Classroom Corner – Dave’s Larch..Drastic pruning step by step….

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 – Dave’s Larch..Drastic pruning step by step….
Dave brought in this Larch to the midweek class held earlier this week. The tree obviously has some age to it and the trunk is quite impressive given that it is around Chuhin size. The problem is basically with the branch structure.
IMG_3936The primary branches are all substantial which helps promote a feeling of greater age and maturity in the tree. It is an ongoing problem with Larch in general that the bark and branches thicken up very quickly and need to be replaced, especially those near the apex. You have to be prepared to select buds/young shoots and let them grow to eventually replace existing branches which have become too thick.
Some of the primary branches here are too long. The secondary branches are too thick in many areas and the internodes on the thinner side branches are generally too long. The overall appearance of the branch structure and growth on this tree is somewhat too coarse.
The tree needs to be drastically pruned back to the basic structure so that side branches and shoots can be re-grown in scale with the tree. We can then achieve a much more refined appearance with both the summer and winter images.
The sequence of pictures below will take you through the pruning carried out in the order in which each branch was pruned. Dave has a slightly more compact tree to take home after the class…..nothing new here then!!!…..but hopefully the basis for a better tree in the future.
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Memory Lane – Small trees at Newstead Three…. September 2008

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 – Small trees at Newstead Three….September 2008
Every two years from 2004 to 2010 we staged a Newstead Bonsai Extravaganza. During this period we were privileged to see some amazing trees visit the nursery and so too were the many visitors.
I cannot convey enough thanks to all the exhibitors for the way they prepared and displayed their trees. Our memory lane feature gives us the opportunity to revisit these events and once again enjoy the trees and displays….a nostalgia trip for those of you fortunate enough to have been there and for the rest of you a chance to see what you missed.
This time it is the turn of some of the small trees displayed at Newstead three. We had a high show bench especially made at Newstead so that at each event the small trees could be shown off at their best.
Please enjoy some tremendous shohin and chuhin bonsai, some seasonal colour and the various forms of display including some dramatic scrolls.
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Studio Stories – “The Dragon’s Tail”…..the story of a White Pine (Part One)

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 – “The Dragon’s Tail”…..the story of a White Pine (Part One)

I keep telling you I don’t give my trees names and then up pops another one. This tree had been “christened” before I acquired it and the name just seemed appropriate so it’s still there. One look at a picture of the tree and you will see why.

I think this tree arrived in Europe around the beginning of 2005. I am told it came from the garden of Daizo Iwasaki, a very famous and distinguished bonsai collector in Japan who sadly is no longer with us.

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Late 2006/early 2007 was when I acquired the tree. I was taken by the tree’s impressive mature stature and the strong sense of individuality afforded by the low cascading branch.

I knew when I acquired the tree that the cascading branch was not as strong as it had been. Some side branches had already been made into jins. The compost was not draining correctly and so in April I decided to examine the rootball.

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The roots were given a light pruning and some fresh compost was added. This magnificent tree looked so undignified in our dunking tub which was hardly big enough.

Newstead 2008 218The third picture above shows the tree in the studio whilst the picture to the right shows the tree on display both taken at Newstead 3 in September 2008. That lower branch (the tail….) is beginning to look a bit sparse.

When you look at the size of the branches this tree has and when you look at the quality/maturity of his bark this tree must be seriously old…’s a big big part of the tree’s attraction. Sometimes old trees coming out of Japan are past their best, otherwise maybe they stay in Japan. Old trees are always prone to losing vigour, branches and shoots…they become fragile and temperamental as they get older….a little bit like us really!

This tree went through a period of yellow needles and losing twigs which then became lost branches. This can be quite scary…….especially when you have no way of knowing how far it will go and when it will stop. Is it too much water or not enough?

The foliage begins to look a lot lighter the needles are very short. Sometimes students getIMG_0452 IMG_0453 really excited about short needle length on their pines not realising exactly what has caused this and that really we should be getting alarmed.

It was the beginning of 2012 and we had just sold the garden centre and moved the whole bonsai nursery into my garden…..time to catch up….time for action! Should I repot into a different larger pot?………….to be continued. 




Topical Times – Short but ever so sweet!

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

Topical Times – Short but ever so sweet!

