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Classroom Corner – Academy Class – What to do with large Juniper Loderii….

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 – Academy Class – What to do with large Juniper Loderii….
The students entered an empty studio but things were soon to get somewhat fuller! I promptly brought in 5 tall Juniper Loderii. These trees were the last of a batch. They had been wired and basically styled in the past but the wire had since been removed and the trees left largely to do what they wanted for the past 12 months.
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 Ask the students for some ideas…..what a mistake that was…….several suggestions were forthcoming……….bonfire…..skip……charity shop. Encouraging to see different lines of thought arising but you get the gist of where the conversation was heading. This could quite easily have been the shortest class on record…trees binned, studio swept, on our way home by 10.30……not exactly what I had in mind… I had to intervene……as you do…..
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…………now it just so happens that I had this huge mica group pot doing absolutely nothing but collecting dust.
I took one tree and eight students working in pairs took the other four. To start with we set about opening up the root balls, removing some soil and combing out the roots.
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We then tried to roughly arrange the trees within the mica pot to create a natural looking forest. All the trees were multi-trunked so this was not an easy task…….the studio bins had been excited since their first mention at five past ten and were now circling the central turntable like vultures on some African Plain.
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Once we knew roughly where the trees were going the root balls could be pruned further and reduced where necessary depending how close they were to neighbouring trees and the edge of the pot.
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  One weak trunk was made into deadwood and a couple of sagging trunks were wired. The trees could finally be brought to the pot with compost and work on the final arrangement commenced.
At the beginning of the class I think the general opinion was that I had lost what “marbles” I had left trying to get these large garden trees into the most unlikely of shallow pots. The trees actually came together like a dream with few problems. Branches were pruned away both for aesthetic reasons and also where they were bullying neighbouring trees.
The finished group has to be seen to be believed and to appreciate it’s sheer size….. butIMG_2061 the size has also given it an immediate sense of maturity. It stands like a forest of mighty Sequoia’s with the same inspiring awe……and this almost immediately after it’s creation. Five garden trees have become eleven, maybe 12 trunks…..who cares……
……..the bonfire never got lit, the skip is empty, the bins are in a corner sulking…….the students are a little wiser…..and me…..I’m just “the happy one”…….(sounds familiar???)