A shohin sized Sabina Juniper.
I got this tree just over 2 years ago now, so it has been 3 or 4 years plus since collection. It has put on lots of growth, and is healthy.
In 2015, the only work done was with Harry Harrington to the deadwood and live veins. None of the foliage was touched at all.
Last summer (2016), one large branch was removed. It was later styled with Taiga Urushibata at the Spirit of Shohin exhibition workshop at Wisley, U.K.
Generally a Juniper should be re-potted before styling, in case a root is damaged which kills a branch essential to the design, or a large root is discovered which stops you getting the tree into the pot required for your design. In this case, the opportunity to work with Taiga couldn't be missed.
In a year or two, once the tree has put out more roots, this long root will start to be reduced. This action will encourage more rooting from the underside of three, and in time (perhaps 4 or 5 years), this large root will be eliminated all together.
Good after care is vital after re-potting. Not only should a vulnerable tree be protected from frost and strong sun, but also importantly from wind. Wind causes evapo-transpiration from the leaves, depleting the tree of water, which puts a strain on the recently disturbed, or cut roots.
This tree will now be left to grow till June/July. Then gentle pruning will resume to create denser foliage pads. The foliage will also be rotated more to the left, to reveal the live vein. The trunk will be re-cleaned, and the deadwood re-whitened to create contrast. The pot will also be cleaned and oiled by July!
Next year will be another full wiring and styling, and the tree should be show ready by 2019.
On the weekend, I helped out at this workshop, and was really impressed by the material and passion the guys in Dublin have. A big thank you to Leinster Club and Harry for inviting me along, and for your hospitality & a great weekend.
The club has only existed for 4 years, yet 10 guys with great material and loads of enthusiasm turned up & did some fantastic work, and with Harry took their trees forward to the next stage.
A huge Berberis with some beautiful natural deadwood
The best Hawthorne raft material I've ever seen. The owner wanted to move it from a training pot to this slab pot, and to solve the issue that some trunks hide others. After much discussion and different ideas from everyone, it was re-potted with the centre raised, and the front opened up. This will make for an incredible tree.
A huge Hornbeam that had an 'Owls's face' that just wouldn't stop staring at the owner, Owen.
Some more great trees ..
I also got to meet a talented bonsai and accent potter that I have been aware of for a while thanks to Ian at Bonsaieeijit.com.
This is the work of Maciej of Magic Cermamics. He also loves his trees, and is a really nice guy!
Thanks again to Leinster Bonsai Club!
The last show of the year for me is the Heathrow Bonsai Show, which took place today at the new, much larger location at Harlington Sports Centre. A huge thank you to Mark and Ming Moreland for all their hard work in once again putting on such a great event!
For more on the pot display Richard and I were asked to put on, please click here.
Some great traders ..
Did I mention there was a pot display too?
Congratulations were well earned by Duncan Hield on creating a fabulous tree and winning the UK New Talent contest. Duncan will be representing the UK at the EBA's next year. A great artist and a true gentleman. Best of luck!
For more on the pot display Richard and I were asked to put on, please click here.
When I acquired this tree from Harry, it had been 2 years since it had been dug up. These photos, taken by Harry Harrington, show the tree's development from May 2015 to August 2016. Height 20:/49cm, trunk base 11"/27cm. Currently potted in a vintage green Shuhu pot.
These photos were taken in 2014 in Spain I believe, and the tree was collected / dug up the year before.
In 2015, the tree was wired and de-wired twice.
To build a start building a ramified branch structure with dense foliage pads, I let shoots extend some to thicken and produce energy for the tree, then cut them back hard to 2 pairs of leaves, to promote the opposing side buds to develop into bifurcated (forked) shoots.
Another technique is to strip the inner leaves of a long shoot, thus encouraging buds down the shoot to extend into side shoots.
I lost one branch which I snapped during the second styling - but not a problem, more a 'happy accident', as some say! Bonsai design and building is a never ending process, and new growth is always needed to replace dead branches, or those that have lost proportion.
Some carving with HH, to introduce taper into the thick top 'stump', and to give an aged effect to this part of the tree. This is the first stage, the rough work - now the tree will season, dry out, and start to become naturally weathered by the elements. Next year more detailed carving will be done.
The tree has been wired (and de-wired) three times now, and although there is along way to go, I am happy with the progress, and have loved the journey so far!
In the U.K Privet is commonly found as garden hedges. It makes great bonsai material, and is sometimes referred to as 'poor man's Olive!' Privet can be; deciduous, semi-evergreen, or evergreen, depending on species.
