Memory Lane – Kokufu White Pine visits Newstead

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 – Kokufu White Pine visits Newstead
It is always nice to have a distinguished visitor on the nursery and this time the guest inFeb 07 012 question was a little bit special.
This first picture was taken shortly after the tree arrived in Europe from Japan in February 2007. The tree was on the nursery of my good friend Danny Use in Belgium.
If first impressions are anything to go by this tree was very impressive right from the start…….
AdobePhotoshopExpress_2014_01_28_20:09:22………but how different he looks now? Almost exactly to the day 5 years earlier in February 2002 this tree was gracing the display bench of perhaps the finest bonsai event in the world…..”The Kokufu”, a prestigious bonsai exhibition held annually in Japan.
The style, the planting angle, the pot, all have changed quite dramatically in the intervening years.
In September 2008 we held our 3rd Newstead Bonsai Extravaganza and Danny was to help our guest demonstrator from Japan, Mr Nobutaka Sakuma. I was over in Belgium prior to the event and asked Danny if I could have one of his trees to take part in the exhibition and honour is presence. To my amazement he offered me two trees, a superb Ittogawa Juniper and the above pine.
The only proviso was that as I was in a position to transport the trees immediately I would have to prune, refine and generally prepare them for the exhibition. You can imagine this task was not so much a burden but for me a great honour and privilege to be entrusted with making sure these trees would look their best over the big weekend.
Sept 2008 004 Sept 2008 003.jpg copy Sept 2008 002
The pictures show the tree in the studio during the preparation work and finally his studio/ display bench pictures at the exhibition itself.
IMG_4421p1 Sept 2008 001 Newstead 2008 321
Probably most visitors to the exhibition did not appreciate that they were in the presence of such an important guest with a remarkable history. I was thrilled to have him and happy to return him home safely……..but I think he knows he is welcome here anytime!

Studio Stories – Yamadorii Juniper from Japan (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 – Yamadorii Juniper from Japan (Part One)

This tree arrived in Europe from Japan early in 2005. It was a bit of a bush but it’s quality was immediately obvious. I was lucky enough to be one of the first to see it and quickly fastened my label to one of it’s many overgrown branches.

Summer-Oct 2005 002 Summer-Oct 2005 008 New trees 2005 010

The tree remained in quarantine until July by which time I was desperate to get it home.

Summer-Oct 2005 006 Summer-Oct 2005 007 Summer-Oct 2005 010

The tree may have resembled a bush but at least it was vigorous, strong and healthy.

Summer-Oct 2005 011 Summer-Oct 2005 012 Summer-Oct 2005 013

The long journey from Japan did not appear to have worried the tree and I was happy for him to acclimatise to his new surroundings. However, I did clean out the weaker foliage inside the tree to let in more light and air.


Mid-October of that year I was due to attend one of my twice a year sessions with Bonsai Master Takeo Kawabe at his bonsai school in Belgium. I decided to take this Juniper with me as my second project tree as I was now confident he was ready for his first wiring.


Most of the branches were retained but were wired and spread out to encourage more budding inside. In less than one year the tree already seems to have come a long way…. …………but there is still a long, long way to go………

Watch out for part two of this series where we will follow the tree through his “growing” years from 2006 to his appearance on the show bench at Newstead 4 in 2010.


Topical Times – Sales display area extended

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

Topical Times – Sales display area extended

We have taken advantage of some reasonable weather last week and completed the extension of our tree/plant sales display area.

IMG_2352 IMG_2354 IMG_2355

Our growing on bed has been moved and a fence taken back. The new area is now primarily stocked with Japanese Garden material. We still have to move our stock of lanterns into the new area.

IMG_2356 IMG_2358 IMG_2357

Visitors to the nursery will now have a larger area to browse around with a changing stock of bonsai, raw material, and larger garden plants/trees.

Classroom Corner – The Mugo Pine and the Juniper

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 – The Mugo Pine and the Juniper
These two trees arrived in the studio on a recent Saturday open workshop.
Both had already been styled in the past and had grown well since the original styling. The owner of each tree now thought the time was right for a change……maybe there was more to come from the material………maybe they thought something was not quite right???
Each tree was discussed and reappraised starting with the Mugo. Some of the branches were really heavy. Despite some good back budding developing foliage clouds in the right place at the ends of tapering branches was always going to be difficult and could take many years.
IMG_2215 IMG_2216 IMG_2217
Making the tree more compact would overcome a lot of the problems and would eventually create a much more powerful image.
IMG_2218 IMG_2219 IMG_2222
Branches were selected and all the problem ones that were no longer part of the design were removed. The remaining branches were then wired. A very neat small bonsai has emerged from the “bush” and one which is now much more transparent……you can see immediately where this tree is going and a achieving the result should be attainable in a much shorter timescale.
The Juniper Parsonii had been allowed to grow unchecked but was now somewhat “wayward”… has lost it’s shape….there is no triangular canopy or recognisable apex.
IMG_2220 IMG_2230 styled at Johns (5) (599x800)
After some deliberation it was decided to alter the planting angle. Almost immediately the tree had more stature and character. It was then simply a case of rewiring the tree and repositioning the branches in tune with the new angle. Some branches were removed during this process. The large lower jin to the right will now have to be steam-bent downwards to counter balance the trunk’s movement to the left. Once again the resulting tree is now much more “obvious”.
If you are uncomfortable with one of your trees don’t despair…..take a closer look, try a few things……sometimes a simple change such as in the angle or size can really make a big difference.

