Any questions about booking a course or shopping online? Contact us:   07399 383106

Studio Stories – The “Stag” becomes a “Dancer” (Part One)

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 – The “Stag” becomes a “Dancer” (Part One)

I have never been one of those artists who has to give each new creation a dramatic awe inspiring name. I suppose it doesn’t help when one of your students has a splendid little Trident Maple he affectionately christened “The slug”……..just imagine a bonsai exhibition featuring Kimura’s “Dragon” and Chris’s “Slug”!!!…..need I say more.

Specimen trees arriving at the nursery are often here for quite a while. It’s an obvious pleasure to work them, refine them and improve them. There is a need to keep records and pictures so when you have several trees of the same variety a distinguishing name is a great help and a point of reference.

The old Juniper that is the star of this blog set out from Japan at the beginning of 2005 and arrived at Newstead towards the end of the summer. The first picture of the tree was taken in January 2006.

Jan 2006 002 Jan 2006 006 Jan 2006 007






Removing some dead bark enabled the correct line of the living vein to be clearly identified.

Feb 2006 001 Feb 2006 003 Feb 2006 004






Feb 2006 005 Feb 2006 008 Feb 2006 024


Thinning out the foliage was quite a task but this had to be done before the tree could be wired. Some of the long leggy branches would have to be removed to open up the lower section of the trunk.

Feb 2006 025 Feb 2006 027 Feb 2006A

The tree was wired and styled, the deadwood was treated with lime sulphur. It was then repotted into a round drum pot made by Walsall Studio Ceramics.

The styling completed it was now fairly obvious why this beast of a tree was catalogued as “The Stag”.

IMG_1401p IMG_4432p2

With routine feeding and maintenance work the tree performed well for the next few years and after general exhibition preparation work made appearances in both Newstead 2 (September 2006) and Newstead 3 (September 2008).

December 2008 004 December 2008 009 December 2008 012

December 2008 and the foliage is starting to droop again. Attempts are made to try and rescue/restore the show image but you can clearly see that the length of most of the branches is becoming a much more serious problem.

Jan 2006 002 May 2010 001 May 2010 003

May 2010 the tree is repotted. It looks very healthy and is a good colour but shape wise it is beginning to resemble the tree in the first picture from 2006.

September 2010 and the tree is growing well but all the branches are so long and the foliage mass is becoming too large. There is limited back budding due to the density of the foliage.

Sept 10 055 Sept 10 056 Sept 10 057

Drastic action is required but this is a very good tree……Part Two of this blog will bring you up to date with the tree and the work completed this week……and it’s coming soon!