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Classroom Corner – Dean’s Trees

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 – Dean’s Trees
Dean likes to create his own trees, to make something out of nothing…..he likes a challenge but I also suspect he likes to give me a challenge too…..and why not!!!…after all that’s what I am here for.
In January 2011 Dean had acquired some left over Christmas trees (with roots) and they duly arrived on a group planting class in the same month. This was impossible material?
I removed a lot of branches from each tree to make them appear more natural and less bushy. They were then arranged and potted into a large polystyrene box. It was all we had that was deep/big enough at the time.
They were then fed well and left to grow and re-establish themselves in their new home. I thought I had probably seen the last of them!…….wrong……….
In January 2013 here they were back in the classroom, larger than life, and looking very pleased with themselves. They had grown well and looked in really good condition.
Dean wanted help to repot them into a bonsai pot to make them more manageable and to take them to the next stage in the creation of a spruce forest planting.
We selected a suitable pot having due regard to the size of the rootball and the stage of development. I then gave them another pruning ready for the new growing season.
The group does still have some way to go but considering what we started with I am really impressed with the progress Dean has made with this project. The shape of the future forest is clearly beginning to emerge.
On a recent workshop Dean brought in two cascade trees he had been wiring. One was a Juniper and the other was a Cotoneaster. They had been taped to a large plant pot to make transportation easier.
After some positioning and pruning both trees were shaping up well.
Dean also acquired a large ball shaped Picea from us which could have been used in the Japanese Garden but he decided to make it into a bonsai.At first it appeared as though it was going to be a multi-trunk style but as Dean kept foraging below the soil level he found an amazing wide base and some 4 inches of extra trunk. The tree was repotted and after some pruning, wiring and positioning it’s clear that this bonsai has real potential, especially for this variety in this size.
I know some bonsai teachers frown if students don’t turn up with “magnificent” looking material. I never forget my roots and the material I started out with. I can relate to anyone in this hobby because whatever stage they are at I have been there! Because of this I am well equipped to get them to the next stage and the one after that.
There is so much pleasure to be gained from the challenge of innocuous looking material and the reward of creating something out of nothing, finding a hidden star. Dean is well down the road to having a very nice bonsai collection, he is learning from his material all the time………and boy is he enjoying the journey!!!………