We had our biggest snowfall of the year so far, today; but I still managed to do some work with my trees. We don’t get a lot of snow in the lowlands of Scotland and when it does, the temperature usually rises and the light quality gets much better. For that reason I welcome it.
I brought the little group of shohin hawthorns that featured in my previous post indoors to take some record pictures. All of these trees were much taller when they were first lifted from my garden and were chopped back to shohin size in 2012. They’ve still got a long way to go but some are starting to show some promise for the future.
This morning, during a brief break in our relentless winter weather I ventured outside to check my trees and came across this group of hawthorns. Its early days in their development as shohin bonsai but a few have developed sufficiently to capture my attention. I will be giving them a little winter maintenance in the coming week and take some studio record pictures as the work is finished, which will be posted here later in the week. All of these trees are being developed from hedging material collected from my garden about 10 years ago. Most have had another life as larger bonsai.
While we continue to endure the big freeze of the Scottish winter, I thought I would share a few of my favourite accent plantings from last year
This is the last of the three larches that were de-wired last week to have new wire re-applied.
First a reminder of how it looked when the old wire was removed. Most of the primary branches are now more or less where I would like them to be, but the one on the bottom left still needs a little persuasion and the secondary branches which have extended also need a little refinement.
This is how it is looking at the moment after todays work.
I like this tree, it has a great nebari, nice trunk taper and movement and thin delicate branches.
This is a recent record picture of my shohin kiyohime maple. This little tree is developing nicely. The plan for next spring is to replant it into a brightly coloured shallow oval pot.
As we continue to endure the poor light and atrocious weather conditions of a bleak mid winter here in Scotland, I thought I would take the time to share my first seasons experience of looking after a Juniper Rigida shohin that I acquired at the beginning of last year.
At the time of purchase, I had no experience at all of working with this species, so the initial plan was to feed it, let it grow and see what happened.
This is a reminder of how it looked when I brought it home
After a few weeks of feeding, lots of new shoots emerged but these were lime green in colour and not the dark green I expected. Having no experience with this species, I assumed that as the foliage hardened off in the late summer that it would take on the deep green colour of the mature foliage but that did not happen to any great degree.
Compare the picture above to the next 2 pictures, which shows another smaller rigida purchased at the same time, from the same stock by my friend Gerry. By late summer, this had put on a lot of rich green new growth and was ready for a first styling.
At the moment, my best guess is that my tree may be suffering from a mineral deficiency or a problem in the soil.As the summer was ending I was concerned about the poor drainage. Meanwhile, if anyone out there has experience of this, I would be most grateful to hear from you.
My plan at the moment is to get it out of the pot it is in at the earliest opportunity in order to get a good look at the soil and the condition of the roots. I will also try a magnesium supplement
Here are 2 possibilities for the re-pot.
Watanabe Ikkou rectangle
This is the second one of three that I de-wired last week
A reminder of how it looked last week without the wire
Today after branch selection and rewiring, All I need now is for one of the live buds on the left of the upper trunk to develop to fill the gap in the middle.
This is how it looked at this time last year
And this is a reminder of how it looked in 2011
Japanese Larch 2011
The first of 3 chuhin larches that I de-wired last week has been be rewired today. This one was collected in 2012.
This is a reminder of how it looked last week before branch selection and rewiring
and this is how it looks at the moment
A little more ramification and this will be ready to go into a nice pot
I drove north west today to attend the Ayr Bonsai Club Winter Image Show in the picturesque village of Alloway (birthplace of our national poet Robert Burns) on the Ayrshire coast. This is the second year this small show has been staged in the wood panelled hall where the club meet. In one year the standard of the trees displayed has gone up considerably and it is attracting contributors from many parts of Scotland and the north of England. The hospitality of the Ayr Club was excellent and a good day was had by all
I was honoured to be asked to assist Robert Porch with the show critique, which meant that I was given the opportunity to get a really good look at the trees but it did not leave me much time for photography. The doors opened to exhibitors at 1.00 pm for set up and the displays were being disassembled by 4.00 pm. I think there is a case worth considering for making this a whole day event in the coming years.
Here are some of the pictures I managed to get in the closing minutes. Apologies for the picture quality
A view of the interior of the hall
This large juniper tanuki belonging to Dougie Smith of Wattston Bonsai will be at the Noelander’s Trophy next month
Another nice juniper with a good nebari and lovely movement in the trunk
Chuhin black pine with great nebari
Fiona’s exposed root pine
Jim’s Large Japanese Maple
The Ayr club meet in Alloway village hall on the second Sunday of the month. They have a very lively programme this year which includes visits from Tony Tickle and Rob Atkinson. I will certainly try to get along to some of these events.
My plan at the beginning of last year was to try and reduce the amount of wiring I do on my larches. A strongly fertilized larch in development grows very quickly. This means that wire applied in the winter has to be removed quite early in the summer if you want to avoid it cutting into the branches. In most cases this early wiring at the start of the season is ineffective at holding the branches in place and has to be re-applied as soon as it is removed. This second wiring in summer is very tedious and difficult to apply, especially on the finer branches because of the presence of the foliage I have also observed that wire applied to trees in the second half of the season and removed in the new year holds the branches in position much better. The reason I continue to wire larches at the start of the year is that it is much easier to do when there are no needles on the tree.
Last year I decided to reduce the amount of fertiliser each tree was given in an attempt to keep the wire on for the full growing season thus reducing the amount of wiring I needed to do and hopefully get the best result I could from the process. This is the result.
Tree 1 before the removal of the wire
Tree 1 after the removal of the wire. I am pleased with this result growth has been minimal but this tree has good ramification anyway. Some more work will be needed to lower the branch on the bottom left.
Tree 2 before wire removal. Last year was the first time wire had been applied to this tree. The top of this tree has grown vigorously in the past year and will need thinning.
Tree 2 after wire removal. Another satisfactory result
Tree 3. This one grew with such vigour that I had no choice but to remove all the wire in late summer. I immediately rewired all the main branches but left the finer ones unwired. you can see that by the end of the season most of the fine branches had become unruly again. This is before removal of the second wire
Tree 3 after second wire removal. At least the primary branches are now in place
In following this plan, I have reduced the amount of time spent wiring my trees. I, like many others, find long hours of wiring quite tedious, so a significant reduction in the effort required is very welcome.
In the next week I will be selecting the new growth I want to keep and rewiring all of these trees again, so the next few posts will be focused on that. I am also sure that the amount of wire I need this year will be a lot less than I used last year.