Topical Times – Little and Large…..a repot!

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

Topical Times – Little and Large…..a repot!

It’s that time of year when everyone in the bonsai world is involved in repotting. Here on the nursery there is always plenty to do.

This small Ash tree was acquired last year and show’s excellent potential to be a good shohin bonsai. Despite it’s small size the trunk is stocky with a nice nebari and good taper.

IMG_4488 IMG_4489 IMG_4490

The tree was certainly overdue for a repot and several heavy roots had to be removed from under the centre of the nebari. I am sure it will benefit from the new compost and this pot made by Tony Remington.

IMG_4491 IMG_4492 IMG_4537

The first pictures of the Escallonia were taken in October 2014. It has been in this Walsall pot for some 5 years.

IMG_3719 IMG_3720 IMG_4497

IMG_4495 IMG_4496 IMG_4498

The tree had been growing well but there was some poor original soil and dead root directly below the trunk which had to be removed.

IMG_4499 IMG_4500 IMG_4501

The planting angle and front were altered slightly. The new pot was made by John Pitt and was one I had stood empty. It is a softer line but of similar colour to the original pot which should match well with the cleaned up bark of the Escallonia.

IMG_4502 IMG_4503 IMG_4504

The tree was then given a severe pruning back to the basic ramification. Branches will be developed further during this growing season. Little or large….big or small…..they all have to be taken care of and their future development planned accordingly.

Classroom Corner – Two Big Trees….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 – Two Big Trees ….One to One!
A recent one to one with Andrew turned out to be a “heavy” session in every sense of the word!
IMG_4271 IMG_4260 IMG_4259
First up was a large yamadorii Larch originally collected from the Alps. The tree had been styled by us before Andrew acquired the tree. It was now ready for a repot into it’s first ceramic container and a general pruning/tidying up.
IMG_4261 IMG_4262 IMG_4263
The second tree was a Juniper Parsonii. The tree had grown well but had lost it’s shape and was now ready for a restyling.
IMG_4264 IMG_4265 IMG_4266
The movement in the trunk was much better from one possible front and this would also enable the low branch to be utilised as a second trunk. Branches were removed and those that remained were cleaned out ready for wiring.
IMG_4268 IMG_4269 IMG_4270
The wired and styled tree is much more compact and the two trunks work together. This arrangement gives the tree his character and individuality. The foliage can now be refined in the growing seasons to come. Eventually the shari’s in the trunks will be widened, extended and incorporate the existing deadwood to make a really impressive base.
Hopefully a suitable repot might make the next session a little bit lighter!

Latest News – April…..7 workshops – 56 places…only 5 places left!

Class Availability – April

Sat 4th      open workshop             sold out

Wed 8th     midweek workshop      sold out

Sat 11th     Taxus one                     2 places

Sun 12th     Pines one                     3 places

Sun 19th     open workshop            sold out

Wed 22nd   midweek workshop      sold out

Sat 25th      open workshop            sold out

Sun 26th     Academy six

Memory Lane – Cedrus Atlantica Glauca

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 – Cedrus Atlantica Glauca
I think it was around November 1999 when I did my first demo for the Norfolk Bonsai Club. I had taken with me this rather large garden Cedar with the idea of making it a bit smaller….a bit more manageable…. and hopefully a bit more like a bonsai.
MVC-001S MVC-004S MVC-005S
Wired, bent and twisted, by the end of the evening the tree was certainly smaller, just as heavy, but undoubtedly more like a bonsai……I was generally pleased with the outcome.
The third picture shows the tree in 2001.
MVC-009S 3 MVC-010S MVC-011S
During 2001 the tree continued to grow well and the wire had to be removed….the tree lost it’s shape. Time for some judicious pruning, some work on the deadwood jin/shari and eventually a rewiring.
MVC-005S 2 MVC-013S 3 MVC-020S
The third picture above was taken by Paul Goff in his studio. Craig Coussins had asked me to do an article for his new book “The Bonsai School” and so I decided to tell the story of this Cedar. Paul obliged by providing me with a studio shot of the tree’s current position.
April 2005 Summer 05 001 Summer 05 002
The story continued…..the tree continued to grow…….refinement of the branches and extensive smaller bud development was a joy to watch. The first picture was in April 2005 whilst the next four pictures were taken later in the summer. You will see he is now in a ceramic bonsai pot.
July 06 Summer 05 003 Summer 05 005
The last picture above was taken in July 2006. Colour, growth and vigour are excellent. He now has a nice new Walsall Studio pot.
It was shortly after this that the tree and I sadly parted company. A bonsai enthusiast was seriously interested in the tree and after much deliberation I finally decided to sell him. We had come a long way together but maybe it was time for him to have a new life, a new beginning. Ironically his new owner came from Norfolk and was there when he was created with the first styling. I hope he is still going strong in his new home.