Memory Lane – Junipers Bonsai Class – September 2009

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 – Junipers Bonsai Class – September 2009
Students come together for a class devoted to the popular Juniper species. An excellent opportunity for the participants to see different varieties, different styles, and to gain a valuable insight into what this very adaptable tree really has to offer.
Classes like this one also give the student useful information on how to maintain the tree and what pruning needs to be carried out at different stages so that the tree can progress from one stage to the next.
See if you can identify the wrap-around/tanuki bonsai, a Juniper Parsonii, a Blue Carpet Juniper, three Squamata Meyerii, two Juniper Rigida, a Kifu Juniper from Japan, a raft planting, and a group planting made up of individual bonsai from Japan and China.
Our Juniper bonsai classes continue to be very popular and I am pleased to say that most of the students and trees featured are still regular visitors.
Junipers Sep 09 019 Junipers Sep 09 020 Junipers Sep 09 021 Junipers Sep 09 022 Junipers Sep 09 023 Junipers Sep 09 024 Junipers Sep 09 025 Junipers Sep 09 026 Junipers Sep 09 027
Junipers Sep 09 010 Junipers Sep 09 011 Junipers Sep 09 012 Junipers Sep 09 013 Junipers Sep 09 014 Junipers Sep 09 015 Junipers Sep 09 016 Junipers Sep 09 017 Junipers Sep 09 018
Junipers Sep 09 001 Junipers Sep 09 002 Junipers Sep 09 003 Junipers Sep 09 004 Junipers Sep 09 005 Junipers Sep 09 006 Junipers Sep 09 007 Junipers Sep 09 008 Junipers Sep 09 009

Studio Stories – Ian’s Pinus Sylvestris

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 – Ian’s Pinus Sylvestris

The first weekend workshops of the new year and Ian arrived with this substantial Scot’s Pine.

image 2 image IMG_2292

Apparently it had been in the pot for 5 years and certainly the tree looked to be strong and healthy. Ian wanted help with carrying out the tree’s first bonsai styling.

IMG_2293IMG_2295 IMG_2294

The trunk is substantial and there is a degree of movement and taper in this lower section. The immediate problem is where the top half of the tree has been pruned away in that just below this are four large branches all emanating at the same height but in different directions.

It was a case of deciding which one we would use to continue the trunk line and form the apex. Fortunately the thickest branch also had the most useable side branches. The other three branches were removed and stubs were left to form jins(deadwood).

IMG_2296 IMG_2301 IMG_2302

Some thin branches were removed but at this stage most of the branches were considered useable and were therefore left ready to be wired. Branches are wired and positioned, starting at the bottom and working upwards.

The angle of the tree is altered slightly. This brings the apex of the tree over its root base whilst enhancing it’s movement and taper into the new apex.

Branches are brought closer to the trunk and arranged to form the basis of sizeable foliage clouds. The finished tree has a strong Japanese influence more akin to a White or Black Pine.

IMG_2303 IMG_2304 IMG_2305


The removal of the upper section of the tree (used to fatten the trunk when grown in the ground) has left a large scar which will need to be refined. This will be linked to the jins and a shari which will connect the lower trunk with the selected apex branch. This will bring the whole tree together, hide the pruning scars, improve taper/flow whilst giving character and a sense of age to the design. All this from one little shari….WOW!

This was Ian’s first attempt at a major styling using heavy wire gauges and he did very well. He seems really pleased with the outcome. I am pleased for Ian and I am also pleased for the tree…..I think they will have a great future together.


Latest News – New workshop date and Latest Availability

An Open Workshop will now be held on Sunday 2nd February running from 9.30 to 3.30pm. Contact the nursery to reserve a place.

Class Availability for January

Wed 8th Workshop                          2 places

Sun 12th Beginners one                  2 places

Sat 18th Project bonsai                    1 place

Sun 19th Workshop                         sold out

Wed 22nd Workshop                       3 places

Sat 25th Forest plantings                 4 places

Sun 26th Beginners two                   2 places

Topical Times – Christmas Special December 2013 (Updated)

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

Topical Times – Christmas Special December 2013

Every year I try and offer a special class close to Christmas where students are given a selection of trees to purchase but the price also includes a full day workshop on the designated day.

This year the material was Ittogawa Junipers. We had two sizes of material so that we could try to cover different price budgets.

Eight trees were sold but only six students could make the day selected so I will try and accommodate the other two in the new year.

Each tree was discussed with the student and possible styling options were explained. Once a decision had been agreed branches were selected and those not needed were removed leaving stumps suitable for the creation of deadwood.

Each student then created his deadwood and wired all the remaining branches which were then positioned. The pictures below briefly outline this sequence for each tree.

IMG_2248 IMG_2242 IMG_2241

IMG_2240 IMG_2239 IMG_2247

IMG_2235 IMG_2236 IMG_2244

IMG_2233 IMG_2234 IMG_2243

IMG_2246 IMG_2232 IMG_2231








This was an initial styling session to provide a sound base from which the tree can be developed in the future. Some branches were deliberately left long to help the tree recover from this process and to maintain it’s vigour. They will gradually be reduced during the growing season.

Eventually these trees will have extensive shari work connecting the gins and providing great drama twisting around the trunks. It is better to let the trees settle down and show you where the shari needs to go rather than you attacking the tree with a knife and cutting through vital live veins.

All of these trees have a great future and it will be interesting to see how they develop….but then again that is just one of the joys of bonsai!

Happy New Year to you all……..!