Due to constant trimming often for decades, they can have interesting, thick trunks with great movement. Ligustrum ovalifolium (Privet) are vigorous growing plants with an alternate leaf pattern arrangement and oval shaped leaves; which reduce well with increased ramification and defoliation techniques.
I was after some nice raw material that had been dug up, and 'acclimatised', but not yet worked or styled at all; so as to learn and go through the entire process of developing a Privet stump into a bonsai. I decided on this particular stump as I loved the 5 trunks and the flow of movement they all displayed.
The images show the tree from the front as I first saw it in December 2014, and from the rear, with the very evident sawn off trunks, and an interesting large natural rotting uro in center of the tree.
In 2012, the tree was dug up from a garden hedge in Buckinghamshire by Harry, bare-rooted and root-washed to remove the sticky clay soil remnants. Harry kindly sent me these pictures.
The tree then spent two years developing roots and the desired foliage was allowed to grow unrestricted. New trunk leaders were selected and the tree was pruned in 2014.
After some further pruning and defoliation, the first stump to be worked on was the largest stump to the left. A bonsai nibbler bit was used to roughly remove the material to create taper, and this was then smoothed down with the conical shaped termite type bit shown. This work was all done in January 2015, by Harry and myself (ok, mostly Harry!).
The deadwood between the two main trunks was removed, adding to the taper, and the central heartwood, much of which was rotten, was largely removed. The large stump was also hollowed to continue the theme, and remove the obvious man cut stump.
The main trunk was the hollowed out from the inside, through a slender side entrance hole, with a variety of smaller bits. Gentle sanding and thinning of the inside surface creates these delicate natural looking 'windows' to inside the trunk, which is later finished with detailed tools, sanding and wire brush bits in a dremel, and then burned with a kitchen blowtorch to remove any sharp edges and attached sawdust.
A stump at the front of the tree was dealt with, by carving behind the front of the stump, which was left and smoothed to create a uro. The second trunk then received the same treatment as the main trunk to create taper.
As the 3rd trunk required chopping back to the upward growing secondary branch, it was partially stripped of bark and hollowed 2 inches to give taper and a delicate but aged look. The fourth trunk is partly dead and naturally weathered, so the 5th trunk was carved to imitate this.
Finally, the tree was wired and the branches placed into position to emphasise the movement of the tree. The tree will now be grown vigorously until summer, then the process of pruning back secondary branches for ramification begins! The trunk leaders will be left un-pruned, to allow thickening and balanced taper. Within 5 to 7 years, this should be a great bonsai!
This great tree is one of my favourites, with fantastic movement in the trunk and branches & it's aged roots clinging onto and over a rock.
The tree required pruning quite hard, to let light into the inner portions of the tree, and to create some more definition to what has become one large pad of foliage.
On arriving at Noelanders on Saturday morning, I was overjoyed to discover that the two pots I had my eye on, by Andy of Stone Monkey Ceramics, had not yet been snapped up! Andy had hidden them from the traders during Friday's set up; a smart move, as I'm sure there would have been little left come the start of the show!
In addition to these fantastic pieces, I couldn't resist bringing home these 3 superb Stone Monkey accent pots. I believe his lovely and very talented wife Marie helps/makes these.
Andy's stall had a constant buzz of admirers gathering up his wares. He recently won gold in the un-glazed category of the 40th Gafu-ten, and I was fortunate enough to meet him recently at Maidstone bonsai society meeting, where he gave a very insightful talk on pots & selection called '50% of the enigma'; a lovely bloke and a superb artist!
The above pot is by Makisada ceramics of Belgium. Jurgen & Veerle were kind enough to bring this along to Noelanders for me, which was much appreciated! I was looking forward to meeting them, as I recently acquired the next 2 pots from them, which ooze quality and attention to detail and are amongst my favourites; great guys!
Another ceramic artist I wanted to meet was Thor Holvila, Sweden. I had recently acquired a couple of his pots and I love his rugged masculine pots and glazes. The first of these is a 'Nidhogg Dragon pot', which depicts the world tree Yggdrassil as guarded by the dragon snake Nidhogg. The design is based on an old Scandinavian pot from the 12th Century.
And finally, although unfortunately not at Noelanders, a post on my favourite pots would not be complete without some of Vic's pots from Erin pottery. The first will house a large Arakawa maple, and the last a Pyracantha.
