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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
This is a reminder of how the original tree looked at the start of 2014
Gerry’s large Scots Pine also required some work. This is how it looks at the moment after thinning and wiring.
Original tree in 2014
We finished off the session by restyling a small shohin white pine. this is how it looked before.
and this is how it looks at the moment
We still have plenty more to complete in the next few weeks.
I paid a visit to my local bonsai supplier ( Wattston Bonsai) yesterday, to get an early look at the newly arrived stock from Japan. The new stock this year consists mainly of small and medium sized specimens of partly developed material,reflecting the current popularity of shohin and chuhin sized trees. The species represented are all ones that do well in our challenging climate and include seigen, deshojo and trident maple: prunus, callicarpa, pyracantha and rhododendron indicum; as well as the usual junipers and pines.
Lots of new tools and pots
An impressive selection of new Japanese pots by makers including Eimei, Bunzan, Shuho, Yamaaki, Bigei and many others
Here are a few trees that grabbed my attention
Shohin Trident Maple with nice movement and ramification
Deshojo maple shohin
Shohin Trident with an impressive nebari
Shohin white pine with a good nebari
Exposed root Callicarpa Japonica
Chuhin Rhododendron Indicum with a great trunk and great taper
Gerry brought his chuhin white pine to my garden this week to get some advice on how to take it forward.
This is how it looked before the current work
I felt that the apex was sitting a little too far to the right and the outline of the tree could be improved by moving it more to the left and above the main trunk line..
Here is an overhead view of the tree, which shows the existing position of the apical branch. The yellow arrow indicates the apex curving round to the right and the red arrow indicates where it needs to go.
The next picture taken from the left shows how thick the apical branch is with its future position in the foreground.
We decided to wrap the apex with raffia before bending
And this is how it looks at the moment. Better I think
Today I have been working on this shohin white pine that I am looking after for a friend. It has good taper and interesting movement in the trunk and main branch. It also looks good from both sides, which is quite unusual in a young tree.. With a few years more growth it should make a terrific little shohin bonsai. I wish I could keep it.
One of the great advantages of keeping a photographic record of your trees is that it allows you to consider and plan their future development as well as recording their actual development. When a tree is outside on the benches, we may only study it closely 2 or 3 times a year but if we photograph it and place that photograph prominently on our computer desktop then we see it and think about it every time that we go online. I do this all the time with my own trees and those of my friends and I find that it helps me to see and understand the strengths and weaknesses in their current state of development.
Here is an example that I have been studying and admiring today. It is not my tree. It is a recent acquisition by my friend and fellow club member, Gordon.
When I look this picture I see a little white pine with good potential in a lovely unglazed Japanese pot. Two things stand out for me at the moment.
The first is that the direction and movement in the tree is a little ambiguous. The lower trunk and the lower left character branch are suggesting a left facing movement, while the apex suggests a movement towards the right. Consider it this way. If you were displaying this tree in a show and planed to complete the display with a small accent plant, on which side would you place the accent ? At the moment you could place it at either side and it wouldn’t make much difference but if the trees’ movement and direction were more clearly defined, the position for the accent would be obvious and the overall image would be stronger for it.
Using photo editing software we can visualize both options without harming the tree, to help inform any choice we might make in the future.
The next picture shows the apex reduced to strengthen the movement to the left.
And the next picture shows the bottom left character branch reduced, reinforcing the movement to the right. I personally prefer this one.
The other issue that is very apparent is the relative proportion of the tree and the pot. While the pot is very nice, it is definitely too big for this tree. Using the photo editing software again, we can alter the scale of the pot to bring it more into balance with the scale of the tree.