Shohin Yew Progression

This little yew was imported into the UK in 2013 and I acquired it a year later in 2014. Growth in that year was very poor and I was concerned that there was a problem with the roots or the soil

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In 2015 I took it out of the pot shown in the previous picture to discover that much of the original root system had died. I immediately re-potted it into a good soil mix and slowly introduced the fertiliser to bring it back to health. The next picture shows the tree at the time of the re-pot.

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A year later in April 2016, when the next picture was taken, it still hadn’t put on much new growth but there were new buds forming. For the first 2 years that I owned this tree, I thought the side shown in the first 2 pictures would be the front of the tree, but after 2 years of studying it, I eventually opted for the other side as shown in the next picture.

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3 months later in July of 2016 it had an explosion of new strong growth It was now ready for a first styling.

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The tree was pruned and wired and a jin and shari were created

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Over the 3 years that have elapsed since the first styling, I have continued to develop the ramification. I have also done additional work of the shari, jin and live veins. I wasn’t entirely happy with the planting angle in the pot. The top of the tree was leaning away from the viewing position at the front and the dramatic jin was not showing its’ best side. At re-potting time this year I was able to correct these faults. This is how the tree looks at the moment.

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Scots Pine 2nd Wiring

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.

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The second picture shows the tree in 2017 immediately after the first styling.

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The next picture was taken in 2018 and you can see that it has filled out well in that time.

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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.

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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.

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Starting a Shohin Common Juniper from Scratch

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Tall Juniper First Styling

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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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2 Years Development in a Blaauws Juniper

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.

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Jins and a shari were added in 2 stages over the following 12 months.

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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.

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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

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Taxus Baccata from raw material to first styling.

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.

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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.

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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.

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The first task to be tackled was the carving of the stump left after last years’ trunk chop.

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Gerry, getting on with wiring the lower branches

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I finished off the top of the tree and placed the wired branches

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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

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Acer Palmatum in Development from Seed (2018 Update)

 

This is an update on an Acer Palmatum  that I started from seed planted in 2001. I grew it on in a container until 2011, when I transplanted it to a shallow pot to start its development as a bonsai. The first picture shows how it looked in the Spring of 2012.

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Since then I have been working on the development of the upper trunk by selecting a leader each Spring and allowing it to grow unchecked throughout the season; cutting it back in the Winter months. The next picture taken in 2014, illustrates that process.

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After 6 years of doing this, I am at the stage where I want to concentrate on the ramification of the branches for a few years. This is how the tree looks at the moment.

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I am 17 years into this project now and there’s still a long way to go. It is rewarding to see a bonsai evolve from seed that you have sown by yourself. For me, this is where the true satisfaction in the hobby lies

Some Winter Images

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.

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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.

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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

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This is how it looked in 2013

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This is how my Shishigasira maple is looking at the moment

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And this is how it looked in 2013

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Japananese Larch winter 2017

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Same tree in 2012

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Trident maple 2017

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Trident maple 2014

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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!

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Thinning and Wiring Pines

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.

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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.

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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

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This is a reminder of how the original tree looked at the start of 2014

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Gerry’s large Scots Pine also required some work. This is how it looks at the moment after thinning and wiring.

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Original tree in 2014

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We finished off the session by restyling a small shohin white pine. this is how it looked before.

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and this is how it looks at the moment

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We still have plenty more to complete in the next few weeks.