Studio Stories – Old Cedar restyled

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 – Old Cedar restyled

I acquired this tree last year when I took it in part exchange from one of my students. I guess he had just fallen out of favour with the tree or maybe he just liked the tree he was buying better.

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Having worked with the student on this tree on several occasions I must admit I always liked it. It’s not just about the girth of the trunk near the base but more about the mature bark which suggests this must be a really old tree.

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The tree has been encouraged to grow during the summer and vigorous shoots have been pruned back. Now it was a question of making a branch selection and then wiring everything that remained.

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Branches were lifted to form an apex and give the tree more height. The tree’s natural slanting style was accentuated with the lower branch to the right extended to counter-balance the strong movement in the trunk towards the left.

I like the finished image….a very neat erect triangle over a somewhat dramatic perfectly slanting old trunk. Hopefully my customers will like him too and he will soon be off to pastures new.

Latest News – September classes availability(updated again)

September availability

3rd             Midweek workshop             2 places

6th             Taxus Two                           4 places

7th              Beginners Two                    1 place

13th           Deadwood and Carving       3 places

14th           Academy Five

17th           Midweek workshop             Sold out

20th            Open workshop                 Sold out

27th            Project bonsai

28th           Open workshop                   3 places

Topical Times – A typical Bank Holiday….

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

Topical Times – a typical Bank Holiday….

One look outside at the weather and you know this just has to be a Bank Holiday! Just as well the nursery was closed today…..who would have ventured out anyway?

It’s rained almost continuously here today. It also feels alot colder too…..it certainly does not feel like August and a late summer’s day. It looks like autumn is coming early this year so keep an eye on your trees. We had a forecast for frost in some areas last Saturday..in August!!!

Whether it’s too cold, too wet or too dry you just have to be prepared for whatever nature is going to throw at your trees. You need to be alert to the changing seasons and in particular the impact this can have on how and when you water.

I took my camera with me as I walked across the garden this evening. There is still some nice colour in the garden but some of this has a distinct autumn feel to it. The bamboo grove is so wet it leans to have a neighbourly chat with a very old white pine.

One thing is for sure the fish are not bothered at all by this latest bout of rain. Having said all that they are just recovering from a Ph crash brought about by a severe storm a few weeks ago.

Generally the bonsai garden is taking shape and still looks full and colourful. Just how long will those leaves hang on before giving us that final flash of glory, holding back the dark and dismal silhouettes that are destined to follow?

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Classroom Corner – Conifers in Class!

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 in Class!
Conifers are regular visitors to the bonsai classroom throughout the year. Whether it be spring repotting, a winter wiring, summer pruning or general styling work you will always find conifers in an open workshop. The last few weeks have been no exception and here are the stories of just a few of the visitors to our regular bonsai classes.
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The cascade white pine, and these two mugo pines had grown really well and were in danger of becoming overgrown bushes.
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Selecting branches and shoots would refine the structure for the future whilst at the same time improving the tree’s health by letting in more light and air. This will also encourage new buds and shoots inside to develop further.
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This large scots pine was in need of similar treatment. The pile of foliage will give you some idea of how much was removed. All these trees will be rewired during the coming months so that they can be styled and the branches spread out.
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This Juniper had grown so large that possibly the best feature in the tree was now hidden. Branches were pruned so that the movement in the trunk and the prominent shari became clearly visible. The remaining branches were then wired and positioned.
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Keith brought along a Blaauws juniper that we first styled together on his beginners class many, many……(not too many…..I’m not that old!) years ago. You can just about see how it turned out originally in the photo placed in front of the pot. After a comprehensive wiring the tree was now ready for me to style again and you can see the outcome….
………I don’t know who has come the farthest…..me or the tree???

Memory Lane – Bonsai Companions Newstead Two September 2006(Part one)

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 – Bonsai Companions Newstead Two September 2006(Part one)
In the very old days of bonsai shows in the UK trees were often displayed on their own, with no table, no kusamono and certainly no scrolls. Often trees would simply be placed in rows on cloth covered tables.
Over the years the art of bonsai display has grown considerably. At all our Newstead shows we insisted on each tree having some form of table or plinth and an accompaniment such as an accent plant. Scrolls were optional.
Bonsai artists and enthusiasts all over Europe now go to enormous lengths to be innovative and inspiring when exhibiting their trees in major exhibitions. Even club displays at local events now embrace serious thoughts and ideas on bonsai presentation.
I still maintain that the tree should always be the main centre of attention but some of the overall displays are simply amazing. They help to capture the imagination of both fellow enthusiasts and the general public.
The pictures below give you some idea of the wide variety of bonsai companions that appeared in our second bonsai extravaganza held in the autumn of 2006. From horses and stags to birds and frogs, viewing stones and traditional flowering kusamono they attracted a lot of interest and compliments. I hope you will be inspired the next time you exhibit your favourite tree.
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Studio Stories – Juniper..the Stag who became the Dancer…how’s he doing?

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 – Juniper…the Stag who became the  Dancer…how’s he doing?

Previous posts telling the story of this tree and it’s transformation were first published on the 13th and 26th October 2013 under “Studio Stories.”

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The first picture above shows the tree on acquisition at the beginning of 2005. The second picture shows the tree exhibited at Newstead in September 2006, whilst the third picture is from the end of last year following the re-styling.

