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Topical Times – Old tree….new style… home!

A regular update on the life and times of John Hanby’s Newstead Bonsai Centre……..

Topical Times – Old tree….new style….new home!

About two years ago I received a telephone call from an elderly lady asking if I would buy some of her bonsai. I visited her home and found that she had quite a collection but they were getting a bit too much to look after. I agreed to take the ones she wanted to part with to lighten her workload.

One of the trees was a Juniper Chinensis which had a lot of long leggy branches. I was surprised to learn that despite it’s youthful looks this tree was in fact over 70 years old. The tree had apparently originated in Japan and been acquired by a friend who had gifted it to the lady when it was approximately 30 years old. The lady and her late husband had nurtured the tree for some 45 years.

This is one of the things that makes bonsai so fascinating. As I have said many times in earlier posts, trees have history, a story to tell, good times and bad times…..they can transcend time and generations.

She knew I would take good care of this tree and just maybe I could release his soul, find his true character. For almost 18 months I let him be, fed and watered with some general ongoing pruning to try and reduce branch length to obtain foliage nearer the trunk.

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Earlier this year I decided his time had come….and perhaps mine too! I removed two thirds of the long trunks, thinned out the remaining foliage, and then all the branches were wired. The only way to accentuate the movement in the lower trunk and compact the foliage triangle was to dramatically change the planting angle.

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Now it just so happened that I had an old fabricated slab kicking about the nursery, (almost demolished twice) but still looking for a new incumbent. The two were a perfect match especially after I elongated the foliage mass.

IMG_2949 IMG_3133The tree was transformed. So many years of continual growth had left him with long straight, uninteresting trunks that had no taper. Suddenly he has a new vitality with movement, character, and a sense of drama.

Recently one of my regular students was attracted to the tree on the slab. Together we introduced some rocks to enhance the landscape and the tree is sold! His story is already long…..longer than most of ours……and yet here he is starting a new chapter, in a new home where I know he will be happy and well looked after………maybe one day someone somewhere will be telling the story of his next 70 years?