First Steps for a Forsythia Shohin

Forsythia is one of my favourite garden shrubs, the yellow glow of their flowers on bare stems in Spring is magnificent. Although they are still quite rare as bonsai, when you do see one in flower you can’t fail to be impressed by them. I have been looking for some suitable material to start one for some time now and last year I was able to remove the specimen you see in the following pictures from a friend’s garden.

The next 2 pictures show the tree at the end of its’ first season in a pot. In a single season it had filled this 9 inch pot with strong healthy roots.

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In late Winter, I pruned it back and carried out some basic carving on the trunk. This is how it looked at that time.

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In early Spring of this year, I took it out of the plastic pot, cut back the roots and re-potted it in an clay oval training pot. I removed as much of the roots as I felt I could without killing the tree but it will probably need further root reduction in the future to fit it into its’ final pot. This is how it looked after the re-pot.

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With the recent increase in temperature, it burst into life about 1 week ago and not surprisingly, considering the work I’ve done on it recently, it went straight to leaf without producing any flowers. Hopefully next year I will begin to see it flower again.

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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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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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New Spring Growth

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

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Acer Shishigashira

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Chojubai Quince shohin

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Old Yamadori Hawthorn in a new Ian Baillie pot

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2 more homegrown shohin Hawthorns

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Some Autumn Colour

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

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Here are some hawthorns which have performed well this year.

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2 maples in development.

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My large Japanese beech is starting to look good.

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The cotoneaster landscape.

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and finally my favourite larch

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It’s the Cotoneaster Flowering Season again.

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

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This is a reminder of how it looked at the start of its’ journey in 2012

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The next 2 were made from 1 piece of raw material. This is how they look at the moment.

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This is the original material in 2011

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Here they are shortly after separation

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This is the other one slightly earlier in 2012

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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.

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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.

 

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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