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Topical Times – It’s that time of year….

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

Topical Times – It’s that time of year….

Last week I had a one-to-one and a one-to-two, one held in my studio and the other in the client’s home. When both sessions involved pruning maples and repotting you know it’s that time of year….spring is in the air!!!…….at last. OK so maybe this bold statement is a bit premature but at least it is a step in the right direction.

On Wednesday at least two of the trees Neil brought along were maples. This cork-bark Arakawa Maple was in need of pruning and repotting.

The tree was potted back into the same pot in a mixture of 3 parts akadama to 1 part bims (a river gravel from Germany).

The tree had grown largely unchecked during last summer so now a selection had to be made and elongated/crossing branches were pruned back accordingly.

After the repotting we were able to carry out the pruning without fear of the branches “bleeding”.


The second Acer Palmatum had apparently been an experiment. The trunk had been drastically cut back and the resulting new branches allowed to grow……and boy had they grown!



Unfortunately they had grown from the same place creating a large swelled area at the point where the trunk had been originally cut back. It was a case of making a selection and removing most of the branches to prevent further swelling. The area can be made to look more natural and have better taper by creating some deadwood.

The tree can be repotted at a different angle to create movement and to lift the height of the new apex.

On the Thursday Diane wanted some help repotting a Pinus Sylvestris forest. She had created this group many years ago from very young basic material. When she brought it to a workshop about 3 years ago it was the first time I had seen it and I was really impressed with the progress she had made whilst working on her own.

It was on that workshop that the tree had first  been repotted into it’s existing pot. It had been pruned several times since and was now healthily budding back and becoming more dense.

The tree was removed from the pot and the roots were combed out. It was good to see an abundance of the beneficial white mychorriza fungus, the sign of a good root system. The root ball was trimmed well back. You can see that some very long thick roots were cut off showing how vigorous the tree has been.



The tree was replanted as far back in the left-hand corner as possible utilising the open space to enhance the feeling of an open landscape. It was also raised in the pot to give better angles to the trees leaning out to the left and again to enhance that natural quality.

Some longer branches were pruned back and the overall shape of the group improved.

Pruning, repotting and the eager anticipation of new growth bursting to show itself……you know this really is a good time of year………..