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Studio Stories – John’s Euonymous Bonsai

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 – John’s Euonymous Bonsai

I believe this tree was originally found growing in a garden somewhere in Yorkshire. It was lifted as a substantial shrub and potted into a training pot. When it’s original owner moved to the Isle of Man this tree accompanied the rest of his collection and went with him.

I first encountered this tree on an open workshop bonsai class. One of my students who attended classes regularly travelled from the Isle of Man and he had acquired this tree.

With it’s large glossy leaves I would normally have shied away from this variety as good bonsai material but the size of this trunk and base was so powerful that the two could work well together. So despite my students misgivings I encouraged him to persevere with the tree.

Picture 727I acquired the tree in 2005 and the picture to the right shows how the tree looked. My student was struggling to get to grips with the branch structure and large leaves. Furthermore, he liked a specimen bonsai we had for sale and asked me if I would take the Euonymous in part exchange.

Looking at this picture and thinking of the tree he took away I can understand why my wife and helpers thought I had lost the plot!

So it was a case of feeding it well, a lot of clip and grow, and the occasional bit of wire. When the tree was repotted in the March of 2010 you can see how well the canopy has developed.

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The tree recovered so well from the repotting that by May it was time for some more drastic pruning.

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Newstead 4 Sept 2010 090In the Newstead 4 Exhibition held in September later that year I did a feature on bonsai created from garden material and this tree was included.


The tree has grown strongly in the intervening years and I have continued largely with the clip and grow approach. I have removed fairly large branches on a regular basis trying to open up the front and create a more compact foliage crown. In creating more branches with shorter internodes and more buds the leaf size is reducing nicely and is comfortably in scale with the impressive trunk base.

April 2013 and the tree is ready for repotting into a new pot made specially by David Jones of Walsall Studio Ceramics. In fact David made two similar pots to give me a choice and I bought them both. You can see how fibrous the root system is.

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After much deliberation I decided to go with the pot having the large wide rim as I think it IMG_1044was a better compliment to the strong base of the tree. I put the other pot up for sale and unbelievably it sold the very next day.

I am really pleased with the progress this tree has made. It is unusual to come across this variety as bonsai. The Euonymous variety often seen from Japan have a smaller leaf and are much more compact.

It just shows what can be achieved from humble garden material…….. but when you have to work with larger leaved varieties it certainly helps if you have a large trunk to go with it !!