My first bonsai award!! .... Olive wins best in show - exhibitor's choice!
Last weekend, another fantastic day was had at the annual Heathrow Bonsai show. This exhibition has become extremely popular and trees were on display from 36 different bonsai clubs from across the U.K. This is a show I have supported for a few years now and organisers Mark, Ming and their helpers are to be thoroughly commended on the superb job they perform each year.
I attended the show trading for the EBPC, and displaying with Maidstone Bonsai Society, so was rushed off my feet all day. It wasn't until packing away the remainder of the pots that someone told me that my Olea Sylvestris had taken joint 1st place for the exhibitor's choice 'Best in Show'. Sharing this first place was Dean Morgan's (also a Maidstone Bonsai Society member) Kokonoe pine.
To see a prior blog about the carving and initial styling of this Olive, please click here.
To read the EBPC blog on the day, please click here
Whilst pruning this quite vigorous Japanese flowering Apricot today, I came across this one solitary scale insect. I was quite concerned as these are one of the few tree species that will not tolerate systemics (others include some elms e.g. Hokkaido and Chojubai (Dwarf flowering Quince)).
Scale insects present as hard shells of approx. 2 to 4mm in length, with a cotton wool-like fluff underneath. They suck the juices from a tree and unchecked can do a lot of damage to a small tree in numbers.
I searched the rest of the tree and found only two more. They can be tricky to spot and do a great job blending into this bark.
When spotted, they are easily removed with tweezers, scissors, or the tip of some wire. Once the shell is removed, the vinegar on the cotton buds works great at removing the powdery / fluffy remains.
Pruned, cleaned, a little wire and back on the bench.
This tree is very much still a work in progress.
2 years ago I reduced it in height by almost a half, and am working on building branch density and ramification. P. mume are often seen with long straggly branches due their unwillingness to back bud. It is essential therefore to keep shoots in check and pruned before they get too long.
The tree is planted in a hand-signed Gyouzan & I have very high hopes for it!
Firethorne / Pyracantha Coccinea in custom made 'Erin' pot
I have decided to let go of my much beloved Firethorn bonsai.
Height 14"/36cm. 5"/12cm trunk base.
This tree has been with me for four years now. The carving and initial styling was done with Harry Harrington, and the tree has been refined by myself and Lee V.
Height 14"/36cm. 5"/12cm trunk base.
Price: - SOLD - to UK and Europe (EU) customers only please. We cannot export live plants outside the EU. Trees can be secured by 30% deposit. Please e-mail Alex@Maibonsai.co.uk.
Above is tree as I received it in 2014. I thought it an attractive tree, with potential but it needed some work. Over time the trunk was cranked in and down to compact the overall height and add to the movement of the tree.
I pruned and wired the entire tree, and Harry Harrington did an amasing job of laying out the branches and creating this image below.
Although I love this image, and it was a vast improvement, the taller apex bothered me, as it was too far from the tree's centre of gravity and made the tree look unbalanced. It was decided in 2017 to remove this apex / trunk, and work with the smaller of the two, which will also make more of the trunk and superb (ne agari) exposed roots.
The larger trunk was skinned by Lee V and the dead wood burned and repositioned closer to the apex. It is still in the process of 'setting', so the deadwood will spring back a little when the bracing wire is removed. Once settled, the deadwood will be treated with lime sulphur.
The tree was bare-rooted in February '18, with all of the old soil removed (I usually do within a year of getting a new tree). This will vastly improve the drainage, watering capabilities, and aeration of the soil, and the tree will thank me for it! This new round pot with eight exquisite incised 'corners' is by Yukizyou Nakano, 'Gyouzan'.
I am very happy with this new image and once the foliage pads fill out and the jin are lime sulphured, I believe this will be a wonderful tree!
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.
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