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

The earlier posts on this tree were posted on the 23rd January and the 9th February 2014.

After it’s brief appearance on the show bench at Newstead 4 in September 2010 the tree was again allowed to grow and recover.

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Our pictorial story resumes in August 2012 with the three pictures above. You can clearly see how vigorous and strong the tree is. Branches to the lower right hand side have been removed to create more space and highlight the deadwood but the foliage is again beginning to take over.

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April 2013 and the tree is on it’s way to my garden for the summer. The growth extensions from the previous season have been cut back. The second picture is July and despite a slow start to the season all my trees are now growing well. September, and after another good year this tree is now so strong it is time to really get to grips with it.

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The tree was ready for another styling session. I started by thinning out the foliage, removing inner weaker shoots. The live veins were refined and lime sulphur was applied to the deadwood.

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The remaining branches would then require wiring. There were two substantial branches to the rear of the tree which had now extended too far and needed to be removed. The stubs were turned into jins.

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The branches were positioned as they were wired. Despite all the thinning out the finished image still has a certain density to it but there is ample room for light and air to flourish. Compared with earlier stylings the foliage is now becoming much more compact and so are the resulting foliage clouds.

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The tree is now ready for the season ahead but this time we already have the health, the vigour, the lush colour and strength. This time the growth must be contained to increase density to promote better ramification and greater refinement. The wild Juniper foliage is always more difficult to work with than say Chinensis or Ittogawa but this tree is improving all the time………let’s see what happens in 2014…….Part Four perhaps……….


Latest News – Extra open workshop date, Beginners update, March Sold out

Extra Open Workshop

There will now be an open workshop on Saturday 12th April so contact the nursery to book your place.

March Availability – Spaces for Beginners only!

Sat 15th   Open workshop                Sold Out

Sun 16th   Beginners One                 4 Places

Wed 19th  Midweek workshop          Sold Out

Sun 23rd  Junipers One                    Sold Out

Sat 29th   Open workshop                Sold out

Sun 30th  Beginners Two                  2 Places

Topical Times – Repotting……Have you started yet?……

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

Topical Times – Repotting…..Have you started yet?…..

On the nursery we have almost finished repotting our deciduous trees. This recent spell of mild weather has really set things moving and you can see lots of swollen brightly coloured buds. Don’t get caught out……if this weather persists you may find some trees in leaf sooner than you think.

If you have done your repotting, now you need to be really careful. It would be great to think we are going to get a spring this year……I can’t remember the last one!…..but I feel sure there may be a sting in the tail. If we get some cold nights and severe frosts in March/April you need to be able to protect your repotted and in-leaf trees.

We are leaving our conifers while late March/April depending on the weather. Last year it was the end of May before things started moving and we had repotted some trees too early.

Classes have been full recently with many students bringing trees to repot.

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Tony’s collected Hawthorn was in the deep patio pot and required drastic action to move it into it’s bonsai pot. Stan’s Japanese maple had leafed out early in two previous years and was therefore long overdue for a repot. The roots had to be overhauled and selectively pruned accordingly.

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Kiyohime Maples often leaf out early so this year Gwyneth was taking no chances and as the buds began to open she was quick to move the tree into it’s new Gordon Duffet pot….wow…what a difference. This alpine Larch had been in it’s training pot for 6 years and could now be safely root pruned and moved into a ceramic bonsai pot before being put back up for sale.

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Alan wanted to improve his delightful Juniper Procumbens raft by moving it out of it’s pot and onto a slab. This was a slab he had constructed himself and incorporated a dry stone wall. The position of the trees was carefully considered and keto was used to help retain both the compost and raft on the slab. Once again what a difference a repot can make.

……….Just remember watch your trees and watch the weather …..they will tell you when the time is right.

Classroom Corner – “Get by with a little help from your friend…..”

