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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Preparing Evergreens for the New Season

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Callicarpa Japonica Summer Pruning

This tree has to be pruned regularly throughout the summer to maintain its shape. The leaves on the secondary branches are formed in pairs and each pair of leaves produces a new extension shoot at their union. To keep the tree in shape I prune all extension shoots back to the first pair of leaves. Flowering shoots are also produced at the point where the leaves connect with the secondary branches. I re-potted the tree in the spring but unfortunately it fell off the bench and the original pot was smashed. I’ve re-housed it in this green glazed drum pot as a temporary measure until I can have a more suitable pot made.

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This is how it looked before work commenced this morning

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And this is how it looks at the moment

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For over a year now, I have been feeding this tree with tomato fertiliser to try and encourage more flowering and fruiting shoots. It seems to be working. Slowly but surely, as each year passes it is producing more flowers and berries.

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Lanarkshire Bonsai Club Meeting 02/04/2017

I stopped off today, at the monthly meeting of the Lanarkshire Bonsai Club, for a coffee and some bonsai chat. When I arrived Robert Porch was just finishing his pre-arranged talk.

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Here are some pics of the people and trees that were there today

Dougie Smith conducting a potting class

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Club member George working on his Deshojo maple

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Ian McMaster’s chuhin Chojubai

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Gordon’s shohin Chojubai

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Robert Porch’s Prunus Spinosa in flower

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Its Spring Again

When the vibrant colours of the new Spring growth begin to appear, its definitely my favourite time of year. Here are some pictures of the trees that have sprung into life first.

This shohin Yew has new buds everywhere, much earlier than previous years

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My Acer Shishigashira is always the first of my maples to leaf out

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Larches always look their best at this time

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Another Larch and a Potentilla Re-wired Today

This Larch, collected in 2012,  was styled and put into its current pot in March 2014. Unfortunately I never took a before picture of this one when I acquired it but the collected material needed very little effort to get it to look like it does now. It will be re-potted this year as soon as the weather will allow.

This is how it looked without wire at the start of the day

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And this is how it looks at the moment

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It has quite a nice nebari that is hidden by the soil at the moment. That will be sorted when it is re-potted into this Walsall Ceramics oval, in the next few weeks

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This next one, a potentilla fruticosa, was dug from a friends garden about 2-3 years ago

This is how it looked shortly after I acquired it.

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And this is how it looks at the moment with the new growth wired in

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This is how it looked last September with a few late flowers on it.

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Blaauws Juniper 2016 Update

I de-wired and pruned my big Blaauws Juniper at the weekend in preparation for another fine wiring to open up the foliage pads. I hope to complete this work over the festive period but things sometimes take longer than expected at this time of year with the short daylight hours and the preparations for Christmas and the New Year.

This is how it looks this morning with no wire on.

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This tree has come a long way in recent years and is almost at the stage where I might consider it finished, for the moment.

Here is a reminder of its’ progress

2014, after the second wiring

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2013, first styling for the current look

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2012, a different look

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Early 2012, my first attempt at styling this tree

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2011, the raw material

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Buxus Sempervirens Winter Pruning

As the night time temperatures begin to fall below freezing in my garden, it is a reminder that I will have to bring the remainder of my trees into the greenhouse very soon. Most of the tender species are already inside but a few of the hardier ones are still braving the elements. Before I bring them inside, I like to clean them up and remove all unnecessary growth.

Today, I found the time to work on this boxwood. Buxus grow quite slowly when cultivated in a pot and only need pruning once a year.

This is how it looked from the front before todays’ work.

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And this is how it looks at the moment.

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When viewed from the right you can see that most of this seasons growth has occurred at the back of the tree. I think this has happened because I forgot to turn it as often as I should have.

Before

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After todays’ work

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This is the earliest picture I have of this tree, taken in 2005, shortly after it was collected from my garden.

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Pyracantha Stump Project 2016 Update

Today, I cut back this year’s growth on my Pyracantha. After 3 seasons in this pot, it is beginning to look less like a stump and a little more like a bonsai. When it was planted in the pot at the start of 2014, it didn’t have many roots, so next Spring I will remove it to see how the roots are developing. It still has a long way to go but it is beginning to make a pleasing image. The start of this project can be found by clicking the link to this earlier post.

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This is how it looked in the Spring of 2015

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and this is how it looked in the Spring of 2014 just after it was carved and re-potted

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Early 2014, prior to carving and re-potting

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