Saturday, 7 December 2013

Winter Watching

Here are a few films that caught my eye and once you watch one it opens up plenty of equally good links. A nice way to pass a few hours on these dark cold nights

Here is one of the Kimura Juniper rock plantings in our collection in the UK. There are a few articles both printed and online talking about the rocks and trying to guess their origins, are they real, are they man made, are they resin ? ....I think the tree below could be the only one of his rock plantings outside Japan and because it is in our garden it has allowed me to have a very close look at the rock structure from every angle.

The core of the rock is cellular - full of small irregular chambers - making it very light. There are smoother fused, almost melted areas too, and these are on the raised surfaces. The mosses, lichens and micro fauna are growing on the rough cellular parts while the smooth sections remain clean, making an unbelievably natural blend of textures. The rock core reminds me of coral inside,or old weathered bone when you see it broken open. I can't see that  it is totally man made as in a cement product mixed with sand and water, I think it is a type of weathered and then carved limestone or similar, potentially with another material randomly added to parts of the exterior.

What else has been going on ? It is December - UK winter, but still very mild here - most days are 9 or 10 deg C. The trees are dropping leaves, the conifers are looking happy, it has been a really good year for growing plants - slow start but then great light levels, low rainfall, stable temperatures. Here are a few of our larger stock trees and a few of our personal ones too.

Taxus Cuspidatta - great colour, you see so many poorly weak ones with yellowing foliage - feed, moisture levels and light levels all play an essential part

Zelkova - all the leaves taken off with tweezers, a little pruning still to do to shorten the outer shoots to a bud or two and to tighten up the silhouette a bit. We'll do a decent winter image picture of this one soon as I heard 3rd hand it didn't have any ramification ! lol. got to laugh sometimes.

Scotts Pine - Beauvonensis. This tree is a bit special as it received its first real styling and was put on the bonsai path at a workshop with the original owner and the late Peter Adams. We have the tree and some prints of pencil sketches and a colour drawing of the tree done by Peter. 


It has taken the black pine 2 years to change from yellow/green needles to happier green needles....hindsight is a great thing - I styled the tree straight after buying it, then when repotting 4 months later realised that the wet compost based or at least compacted core soil held hardly any roots. The first soil mix I used was not right either - too many varied particle sizes, bark chips, unproven ingredients 1....the tree was lime green, then faded to yellowy green over 6 months so I repotted again - not one new root tip was visible either !! We fed our fertiliser formulation from March until Sept, did not needle pluck or candle cut and now only one small weak branch remains. 
Phew....lesson learnt - dont dive in and fully style a tree of unknown strength

The large slanting juniper has been allowed to grow and relax - junipers need foliage to gain strength and this tree needed lots of new inner shoots to let us build nice new foliage pads from. Maintenance has been just removing the individual long shoots and piling in the feed - baskets still on...junipers are still slowly growing here

The  Chinese Elm - been with me 25 years now, its come one quite a long way from the imported pom pom tree

The rigida - happy with this one too - foliage mass has doubled, branches have thickened, the wire needs to come off in some places already. Good colour all over the tree, plenty of density, such a hungry tree, after a decade or 2 of starvation it cant eat enough now. 
Quite a simple care plan
  • let the tree flush out 
  • cut off all but 1 or 2 mm of the current growth
  • let it bud out again
  • pinch this 2nd growth off from all strong and medium areas
  • keep the weak 2nd growth and all growth that comes from the 3rd flush of buds
  • feed, feed, feed, water, water, water, do not treat them like junipers !! 

Here you can see the lowest branches retaining longer growth to add bulk and strength

Hinoki - the tree desperately wanted to go back in its larger pot after being at Noelanders and Best of British. 2 shows 5 months apart is just about ok for a strong healthy tree but it sets them back a bit. Looking great now though, I've let the tree keep a fair bit of new foliage so it recovers inner strength. Next year will be hard pinching to keep the foliage compact and keep the light penetration high.

I don't have a Norwegian bonsai yet ;-)

And to finish

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