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Studio Stories – “The Dragon’s Tail”…..the story of a White Pine (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 Dragon’s Tail”…..the story of a White Pine (Part One)

I keep telling you I don’t give my trees names and then up pops another one. This tree had been “christened” before I acquired it and the name just seemed appropriate so it’s still there. One look at a picture of the tree and you will see why.

I think this tree arrived in Europe around the beginning of 2005. I am told it came from the garden of Daizo Iwasaki, a very famous and distinguished bonsai collector in Japan who sadly is no longer with us.

April 07 001 April 07 002 Pine250607

Late 2006/early 2007 was when I acquired the tree. I was taken by the tree’s impressive mature stature and the strong sense of individuality afforded by the low cascading branch.

I knew when I acquired the tree that the cascading branch was not as strong as it had been. Some side branches had already been made into jins. The compost was not draining correctly and so in April I decided to examine the rootball.

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The roots were given a light pruning and some fresh compost was added. This magnificent tree looked so undignified in our dunking tub which was hardly big enough.

Newstead 2008 218The third picture above shows the tree in the studio whilst the picture to the right shows the tree on display both taken at Newstead 3 in September 2008. That lower branch (the tail….) is beginning to look a bit sparse.

When you look at the size of the branches this tree has and when you look at the quality/maturity of his bark this tree must be seriously old…’s a big big part of the tree’s attraction. Sometimes old trees coming out of Japan are past their best, otherwise maybe they stay in Japan. Old trees are always prone to losing vigour, branches and shoots…they become fragile and temperamental as they get older….a little bit like us really!

This tree went through a period of yellow needles and losing twigs which then became lost branches. This can be quite scary…….especially when you have no way of knowing how far it will go and when it will stop. Is it too much water or not enough?

The foliage begins to look a lot lighter the needles are very short. Sometimes students getIMG_0452 IMG_0453 really excited about short needle length on their pines not realising exactly what has caused this and that really we should be getting alarmed.

It was the beginning of 2012 and we had just sold the garden centre and moved the whole bonsai nursery into my garden…..time to catch up….time for action! Should I repot into a different larger pot?………….to be continued.