Studio Stories – One to one with a “Kokonoe” White Pine

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 – One to one with a “Kokonoe” White Pine

Andrew had acquired this tree from us previously and now brought it to a one-to-one session to be styled. The “Kokonoe” White Pine is a small needle tightly budding variety similar to “Zuisho”.

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When the tree arrived in the studio you can see it was in good condition with a nice colour and plenty of strong bushy growth. The tree had already dispensed with most of it’s old needles naturally. Close to the apex a large branch had to be removed to improve taper and create a more natural and interesting trunk line.

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The whole tree was given a close scrutiny to prepare it ready for wiring. In some cases whole branches were removed whilst in other areas branches were just thinned out as necessary. Even without any wiring the tree has undergone quite a transformation. It is already much more open, allowing light and air to circulate.

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The wire was brought out and I basically attacked the tree with renewed vigour and enthusiasm. Every single branch on the tree had to be wired…..fine twigs and large branches. Andrew was busy wiring another pine he had brought but in the afternoon he helped me finish wiring the White Pine.

IMG_3713Hard to believe sometimes just how much foliage is removed in this process. Some of my students will probably hurry to tell you that with me involved it’s not hard to believe at all !!! The middle picture above shows the wired tree now ready for styling.

This was a good days work with a good result. A pleasing bonsai image has emerged from deep inside the dense bush.  The tree’s new outline is established, branch profiles and spaces are now more clearly defined. Andrew has a good base upon which to build and refine his foliage clouds. With it’s natural tight compact foliage this tree has the potential to make a really fine pine bonsai.

Topical Times – “Travelling Times”…..???

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

Topical Times – “Travelling Times”…..???

Transportation has improved considerably over the years. Major towns and cities generally have easy access to the motorway network. We are all more mobile but as I am sure you will agree the vast advantages now seem cruelly outweighed by the problems of congestion.

IMG_3744Taking everything into account does this put you off travelling long distances?…… obviously not! Last Saturday I had an Extra time class which basically means a maximum of 4 students and therefore more time for you and your trees.

Last Saturday the four students were Patricia from Oxford, IMG_3745John from Lowestoft, Rob from Leicester and Chris ( whom you will appreciate knows nothing about football) from Liverpool. What an amazing turnout for this class. I applaud them all and am truly humbled by the distances they have travelled to further their bonsai knowledge.

They were all at different stages of the bonsai journey so it was nice to have the time to chat to each one of them about their own specific trees and how to move to the next level.

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Most of my regular students travel in excess of one hour to get to the nursery. The fact that they keep coming back is a great reassurance for me because you know they must be getting something out of the classes.

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Many have been coming for years so you can see how their knowledge and technical skills have improved…..you can see the improvement in their trees. Apart from the reassurance it also guards against complacency……it keeps the pressure on you to ensure they have a good day, otherwise they may not make the journey again.

IMG_3684 IMG_3685Occasionally a new customer at the counter will say they would love to attend a class….. if only they lived nearer. When we enquire where they are from can you imagine our reaction when they say Doncaster!!!

 

You only get out of a hobby what you put in….put nothing in and you can’t expect to go far. When my work schedule allows I travel vast distances to support my team Chelsea …….at the moment they are successfully making similar endeavours to keep me coming back for more.

Britain Soccer Premier LeagueIt’s the fact that we have such a large customer base covering such a large part of the country that enables us to put on so many classes and I suspect more than any other bonsai school in Europe. Thank you to all of you for travelling those long distances in all weathers and making this bonsai dream a reality.

The class schedule for 2015 will be out soon so wherever you are why not join our group ……we would love to see you.

Latest News – Gallery updates and Class availability(Updated)

Gallery Updates

On the home page under “The Nursery” you will find a drop down menu and on this list is a section titled “Bonsai Galleries”.

The galleries have been updated with new trees added especially to the “for sale” andIMG_3277 “specimen tree” sections.

Our intention is to keep updating these galleries and to bring pictures of new trees for sale on a regular basis. Keep an eye on this section because we might just post a tree that you are seriously interested in.

If you need further information on any tree posted please do not hesitate to send me an email or contact the nursery. If you are unable to visit the nursery purchases can be made by credit card over the phone or by using paypal. A quote for carriage costs can be obtained for each specific tree and destination.