This tree i recently acquired had quite long primary branches, and if I tried to build ramification (branching structure) without first pruning them, the tree would become even wider and taller, which would be disproportional to the trunk width. The tree therefore was pruned back quite hard, so the ramification building process can start. In addition, unwanted branches which offer nothing to the final design were removed. The tree was then wired and styled. Although the movement of the tree was to the right, the main branch was to the left, so this was removed and the bottom left branch wired down to become the defining branch.
The trunk has interest and movement but now had a few new wounds from branch removal, and some old scars where the heartwood had started rotting (and a scar where the wind blew my poly-tunnel bench over).
The rotten deadwood was first removed with a 'bonsai nibbler' bit in a Makita die grinder, and branch some stubs and wounds were also hollowed out.
A large deadwood area above the now lowest branches was rotten to quite a depth. This area also happened to be an area of the trunk which displayed inverse taper. By hollowing it out, and opening some delicate 'windows' to the sides, the inverse taper becomes less evident to the eye, as it now has less 'visual weight'.
Smaller holes were made with a smaller router bit on a Dremmel grinder, such as those towards the top of the tree. The rough carvings were then singed to remove fluffy bits of wood, then a rotary wire brush bit in a Dremmel was used to add the finer detail. The inside of the uros (hollows) were then painted with black paint to add depth to the work.
The tree's great movement is more evident, with the main defining branch setting the flow of direction of the tree. From the front view, the subtle indications of rotten hollows further adds to the intrigue and maturity of the tree. The height of the tree will be reduced further either in mid-summer, or next autumn/winter.
I acquired this JWP this year, in order to learn about growing habits of different pines, and how best to develop them. Although a good sized trunk, and a healthy tree with ample foliage, this tree has no definition and was potted in Akadama. The tree had obviously not been re-potted for a few years as the Akadama had broken down into a thick, mushy impermeable block. Water merely runs around the outside of the solid medium/root mass block, not penetrating the root ball, which must also be starved of oxygen and nutrients! For trees such a pines and junipers, that can't be bare-rooted as often as others (especially older trees), due to their more dependent relationship to mycorrhizal fungi etc., a medium which retains its form and composition for longer than Akadama would therefore be advised.
The tree more or less had 'bar branches' to the lower branches, which I wasn't keen on. It was decided at a workshop with Harry to remove the weaker of the two down to a jin, and to use the other as the main defining branch. With this in mind, the rest of the trees primary and secondary branches were wired and positioned, and a new apex was chosen, and twisted round and down and over the tree base / center of gravity. Initial styling, some pruning and wiring was done at the workshop, but we didn't have time to wire each individual tuft.
When I got the tree home, I finished wiring the individual needle tufts, and turned them upwards.
The Apex still needs to be lowered further and all foliage pads will be pruned to increase density and ramification. The jin will be worked on more once it has dried out fully.
In spring, the tree will be root pruned and re-potted into a new pot, which will be unglazed, and be slightly shallower (2.5" as per the trunk girth), and slightly narrower (c.8" as per 2/3rds of the tree's height/width).
The old broken down soil around the rootball needs removing, but this will unlikely be done in one go as caution should be exercised when bare-rooting such pines. Some people bare-root in 2 halves; over 2 seasons, and others merely remove the old unwanted soil carefully over 2 or 3 potting seasons. I will decide how to go once I have examined the rootball in spring.
Azalea 'Hekisui' styling
This tree has some beautiful features, and some aspects that could be improved. The tree has a great trunk girth and taper, and little nebari (surface roof flair). The lower two branches however are surplus to requirement and hide the trunk, making the bonsai look more like a bush than a tree. Originally, these branches would not have been part of the design of the tree, but were grown as 'sacrificial' branches, in order to thicken the trunk. As they have now served their purpose, they can be removed.
This however will leave an ugly scar for a few years at least if cut flush to the trunk (or slightly concave to encourage callousing flatter to the trunk). To overcome this problem, the branches were cut off, leaving approximately an inch of stump, which was hollowed from behind, leaving the viewer with a cleaner image when viewed from the front.
The tree's trunk leans to the right, however the movement of the tree flows to the left. Although the main defining branch is not in this case the lowest branch (as is usually the case), it is thicker, longer, and is defines the direction of flow or movement of the tree.
Shortening the tree slightly has been discussed, but in any case, the apex is to be styled and grown toward the direction of movement of the tree - and over the apex. Bringing the apex over the base of the tree, or 'center of gravity' creates a balanced image to the tree.
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I will post some pictures and descriptions of how my trees are developing, and any new projects I'm starting.
Some of the blogs I follow with great interest! .. then my favourite ceramic artists!
My Favourite Ceramic Artists
Tom Benda - Czech
Peter Krebs - Germany