Studio Stories – The story of Yorkshire Privet…..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 story of Yorkshire Privet…..Part One

I suppose Ligustrum Ovalifolium sounds a bit posh for a hedging shrub that’s been well-used and abused throughout Yorkshire for over a hundred years. It is still seen around many a front garden…..as a young boy I can remember being ordered to get out the shears and give the hedge it’s monthly “short back and sides!”

In my other life before bonsai I was a Chartered Surveyor with my own surveying/estate agency business. It was whilst carrying out a valuation of a property that I came across a privet hedge with large trunks. Judging by the age of the house I suspect that this hedging material will soon be 100 years old. I was given the opportunity to remove the hedge and in November 1999 all branches were removed and the bare stumps were potted up.

DSCN0210mar1302 DSCN0213 DSCN0214

The first pictures in March 2002 show that the tree is alive. An initial branch selection is made and the branches are wired down. The tree is budding really well as you can see below.

DSCN0216 MVC-001S 2 MVC-002S

The tree is basically allowed to grow strongly, the wire is removed and it soon becomes a bush again. Time for another selection of branches.

Picture 319 Picture 366 Picture 535

Spring 2004, we have now moved our bonsai nursery to Newstead and the tree is ready for repotting into it’s first ceramic bonsai pot. The last picture shows the tree towards the end of the growing season when it is again ready for pruning and rewiring.

April 2005 001 Summer 05 002 Summer 05 004

The first picture above is spring 2005 with the tree raring to go. The other two pictures were taken in the summer of that year.

In 6 years this tree has come a long way and I am thrilled with his progress…….from unsightly stump to a respectable bonsai. This was an enjoyable journey….allowing periods of growth followed by timely interventions…..but what was to follow?…..to be continued.

Topical Times – Researching a Family Tree!

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

Topical Times – Researching a Family Tree!

Like most of you we are in the middle of the repotting season. We are busy with repottings on all fronts. Apart from trees on the nursery I have just repotted five of my own trees. Most workshops currently involve a lot of repotting activity and we are also carrying out specific repotting work for clients.

The tree featured in this blog was left with us by a client. I believe it is a Korean Fir tree. Our client remembers the tree in it’s early days with his father and from this we know that it is at least 50 years old.

IMG_4442 IMG_4443 IMG_4444

Apparently the tree was recently rescued from a garden where it was shining through a fairly dense overgrown patch. Many of the smaller trees had unfortunately died. There was no way of knowing just how long it was since the last repotting. This looked like being a serious job.

IMG_4447 IMG_4448 IMG_4449

Under the pot you can see where heavy roots have grown through the drainage holes and into the ground….this is what kept the tree alive. Inside the pot there is a dense root system with evidence of healthy roots around the outside. A piece of lead protecting the roots from tie wires was still in place.

IMG_4450 IMG_4451 IMG_4452

With water and nutrients coming from outside the pot via the roots now in the ground, the roots inside the pot had suffered from considerable dieback. The rootball had to be opened out more than I would have liked to remove all the dead roots. The heavy roots which had been in the ground were now cut back as far as possible as there were no fine roots near the ends.

IMG_4453 IMG_4461 IMG_4462

The tree was finally repotted into a new pot using a mix of 50% akadama and 50% pumice. The branches were pruned back to take pressure off the roots and to start the reshaping of the tree. Dead branches and cones were also removed.

Everything has been done to make things right for this tree and hopefully with some nurturing and good aftercare it should take full advantage and recover well. The tree has history….and now it’s documented…..let’s hope he has a sound future…..after all he’s now part of the family!

