Studio Stories – Larch Forest

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 – Larch Forest

A recent one to one included the creation of a substantial Larch forest. The trees had been grown on for a couple of years to develop fine roots, adjust the trunk heights/thicknesses, and create some branches.

There were 24 to choose from an in the end we used 20. The so-called experts will be quick to jump in and say that this is wrong because it should be an odd number. Presumably these same so called experts will wander around copses and forests in nature counting the number of trees…..i rest my case!

The main trees were selected and then we worked outwards from the middle carefully arranging the trees and the spaces between them. Pruning was carried out as late as possible to both the heights of the trees and the side branches as the trees needed to be in their final position in the group to enable this work to be carried out accurately.

The group has a real natural feel to it enhanced by the space left within the pot. The trees are now sparse but branches will grow quickly and a much more refined image will be obtained in a relatively short space of time. The trees were reduced in height below the finished level to allow more refined tops with finer branches to be grown.

I am pleased with the outcome and look forward to seeing this forest develop in the future.

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Classroom Corner – Rob’s Larch

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 Larch
Rob brought this substantial Larch to a recent workshop. He had totally wired all theIMG_6136 branches which were now ready for positioning.
A large low branch was removed….it was growing at a poor upward angle out of the trunk and was almost opposite another large low branch. Some smaller branches were also removed during the styling.
The next question was whether or not to repot the tree. I knew that several years ago when Rob first acquired the tree that it had struggled but certainly in the last two seasons it had grown very vigorously.
The root mass was solid around the edge of the pot but much softer in the centre nearer the trunk so there was a need to investigate further. When the tree was lifted out of the pot it became obvious that the outer section of the rootball was very strong but in the centre there was some dead roots and very poor soil…..probably original garden soil.
The soil was removed totally from the centre of the rootball but the outer edge was left untouched and intact. New compost…..a mixture of akadama and pumice was then added. A normal repot will probably be carried out in two years time.
This tree is progressing well and should look good when the foliage is out. It should also retain it’s vigour now the root problem has been dealt with.
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Topical Times – Academy Level Seven getting slated!

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

Topical Times – Academy Level Seven getting slated!

The Academy Level Seven group recently had their first meeting of the year. It started with a check of the ongoing tanuki projects to see if any adjustments or work was required. With progress discussions completed it was then on to something new.

I had brought into the studio some small but rather nice Hinoki Cypress…..Chamaecyparis Obtusa Nana. Each student was given a tree and he was then asked to consider how it could be styled. Their ideas were then discussed with John.

Branches were removed and thinned out. The trees were then wired and given their first styling.

The trees were then removed from their pots and roots were carefully teased out. The trees were to be planted on some small blue slates which the students shaped themselves. Obviously the rootballs had to be reduced in size but it was imperative to keep as much of a central original core as possible to keep the trees healthy and to help them recover form the transplanting process.

A compost mix of akadama and pumice was used suitably retained on the slate by a wall and covering of keto. The soil surface was covered with moss and students were allowed to incorporate up to two pieces of rock.

This was a really good exercise and what a transformation in the material…..with a little bit of styling and the use of a humble piece of slate!

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Memory Lane – Tim’s White Pine…..First Styling

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 – Tim’s White Pine…..First Styling
The first styling of this tree took place around 2006……and make no mistake this is a big, big tree! You will see in the pictures how Tim is almost dwarfed by it! The tree had arrived from Japan at the beginning of the year and had been acquired almost immediately by Tim.
The first decisions in the styling were unfortunately not the easy ones. A selection of branches had to be made and this meant that some fairly hefty branches would have to be removed. Generally the bigger the branch, the more tears I get from the student, and the longer it takes me to convince hime that it is the right thing to do, that this is the way forward. In the students eyes removing a large branch is like taking ten steps backwards. It seems a vast open space is something to be feared!
With this phase out of the way and several large branches in the bin it was a case of onwards and upwards……right to the top of the tree in fact. With the thinning out completed the tree could now be totally wired.
Once wired the tree could be styled. This involved bending downwards some seriously heavy branches with the aid of guy wires and turnbuckles. This made quite a transformation in the tree as a classic bonsai profile began to emerge.
This was quite a long one to one styling session but the finished product made it all worthwhile.
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