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The tree has generally been allowed to grow strongly this year but some over enthusiastic shoots were trimmed back as necessary. In the first picture above you can see how dense the canopy has become but when you look at the detailed pictures you can see how strong and healthy this tree really is……just look at it’s colour. In the third picture you can see a more compact image beginning to emerge after the necessary thinning out.

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The lower branches are also beginning to strengthen and the tips are extending. The small branch to the rear of the trunk in the first picture was opened out and will be simply left to grow. I need the low branch to the front to extend more to the right of the tree so once again the tips are left unchecked but the rest of the branch is controlled.

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This tree is progressing well since the restyle and I really like the developing image. The foliage is just so much more compact when compared to it’s earlier years detailed in the previous posts. The image is becoming much more “Chinensis-like” rather than the long unkempt foliage associated with the yamadorii junipers.

There is no substitute for strong healthy growth and minimal intervention just when it is required.

 

Topical Times – Dave’s two Japanese White Pines

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

Topical Times – Dave’s two Japanese White Pines

There has been no let up in the classes during the summer months. There have been classes every weekend and also every other Wednesday.

Dave attends most of the Wednesday sessions and on a recent midweek class he brought along these two White Pines. Both of them are of the Pentaphylla variety, that is they are on their own roots and not grafted like most imported White Pines.

Both trees have continued to grow strongly and as a result have become very bushy….they have lost their shape. You can see quite clearly the difference in the before and after pictures of the first tree just by carrying out some selective pruning.

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There is no wire on this tree. It can be rewired this winter between September and April. The other pine has it’s roots trained over a rock and is very impressive. This picture shows the bushy tree around the beginning of July, the canopy is becoming very box-like in shape.

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The first picture above shows the tree after some general pruning and thinning out.The canopy is lighter and better formed with a wide arching crown suggesting maturity. The centre picture was taken more recently after the tree had been wired but prior to branch placement. The final picture shows the tree after the branches have been arranged.

Two pines in totally different styles but the same variety and both are of very good quality. Dave can be very proud of these two trees and he deserves much credit for their excellent condition.

Trees become victims of their own success….they grow really well…..become too bushy, lose their shape and inner buds/twigs often dieback. This just shows how a little timely intervention can make all the difference.

Classroom Corner – A bit of all sorts on a recent one-to-one!

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 – A bit of all sorts on a recent one-to-one!
Just over a week ago Andrew arrived for a midweek one-to-one session and it was great to see the mix of material he had brought with him.
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First up were two impressive satsuki azaleas he had acquired from me last year. One of the trees needed some branch adjustment which we achieved with some basic wiring. Both trees had started growing after finishing flowering and were extensively pruned to balance the vigour and improve the shape of the foliage clouds.
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Finally both trees were repotted into new pots which had been made specially by David Jones of Walsall Studio Ceramics.
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Andrew had done an excellent job wiring and shaping his half-cascade Juniper Blue Carpet……all I had to do was fine tune it a little and thin it out. The Juniper Chinensis in the third picture had been recently styled and potted on the nursery. This tree is over 70 years old. We spent a bit of time selecting and placing some rocks to enhance the landscape.
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The field maple had been pruned drastically on another one-to-one earlier in the year and Andrew had been told which branches to develop. Great result…..the taper in the leading branch was now good so that another drastic branch selection could be made. Drastic as this may seem it is the best way to create a well structured tree for the future.
In addition to the practical work Andrew was given advice on how to deal with each tree for the remainder of the growing season and any questions were answered. This was a really varied and interesting session….a bit of all sorts…….but I also think the outcome was “a bit of alright!”………
If you would like to book a one-to-one session for a full day or half a day please contact the nursery for more information.

Memory Lane – Brief encounters with a few White Pines

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 – Brief encounters with a few White Pines
Thousands of bonsai have passed through our hands over the years, some you remember, some you forget. Looking through one of my old files the other day I came across some Japanese White Pines we had sold during the earlier years of “the noughties”.
They are quite a mixed bag really but a good random sample of some of the trees it has been our pleasure to meet. Some of the trees have before/after pictures where work was carried out either before or after they were sold.
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The first tree pictured above was a huge bonsai that had to be totally wired with many heavy branches also having to be moved using guy wires and turnbuckles.
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The first tree pictured above was also a bit of a beast requiring similar severe wiring treatment ……I remember them well! The other pine here was of exceptional quality. A very large mature and dense branch was removed from around the grafted area after much deliberation.
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The first pine above is a Zuisho White Pine, a small needle variety. The pictures show the tree after it’s first styling.
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The first pine above still visits us from time to time on workshops……it’s nice to keep in touch. The other pine had excellent potential to be styled in the literati form and make a classic Japanese image.
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Look carefully at the bark on the first pine above…this tree is much older than you think. People insist on pinching candles early…..not here….just look how strong and healthy these commercial white pines were in picture three.
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The first pine above is the most expensive white pine I ever sold. This tree came from a private collector in Japan and was extremely well refined. It was an old tree and also a good size….not too big for us old’uns!…….sometimes wish I still had him. The middle pine was pictured after being styled on a workshop. What an exciting piece of raw material in the final picture.
It’s great to sell trees, it’s what we are here for …..but when you look at the pictures above and think wow….if they were all here today….. but then again as my wife keeps telling me ……”you can’t keep them all!!!”