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.
I acquired this thin trunk Scots Pine a little over a year ago from a friend. Some long thin branches at the base of the trunk were removed and the tree was re-potted into a clay pot with a good free draining soil mix. This is how it looked after the initial work.
and this is how it looked at the beginning of this week, 16 months after the previous picture was taken.
The needles were thinned ready for wiring and I jinned the stubs at the base of the trunk.
After thining out the foliage
This is how it looks at the moment, not bad for a £30.00 purchase.
This shohin Juniper Rigida belongs to my friend Gerry but I have been closely involved with its development over the past 3 years. I have had difficulty maintaining the health and vigour of this species in the past but this one is quite different. It has grown with strength right from the start and it responds well to interventions like re-potting and wiring. This is how it looked in 2014 when he acquired it.
I gave it an initial styling in 2015 and it was potted on into the larger pot you can see in the next picture to build up some energy in the roots.
As we looked at this tree we were happy with the styling but the planting angle wasn’t quite correct; it needed more of a tilt to the right. Early in 2017, the roots were trimmed and the tree was re-potted at the correct angle. This is how it looked at that time.
Today, I trimmed back the foliage and wired the tree for a second time. I also transferred it to a nice pot by Peter Krebs. This wasn’t strictly a re-pot as there was virtually no root disturbance. This is how it looks at the moment.
I took the opportunity today to do a little more refining on the jin and shari of a shohin yew that had its first styling one year ago.
This is how it looked before todays work.
and this is how it looks at the moment.
I think I will change the viewing angle slightly at the next re-pot to give the jin more prominence.
This is a reminder of how it looked before the first styling last year.
I spent part of today thining and cleaning My Thuja Occidentalis bonsai.
It grows very quickly during the summer months and soon becomes untidy. This is how it looked before I started this morning.
and this is how it looks at the moment
This is how it looked in 2004 when it was lifted from my garden. It originally had three trunks but I removed the 2 on the left and decided to work with the one on the right.