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!
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.
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!
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.
These 2 azaleas were in huge pots and 2 years ago were being thrown out as they were really struggling. lichen had smothered the branches & buds and suffocated them.
This was in year 2, coming back to health, after I maticulously removed all lichen with a toothbrush/tweezers and removed the worst parts.
With further pruning and shaping, this should make a beautiful tree ..
Silver Birch - this tree was in a large pot and had been neglected. I want to reduce it in height to under 21cm, as it will make a great shohin tree with its thick but low trunk. I have been hard pruning it to reduce height and induce back budding, and the tree has responded well.
The root ball was longer than me!
Potted up. She has some new buds & leaves where I've pruned her, so I'll slowly keep reducing & inducing, and hopefully she'll make for a beautiful tree!
Dwarf holly - again in a large patio pot; feeling a little neglected. Again I've been pruning her back and she's been back budding nicely!
Was fun getting that out!
I'll keep slowly pruning back branches to get them to back bud, and I'll put some pics up when further developed.
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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
Jose Antonio Guerao