Saturday, 29 June 2013

when Yew see the tree hiding within

just a quick post of this afternoons work.

This chunky European Yew came in to our collection as part of a trade  - two trees out and two trees in. It caught my eye  for the powerfull trunk, really healthy strong foliage and striking dead wood.

When i first saw the picture of the tree I instantly tilted the computer to put the trunk a bit more upright as this design was very bold and striking but lacked the stability and power a tree like this could have, and the foliage had no connection to the soil as the living section of trunk is barely visible. With just a slight turn, a repot and a gentle wiring to re-position the main branches I hoped to create the image that jumped out at me from the start, and after describing the potential of the finished tree to a friend he gave me the go ahead to style the tree on his behalf.

An hour or two later the tree has a new potting angle without removing any roots, a series of guy wires have dropped each main branch and a light scissor pruning of the new foliage has given the first shape to the design. no fine wires have been used as the summer growth is tender  - any fine wiring needed will be left until winter when the growth has hardened off.

the final pic is the picture from above with a little bit of photoshop showing where I would allow the growth to fill in over the next few years - the powerful trunk needs a bit more foliage to balance it, hence the bottom branch remaining unpruned at this stage when the first styling was done

a really pleasing days work on a tree with a great future - a lovely unglazed red brown soft rectangle would finish this off perfectly

Saturday, 22 June 2013

a day in the life...............

It was a mild drizzly evening, the trees are all very healthy this year, loving the weather we are getting here and looking great after a day being rained on so i took a few random shots - hope you enjoy some 'real' pics taken as the trees sit in their every day positions, no backdrops, just the way they look every day

big white pine dwarfing my 30" tall hinoki that is looking great after a week in the NEC arena - definitely greener than when it went in.  The pine is one of our fertiliser test trees having come in a bit ignored but it has already gone from pale yelllow green to a happier green now. NFS for a good few years as the energy needs directing to the lower branches and I want to return the tree to tip top strength then style it into a potential stunner. timescale.............7-8 years minimum, probably 10 years until the wires off

Buddlia, pot 26", big tree - base 20", an unusual bonsai subject but they respond well, flower, bud back easily and have great potential - there was a stunner at the Bristol show 2 years ago and this tree is now going to a really talented bonsai artist who will make something very impressive from the material I know. 

5 tree Crenata White Beech group in a Walsall Ceramics large oval pot - unusually the trees are leafing out at different rates this year so we have hardened foliage, brand new paler leaves and new opening buds.
This is an important stage in crenata development - letting it grow out for a while so the tree gains strength before cutting back extension growth to 2 new buds (formed at the base of the leaves). If the canopy is still too dense the outer leaves are cut in half to let more light into the inner tree - this strengthens the weak inner shoots  so they don't die off. (this one is off to a new owner now)

Hinoki Cypress -  this is a lovely tree  that was shown at the Noelanders 2013 show. The tree was delivered back to Willowbog nursery after the show so Ryan Neil gave me a hands on lesson in thinning and styling Hinoki - this was priceless as real proven technique with these is very hard to come by and Ryan had the best teacher there is on the species while he apprenticed with M. Kimura. The tree was shown 'dense and lush' but now we have re-positioned the main branches and thinned the entire tree it looks so much older - the foliage matches the trunk image which completes the tree far better than before.

Juniper communis from the Italian Alps - I repotted to a new angle last winter and have started cutting back the leggy branches - the tree is back budding ok but this will be another 10 year project I think to make the image I want from the material.
fingers crossed it likes me and doesn't die like many common junipers seem to do for others  - patience is going to be the key - and environmental stability - not moving the tree here, there and everywhere

The slanting driftwood juniper looking relaxed and healthy - bottom branch is at the wrong angle but the tree has no shows planned for a few years so it can stay put as it is getting lots of light strengthening the inner growth. The crown is now compressed down probably 8" on what it was originally and the tree is filling out fantastically with new healthy foliage.

juniper Rigida - tosho, or needle juniper.
Looking brilliant, super healthy and no signs of distress from the major wiring and restyling job done last year. Now the tree is at the free growth stage - as the extending shoots slow down they will be scissor cut back - this triggers lots of new buds but the tree has gained strength before pruning - if you pinch these as the buds form the tree weakens and branches die off - feed well, water well, let grow, scissor prune, let new buds grow again, scissor prune again, finally let 3rd flush grow as it will be September....I think this regime makes rigida another simple tree to keep and not one to be worried about, just don't treat them like chinensis and don't follow the old book methods of pinch, pinch, pinch again

Mixed rock planting from my demo last week - sitting under the shade net area to recover but this is another one that sat at the NEC for most of the week and looks perfectly healthy

Scotts Pine in perfect health - needle lengh and candle size is even over the whole tree now - pads are fine wired. I treated the top of the tree like a black pine last year and cut off the whole candle, the inner and lower tree was candle pinched to shorten them. This year the growth was very even so all candles have been pinched to the same length.

Pretty in pink - I keep this one outside all year, let it get cold and let it get rained on - this shortens the time the flowers remain on the tree which is a good thing as the trees are weakened by such heavy flowering displays but every other year I let it show off. 

Pyracantha just coming into flower so all fertiliser is removed at this time of year

Large Trident on its second flush of leaves - defoliated fully this year, this started the back budding we need to rebuild the branch structure. This tree will get better and better now it is repotted and budding well - the trunk has excellent taper.

That's about half the larger trees here, we'll do a similar post with the rest soon

Monday, 10 June 2013

Best of British - set up day

A busy day was in store for everyone involved with the set up of the show today. We were issued car passes that got the cars and vans right to the door that was adjacent to the bonsai event and all I had to do was collect an access all areas pass and the tree id tags - the trolley arrived at my car and bingo the trees are parked right next to the show bench a few moments later.

Walking into the main building the first thing that hits you is the size - it is massive, and yesterday was a hive of activity in every direction. A few familiar faces were tending trees, helping others and on hand to assist where needed which was really good and the general buzz of excitement and pride was easy to pick up - BBC Gardeners World Live, The BBC Good Food show and the Best of British Bonsai 2013 all under one roof - 40,000 people due to attend and Saturday tickets were sold out early last week. I can't think of a UK event that has introduced this number of show quality bonsai to so many people before, and usually there is a knock on of raised interest  following high profile events which is the true reason to do them.

I'm not going to upload individual pictures of every tree as it seems a shame to do a spoiler before the event - others will document all the trees and accents once the show opens I'm sure but here are some over view shots and my trees. I think there are about 60 trees and shohin displays  - 4 long runs, large trees on each end and a 5th run was being built as I left.

The hinoki has been substancially thinned since winter and it looks even more like an convincing old tree and less like young bush foliage on an old trunk now. Special thanks to friends for having a suitable stand very much at the last minute !

The RHS run this event and the entire stand is being judged as one single display. Everyone involved has lent their trees in effect to the Federation to make a collective general entry - just like putting together a show garden. This was also apparent in the way people were all pulling together to get the whole stand looking perfect -on Tuesday the judges are not singling out individual trees in the same way they would if each person was entering their own trees in the RHS bonsai category - that is a totally different thing all together. It was very refreshing to see the collective friendly side of our hobby yesterday - the BOB stands wins or loses as one and we all felt it was certainly GOLD standard.

My accents were all in Gordon Hunt pots - oops only took 2 pictures - iris and something out of the garden with little flowers !

Home now, busy 3 days here then back to the NEC for Friday, Saturday, Sunday............