Sunday, 30 December 2012

December jobs

Having a few days off over Christmas is getting a few essential tree jobs done. Earlier in the year I submit a picture for consideration in the Noelanders show and it was accepted so the guy wires were removed 2 weeks ago to see if the branches would hold in place (I didn't want to have them removed on show day and the branches pop up ! I think if this happens it is better to leave them in place).

The two guyed branches had been hollowed underneath completely out of sight 4 months ago, and the combination of wire holding and branch healing has set them perfectly. If just a wire had been used the tree would keep springing back for a year or more.

As the branches were holding properly the upward new growth tips were wired flat and the algae washed from the bark. I few smaller branches were moved a little to balance the gaps and foliage pads but on the whole the tree has been kept as natural as possible. I felt the lower branch on the right was a little too long in the submision picture so I shortened it a few inches. I'm pleased with how the tree responded last year - lots of my bonsai food, the root reduction and repotting, the rain......the tree seemed to thrive through it all and has come on so far over the 4 years I've been styling it.

The pot is Tokoname, made at the Seizan kiln by Mr.KATAOKA Katsushi. This is a fairly old pot that was imported directly to the UK by Anne Swinton some years ago. It was home to her Ginko for many years and is the actual pot pictured with the Ginko in her book. Over time that tree was sold but died, another tree (juniper) ended up in the pot and I bought it, so got the pot. Funnily enough I didn't know about the pots history until a few years later but soon wanted the pot for a better tree, so out came the juniper !. The hinoki has been repotted 3 times in 4 years, smaller each time, and every timee the pot has been a mass of new roots. I may let the tree go 2yrs to restrict the roots a bit and slow the vigour - this will tighten the foliage up in future years

 Finding a nice stand here isn't that easy, especially for larger trees so I bought one from Japan and had it shipped over. The service from J Bonsai (bonsai network japan) was superb and the stand was in the UK in 3 days. Then it takes the UK delivery service over a week due to xmas getting in the way but the main think is it is here, in perfect condition and in time for the show.

The roof at the side of our house has a fair bit of lovely silver moss on it so new years day I will get the roof ladder out and collect some to moss the pot. Then i will liquidise some fresh sphagnum moss and mix it with water, spread a thin layer on the soil and add the surface moss on top. This is a little more work but keeps the top dressed moss looking so much better as there are several days involved with the Noelanders show. Equally importantly the Hinoki does not like drying out so the sphagnum layer keeps up humidity while the tree is traveling and in the show.

Two other xmas projects are on the go too, so more posts to follow very soon.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

The Year of the Juniper

2013 will be my year of the juniper - - lots of styling practice in the first few months just in case the EBA final tree happens to be a juniper !! plus there is some great material to work with both here already and on the near horizon.

The first tree is great - the sort of material that you dont just stumble over every day. (pic S. Tolley)

This is a yamadori tree grafted with Itiogawa foliage in Japan. The tree came back into Europe with Mario Komsta after one of his japanese visits. It found its way to Steve Tolley via Noelanders sales area, then to me ! The attraction to the material ? - the trunk is a beautiful wind sculpted flute, the foliage is good variety, the pot is very good and most importantly it is an unstyled piece of japanese raw material.

First thing was to wash and brush down the trunk, then I decided to clean it up with the sand blaster

The blasting cleaned the old build up of Lime sulphur from the grooves in the wood, adding more texture to the tree. I decided to make my own mark on the styling and carve the trunk a bit to add some depth and depressions to the large mostly flat area. Working slowly with small tungsten carbide dremel bits I hollowed right through the trunk and extended a few grooves along the trunk, working with the natural ripples and grain.


After a rough carve, the next job was removing signs of the work, so a circular wire brush was fitted to the dremel and the edges softened, The final texture was added with a scalpel and a razor blade working some fine cracks into the natural grooves in the wood. I painted the deadwood with water, then straight away with Lime Sulphur, now it will be left to dry out so the wood shrinks and the cracks open up a bit more.

The pot.
I knew it was a really nice pot when looking at the tree, but wasn't until I put the tree in the car I saw the nail signature in the bottom. I drew a blank trying to look up the details so asked for help on the forum and  the initial response from Ryan was exciting to say the least.

The pot is from the Gyozan kiln - and initial thoughts were Nakano Yuuji

The next day there was an update from japan
nekotoban on Wed Nov 28, 2012 1:38 pm

"I THINK this pot made by Nakano Yukizo Gyozan himself, not his son Yuji.
The kugibori(nail signature) can be read as follows.
Right: His Imperial Majesty
Middle: Commemoration for the Emperor's accession for the imperial throne
Left: Nakano Gyozan made

I believe this pot was made when the Emperor Akihito had acceded to the throne."
This makes this a special commemorative pot made in 1990 by the Gyozan Kiln. I was told "This kiln is renowned for producing some of the very finest unglazed pots in Japan, along with Suzuki Syuzan and perhaps Kamiya Ryuen they are reputed for making the finest unglazed pots in Japan"
I need to be carefull with it, as non commemorative pots this size apparently cost 150-200 k¥. (This must be my lucky tree as the pot value had been overlooked as the tree moved across Europe - but tree and pot will stay together, that is only right) The tree will deserve the best styling possible - and I'm planning another bespoke root stand. Here it is on the big stand I made for the big slanting juniper
Ready to wire - It will go in the car nice and easily so I'll take the tree to the Ryan Neil workshop early next year.
Juniper project 2
This will be the large juniper communis - it really fills the car so I dont think Mandy will want it poking her in the ear on the trip up North so I'm going to work this tree slowly over the next couple of years rather than take it to the workshop. I have been deliberating and the communis doesnt want any wire on secondary branches or it will suffer massive die back, while the workshop environment is about wiring and styling. I have decided the tree is too precious to risk so am keeping it at home - I want to change the planting angle so plan to repot in spring - then let it recover and carry on acclimatising to Cornwall for all next year. I'll place a couple of the key branches with guy wires  and feed / prune to trigger lots more budding.
It reminds me of my Juniper Rigida - I waited 4 years to 1st style it and the tree is responding so well to the slow pace of work.
The mouthwatering temptations
These are the type of material trees I'm currently drooling over and hoping to be lucky enough to aquire one in the forthcoming 'year of the juniper'