Just had to take some pictures of my big Acer Palmatum in it’s autumn coat. The smaller trunk had good colour last week but the taller tree has changed over the past few days. Quite an achievement really, considering all the wet weather we have had. The orange is becoming redder by the day and the changes in different light situations are simply stunning.

This tree was awarded an extra special prize for ‘a perfect nebari’ by Mr Daizo Iwasaki at the fifth Gingko exhibition in September 2005.

The tree is now pictured in it’s growing pot. It was leaf pruned this summer and responded really well. Hope you enjoy the pictures. Isn’t it amazing how dying failing leaves can be so magnificent before they go……..and soon they will be gone! A short blog but ever so….

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Classroom Corner – Rob’s Juniper Chinensis

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 – Rob’s Juniper Chinensis
A few weeks ago on October 24th we posted a blog under Topical Times entitled “Travelling Times”. One of the trees pictured in this blog was Rob’s Juniper Chinensis.
The tree was back here this weekend on an extra time class so now seems a good time to tell it’s story.
I believe Rob acquired the tree at the beginning of this year…..a bit of a bargain if truth be told…..but there were some doubts about it’s health. He teased the roots out gently and potted it on into a larger ceramic bonsai pot in good free draining compost. The tree was then allowed to grow freely for the rest of the year.
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When the tree came back in October it was in very good condition with excellent vigour and colour. It was decided to work the tree and give it the first styling whilst in Rob’s hands. The first two pictures above show how the tree arrived and also show two possible “fronts”. The third picture shows work in progress in cleaning up the live veins and deadwood. The lines between the living and dead tissue need to be more clearly defined.
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When the tree returned last weekend the cleaning work had been finished and all the branches had been wired. A large jin protruding from the centre of the tree needed to be reduced. Guy wires had to be used to help gently pull the heavy lower branches downwards into better positions.
IMG_3816 IMG_3821The remainder of the side branches were moved into position and finally the upper branches were used to form a crown. The finished image shows a mature compact tree with typical live vein/shari movement associated with junipers from Japan.
The unruly bush has been transformed into a very nice bonsai and now really does look to be a bargain. Notice we decided on a new front looking from the corner of the pot but the tree could look equally as good from either of the other two fronts mentioned earlier.
It is the sign of a good tree when it still looks good from different viewpoints. I am sure Rob found his long journey to classes to be really worthwhile.

Memory Lane – World Bonsai Convention Munich 2001

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 – World Bonsai Convention Munich 2001
Did you attend the World Bonsai Convention in Munich in July 2001?…..if not you missed a treat. I suppose if I told the truth the main reason I went was to support my student Keith Beckett who was in the final of the new talent competition.
Whatever my reasons I feel privileged to have been there. This was a major bonsai event MVC-007S 2as the title suggests….a sort of east meets west! There were demonstrations by top bonsai artists from both Europe and Japan together with a superb exhibition of trees.
It was a great chance to renew and make new bonsai friendships and enjoy the luxuries of a top class hotel in one of Europe’s important cities. A tremendous occasion!
I will probably dig out a few memories from this event in the months to come…..not to bore you with holiday snaps but to try and inspire you with what you may have missed. I start with the simultaneous demonstrations given by the European bonsai artists.
They all started with substantial pieces of material and each one underwent the dramatic transformation that has become the norm for all such major bonsai events. I wonder where they are now???………
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Latest News – “They’re Out !!!”…..Class dates for 2015…..Enrol NOW!

The dates for our Spring/Summer schedule for 2015 have just been released and you will find them under “Courses” in a drop down menu under the heading “Bonsai Classes and Information”.

12 places were booked on the very first day they were released…..this is a busy bonsai Junipers Sep 09 009period so expect whole months to be sold out again.

As usual there are lots of open workshops and a midweek workshop every fortnight. There are academy and project bonsai sessions together with some courses for beginners.

All the species are covered with dedicated classes……Maples one and two, Pines one and two, Junipers, Taxus, Satsuki Azaleas, and larch.

There are also specialist classes on Forest plantings, Rock/slab plantings, and Grafting/air layering.

Basically there is something for everyone…….I am sure there is something for you!

JANUARY SPECIAL – Book any two classes taking place in January for £35. (Excludes academy and project bonsai classes) The normal price of each class is £22.50 with the exception of Extra time classes.

Contact the nursery to reserve your place on the class of your choice.