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Classroom Corner – Not the easiest material……?

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 – Not the easiest material…..?
As usual the classes in December saw many trees come and go. There is never any chance of getting bored when you get such a wide variety of material both in terms of species and the time in training.
I always like a challenge and two of the trees in particular were certainly not straight forward.
Alan’s Juniper raw material was an almost perfect conical shape and would have been at home almost immediately in any rockery or conifer border.
The problem was that if you selected and pulled down any number of branches they would have been too long/bushy and totally out of proportion with the relatively thin trunk. Much of the foliage inside and near the trunk had died back due to inadequate light.
I am afraid the solution had to be drastic …….probably 98% of the foliage was removed. One branch was left to form a new apex and two small branches were left lower down. Jins were created and a shari was made down the front of the trunk.
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The remaining branches are in scale with the trunk which now looks more impressive. The shari and jins give the tree age and character. At first this material seemed almost impossible but the tree could now go on to make a really good bonsai.
Kevin’s Spruce was also a tester. Three relatively straight trunks with all the foliage at the top and too much of it. There was some nice deadwood around the base.
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The foliage mass had to be greatly reduced and the trunks either removed or shortened. The remaining foliage was wired and styled bringing the greenery nearer  the base/deadwood and arranged to surround the trunks.
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As the new foliage pads develop the tree should form a pleasing full canopy in harmony with the remaining trunks.
Once again difficult material has been transformed and given a bright new future. Whenever you are confronted with difficult material you have to rise to the challenge. Remember the basics…..and somewhere in that foliage mass there is a tree. The more impossible the material seems the greater your sense of achievement when you get something out of it…. and often the resulting tree turns out to be a real star……..just like you!