has only been out of the ground 2 years but is already showing great promise. It was already wired and now needed some thinning out and branch positioning. The lower branch was pulled outwards more for both aesthetic and health reasons. As the tree defines it’s live veins there will be more shari in the trunk which may result in having to rethink the front of the tree at some time in the future.
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These were just a few of the trees brought to this class and it made for an interesting problem-solving session. This is a really good example of how students can learn so much form each other and from each others trees…….and is undoubtedly why these regular workshops continue to be so popular.