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 – “Get by with a little help from your friend…..”
Last week one of the trees Roy brought to the open workshop was his Sango-Kaku Maple, a beautiful species with it’s stand out red bark. It wasn’t until I received a series of pictures from Roy that I realised just how far he had come with this tree.
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The first three pictures above were taken in April, July and December 2008. Roy managed to create a flowing new trunk line and achieve vigorous growth in the same season which would help the tree’s recovery and progress. He also carried out some excellent carving/hollowing work which has helped to blend in pruning scars and promote the appearance of a much older tree.
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The first picture above was taken in November 2011 and the tree has continued to grow well. The last two pictures are before and after shots taken in May 2012 at what I believe was the trees first visit to a Newstead bonsai workshop. The strong early growth has enabled us to make a branch selection and remove a considerable amount of foliage.
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The tree returned in November and having put on another good flush of growth was again drastically pruned to help build the correct structure and to remove long internodes. The final picture shows the tree in May 2013 with more controlled compact growth.
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The first picture shows the tree after leaves have been removed and some pruning adjustments made in May 2013. The middle picture is from November 2013, the leaves have gone and the improving structure is now clearly visible. The final picture was taken last week. the extended branches have been wired into position and then safely pruned to shape(no bleeding occurred because the sap was flowing).
Roy now has his advice for the coming season to control the growth to continue to fatten the lower branches and refine the apex. Roy has done an amazing job in a relatively short space of time and is creating an admirable bonsai from very humble beginnings. This is Roy’s tree, it’s his work…….. with just a little help from a friend!

Memory Lane – Juniper Grey Owl

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 Grey Owl
This tree arrived on the nursery at the beginning of 2006 as part of a large delivery of bonsai and garden plants.
The tree had been first styled in Europe at a bonsai convention several years previously. It was put up for sale and simply allowed to grow unchecked.
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The tree was still with us in November 2008 and had put on so much growth that we decided to carry out a second styling to refine and reposition the new foliage. The deadwood and live veins were also enhanced and cleaned.
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The first picture above is August 2009 whilst the second was taken in May 2010. The tree has been repotted into a smaller handsome pot supplied by David Jones of Walsall studio Ceramics. The foliage lines have been reshaped and made more compact.
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The remaining pictures show the before and after details of the tree being prepared for and exhibited at  our Newstead 4 Bonsai event held in September 2010.
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The tree was sold in 2013 and was continuing to flourish and become more compact with refined juniper foliage. People are often put off varieties such as Grey Owl because of it’s naturally long wispy foliage but with patience and the correct techniques most Juniper cultivars are capable of producing that sought after Chinensis like image. I wish him well in his new home…….

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

Part One of this blog was published on the 23rd January 2014 under Studio Stories. Part Two will show how the tree was further developed by simply being allowed to grow and pruned to achieve the desired result. These were his “growing years”…….

The tree grew strongly in 2006 and the wire applied in October 2005 had to be removed.

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The foliage areas were thinned out and branch selections were made. The outer foliage was strong but I needed new foliage inside closer to the trunk. In October 2006 the tree was given a loose basic wiring, hence the somewhat scraggy appearance.

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The first picture above shows the tree in May 2007. The foliage has been tidied and is growing more uniform. The other two pictures show the tree in October and November later that year. It was time to try and find the exact line and thickness of the live vein and to differentiate between this and the extensive deadwood. The outer foliage is continually being reduced whenever possible to speed up the development of the inner foliage.

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The above pictures show the tree in 2008 and his last visit to the Kawabe school which ended that year. You can see how bushy the tree is in May in the first picture and the result in the second picture after being thinned out yet again. The third picture shows the tree in October. After a good seasons growth the foliage is lighter but has been taken in further and long branch tips have been removed.

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Here the first picture is in April 2009 whilst the other two pictures were taken in August. Not a great deal of difference at first glance but the new foliage is more compact, tighter to the branches and a very strong, vibrant healthy green! Foliage on the yamadorii Junipers is generally coarser and much harder to work with and refine than the foliage of say Chinensis or Ittogawa.

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September 2010 and this tree really has grown well in response to our treatment. The tree was cleaned out and wired in preparation for our Newstead 4 Bonsai Extravaganza. The pictures show before and after shots from each side with the final picture showing the tree sitting proudly on the show bench.