Classroom Corner – Pines Class March 2015

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 Class March 2015
Pines of different species and in all shapes and sizes are brought to our specific Pines classes. It is always interesting to see students performing different tasks on their pines.
IMG_4410 IMG_4414 IMG_4415
Phil’s dwarf Scot’s pine had been wired and was ready for styling. Too heavy branches offered alternative tops…..one of them had to be removed. Not for the faint hearted but the result was well worth it! Henry’s pine needed some needles thinning out. Growth will be monitored this season and the tree rewired/styled in the autumn.
IMG_4403 IMG_4413 IMG_4408
Steve’s pine had also been wired. Three large low branches were too long and were removed. The styled tree resulted in a taller, more compact and more appropriate image. Paul’s Scot’s pine was potted into a slightly larger training pot. Dense mycorrhiza can help to block drainage holes but generally this is the sign of a good root system.
IMG_4342 IMG_4405 IMG_4343
David’s Scot’s pine had grown well over the years but now needed some branches thinning out. Derek’s Black pine had good roots around the outside but was weak inside.
IMG_4407Ian’s Red pine also needed repotting inside out but we loosened the outer roots as well.
Same time of year but different pines at different stages of development all needed treating differently. This is why it is difficult for you to get the correct advice from a book or from the internet. You need information specific to your tree, as it is today, in your climate…..you need to know what to do next…….you need a mentor!

Memory Lane – Newstead Two 2006….Big show….Big trees!

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 – Newstead Two 2006….Big show….Big trees!
In my last blog under the heading Memory Lane I asked the question….”Does size matter?” The evolution of size and quality together with how it is perceived by the general bonsai public was duly outlined.
IMG_1592p IMG_1594p IMG_1596p
September 2006, our second Newstead bonsai extravaganza and looking back at the photos size certainly played it’s part. A good proportion of the trees exhibited were really big trees. Pictures of some of them are included here.
IMG_1605p IMG_1615p IMG_1618p
These were not only big impressive trees but their quality was also good and their presentation was simply excellent.
IMG_1620p IMG_1624p IMG_1625p
When you add these things together and take into account how lucky we were with our venue, in terms of space and natural lighting the effect was staggering.
IMG_1630p IMG_1642p IMG_1658p
These trees helped make our exhibition the success that it was….they could not fail but to leave a lasting impression on even the most experienced and discerning visitor.
IMG_1669p IMG_1681p IMG_1684p
With the rise in popularity of small trees these gentle giants may become less frequent in the bonsai exhibition halls. As me and my bonsai contemporaries continue to grow old gracefully, simply handling these trees becomes extremely difficult without help……maybe another good reason why we need to encourage more and more younger enthusiasts to take up the hobby!

Studio Stories – Rearranging a forest planting

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 – Rearranging a forest planting

On a recent one to one a student brought several trees for repotting. One of these was a small forest of red Deshojo Maples.

IMG_4372 IMG_4373 IMG_4374

The student had a separate individual tree which was originally from the same batch as the forest. It had suffered in the past and was not really good as a solo tree so it was hoped that this could be incorporated into the forest planting.

IMG_4375 IMG_4378 IMG_4379

The trees were removed from their pots and the roots combed out. A short twin trunk maple was removed from the group to make room for the new tree.

The original four trees were left together but planted in a different place in the pot. The extra tree and the short twin trunk tree were then introduced to the new design. Compost was added and the repotting completed.

IMG_4381 IMG_4386 IMG_4387The trees were then pruned back in keeping with their position in the pot and relative to the rest of the group. I feel these trees now work really well together. There is depth and movement in the forest together with a sense of landscape created by the space to the right. Trunks and branches are in harmony……branches and twigs can now be developed in the coming seasons.

Topical Times – Discussion Day on a recent one to one.

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

Topical Times – Discussion Day on a recent one to one.

Pictured below are some of the trees which arrived in the classroom for a recent one to one session.

IMG_4323 IMG_4324 IMG_4325

The first Larch had been totally wired prior to the class. All the branches were positioned. The discussion centred around the two larger lower branches being directly opposite each other. Either one could be removed and the style of the tree modified accordingly.

The decision would be reconsidered once the tree was in full leaf. The canopy and the silhouette of the tree will change so much during this transition so it is best to see both images before making such a major decision.

IMG_4326 IMG_4327 IMG_4328

The second larch was pruned back very tightly and will now require little wiring. The shari will need to be extended in line with the chalk mark. Ultimately this tree will have a lot of deadwood and some sparse foliage clouds.

IMG_4329 IMG_4330 IMG_4331

The Ash tree and the Hawthorn both needed some drastic pruning to prepare them for the new season’s growth. Plans for the control of this growth were also discussed in detail. The Hawthorn would also benefit from some extra carving of the deadwood to open up the hollow image of the trunk.

Sometimes a one to one is a practical day, sometimes it’s about discussion and passing on information…….but then that’s the beauty of a one to one ……it’s whatever YOU want it to be!!!