November Class Availability

Sun 2nd     Pines three                             1 place

Sat 8th      Extra time                               Sold out

Sun 9th      Open workshop                    2 places

Wed 12th   Midweek workshop               3 places

Sat 15th     Maples three                          Sold out

Sun 16th    Beginners one                        2 places

Sat 22nd    Open workshop                     4 places

Wed 26th   Midweek workshop                3 places

Sun 30th     Open workshop                    4 places

Classroom Corner – Pines 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 – Pines in Class 
We run three classes a year devoted exclusively to pines….pines one, two and three held in the spring, summer and autumn enable the student to obtain advice and help in taking their trees through the bonsai year……applying the right techniques at the right time.
Students don’t have to rely on these sessions alone. They can bring pines to open or midweek workshops at any time of the year. The pines featured in this blog turned up at ordinary workshops within the last few weeks.
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Frank’s Mugo pine had it’s first styling about 3 years ago just before he purchased it from the nursery. As you can see it had been largely left to grow and had now lost it’s shape. It was time for some serious thinning out and the middle picture shows the tree ready for wiring. This tree has a very powerful base and excellent taper in a short distance.
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The two jins to the right in the first picture above need to be removed completely. Phil’s Scots pine needed a little bit of pruning…for example the branch half way up the right hand side was removed completely. It was then a case of rewiring and restyling to bring the tree back into shape.
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Dave’s Scots pine was totally rewired before the class so now the branches needed repositioning. A heavy branch towards the rear of the tree came out at a poor angle and was removed. There is ample foliage on the tree without this branch. This tree is really beginning to arrive. The foliage is becoming more dense and creating a classic Japanese pine image…..now we can begin to refine.
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Keith treated himself to this little pine from our sales bench. We have a good selection of dwarf pine cultivars that are ideal bonsai material. This one has a really stocky fat little trunk with three large branches emerging. The middle one was removed and we will create the tree from the remaining two.
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Keith brought the tree back with all the branches wired and the middle picture shows the tree after styling. As the foliage silhouette is compacted this tree has potential to become an excellent shohin bonsai.
The final picture is of Alan’s dwarf variety of Black pine. While everyone else has been wiring Alan was doing the opposite and removing his wire. It’s shape is not too bad and we will develop the canopy with some pruning next year.
This was an interesting batch of trees. Often the hardest thing for a bonsai enthusiast on their own is deciding which branches to prune away before wiring. Often it’s just one or two branches but usually these are crucial decisions…get it right and the styled tree works well….it is improved…….but get it wrong …………???

Memory Lane – Pear Tree Cottage…where it all started….

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 – Pear Tree Cottage….where it all started….
Searching through my pictures for an article I came across these which were all taken at Pear Tree Cottage a few miles north west of Barnsley. It’s always easy to forget your roots, to forget where and how you started….to forget where you come from.
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There are so many fond memories of this place, after all it was my home for 19 years. This is the place where the fascination originated….the curiosity widened…..the hobby grew…. and became my business….my way of life.
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The garden became smaller and smaller, the hens and orchard became a polytunnel, the vegetable patch a display area and the garage a classroom/studio. The place was totally transformed.
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Browse carefully and you will see an early picture of “Big John” my Trident Maple and a Scots Pine made famous in Dan Barton’s book that was later featured on the cover of an RHS DVD.
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Looking at these pictures I can remember each and everyone of the trees. Some of them still come to classes. I wonder where they all are today…..maybe you will see a tree here
that right now is sitting proudly in your garden?
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These pictures should stir up some happy memories with my older students and customers. Sometimes it really is important to look back at where you started because only then can you fully appreciate just how far you have come!
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Studio Stories – Juniper Squamata Meyerii becomes more “compact”!

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 Squamata Meyerii becomes more “compact”!

I suspect that most of my students will have no hesitation in telling you that I’m good at “compact”. They frown when I ask them “how small do you want this tree?” They argue that he never asks us how big we want the tree. It’s a simple phrase, a simple question, but to them it seems fraught with innuendo and diabolical consequences.

Some people are just hard to please. Don’t they always tell me that trees are easier to pack on the journey home, there is always more space! I must confess that they often leave more of their tree behind with me…..it’s just that they always leave with the best bit….the live bit.

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This Juniper Squamata Meyerii is being sold on behalf of a client and has been on the sale benches a while. Originally it was a much larger tree but suffered badly from a scale attack which left it with it’s current profile. However it has been left to grow, has recovered it’s vigour and is now ready for some restyling.

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The first job was to examine the deadwood and clarify the defining lines between the live veins and the shari. I needed to check where the deadwood could be safely extended but in line with the taper and movement in the live veins.

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After the work on the deadwood came the task of wiring and in particular moving the heavy main first branch…..which will now become the trunk line…..nearer to the original trunk. Sometimes it’s advantageous not to raffia branches because when the branch is clearly visible you can watch for stress and control any cracks which may occur.

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Some selective pruning was carried out and then the remainder of the branches were all wired. The tree could now be styled. I am really pleased with the outcome. This small powerful tree is visually much more attractive now that the trunk and canopy are in harmony. It has tremendous potential for future development and refinement.

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The lower branch on the left was retained in order to have a live vein on each side of the trunk but this branch is too heavy and too straight. It couldn’t be bent sufficiently to make it look natural and in keeping with the rest of the design. It may not look as obvious once the foliage has had chance to fill out and extend so maybe it is best left for now and let any new owner of the tree make the decision. Next time the tree is repotted it should be possible to refine the roots and lower it in the pot.

The longer it stays here the more likely I am to convert this branch and it’s vein into deadwood leaving just one live vein on one side of the tree……..and in risking stating the obvious……create a much more dramatic “compact” little tree……..but then again what else would you expect???

 

 

Topical Times – It’s early…..it’s here…..it’s Autumn!

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

Topical Times – It’s early…..it’s here…..it’s Autumn!

