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Studio Stories – The story of Yorkshire Privet…..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 story of Yorkshire Privet…..Part One

I suppose Ligustrum Ovalifolium sounds a bit posh for a hedging shrub that’s been well-used and abused throughout Yorkshire for over a hundred years. It is still seen around many a front garden… a young boy I can remember being ordered to get out the shears and give the hedge it’s monthly “short back and sides!”

In my other life before bonsai I was a Chartered Surveyor with my own surveying/estate agency business. It was whilst carrying out a valuation of a property that I came across a privet hedge with large trunks. Judging by the age of the house I suspect that this hedging material will soon be 100 years old. I was given the opportunity to remove the hedge and in November 1999 all branches were removed and the bare stumps were potted up.

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The first pictures in March 2002 show that the tree is alive. An initial branch selection is made and the branches are wired down. The tree is budding really well as you can see below.

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The tree is basically allowed to grow strongly, the wire is removed and it soon becomes a bush again. Time for another selection of branches.

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Spring 2004, we have now moved our bonsai nursery to Newstead and the tree is ready for repotting into it’s first ceramic bonsai pot. The last picture shows the tree towards the end of the growing season when it is again ready for pruning and rewiring.

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The first picture above is spring 2005 with the tree raring to go. The other two pictures were taken in the summer of that year.

In 6 years this tree has come a long way and I am thrilled with his progress…….from unsightly stump to a respectable bonsai. This was an enjoyable journey….allowing periods of growth followed by timely interventions…..but what was to follow?… be continued.