Getting Together between Hail Storms

If last weeks’ get together was on one of the hottest days of the year then yesterdays’ must be one of the coldest we’ve experienced, with hailstones the size of peas pounding our heads and our trees throughout the afternoon.

Having said that; between the showers there was some pleasant sunshine and we did manage to get some productive work done on Gerry’s trees. Most of the day was spent evaluating Gerry’s pre-bonsai stock Trees like the larch you see in the next picture, which were acquired a few years ago with the intention of growing them on to produce shohin trees.

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We decided that many of the branches coming off the short trunk on this tree were a little thick for shohin, so this and a few others were cut back quite hard in the hope that they will send out a lot of finer branches by the end of this year.

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I was taken by this little crab apple which is coming into flower at the moment. It has only been a month since it was re-potted.

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Same tree 1 month ago after re-pot

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Here are some pictures of the trees on Gerry’s benches. Most of these were put back in the poly-tunnel by late afternoon to protect them from the storms.

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Get Together in the Sun

I had my friend Gerry in the garden today for our regular bonsai get together. It was the hottest day of the year so far and with the trees growing like wildfire there was plenty of maintenance needed.

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This is Gerry’s shohin juniper rigida,  a very vigorous little tree, which was needing to be trimmed back into shape.

This is how it looked before todays’ work.

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And this is how it looked after the work. We will probably re-plant this into a small round pot in the next week or 2.

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This Chinese juniper also needed a trim

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Thinned out to allow light into the interior. We are only at the start of the growing season here and this tree will put on a lot more growth before its over. It will need to be thinned again and fully re-wired towards the end of the season.

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I even manage to wire a few of my own trees in the late afternoon.

This white pine was wired to open up the foliage a little.

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This potentilla stump, collected from a friends garden and started as a bonsai last year, was wired for the first time today. Still a long way to go with this one but terrific potential in there.

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All in all, a great day in great company with great weather too.

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Shohin Yew (Update)

I’ve had this twisted old shohin yew for 2 years and it hasn’t put on any new growth in that time until now.

In the first year I had it, it didn’t look healthy at all and I was concerned about the condition of the original soil and the effect that might be having on the roots. At re-potting time in April of last year I noticed that the original soil was badly decomposed and and there was only live roots in the lower half of the original clay pot. I removed as much of the old soil as possible and replanted the tree in a coarse mix of akadama and kiryu in a slightly oversized rectangular pot by Zenigo. Throughout last year it was slow to respond but this year, I’m pleased to say, it is pushing out new buds all over the place.

I will let it grow throughout the spring and summer and give it its first major styling later in the year. Here are some pictures showing both sides of the tree, I haven’t decided which side will be the front, at the moment, hopefuly, that will become apparent when the tree gets its’ first styling.l

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For comparison, this is how it looked 2 years ago.

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Working on Air Layers

I have spent some time this week working on trees that were either air layered in the recent years or required to be air layered to improve he trunk line or the nebari.

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I have had mixed success with this procedure in the past. Most of my failures were due to poor technique, a lack of experience or my own impatience. I have decided that this year I will attempt  a lot of air layers to improve my technique and increase my knowledge and experience on a wider range of species.

This little hawthorn, which didn’t have many roots when it was separated last year is looking very strong at the moment. Planting it deep in a clay training pot appears to have paid off with lots of new top growth. I will leave it in this pot for another year and take a look at the roots again next year. The post covering the separation can be viewed here .

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The first to get my attention this year is this Japanese larch. When I was styling this tree over the winter, it struck me that the top could make a nice semi-cascade if the straight lower trunk could be removed. Larch are reputed to be difficult to air layer but not impossible. This is good material to experiment with. If I do nothing to this tree, it will probably never make a good bonsai but success with the air layer could improve its’ potential immensely.

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In the next picture a ring of bark has been removed at the point where I would like the new roots to grow.

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In the next picture, the wound is covered by a thick layer of sphagnum moss, which is held in place with bubble wrap and aluminium wire.

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The next one to receive my attention was this little cotoneaster. It has similar problems to the larch. The lower trunk is very straight and has no taper. Air layering this tree could provide me with 2 better pieces of material to work on in the future.

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And finally, for today, I thought I would give you an update on an air layer started last year and separated from the old rootstock today. It’s an Acer Shirasawanum Aurem. This is how it looked in the late summer of last year. It went into autumn colour very early and it was suggested that this might be related to the fact that it had air layering work done on it earlier in the year.45

It had produced roots by last autumn but I decided to wait until this spring before separating it.

This is how the new roots are looking at the moment.

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It was sawn off just below the new rootball and tied into a deep pot without further disturbance of the roots. The rootball was covered in a loose mix of clay particles, ezo grit and akadama.

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I gave it a good watering and it will be kept in a shaded corner of the greenhouse until it’s in full leaf.

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