Topical Times – The Bonsai Garden comes to life!

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

Topical Times – The Bonsai Garden comes to life!

At last the trees are out!!!……..out from their winter quarters and back in the bonsai garden where they live and belong.

This has been a great mild winter for those of us in the north and it seems such a long time since we enjoyed a proper spring. The trees are doing well and appear to be gaining momentum.

The pictures below capture the mood of the garden and show it’s not just the bonsai that are coming back to life. Deshojo and Ukon maples, azaleas and pines are all vying for attention. I hope you enjoy this brief glimpse.

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Classroom Corner – Pinus Sylvestris Home and Away

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 – Pinus Sylvestris Home and Away
Some Scot’s pines we sold from our raw material stocks some 3 to 4 years ago have recently been given our undivided attention.
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The first two pictures of Steve’s tree were taken in the classroom on a Pines class. The tree had been wired and could now be given a new styling. The branches needed to be brought down closer to the trunk to create a more compact tree in keeping with it’s tall slim character.
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The remaining pictures are of two of Roy’s pines. The early pictures were taken at the nursery whilst the final styling pictures were taken at Roy’s home during a recent one to one visit.
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The first pine has a short stocky slanting trunk and is making a fine image in the classic Japanese style. Foliage and ramification are progressing well.
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The second pine is much taller but has an impressive trunk and a substantial side branch which basically dictated the design of the tree.
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A shari was added to the large side branch to create interest/character and to give an illusion of better taper.
Many people struggle with pines. It is often the last tree they get to grips with. It is hard for them to visualise how that mass of leggy branches can become something like the images from Japan they have seen in the books.
The above examples show how Steve and Roy have started with bushy raw material and in a short space of time are well on the way to creating impressive refined pine images with much shorter needles. Don’t be put off by pines, they are by far too important a bonsai species not to have in your collection…….and if you need a little help…….you know where we are!

Memory Lane – Wednesday Workshop, Christchurch, New Zealand, Oct 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 – Wednesday Workshop, Christchurch, New Zealand, Oct 2009.
In October 2009 I was kindly invited to demonstrate at the first National Bonsai Convention in New Zealand. My work at the convention started on the Friday with the main demo sessions on Saturday/Sunday and a workshop on the Monday.
On the Wednesday I was asked to do a private morning workshop for a small group of dedicated bonsai enthusiasts. This was a great session which I hope the participants enjoyed as much as I did.
Some of the trees on the workshop had been bonsai for more than 30/40 years. It never ceases to amaze me how people who have nurtured a tree for such a long time have the confidence to let it be butchered and reduced by as much as two thirds by this relative stranger with an even stranger broad Yorkshire accent?
I can honestly say that wherever in the world I have been fortunate enough to teach bonsai I have never betrayed that trust. When you have total respect for your client and for the tree the outcome will always be the same.
I have selected a few pictures which I hope will give you an insight into the mornings work whilst allowing me to indulge in some very fond memories.
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Amazing that one can enjoy the same fun workshop atmosphere wherever you are in the world and whatever the nationality of the participants……but then again we are all members of the same family……united by bonsai!

Studio Stories – Hinoki with a big,big trunk!

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 – Hinoki with a big,big trunk!

This Hinoki Cypress was a substantial garden plant that was originally styled with a student several years ago. The tree apparently struggled and the student gave up on it. The tree was left with us on the nursery.

Gradually the tree turned a corner and the road to recovery was under way. New growth was encouraged and pampered. Energy at the tips was transferred to new growth nearer the trunk with diligent pruning.

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This winter I was happy that the tree had now come far enough to enable a new styling to be undertaken. The deadwood shari was extended and widened to reduce the bulk of the trunk and to give a better appearance of taper. Extensive carving and hollowing out of the trunk can be carried out at a later date.

IMG_2323 IMG_2324 IMG_2742 January 2014, some branches were removed and the remaining branches were then wired and positioned. The third picture above shows the tree today prior to being repotted.

The tree had been in this plastic training pot for more than 5 years so today it was decided to transfer it to a ceramic bonsai pot. Derek and Len helped to remove an extensive amount of original poor garden soil but we removed very little root.

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The tree was transplanted into a mix of 50/50 akadama/bims using a larger size particle than normal. It looks much more impressive and more like a Japanese image in this relatively smaller pot.

It’s nice to see a tree rescued, revived and once again well on it’s way to becoming a fine bonsai. With some thoughtful carving to the shari area this tree is capable of creating a very dramatic image…..if it doesn’t sell soon watch this space!!!

Topical Times – Beginners Two Class 30th March 2014

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

Topical Times – Beginners Two Class 30th March 2014

Last week we held part two of our latest Beginners Course with six students in attendance. Having witnessed a styling demonstration in the previous session it was now their turn to have a go at creating a bonsai out of suitable raw material.

Each student selected a piece of material from our stock and removed soil to expose the base of the trunk. Possible styling options were discussed with John, branches were removed….!!! and then all the remaining branches were wired.

For most of them this was their first attempt at wiring and they did an excellent job, but they did have some extremely good help from my team….Len, Derek and Ian!

In the afternoon the wired trees were styled by John and whilst there was no obligation to purchase every student decided to take their newly created bonsai home.

The practicalities of watering,feeding, pests/diseases, and position were also discussed.

I hope you can fully appreciate their efforts from the pictures below.

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The Juniper pictured below was treated differently to the ones above.

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The student wanted to work with this tree and it has excellent potential to make a small powerful bonsai with it’s good movement and unusual low branch. However this is better treated as a longer term project to make the best use of the material. The student was shown how to make the foliage more compact by shortening the branches during the coming growing seasons. A detailed styling and wiring can be carried out when sufficient foliage has developed in the ares required.

Our next Beginners Course is scheduled for June so please contact the nursery if you are interested or require more information. 





Classroom Corner – Conifers come calling…..

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 – Conifers come calling…..
A few weeks ago I had a mixture of pines and junipers vying for attention on the turntable…. if only they had known……..would they have been so enthusiastic…..
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This small but overgrown Ittogawa Juniper needed some drastic pruning before wiring could commence. Styled as a cascade tree this lends itself perfectly for planting on a rock.
The long cascading branch can be shortened during the season when the tree is growing well.
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Seems obvious that the branch to the left has to go to expose a much more dynamic twisting trunk. The tree can now be wired and styled in more detail.
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Typical Scots Pine bonsai raw material with multiple branching. You have to find a single trunk line and preferably one with more compact secondary branching that will enable you to style a tree with foliage closer to the trunk.
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People often struggle with bushy conifers like this Juniper Blaauws. You have to get in there and find the trunk line, then you can start to select branches with heavier ones near the bottom and thinner ones at the top. The middle picture shows the tree after this selection and now ready for wiring.
This is a back to basics blog to try and encourage you to have a closer look at some raw material and have a go at creating your own image.
No wonder the trees were vying for position……..a quick haircut, some painless wiring………..and then a delighted servant to look after your every whim for the rest of your life……no wonder my wife says she is coming back as a bonsai!!!