Studio Stories – Kiyohime Maple…..bonsai have good days and bad days!

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 – Kiyohime Maple…..bonsai have good days and bad days!

As a bonsai get’s older it often has quite a story to tell……changes of ownership, style, pot,…….times when it flourishes, times when it struggles….. so just like us it has good days and bad days.

These two Kiyohime Maple garden trees entered Europe from Korea around 2003 and arrived at our nursery the following year. You can see how large they are in that they were easier to move about the place on a pallet.

One of my students selected what we thought was the one with the best potential for conversion to a bonsai. The initial pruning/styling was carried out on a class and you can see the before and after pictures below.

I created a garden around the main entrance to the greenhouse in preparation for our Newstead Bonsai events and decided to use the remaining Kiyohime Maple. You can see things taking shape below.

The following spring disaster struck! The Kiyohime is one of the earliest maples to leaf out and following some mild weather the tree was leafing out and making a very nice image. Unfortunately we got caught out by a severe overnight frost which basically took away most of the top of the tree.

Unlike most maples the Kiyohime is not apical dominant but grows strongest to the side. This growth habit would undoubtedly hinder the trees recovery.

The tree continued to lose branches and looked very poor indeed. I transferred the tree to my garden border hoping to stimulate a quiet sheltered recovery. After a couple of years the tree stopped deteriorating and started to put out some new growth.

One side of the tree had gone and it was never going to make an attractive garden tree again. I decided the best possible future for the tree was now as a bonsai so in December 2011 I lifted the tree and potted it into a large bonsai pot. This was just before we sold off the garden centre in February and my heart attack in the March of 2012.

Fortunately we have recovered well together. The tree has been nurtured in my garden amongst my private collection and grows stronger every year. You can see how big and healthy the canopy has become.

Two weeks ago the tree was repotted into a large but much shallower bonsai container…..more appropriate for a Maple of this character. It is now actually starting to look the part even in it’s winter image. There is excellent scope for carving and deadwood on the left hand side of the tree.

This tree really does have a story to tell……but hopefully now it can recall the bad days of the past but look forward to many chapters full of good days in the future!





Latest News – Extra workshop…Saturday 18th February

Extra Open Workshop Saturday 18th February 

At the time of writing the earliest date I have available for a space on an open workshop is the 27th May.

Classes from now until the end of April are completely sold out apart from one space on the Beginners Course.

Due to the high demand, especially at this time of year I have decided to put in an extra open workshop on Saturday 18th February.

This means that there are just 8 spaces available so if you are interested you need to get in touch as soon as possible!

Memory Lane – Noelanders Winner was at Newstead.

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 – Noelanders Winner was at Newstead.

I understand from the social media grapevine that this Taxus Cuspidata was selected as best or joint best in show at the prestigious Noelanders Bonsai Event held in Belgium.

This really is a special tree and I remember him well. It is nice to think that this tree was exhibited at our very first Newstead Bonsai Extravaganza in 2004. This was during his early years in Europe fresh from Japan.

The years have been very kind to him and you can clearly see from the pictures just how well the tree has been developed and refined. This was a top level tree in 2004 but now he has reached a much higher level.

As I keep telling my students, it does not matter how good your tree is you have to appreciate that there is always another level!

So an amazing tree in an amazing exhibition…….just remember where you saw him first!!

Classroom Corner – Deciduous and Conifers….pruning for the next level.

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 – Deciduous and Conifers….pruning for the next level.

The pictures below were all taken during the same open workshop held in September 2016. These were just some of the trees that turned up on the class and as you can see it really was a varied mix.

All these trees needed some pruning to guide them to the next level. In some cases the pruning was more drastic whilst in others the pruning required was more subtle.

Sometimes the pruning was carried out for correction and in anticipation of new growth which could be controlled and better placed. In other cases the pruning was carried out prior to branches being wired for styling.

Lighter pruning could also be carried out as part of the refinement process of trees with an established good shape.

Pruning is where most students require help and guidance……it’s a confidence thing….there is always that worry of cutting off the wrong branch….once it’s gone…’s gone!!……it’s never a worry for me……they are not my trees!…….only joking!!!!?