A friend of mine, Peter from the Kawabe school was in contact with Takeo Kawabe in Japan and sent him a picture from the exhibition. I was thrilled to learn that he approved of the tree and was really surprised by it’s progress in such a relatively short period of time. I continue to practice the valuable lessons I learned from Mr Kawabe, sharing this knowledge and my experiences with students attending classes.

Part Three in this series will bring you right up to date with details of more work carried out on this tree and recently completed in the studio so watch this space as they say……

Topical Times – Beginners Two January 26th 2014

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

Topical Times – Beginners Two January 26th 2014

We recently concluded our first Beginners Course of 2014 with seven students attending day two on Sunday 26th January. Day two consists largely of students styling/creating their own bonsai from a piece of nursery material……with our help of course. This was followed by a discussion on the practicalities of feeding,watering, position, pests and diseases, etc.

One student arrived with his own piece of raw material whilst the other six duly selected from our extensive varied stock. The students removed some soil to expose the nebari of the tree. Styling options were then discussed with John for each tree in turn. Once a decision had been made branches surplus to requirements were removed…..without a general anaesthetic (for the students!!!) Heart wrenching decisions simply had to be made!

Regular students Derek, Len and Ian then helped the students to wire all the remaining branches……for most of them this was their first wiring experience and they all did a great job. The quality of the help first class as always.

John was then left to position the wired trees in the afternoon session. The result was very satisfying and all the students opted to purchase their trees and take them home. I hope we will be seeing them again on future classes. The main thing is that they all have a good grounding and experience of the basics to continue and become successfully engrossed in this fascinating hobby we all love.

The pictures below show the before and after pictures for each tree. The middle picture shows the tree after the initial pruning of unwanted branches.

Our next Beginners Course will take place in March so if you are interested in learning the basics of bonsai and creating your own tree like one of these below please contact the nursery for further information or to enrol.

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Classroom Corner – Academy Class – What to do with large Juniper Loderii….

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 – What to do with large Juniper Loderii….
The students entered an empty studio but things were soon to get somewhat fuller! I promptly brought in 5 tall Juniper Loderii. These trees were the last of a batch. They had been wired and basically styled in the past but the wire had since been removed and the trees left largely to do what they wanted for the past 12 months.
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 Ask the students for some ideas…..what a mistake that was…….several suggestions were forthcoming……….bonfire…..skip……charity shop. Encouraging to see different lines of thought arising but you get the gist of where the conversation was heading. This could quite easily have been the shortest class on record…trees binned, studio swept, on our way home by 10.30……not exactly what I had in mind… I had to intervene……as you do…..
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…………now it just so happens that I had this huge mica group pot doing absolutely nothing but collecting dust.
I took one tree and eight students working in pairs took the other four. To start with we set about opening up the root balls, removing some soil and combing out the roots.
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We then tried to roughly arrange the trees within the mica pot to create a natural looking forest. All the trees were multi-trunked so this was not an easy task…….the studio bins had been excited since their first mention at five past ten and were now circling the central turntable like vultures on some African Plain.
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Once we knew roughly where the trees were going the root balls could be pruned further and reduced where necessary depending how close they were to neighbouring trees and the edge of the pot.
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  One weak trunk was made into deadwood and a couple of sagging trunks were wired. The trees could finally be brought to the pot with compost and work on the final arrangement commenced.
At the beginning of the class I think the general opinion was that I had lost what “marbles” I had left trying to get these large garden trees into the most unlikely of shallow pots. The trees actually came together like a dream with few problems. Branches were pruned away both for aesthetic reasons and also where they were bullying neighbouring trees.
The finished group has to be seen to be believed and to appreciate it’s sheer size….. butIMG_2061 the size has also given it an immediate sense of maturity. It stands like a forest of mighty Sequoia’s with the same inspiring awe……and this almost immediately after it’s creation. Five garden trees have become eleven, maybe 12 trunks…..who cares……
……..the bonfire never got lit, the skip is empty, the bins are in a corner sulking…….the students are a little wiser…..and me…..I’m just “the happy one”…….(sounds familiar???)