Despite some warm temperatures recently there has definitely been an autumnal feel to the past few weeks especially in the mornings and late evenings. It seems to have crept up and suddenly unannounced it’s upon you….and your trees.

It’s time to ease up on the watering and take care of the wetter composts which may cause problems after this weeks heavy rainfall. You may have to check all your trees and water them individually according to their specific requirements.

Tender trees may soon have to be protected as the night temperatures continue to fall. I have started moving some of my own trees to their winter quarters.

One of the benefits of colder night temperatures and warmer bright sunny days is excellent autumn colours especially on the maples. Some of my trees, both garden and bonsai material have gone straight to a winter image and simply dropped their leaves with no attempt at a final colourful flourish.

Today I wandered around the nursery and bonsai garden trying to capture what’s available in this early seasonal change. The Enkianthus in the garden has been this fiery red for ages and continues to get more intense.

In the bonsai area you will see a Benichidori maple, Pseudolarix, White Beech group and Ginkgo together with the fruits of Crab apple and Pyracantha. Let’s just hope this early autumn will lead to a short winter and early spring…..the same as last year would be fine!

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Latest News – Trees for Sale/Specimen Tree Galleries Updated

Gallery Updates

On the home page under “The Nursery” you will find a drop down menu and on this list is a section titled “Bonsai Galleries”.

The galleries have been updated with new trees added especially to the “for sale” andIMG_3277 “specimen tree” sections.

Our intention is to keep updating these galleries and to bring pictures of new trees for sale on a regular basis. Keep an eye on this section because we might just post a tree that you are seriously interested in.

If you need further information on any tree posted please do not hesitate to send me an email or contact the nursery. If you are unable to visit the nursery purchases can be made by credit card over the phone or by using paypal. A quote for carriage costs can be obtained for each specific tree and destination.

Classroom Corner – Looking back at attending trees……

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 – Looking back at attending trees…..
It’s easy to forget trees that have been put before you especially when there are so many. Taking photographs becomes so important…..a permanent reminder…..a moment in time, in the life of one of your bonsai (most of my students insist the picture is for future litigation in case I cut too much off…as if!!!)
Here are a few pictures, a few trees I may just have forgotten to tell you about. Some of these are from the end of last year whilst some are from earlier this year.
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This large specimen Juniper originated from Korea and was supplied by us. It is beginning to shape up really well. It’s pretty obvious that the Cotoneaster was ready for some general pruning and shaping.
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The Scot’s Pine was far too wide. The branches had to be pulled down and inwards to reflect the tall trunk and stature of the tree in shaping a much more compact design.
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This Larch bush had to be drastically pruned back and branches selected before wiring and a first styling could take place. It was a case of selecting which of the three trunks would give us the best tree.
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Unlike the previous Cotoneaster this one was really at the very start of it’s bonsai career and had to be drastically pruned back to find the basic trunk line. The good thing is that this material can recover and respond very well and very quickly to this type of treatment.
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This Juniper Procumbens was first styled a few years ago and on it’s more recent visit some refinement of the image could be undertaken. Most of you are probably aware that this variety does not like excessive wiring unlike most other species of Juniper. It was a case of selective pruning and wiring of the main branches only.
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Having been styled before this Juniper Pfitzeriana had now outgrown it’s shape. Once again a new branch selection had to be made but this now enabled a more compact tree to be formed for the future.
The sheer variety of material we find attending classes provides us with a strong learning curve from which we can all benefit. It really is so useful to see how each tree is treated, how it responds/develops and what we then have to do next to take it to the next level….
….and as you have no doubt heard me say so many times…..there is always another level!

Memory Lane – Academy Class 2009….Juniper Styling

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 – Academy Class 2009….Juniper Styling
In December 2009 I introduced a fairly large Juniper Chinensis into the class. The tree had been on the nursery for more than 5 years. Some general pruning work had been carried out over the years but basically the tree had been allowed to grow to gain some vigour.
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When it arrived in the class you can see that it’s colour and condition is excellent. There is plenty of foliage on this now bushy tree and it is ready for it’s first styling. The students were divided into four groups and each group studied the tree before presenting their ideas in turn.
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After a consensus of opinion work on the tree is commenced. The trunk splits in half around the middle of the tree so a specific trunk line would have to be selected. There are far too many heavy branches in this area also. Some would have to be made into deadwood jins.
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Some of the jins are linked by a shari. There are also too many jins emerging from one place so some would have to be removed.
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The tree was now ready for wiring. This work was carried out after the class and in January the tree was styled. The resulting foliage canopy is now much more compact and in sympathy with the trunk’s diameter and the style of the tree.
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The lower branches have been left on to help the tree recover from the work by maintaining adequate vigour, and also to give the option for a fuller traditional Japanese image. These lower branches could be removed to create a more “literati” style tree and the deadwood extended to become a more prominent feature. A jin to the right needs to be removed to open up that side of the trunk. The last picture was taken two months later in March.
Trees like this are great for discussions on styling. There is so much to go at, so many options, and with all that foliage nothing is too obvious. There is of course the added bonus that after all the talking, all the debate, and some most enjoyable practical work..
…….we are left with a very good tree!