Its been a difficult year so far for small trees in small pots

After one of the longest Winters in recent memory and a very poor start to the Spring some of my small trees have had difficulty in getting started this year. A few deciduous trees like maples and elms have suffered some dieback, while others have been very slow to leaf out.

Here are some recent pictures of some of my shohin trees that are looking good at the moment.

2 shohin white pines

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5 shohin hawthorns

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Potentilla in flower

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Here are some that haven’t done so well. Incidentally, all the pictures in todays’ post were taken this morning 27/5/18.

This is a cork barked elm that was severely cut back and had its roots reduced in April. There is no dieback on this tree but its taking an awfully long time to leaf out.

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This Chinese elm, also re-potted in April isn’t looking good, most of the new growth is coming off the main trunk.

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This trident appears to have lost a lower branch.

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This one belonging to my friend Gerry is in a very poor state at the moment.

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Its not all bad. At least all of these trees are still alive and with care and attention they will look good again.

 

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The Sun is here At Last

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.

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This is how the same tree looked back in 2012

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This is another little hawthorn, whose buds are beginning to open. Its in a nice green pot by Eimei at the Yozan Kiln.

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and this is how it looked in 2012

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Here are a few more trees that are beginning to glow with their new growth

3 of my medium sized larches

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My shohin Japanese Yew

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This little cotoneaster fell of the shelf and its original pot was broken. Here it is now in another pot by Eimei.

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2 shohin Shimpaku Junipers

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Re-potting a Yamadori Hawthorn

 

Today was the warmest day this year: in fact it was the first day this year that the automatic vents in my greenhouse have opened, Spring is not far away.

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I acquired this yamadori hawthorn from a friend in August last year. It has interesting movement and old bark in the lower trunk and I have been keen to get it out of the organic soil mix it has been growing in and into a mix with better drainage. This is how it looked when I acquired it.

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This is how it looked this morning without the leaves. Most of the branches are too thick to be of use in the future design.

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The next picture shows the new front after re-potting and the removal of many unnecessary branches. I am very happy with this purchase and look forward to see how it develops in the future.

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Some Trees in Development

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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It was rewired today having had 2 years to recover and the front is now at the opposite side

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This was the original tree in 2011

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Some thoughts on getting Hawthorns to flower

I collected this hawthorn from farmland about 17 years ago. Its been in a pot all of that time but never produced any flowers. In recent years, its been subjected to a lot of work, a number of re-pots and several transformations to get it down to the size it is now.

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About 6 years ago, before it was chopped back to its current height, I took a hardwood cutting from this tree and placed it in a pot to root. It rooted quickly and was placed in the pot you see in the next picture about 5 years ago. I have done very little to it since. It is pot bound and has never been re-potted. It is rarely fertilised and gets no winter protection in my greenhouse. The following picture was taken this week and shows the result of this neglect.

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If there is a lesson I can learn from this that will encourage my other shohin hawthorns to flower, it is this. I will delay any future re-potting to ensure the roots are truly filling the pot to their maximum extent. I will reduce fertilising to the minimum necessary to maintain the health of the tree and I will only provide winter protection if freezing conditions become unusually prolonged and there is a danger of loosing the tree.

 

Seasonal Work on Shohin Hawthorns

The early season work on my small trees usually involves cleaning the moss and grime from the trunk, refining jins and sharis and re-potting if necessary.

The first up today is a shohin hawthorn that was re-potted last year. I wanted to do a little refining on the V cut to give it a more natural appearance.

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This is how it looks after a pressure wash and a little work with the Dremel.

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The other side before the work

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And after. I’m not sure which side of this tree is my preferred front. Both sides have potential I think.

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This is a new tool I acquired recently for cleaning my trees. Its called a textile cleaning gun. It is a very powerful tool and does a great job on the trunk and deadwood. You have to exercise extreme care in its use as it has the capacity to strip the bark from tender species. Fortunately it has an excellent pressure control switch.

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This tree needed a slight change of front so it was re-potted today

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This one was just cleaned up and pruned in readiness for the coming growing season.

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Shohin Hawthorn Progession

I dug this tree from my garden in 2008 and planted it in a 12 inch pot to recover. It stayed in that pot until 2012, when it was chopped back and placed in the bonsai pot you can see in the first picture.

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By the early Spring  of 2015 the trunk has been chopped back further and the roots are now housed in a smaller round pot. At this stage, I still wasn’t happy with the tree and had no vision for its future development.

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Later that month, with an idea beginning to emerge I chopped the tree back once again. The following picture was taken later in the year when new buds had emerged and extended

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2015 after pruning and wiring the new growth. At this stage I thought this side could be the front.

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This is how it looks at the moment. I’ve done a little carving on the original V cut to make it look more natural. I’ve also shortened the thicker roots, planted it in a new pot and reversed the viewing angle. I like how this tree is developing now and look forward to seeing the ramification develop in the coming years

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