The early season work on my small trees usually involves cleaning the moss and grime from the trunk, refining jins and sharis and re-potting if necessary.
The first up today is a shohin hawthorn that was re-potted last year. I wanted to do a little refining on the V cut to give it a more natural appearance.
This is how it looks after a pressure wash and a little work with the Dremel.
The other side before the work
And after. I’m not sure which side of this tree is my preferred front. Both sides have potential I think.
This is a new tool I acquired recently for cleaning my trees. Its called a textile cleaning gun. It is a very powerful tool and does a great job on the trunk and deadwood. You have to exercise extreme care in its use as it has the capacity to strip the bark from tender species. Fortunately it has an excellent pressure control switch.
This tree needed a slight change of front so it was re-potted today
This one was just cleaned up and pruned in readiness for the coming growing season.
I dug this tree from my garden in 2008 and planted it in a 12 inch pot to recover. It stayed in that pot until 2012, when it was chopped back and placed in the bonsai pot you can see in the first picture.
By the early Spring of 2015 the trunk has been chopped back further and the roots are now housed in a smaller round pot. At this stage, I still wasn’t happy with the tree and had no vision for its future development.
Later that month, with an idea beginning to emerge I chopped the tree back once again. The following picture was taken later in the year when new buds had emerged and extended
2015 after pruning and wiring the new growth. At this stage I thought this side could be the front.
This is how it looks at the moment. I’ve done a little carving on the original V cut to make it look more natural. I’ve also shortened the thicker roots, planted it in a new pot and reversed the viewing angle. I like how this tree is developing now and look forward to seeing the ramification develop in the coming years
When Gerry visited me this week with some trees, we decided to re-pot this Chinese elm which had been attached to a rock by Gerry 3 seasons ago. After its first year in a pot, it was re-planted into the pond basket that you can see in the following picture. The purpose of this was to allow roots to develop in the area below the rock.
This is how it looked from the front before todays’ work
And from the back
After 2 seasons in the pond basket, it had grown enough new roots for it to be re-planted in a shallower bonsai pot. This is how it looks at the moment from the front. After it has settled in the new pot, the fine roots that are still visible above the soil will be removed with scissors.
This is how it looks from the back
This is the oldest picture I have of the tree from 3 years ago
Its been about 3 years since the trees that I worked on today were last re-potted. In that period, the roots have filled the pots and growth has slowed down as a result of that. The first 2 are larches in development that are beginning to look good and now deserve to be planted in better quality pots.
Larch 1 before
When deciding when to re-pot a larch, I tend to wait until the weather warms up and the buds begin to swell as can be seen in the following picture.
Often, in the past, when I’ve re-wired trees into their new pots, I have discovered that the desired centre line of the tree in the pot is not where I planed it to be. It is worth taking care at this stage to ensure that the tree is positioned exactly where you want it to be; because if it isn’t, it may be a few years before its corrected.
This is how the first tree looks at the moment in its new Walsall Ceramics pot.
The second larch before
And this is how it looks now in a new oval pot by Walsall Ceramics
Next up was my Shishigashira maple which has been in this nice Walsall pot for several years now.
This is how it looks at the moment in a new oval pot by Eimei at the Yozan kiln.
And finally, I finished today by re-potting my shohin cork bark elm. Its been in this little green Erin pot for a few years now and will remain there for the foreseeable future. It needed a clean to remove the winter algae and moss. This is how it looked before todays work.
When I met up with Gerry this week we decided to re-pot 2 recently acquired pieces of raw material into large wooden boxes, to speed up their development.
The first is a fairly large hawthorn with lovely movement in the trunk and nice aging bark but it lacks ramification. The pot that its currently housed in is ideal for a finished tree but a little small for a tree in development. The visible roots also need some work; that large root moving off to the right will have to be removed at some stage.
When the tree was removed from the pot, we could see that it had not been in there very long as the soil was not full of fine roots. The tree was potted up into the large wooden box you can see in the next picture without any further work for the present. It will remain here for the next few years, while the lower branches and roots continue to develop.
The second tree is a scots pine. When acquired, it came in a plastic washing up basin and the soil had a high proportion of soggy organic material in it. I do not like to see trees planted in wash basins because they are flat bottomed and when they are placed on the ground, this can inhibit drainage.
Our first priority was to remove it from the basin and get it into a better draining soil mix of akadama, kiryu and pumice.
This is how it looks at the moment. The plan for the immediate future is to fertilise this tree regularly to encourage back budding and reduce the length of the lower branches
I paid a visit to my local bonsai supplier ( Wattston Bonsai) yesterday, to get an early look at the newly arrived stock from Japan. The new stock this year consists mainly of small and medium sized specimens of partly developed material,reflecting the current popularity of shohin and chuhin sized trees. The species represented are all ones that do well in our challenging climate and include seigen, deshojo and trident maple: prunus, callicarpa, pyracantha and rhododendron indicum; as well as the usual junipers and pines.
Lots of new tools and pots
An impressive selection of new Japanese pots by makers including Eimei, Bunzan, Shuho, Yamaaki, Bigei and many others
Here are a few trees that grabbed my attention
Shohin Trident Maple with nice movement and ramification
Deshojo maple shohin
Shohin Trident with an impressive nebari
Shohin white pine with a good nebari
Exposed root Callicarpa Japonica
Chuhin Rhododendron Indicum with a great trunk and great taper