A few years ago, at one of the Bonsai Europa events I purchased this material from a Spanish trader. It was a field grown cotoneaster with a very thick trunk. A trunk would take decades to become this thick in the Scottish climate; I can only assume that they grow much quicker in the warm Spanish climate.The first 2 pictures show how it looked when I acquired it. They were clearly developed with air layering in mind.
the first thing I had to do was to remove the moisture retaining organic soil and replace it with a more free draining mix of akadama and kiryudama.The next 3 pictures illustrate that process.
I let it grow throughout 2018 to allow it time to get established in the new pot and in 2019 I prepareed to air layer the top off the tree.
I separated the air layer in 2020 but I wasnt entirely happy with the root development on the upper part. It was a bit one sided so I planted it quite deep in the new pot and left and gave it 2 growing seasons before I looked at the roots again. In 2 seasons it had filled this pot with a strong healthy root system.
Both trees were repotted this year and while the branch development still has some way to go their future potential as nice bonsai is now apparent.
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.
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
One of my favourite species for bonsai, they bring joy to my heart in summer when they flower and again in autumn and winter when they are covered in red berries. Here are a few of my favourites at the moment
I’ve been developing this one for 6 years and I have never seen it look better that it looked this week
This is a reminder of how it looked at the start of its’ journey in 2012
The next 2 were made from 1 piece of raw material. This is how they look at the moment.
This is the original material in 2011
Here they are shortly after separation
This is the other one slightly earlier in 2012
Finally today, this is a new piece of raw material, that I acquired last year from a Spanish trader. I will air layer the top off and I should get 2 nice shohin cotoneasters out of this.
Its been a slow start to the season and most things in the garden are about 4 weeks behind where they were last year but the weather has warmed up and the sun is out and my trees are beginning to grow again, at last.
This little hawthorn was re-potted recently into a beautiful Ian Baillie shohin pot.
This is how the same tree looked back in 2012
This is another little hawthorn, whose buds are beginning to open. Its in a nice green pot by Eimei at the Yozan Kiln.
and this is how it looked in 2012
Here are a few more trees that are beginning to glow with their new growth
3 of my medium sized larches
My shohin Japanese Yew
This little cotoneaster fell of the shelf and its original pot was broken. Here it is now in another pot by Eimei.
2 shohin Shimpaku Junipers
I did a little seasonal pruning and weeding on my homemade cotoneaster landscape yesterday. Its been a year since I completed the planting and Its beginning to fill out nicely. It will probably take another 2 seasons growth to get the ramification where I would like it to be.
This is how it looked before todays work
And this is how it looks at the moment
I did some work on 2 of my shohin cotoneasters today. Regular readers will remember that both these trees are being developed from the single piece of material shown in the next picture, which was collected from my garden in 2011.
The first tree, which was created from the left half of the raw material in the picture above has grown strong in the intervening years but I’ve never been entirely happy with it.
It has too many branches, reverse taper in the trunk and a poor transition through to the apex. Today I have decided to change that.. In the next picture, I have removed the lower left branch, thinned the others and done a little carving to remove some of the problem areas and improve the movement through to the apex.
In the next picture the primary branches have been wired and bent into postion and the tree is tilted to the new planting angle.
This how it looks at the moment after working the roots and repositioning it in its pot.
The trunk line is visible now and the movement through to the apex is improved. The reverse taper is still visible but better than it was.. The problem I have with this tree is that both sides of the trunk have significant areas of deadwood and I have to exercise extreme care not to severe the live veins. I will return to this at a later time when the tree has had time to recover.
The second tree is being developed from the right hand side of the raw material in the first picture. This is how it looked in 2014. It had taken 3 years to get it to this stage as it didn’t have many roots at the start.
By 2015 it was looking much stronger.
This is how it looks today after a trim and a re-wire
Today I separated an air layer on cotoneaster, which I started last year.
I decided to air layer this tree because the lower trunk was quite straight and lacked taper and movement
Some of the new roots had grown down into the soil.
This how it looked after separation
In the next picture, the moss has been removed from the air layer and its ready for replanting. Hopefully the stump will sprout new shoots and I will have two trees to work on in the future.
Replanted in a bonsai pot and ready for the growing season. I will start feeding it in a few weeks time to promote new growth and I’ll probably remove the remaining thicker branches at the end of the season.
Unfortunately the larch which was started at the same time did not come through the winter, so I will have to try again with this species when I get some more suitable raw material.