Studio Stories – Bonsai trees receive a “makeover”….

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 – Bonsai trees receive a “makeover”….

Earlier this year one of my regular customers left some of his trees with us. Work commitments had caused him to fall behind schedule with his trees and so he asked us to help out.

There were eight trees in total and the first job was a health check. Apart from some general cleaning out a larch, a black pine, and a scot’s pine had to be left for the buds to break. We could then check the vigour, the balance in the trees health and carry out corrective pruning at the correct time.

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With two large Parsonii junipers it was a totally different story. These trees needed the full works….cleaning out, branch selection, total wiring, styling, treatment to deadwood. Quite a transformation.

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Both these trees are shaping up well and should be ready for repotting into ceramic bonsai pots next spring.

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Two junipers were allowed to grow through the season, pruned back to shape, cleaned out and lime sulphured. The white pine above was rewired and styled. The pot it was in had broken during the winter and had to be replaced.

Our customer has yet to collect his trees…..I hope he recognises them! I hope he likes what we’ve done to them. Advice will be given on maintenance for the next growing season for each tree.

If you enjoy your bonsai but just don’t have the time or technical ability to carry out any necessary maintenance, repotting, or restyling work why not employ us to carry out all the work for you………..contact the nursery for further details.

Topical Times – Old tree….new style…..new home!

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

Topical Times – Old tree….new style….new home!

About two years ago I received a telephone call from an elderly lady asking if I would buy some of her bonsai. I visited her home and found that she had quite a collection but they were getting a bit too much to look after. I agreed to take the ones she wanted to part with to lighten her workload.

One of the trees was a Juniper Chinensis which had a lot of long leggy branches. I was surprised to learn that despite it’s youthful looks this tree was in fact over 70 years old. The tree had apparently originated in Japan and been acquired by a friend who had gifted it to the lady when it was approximately 30 years old. The lady and her late husband had nurtured the tree for some 45 years.

This is one of the things that makes bonsai so fascinating. As I have said many times in earlier posts, trees have history, a story to tell, good times and bad times…..they can transcend time and generations.

She knew I would take good care of this tree and just maybe I could release his soul, find his true character. For almost 18 months I let him be, fed and watered with some general ongoing pruning to try and reduce branch length to obtain foliage nearer the trunk.

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Earlier this year I decided his time had come….and perhaps mine too! I removed two thirds of the long trunks, thinned out the remaining foliage, and then all the branches were wired. The only way to accentuate the movement in the lower trunk and compact the foliage triangle was to dramatically change the planting angle.

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Now it just so happened that I had an old fabricated slab kicking about the nursery, (almost demolished twice) but still looking for a new incumbent. The two were a perfect match especially after I elongated the foliage mass.

IMG_2949 IMG_3133The tree was transformed. So many years of continual growth had left him with long straight, uninteresting trunks that had no taper. Suddenly he has a new vitality with movement, character, and a sense of drama.

Recently one of my regular students was attracted to the tree on the slab. Together we introduced some rocks to enhance the landscape and the tree is sold! His story is already long…..longer than most of ours……and yet here he is starting a new chapter, in a new home where I know he will be happy and well looked after………maybe one day someone somewhere will be telling the story of his next 70 years?

 

Latest News – Classes…October filling up fast…extra date added!

Extra Date

There will now be an Open Workshop on Sunday 26th October.

Contact the nursery to book your place.

October Availability

Wed 1st      Midweek workshop       1 place

Sat 4th         Junipers Two                4 places

Sat 11th       Open workshop            Sold out

Sun 12th       Wiring                          3 places

Wed 15th      Midweek workshop      Sold out

Sat 18th         Extra time                    Sold out

Sun 19th        Open workshop           Sold out

Sat 25th          Junipers two               3 places

Wed 29th        Midweek workshop     3 places

Classroom Corner – Making progress – two air layers and a graft!

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 – Making progress – two air layers and a graft!
One of the good things about ongoing bonsai classes is that they enable you to progress and complete projects. Students attending regularly can monitor this progress, see the results and learn from first-hand experience.
The story hear follows three such projects that were started earlier this year. The first air layer was on a “Juniper Blue Carpet”. Michelle liked her tree but the way the trunks split into two was a problem. Each trunk was a good tree in it’s own right but together the two just did not gel! It had seemed harsh to just cut one off…..at least without a sporting fight so we decided to try and grow extra roots by air layering and save both trunks. Deciding which one to air layer was itself a source of great deliberation. This was back in May.
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Early September and the tree is back. The traditional complete ring bark method was used. Once the bag is removed…..wow…. excellent roots.
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Carefully the layered tree is removed and potted up in a training pot. It will now be protected over the winter. Individually both these trees have the potential to make excellent literati style bonsai but together a good image was always going to be difficult to produce.
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The second air layer was something completely different…… a deciduous tree…… Nothofagus Antarctica. Basic nursery material ready for training but with no obvious form.
The trunk is too tall with not much taper but this problem could be overcome by making two smaller trees. The layer was done in April and this removal work was carried out in August. The trees will be allowed to grow next year and then branch selecting can begin.
This graft was placed on the Juniper last year and was brought in during August for a progress report. The aim of the graft in this instance is to produce tighter foliage closer to the trunk. Both Junipers are growing strong.
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When the raffia is removed the graft appears to have taken and is bonding well. The raffia is replaced, not as tight, but still to secure the union and to encourage the sap to flow in the right direction.
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Some bark is removed between graft and the parent plant to weaken the supply line and force it to draw more sap from the receiving Juniper. The secret with grafting is patience, patience and more patience……take it from someone who knows! We will continue with this tree next year.
Projects were started and as you can see we had a good outcome….the layers were removed. Now the next phase can commence …….and maybe another bonsai class might be the best place to start. But then this is what bonsai is all about…..do the work, wait….. do the next bit, continue and your tree gets better and better. Some of my students have been coming for more than 20 years……you should see just what they have in their gardens!!!…………….and then the pictures of what they started with…….

