The Fruits of Autumn

All of my cotoneaster shohin bonsai are covered in berries at the moment and looking great. Here are some pictures taken this morning.

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Tall Juniper First Styling

This is a  Blaauws Juniper that I acquired locally from the family of an enthusiast who  had passed away. It was in poor health when I acquired it, having been neglected for several years previously. The following picture shows how it looked when I brought it home in February 2016. A lot of the foliage had died back and what remained had become quite extended, pale and thin. It was re-potted immediately and a feeding programme commenced to try and return the tree to full health. That was two and a half years ago.

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The next picture shows how the tree looked at the start of the day. The thin extended branches have been pruned off and the new growth is closer to the trunk line, much healthier and stronger.

The tree is now about 60 cm. tall. It has a long slender trunk line, slowly tapering towards the apex with slight movement to the right. The lower right hand side of the trunk is quite straight and there is a considerable distance between the base of the trunk and the first right hand branch.The nebari is uneven with 1 large, thick root extending to the left; the other radial roots are quite insignificant by comparison.

A relatively thin tree like this will never look its’ best with a full heavy canopy of foliage. Minimalism is what is required here, to make the most of the material.

 

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I have decided that this tree will be developed in the literati style; a style characterised by thin trunks and sparse foliage. Junipers are also enhanced by dramatic areas of deadwood. So the first task was to remove and jin all the branches that would not be critical to the perceived design. Many of the jinned branches were the connected by a shari running the length of the trunk. The following picture demonstrates the start of this stage.

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After thinning out the foliage, the remaining branches were wired and bent into position. The next picture shows how the tree looks at the moment. Its quite possible,when I next work on the tree that more branches will be removed to simplify the design even further, but I will leave that decision for another day.

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The next major job will be to re-pot and correct the planting angle next year. The next picture is a photo montage showing the tree rehoused in a nice Ian Baillie pot, which I am saving for this purpose.

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2 Years Development in a Blaauws Juniper

This is an update on a tree I acquired from good friend Philip Donnelly of Belfast Bonsai. He gave me the tree as a gift at Bonsai Europa 2015 but it was the Summer of 2016 before I could do any work on it.

The tree was full of thick branches, which were at awkward angles to the main trunk; excellent material for jins but no good for foliage pads. All of these were removed in 2016 when the tree was re-potted, leaving 1 single branch, which would provide all the future foliage.. The first picture was taken just after this work was completed.

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Jins and a shari were added in 2 stages over the following 12 months.

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Over the same period the tree was fed regularly with high nitrogen fertiliser to promote strong growth in the one branch that was retained to form the upper trunk after the chop back of 2016.

Like most trees, the crown tends to grow with more vigour than the other parts, so this area had to be thinned to allow the light to get down to the lower branches. You can see this in the next picture, which was taken this morning before foliage thining and wiring commenced.

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This is how it looks at moment after thinning and wiring the branches into position. It will be a few more years before the foliage pads have filled out and fully developed but for now, it’s easier to visualise where I intend to take this tree in the future

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Taxus Baccata from raw material to first styling.

This post shows the progression of a taxus that was purchased as raw material in the autumn of 2016 by my friend Gerry. The first picture was taken round about the time he acquired it. The most interesting part of this tree was in the lower trunk and the low hanging first branch with movement to the right. The upper trunk was quite thick and had no taper, so I suggested that we cut it back to a lower branch and thin out the foliage so that we could see what we were working with.

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This is how it looked at the start of 2017. We decided to leave it like that for the time being and began to feed the tree regularly to encourage back budding.

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The next picture shows how it looked earlier this week, 14 months after the previous picture was taken. As you can see, it has filled out well and is now ready for branch selection and the first full wiring.

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The first task to be tackled was the carving of the stump left after last years’ trunk chop.

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Gerry, getting on with wiring the lower branches

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I finished off the top of the tree and placed the wired branches

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This is how it looks at the moment. Next year we will work on the jins and shari and maybe plant the tree into a smaller pot

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This is definitely not a Shohin

Quite the opposite, this is an update of what is by far, the largest tree in my collection, a Japanese Beech. I first saw it 2 years ago when I attended a garage sale at the home of one of my neighbours. It had belonged to the homeowners husband, who had sadly passed away shortly after moving to our village. The tree had suffered without the care of its’ owner and although it has always been my policy that ” if I can’t lift it, I won’t get it,” I bought it anyway.Well, we do, don’t we?

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The next picture shows how the tree looked, when I acquired it. A number of major branches had died and others had become over-extended and weak

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Some of the bark had died back and become detached at the base of the trunk but I suspect this may have occurred, when the tree was originally removed from the ground.

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The pot is by Derek Aspinall and at 80cm wide, 60cm deep and 10cm high, it might be the largest bonsai pot ever made by a British potter. I certainly haven’t seen a wider one.

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At the beginning of this year after 2 seasons of regular feeding to return its’ vigour, I decided to begin the re-styling work. The first task was to remove the large nodule left behind after some thick apical branches had died back

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I removed this quickly with a Makita and a large carving bit and covered the wound in cut paste

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I also shortened or removed all those branches, which would not form part of the future design.

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This is how the tree is looking at the moment

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And for those of you who do not look at Facebook, here it is again taking centre stage in my newly completed display area for larger trees.

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It’s the Cotoneaster Flowering Season again.

One of my favourite species for bonsai, they bring joy to my heart in summer when they flower and again in autumn and winter when they are covered in red berries. Here are a few of my favourites at the moment

I’ve been developing this one for 6 years and I have never seen it look better that it looked this week

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This is a reminder of how it looked at the start of its’ journey in 2012

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The next 2 were made from 1 piece of raw material. This is how they look at the moment.

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This is the original material in 2011

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Here they are shortly after separation

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This is the other one slightly earlier in 2012

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Finally today, this is a new piece of raw material, that I acquired last year from a Spanish trader. I will air layer the top off and I should get 2 nice shohin cotoneasters out of this.

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