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
Today was the warmest day this year: in fact it was the first day this year that the automatic vents in my greenhouse have opened, Spring is not far away.
I acquired this yamadori hawthorn from a friend in August last year. It has interesting movement and old bark in the lower trunk and I have been keen to get it out of the organic soil mix it has been growing in and into a mix with better drainage. This is how it looked when I acquired it.
This is how it looked this morning without the leaves. Most of the branches are too thick to be of use in the future design.
The next picture shows the new front after re-potting and the removal of many unnecessary branches. I am very happy with this purchase and look forward to see how it develops in the future.
Its certainly been one of the coldest winters I have experienced since I stated out in this hobby but thankfully its almost at an end. For the past few days we’ve had some warmth in the sun during the day although its still below freezing at night. This has meant that I have been able to spend a couple of full days working on my trees; this is the first time I’ve been able to do this for almost 4 months.
This is how the garden looked this morning in glorious sunshine.
I used the time to wire my larches and prepare them for the new season. The first one has grown very well in the 2 years that have passed since it was first styled. This is how it looks at the moment.
This is how it looked after the first styling in 2016.
The next 2 were given their first styling today. The first one has a contorted trunk. I wired the trunk last year and its now holding its shape without wire. This is how it looked before todays work.
and this is how it looks at the moment. It will be re-potted in a week or twos time.
I have never been entirely happy with this next tree and felt that I had to take dramatic action to improve this one. This is how it looked before todays work.
I decided to jin the top of the tree and continue its development using only the lowest branch.
Here’s a few more that have had my attention in the past few days
We’ve had sub zero temperatures in southern Scotland for a few weeks now, but today we had our first significant snowfall of the winter.
Work doesn’t stop completely at this time of year; there’s still plenty to do, but the cold certainly slows down progress. Gerry and I are still meeting regularly and we bring a few trees inside to work on but we spend most of the time chatting, drinking coffee and trying to keep warm.
Todays’ snow was accompanied by a slight rise in temperature, which enabled me to open the greenhouse door, which has been frozen shut for about a week; so I brought a few deciduous trees inside to photograph them in their winter image. I do this every winter so that I can compare the change in ramification with previous years.
Deshojo maple shohin
This is how it looked in 2013
This is how my Shishigasira maple is looking at the moment
And this is how it looked in 2013
Japananese Larch winter 2017
Same tree in 2012
Trident maple 2017
Trident maple 2014
Here’s another shohin trident in winter image. I acquired this one at the beginning of the year so I have no earlier images to compare it to…..yet!
This post is looking at progress that has been made this year on trees I have been developing during my weekly sessions with Gerry.
The first is a Blaauws Juniper That was given to me as raw material by Philip Donnelly of Belfast Bonsai in 2015. It had a lot of thick branches that grew off the main trunk at awkward angles. The first job in 2016 was to cut it back to a simple outline retaining the one branch that was suitably positioned for the future development of a bonsai. This is how it looked at that time.
Since this initial work I have been feeding the tree with high nitrogen fertiliser to promote strong growth in the foliage and I have also begun to create some jins from the branches that were removed and a shari on the main trunk. This work was done in stages over the past 12 months as the pictures will show.
In the future, I intend to reduce the apex by about half and I hope to develop the tree as a semi-cascade.
The next tree is Gerry’s large hawthorn. It has good movement and taper in the trunk but at the start of this year it had very few branches and we hadn’t decided which side would be the front. We decided to plant it in a large box to push out lots of new growth. This is how it looked at the start of the season.
This is how it looks at the moment after a full seasons growth in the box. The first picture shows what will probably be the new front
The third tree today is a literati pine which was wired for the first time in August 2015. This proved to be a mistake as the weather following the initial styling was very hot and the tree suffered losing several branches. This is how it looked at that time.
It was rewired today having had 2 years to recover and the front is now at the opposite side
This was the original tree in 2011
Gerry and I have started the end of year maintenance on our pines. This normally involves the thinning of the old needles and some of this seasons too, in areas of strong growth. When the thinning is complete, the trees have to be partially or totally re-wired to accommodate the new growth.
The first one I tackled was a Scots Pine, which had its first wiring in the literati style 3 years ago. This is how it looks at the moment after a second wiring. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture before todays work as its absolutely freezing in the garden and time outside was kept to a minimum.
The next picture shows how it looked some time after the first wiring in 2014. You can see that its filled out well in the intervening years
This is a reminder of how the original tree looked at the start of 2014
Gerry’s large Scots Pine also required some work. This is how it looks at the moment after thinning and wiring.
Original tree in 2014
We finished off the session by restyling a small shohin white pine. this is how it looked before.
and this is how it looks at the moment
We still have plenty more to complete in the next few weeks.
Many thanks to Tony Tickle and his amazing team for putting on another fantastic show in Bury.
This was my personal contribution, a medium sized Blaauws Juniper that I have been working on for 5 years.
This is a better picture of it taken in my greenhouse on Thursday under ideal light conditions.
The large trees from the collections of Mark and Rita Cooper and John Paul Polmans were my particular favourites
Here is a selection of my other pictures from the show. Apologies for the quality but they fill the gap until the official pictures are released. Click on any thumbnail to see a larger picture in gallery mode.