Memory Lane – Juniper Class September 2009

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 – Juniper Class September 2009
Hard to believe that all these trees were brought to one class in September 2009. It’s a great feeling to have so many dedicated students attending your classes and very rewarding to see the variety and high standard of material that keeps appearing…..
…….and this was with just one species!
The level of concentration on all their faces is plain to see…….I don’t think they were just posing for the camera. They almost look as if they know what they are doing!!!………..
…..thankfully they do!
Look closely and you will see a raft creation, a forest put together from individual established bonsai, and a kifu juniper that went on to star at Newstead 4. There is an excellent example of a “tanuki” style bonsai, an old juniper rigid, and several examples of both parsonii and procumbens.
The real beauty of classes like this is the fact that you can learn so much about junipers especially when you have so many different varieties, different sizes, and different stages of development, all brought together for advice and work.
Our specific species classes continue to be very popular with students and often sell out. If you have a tree that you need help with check out our courses section and see if there is something suitable coming up. Many of the trees featured here are still coming to classes and like old friends I hope we will share in their progress for many more years to come. Junipers Sep 09 025
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Studio Stories – Yamadorii Buxus

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 Buxus

Another one of our Buxus from France was ready for some restyling and repotting. This work was carried out earlier in the year in April/May.

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This tree is a nice mid-size bonsai with an informal tapering trunk. The tree was last repotted in 2009 and you can see clearly just how well it has grown since then. This is so typical of the species producing a dense fibrous root system. This time a round shallower pot was selected.

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After some judicious pruning the remaining branches were wired and positioned. The long wayward jin to the right was shortened and broken into a new position more in harmony with the rest of the tree.

The deadwood is what you would expect from an old collected tree like this……now we need to get some more density and refinement in the foliage.

Topical Times – New material and the Beginners Two class

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

Topical Times – New material and the Beginners Two class

A couple of weeks ago I had to go out seeking some new workshop raw material. I had a Beginners Class coming up and wanted to give them a really good choice.

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The material I came back with was simply superb. Over 60 pieces including dwarf varieties of Pine, various Spruce species and some small Chamaecyparis Obtusa Nana. The trees differ in size/height and each offers excellent potential for creating a bonsai.

Part Two of our beginners course took place last Sunday with 5 students selecting material and all decided to choose from the new stock. Each tree was appraised and discussed. Once we had decided on a style I removed all unnecessary branches. With the help of Derek and Ian the students then wired all the remaining branches. Considering this was generally their first attempt at wiring they did really well…..but then again they did have some first class help!

The pictures below tell their own story. In each case the first picture is what we started with, the middle picture is after initial pruning, and the third picture is what we finished up with.

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Are you interested in our next Beginners Course? ……… part one is in November with part two being held in December. Check our Courses section for further details or contact the nursery to enrol.

If you are interested in the new material why not call and have a look there are plenty of pieces left…….at the time of writing!

Classroom Corner – Roy’s Juniper moves with the times!

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 – Roy’s Juniper moves with the times!
Most of Roy’s trees seem to have a story to tell and this Juniper was no exception. It’s early claim to fame was as a disguising cover for the filter box serving his pond.
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Then came a few moves, a change of direction and a new “haircut”. Inevitably, as Roy’s interest in bonsai blossomed nothing in the garden was safe ………so the next move was into a training tub……with another perhaps more drastic shaping.
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Another branch selection and pruning followed to try and create the basis for a useable trunk with bonsai potential.
When I arrived on the scene in January 2013 Roy had already reduced the branches further and made remarkable progress in turning large ugly stumps into realistic plausible jins.
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Having convinced him that the future of this tree was in just one live branch I explained how we would transfer the energy from the other branches to where we wanted it.
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Under Roy’s guidance the tree responded well and you can see the difference in the third picture taken in August. The progress was so good that I could remove all the branches we no longer required leaving only the one we had previously selected. You will also notice that Roy has done some excellent carving work on the trunk and created a shari linking the deadwood but also enhancing the taper and movement in the design.
When I visited Roy earlier in the year to work on some of his other trees I noticed how well this tree was doing and told him that the next time I came this would be our project.
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August 2014 and once again I am fortunate enough to be in Roy’s garden. He had not forgotten my promise and the tree was raring to go…..ready for the next move! I did a small amount of pruning, removed a couple of branches and then wired all that was left.
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Thankfully after I finally position all the branches Roy is pleased with the result and so am I……this tree has great character, strong individuality and now the basis for a smart canopy of foliage.
This tree has moved with the times and really does have a great story to tell. It’s what often separates bonsai from other living plants….they have history, almost human qualities…….times of hardship, of energetic growth, good times, changes in appearance……. sometimes good, sometimes bad………they have a past, and hopefully a long future. You must always remember to take those pictures of your tree, otherwise how will you tell his story?

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

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 Two)

The first part to this blog was posted on the 17th August 2014. It outlined how attitudes to displaying bonsai have changed and improved over the years.

A first set of images from the above Newstead show was included and this post provides a further set of pictures which I hope will continue to inspire you.

Whereas the first set featured many animals and accessories this set tends to focus more on the traditional kusamono companion with many exhibiting seasonal colour or flowers.

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