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!
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I will post some pictures and descriptions of how my trees are developing, and any new projects I'm starting.
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