Its been a slow start to the season and most things in the garden are about 4 weeks behind where they were last year but the weather has warmed up and the sun is out and my trees are beginning to grow again, at last.
This little hawthorn was re-potted recently into a beautiful Ian Baillie shohin pot.
This is how the same tree looked back in 2012
This is another little hawthorn, whose buds are beginning to open. Its in a nice green pot by Eimei at the Yozan Kiln.
and this is how it looked in 2012
Here are a few more trees that are beginning to glow with their new growth
3 of my medium sized larches
My shohin Japanese Yew
This little cotoneaster fell of the shelf and its original pot was broken. Here it is now in another pot by Eimei.
2 shohin Shimpaku Junipers
This is an update on an Acer Palmatum that I started from seed planted in 2001. I grew it on in a container until 2011, when I transplanted it to a shallow pot to start its development as a bonsai. The first picture shows how it looked in the Spring of 2012.
Since then I have been working on the development of the upper trunk by selecting a leader each Spring and allowing it to grow unchecked throughout the season; cutting it back in the Winter months. The next picture taken in 2014, illustrates that process.
After 6 years of doing this, I am at the stage where I want to concentrate on the ramification of the branches for a few years. This is how the tree looks at the moment.
I am 17 years into this project now and there’s still a long way to go. It is rewarding to see a bonsai evolve from seed that you have sown by yourself. For me, this is where the true satisfaction in the hobby lies
I have been concentrating on my deciduous bonsai over the past few days. Here are some of my shohin bonsai that were re-potted.
Chinese Elm in a pot by Walsall Ceramics
Here is an earlier picture of the same tree in 2012, when I acquired it.
Trident Maple in a new pot by Koyo
Cork Barked Elm in a pot by Erin
And for comparison, the same tree in 2012
And finally for today, my other little trident in a new pot by Walsall
I started this air layer in 2015 to try and improve the nebari on this acer shiraswanum that had been growing in my garden for a number of years. The first picture shows the old root base and the position of the layer further up the trunk.
I severed the layer in April 2016 and placed the tree in a large plastic pot for 2 years to let the new roots develop. I removed the tree from the pot this morning to find that it had filled the container with fine roots in just 2 seasons.
It took quite a lot of effort to comb out and shorten the new roots and to cut back the remains of the stump beneath the roots. This is how it looked after this work was completed.
Here it is now in its now in its new pot.It’s now ready to begin the long journey that will transform it into a bonsai.
The rain stopped today so I was able to go outside and continue my re-potting. The first up was the first tree I ever purchased back in 1999 if memory serves me right. I keep this tree in a small pot so it has to be re-potted every year. This is how it looks at the moment. I’ve probably photographed this tree more than any other in my collection but I never tire of looking at it.
The following trees are ones that have been newly styled or re-worked recently. The next tree was chopped back to 2 branches a couple of years ago. I’ve never been entirely happy with it, the lower branch grew too thick and looked out of balance with the upper branch. I think chopping larch back to single branch gives a far more pleasing result, so I decided to cut it back severely and start again. This is how it looked at the start of the year.
and this is how it looks at the moment.
The next one had similar problems to the previous one so I decided to jin the upper part of the tree and work only with the lowest branch. This is how it looks now after re-potting into a new round pot.
The last one today was styled for the first time just over a week ago. It needed a change of angle. This is how it looks now in a new pot by Eimei.
Looks good on a root stand too
For a number of years I have been growing trident maples with a view to creating my own shohin trees. Most of my stock started life as pencil thin saplings and have been growing in boxes to thicken them up and create nice spreading root bases. A few are now at the stage where the next step in the process, chopping back the trunk, can begin.
Today I completed the work on the first of these. It’s the one you can see in the foreground of the next picture, taken last Spring.
The following pictures show a closer view of the base of the tree before the chop was carried out.
I decided to err on the side of caution and chop the tree in 2 stages. The first chop was made last Spring and this is how it looked at that time.
I am glad that I decided to complete this task in 2 stages because the tree pushed out a lot of new shoots below the first cut, which allowed me to position my second cut more accurately in relation to the new branch which will form the apex of the tree. This was how it looked at the end of last season. That tall branch in the centre wasn’t there at the start of the season.
The second chop which was carried out this week was positioned just above that tall branch in the centre. The next picture shows how it looks at the moment. You can see that the nodes on the thick branch are too far apart for a shohin tree but fortuitously there is a short thin branch right next to it with short internodes and 5 nodes. This is the branch that will form the top of the tree and the thicker one will be removed in due course.
About a week ago I was thinking that Winter might be over, but its still very cold, wet and windy here. As I write this post, the snow is falling outside…again, there seems to be no end to it this year. Many of my deciduous trees, which were beginning to bud 2 or 3 weeks ago seem to have stalled, preferring to wait until the weather gets warmer. So this weekend I turned my attention to a couple of evergreens that needed some attention in preparation for the new season (whenever that may come).
The first one is a Blaauws Juniper that I acquired 2 years ago from the wife of a man who had passed away some years earlier. The first picture shows how it looked when I acquired it. It was in poor condition and much of the inner foliage and many branches had died.
I re-potted it immediately and started to give it a lot of high nitrogen fertiliser to restore the foliage colour and encourage back budding. My plan was to get new growth closer to the trunk and shorten all those branches which had become weak and over extended during the period that the tree was not being cared for. I have been following that plan for 2 seasons now and the result can be seen in the next picture.
As you can see, the foliage colour has been restored and the tree is growing much stronger. Last year I was able to remove all of the weak leggy growth in the apex. The next picture shows how it looks at the moment after shortening some of the lower branches. It still needs a few more seasons to fill out but its getting there.
The next tree today is a chuhin white pine that I have been styling for my friend Gerry. The next picture is a reminder of how it looked last year before any work.
Our first task last year was to bend the apex into an alignment above the lower trunk. This was quite a severe bend but it had set in position by the end of the season This is how it looked after last seasons work.
Its had a full seasons growth since that last picture was taken and needed some fine wiring to fill a few gaps and open up the foliage. This is how it looks at the moment.
Another seasons growth and I will be really happy with this tree but I really need to find a good pot for it this year