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Studio Stories – Taxus Cuspidata from Korea (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 – Taxus Cuspidata from Korea (Part One)

This tree arrived in Europe from Korea at the beginning of 2002 and the first picture shows him scruffy and bedraggled after his long trip.

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Would you believe it was late summer by the time I had plucked up enough courage ( and saved up enough cash ) to buy him….. after all this was my most expensive purchase to date.

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This was a seriously old tree, and a seriously special tree……I felt privileged to be his new servant!! The single vein of life twists around his natural deadwood and bridges a wide opening around the centre of the tree. It never ceases to amaze me how the thinnest of live veins can not only support a really full canopy of foliage but also produce vigour and strong growth.

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Now it was time to start thinning out the foliage mass, apply wire to the branches and basically give the tree his first styling in the Uk. Some heavy branches had to be removed!!! …….. …….substitute heavy with old and expensive……these were decisions not to be taken lightly!

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Many bonsai enthusiasts complain about wiring but it is such an important part of our hobby in developing a superior tree and they often don’t appreciate just how much work is involved in a large specimen tree like this one.

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Many students find the apex the hardest part of the tree to style. There is often a lot of branches left as you approach the top of the tree and whilst they seem to have no relationship with the rest of the tree… me, you just have to find a place for them…sometimes you have to find the right line and the branches will then follow the pattern.

The tree had a very eventful first couple of years with me. As we finished his styling we moved the whole nursery from my home in Staincross, Barnsley to a large nursery at Newstead, Havercroft. We moved in April 2003 and within one month I managed to repot the Taxus into a larger traditional pot and changed the front slightly.

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The tree is prepared and in September 2003 is exhibited at the 4th Ginkgo Bonsai Award in Belgium. Amidst all our work at Newstead the tree continues to grow and the final picture shows him exhibited in our display garden at the first Newstead Bonsai Extravaganza in September 2004.

A trip half way round the world…..2 years later……..2 major exhibitions, a repot and a styling……welcome to Europe………welcome to Newstead………(to be continued!)