Topical Times – A simple Jin….but what a difference!

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

Topical Times – A simple Jin….but what a difference!

My first Wednesday class of the year took place this week. Keith had bought this dwarf Scots pine in our Christmas one day sale and it was now here ready for it’s first styling.

We discussed the various trunk lines and options before deciding which branches to remove. Large stubs were left on the major trunks for the creation of deadwood i.e. Jins.

Keith had not been feeling too well recently and as a Manchester Utd supporter determined to get his money’s worth asked if I would create the jins. Keith is extremely capable at doing this work himself but under the circumstances I was happy to oblige.

The jins were created simply by using a Jin plier and concave cutter. Cutting into the wood, removing bark, and peeling back produces some excellent textures and natural looking convincing results.

The tree is now ready for it’s first wiring which hopefully Keith will get round to  as soon as he is feeling better. Once the tree has been wired and styled we can have a look at the jins again to see if they need removing, shortening or bending harmonise with the tree’s new shape.

Get well soon Keith I want to see it finished!!!

Studio Stories – Andrew’s Yew gets off to a good start!

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 – Andrew’s Yew gets off to a good start!

This was one of a number of trees we had acquired from an old Yew hedge. Baring in mind that Yews are generally slow growing there must be quite some age to this hedge.

Most people tend to walk straight past this material… can be uninspiring with it’s heavy trunk and sparse branches. When we potted these trees up just over two years ago there was no foliage on them whatsoever so all the greenery is recent confirming root growth and recovery.

Andrew was undeterred and when I showed him a picture (see below) of what I had in mind for this tree he was actually quite excited! We discussed the tree at length and I made an initial branch selection removing all unwanted foliage.

I marked on the trunk where I thought the shari would run and the bark was stripped off. Andrew did most of the carving work at home and for a relative newcomer to the hobby he has done a fantastic job.

We are already carrying out refinement work on the deadwood and I hope that this year we can start work on the foliage areas. The good thing is we don’t need massive branches because the foliage clouds will be relatively small and tight to the trunk in sympathy with the image we have created.

One thing is for certain…..nobody will just walk straight past this tree again!!!

Memory Lane – “Big John”…..Welcome to Yorkshire!!

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 – “Big John”….. Welcome to Yorkshire!!

This huge Trident Maple….affectionately known as Big John……arrived into Europe from Korea just after Christmas in 2000. It was love at first sight and my ticket went straight on to what was probably the only branch he had!

He eventually arrived at my nursery in February. The first batch of pictures below were taken on the 19th March 2000. He was moved from his round plastic pot into a bread tray!…….the only thing I had big enough to accommodate him!

Notice just how fibrous his root system is, not a single heavy root had to be cut off. The middle of the trunk is actually hollow. The only thing I had to do now was grow him some branches.

The second batch of pictures were taken on the 3rd November 2016 before and after his autumn pruning. After 17 years we are getting there……thanks for the memory!!


Classroom Corner – Two Larch Groups

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 Larch Groups

Just before Christmas Larch material was turning up regularly on classes. Some of this material involved group plantings.

The first student had been growing this young material on in preparation for creating a forest planting. We had a good choice in terms of different heights and trunk thicknesses. All the trees had ample side branches.

A selection was made, the trees were arranged, planted on a slab and then pruned to shape.

The second group was a little more complicated and required a bit more thought. A trio of old Larch had struggled and were not really working well together.

The student had some younger material to add depth and enlarge the composition. The original material was dismantled and a totally new arrangement made.

The new group was then replanted and pruned. Two very simple groups that should look well when they leaf out and offer excellent potential for further development in the future.

Topical Times – First Classes 2017

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

Topical Times – First Classes 2017

This weekend saw the first classes take place from our 2017 schedule. Saturday was an open workshop and three of the participating trees are shown below.

Sunday was a deadwood and carving session so as expected this proved to be a somewhat boisterous affair with a lot of noise and mess in both the classroom and workshop areas. Students used a combination of both hand and power tools. I tried to encourage them to do most of the practical work themselves whilst I provided them with instructions, guidance and the occasional demonstration. It worked well with some excellent results at the end of the session.

Back to Saturday and as usual there was a really varied mix of material both in terms of species and the level of training. I selected three examples below.

Ben’s Juniper Ittogawa originated in Japan and had some excellent Shari and live veins twisting around the trunk. Together we discussed the branch selection and after some pruning Ben was left to wire and position those that remained. I helped with the final tweaking but he did a good job on his first workshop with us.

John’s pine was a piece of raw material ready for it’s first styling. Once again branches were selected and the tree was wired. The initial styling was carried out leaving a larger profile at this stage to help promote vigour and back budding.

Dereks’s Taxus had been the live part of a wrap around tanuki bonsai but the deadwood had rotted away. This remaining live section had made a good tree in it’s own right but now the canopy was too wide. A lot of thought went into the selection of which branches needed to be removed as this was quite a substantial amount. The branches were then wired and repositioned to create a taller tree much more in keeping with the shape and character of the trunk.

A great start to the new year to warm me up with tools now sharpened and raring to go………bring it on!!!





Studio Stories – Mugo pine 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 – Mugo pine makeover

This pine arrived in the studio showing signs of good recent growth with strong buds ready for next year.

It was now a little bit overgrown and had lost it’s shape. It was simply a case of a little selective pruning, some rewiring and some repositioning. The tree’s shape is redefined and he is now ready for the next growing season.

Latest news – Saturday half-day private tuition slot available!

Saturday 11th February 2017

I have a three hour half day slot available on the above date for private tuition at the nursery. The workshop session will run from 1.00pm to 4.00 pm.

The total cost of the session is £90 but this could be reduced if two or three of you wanted to share the time……£45 each for two, or £30 each for three.

Our published class schedule is now virtually sold out for January, February, and March. Because of this April will probably start to fill up soon.

If you wish to attend a bonsai class with us this spring you really do need to act quickly.