I acquired this medium sized Pinus Sylvestris in 2016 from a friend. I was attracted by the taper and movement in the trunk and I felt that given time I could make a nice bonsai from this material. The first picture shows the tree soon after I brought it home, having re-potted it into a good free draining soil mix and removed a few leggy lower branches that didn’t form part of my plan for the trees’ future.
The second picture shows the tree in 2017 immediately after the first styling.
The next picture was taken in 2018 and you can see that it has filled out well in that time.
At the end of 2018, I thinned the needles to allow more light into the middle of the tree and to facilitate re-wiring in the new year.
A few weeks ago I re-wired the tree for the second time. I think it is shaping up well. At the next re-pot, which should take place in the next few weeks, the front will be moved by a few degrees to show more of the movement in the trunk. the next picture shows how it looks at the moment.
In April 2013, an old friend in my village who heard I had a passion for small trees gave me this tiny common juniper seedling, which he had collected while walking in the hills. It was bare rooted, when he gave it to me and I wasn’t sure that it would survive but I potted it into a 4 inch pot in a mixture of akadama and moler clay and watered it every day
To my surprise, not only did it survive but it thrived and by 2016 it was beginning to look like a solid little tree. The next picture shows how it looked at that time in a 6 inch clay pot.
In the spring of 2016, the root system had filled the pot in the previous picture, so it was potted up again into a larger one.
It continued to grow strongly and by 2018 it was ready for some work. With a plan begining to form in my head I cut back the lower branches and wired some movement into the main trunk. The next picture shows how it looked after this work.
A few weeks ago, I decided it was time to put the plan into action and start this little tree off on the road to becoming a future shohin bonsai. The foliage and bark was striped from the upper part of the trunk and the newly formed deadwood was wired to hold it in its final position until the wood dries out.
The remaining foliage was thined and wired and a few weeks later the roots were cut back to fit it into a suitable shohin sized pot. This is how the tree looks at the moment. It will need a lot of care and attention in the coming weeks to ensure the remaining roots don’t dry out.
With an increase in the daytime temperatures some of my small trees are beginning to wake up from their winter sleep Her are some pictures of the ones that have been re-potted this year.
Acer Palmatum Deshogo shohin
Chojubai Quince shohin
Old Yamadori Hawthorn in a new Ian Baillie pot
2 more homegrown shohin Hawthorns
2 shohin trident maples. Both these trees suffered a bit last year, each losing a good lower branch due to the long cold winter but they are looking much stronger this year.
My 2 Zelkovas are usually the last of my trees to leaf out. the buds are swelling at the moment but it will be a few weeks before the new leaves return.
And finally today, this isn’t new spring growth but I couldn’t resist showing it anyway. One of my cotoneasters still looking great with a good crop of last years berries still intact.
After last years long cold winter, which went on until May in the hills of southern Scotland, immediately followed by the hottest summer on record; far from ideal growing conditions for small trees in small pots. I’m pleased to
say that this year spring has returned when it should do, and even though it can still be very cold at night, most of my trees are beginning to awake from their winter sleep. The tougher species are all outside now in the display area and on the benches but most of the shohin trees are still inside the greenhouse.
Many of you will have noticed that I haven’t posted on the blog for a while. There are a number of reasons for this but the main one is that with advancing years I am not as able as I was to spend long days outside, working on trees in the winter chill and yes I could do it inside but I have always preferred to work outside in natural light.
In the past few weeks, Gerry and I have resumed our regular meetings and much has been achieved in that time. Re-potting, re-styling older material and the first styling of new material, which I’ll be posting about in the coming days
As a taster of what is to come, here is a picture of Gerry’s big Kaho Azalea. It’s been in this cheap Chinese pot since he acquired it 5 years ago. This tree is almost show ready but it really needed a better quality pot.
After years trying to find something suitable, we came across this lovely green oval by Reihou, quite recently. This is how the tree looks now in its new pot.
Here’s a reminder of how it looked when purchased, 5 years ago.
The autumn colour is over now, for this year, but here are some pictures, which show the best of it in recent weeks.
This Zelcova Serrata never disappoints me
Here are some hawthorns which have performed well this year.
2 maples in development.
My large Japanese beech is starting to look good.
The cotoneaster landscape.
and finally my favourite larch
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jins and a shari were added in 2 stages over the following 12 months.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
The first task to be tackled was the carving of the stump left after last years’ trunk chop.
Gerry, getting on with wiring the lower branches
I finished off the top of the tree and placed the wired branches
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
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?
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
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.
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.
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
I removed this quickly with a Makita and a large carving bit and covered the wound in cut paste
I also shortened or removed all those branches, which would not form part of the future design.
This is how the tree is looking at the moment
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.