Tuesday, 20 January 2015

and they fly the nest.............

This week a friend who is building up a collection of very nice acer bonsai found that persistence can certainly pay off....in the nicest way....He often asked if my Shin Deshojo was for sale, and I often said I could not find an equal replacement so No, it was one of the trees I was keeping..........

Over new year greetings the request came through so I thought why not, he really wants the tree, would totally appreciate it and I have had a good few years fun and enjoyment bringing the tree on so we did the deal and I dropped it round - 1200 miles from my home !!!! Posting trees is ok, but trees you really care about need face to face service as it would be such a dis-service to the bonsai if it was broken by an unknowing courier or unprecedented accident. The car was loaded with the tree, pots, bags of our soil blend, fish emulsion, bonsai boost pellets and a few accessories - plus Relentless and blueberry Red Bull  

The Tree

Shin Deshojo, imported in an unknown year, and I stumbled across the tree walking into Willowbog Bonsai Nursery on day.

 The tree had been hit by late freezing winds so had defoliated itself in most areas so even though it was July we had a new crop of red leaves, much smaller than normal, but with random big leaves from the first flush. We fed the tree, enjoyed it and waited until the next spring to repot so the mound of root under the trunk could be reduced and the planting position gradually flattened out. The tree was the same width all the way up so I decided to grow the lower branches wider rather than prune the apex narrower so we used a much bigger growing pot for 2 years

This caused a push of vigour that needed checking so the next repot put the tree in a stunning Japanese Tokoname cream oval barely 3cm deep inside

Deshojo are run away growers and will extend node length to 5cm or more in the blink of an eye and this is too big a gap between buds when fine tuning a tree really so the shallow pot and small amount of feed plus correct watering (minimal) helps to shorten node length. Now the outline was getting closer to my desired image the first leaves were allowed to open then the tiny new shoot that appears was pinched out to stop all extension growth on the exterior of the tree. Inner, weaker, shoots are allowed to grow and the bottom branches are allowed a small amount of extra extension growth too. Later in summer one from every two outer leaves is cut off to halve the shade effect of the canopy and if the single remaining leaf is still too big it is cut in half

This is a constant ongoing process but the unplanned sale of the tree has finished my time with the tree and moved it to another person to do their thing from now on. I offered the tree with or without the pot but both have stayed together and now will love the pure clean air in the foothills of the Austrian mountains

Bye bye to the unit for a few days ! 


Repotting time is nearly here - Cornwall. SW UK is a little bit milder than the rest of Britain and we dont get much in the way of frost - we have sensors on the bonsai benches and so far this winter we had one night of minus 2 and one night of minus 4 but either side of these two clear nights it has been plus temps. Days have been hitting 15 C regularly, roots are active and early acer buds and larch buds are swelling visibly now. 

We stock all the essential soil components and also, if the customer needs enough of one mix we offer to blend them to suit the tree collection and predominant climate. The key points of getting the soil mix right are correct water retention, good aeration, soil PH can be important too

We use
Akadama - 2 line, hard type, holds onto water well
Kiyru Grit - allows hard feeding, drains well, heavy component
Ezo Grit - superb light, warm airy grit - drains well, superb root development
Kanuma - acidic lightweight volcanic grit - soft, holds lots of water
Black Lava - very hard, will not compact or breakdown in hard frost, drains well, contains lots of minerals and some trace elements

We dont use
Compost (apart from our chinese elm mix - they like a bit)
garden soil / leaf mould
Bark - depleates nitrogen making balanced feeding difficult to measure
granite chips / potting grit - freezing cold, very heavy, can be silica based

 80 liters are best done in a proper mixer - less effort and nice consistent results

Akadama is £12.50 a bag, the others £14. Blended is £14 a bag too - (Collected) - Next day courier delivery to mainland Uk is competitive and can be quoted for.

First and foremost I am a bonsai enthusiast and I love nothing more than hunting out mature japanese trees that can be refined so selling one of the good ones from my personal trees leaves a gap that I need to fill. As a maple went I wanted another to replace it, and I know there are no Deshojo's available that come close to the sold one so I broadened the search a little and came up with a 13 trunk fused clump style Acer Palmatum Yatsusa Kashima

Earlier this year we sold the 5 trunk Kiyohime clump that appears in the late  Peter Adams maple book and also in Dan Bartons bonsai book from when he owned the tree. The kiyohime has dwarf tendencies in its extension growth and is weaker in the apex but grows very strongly from the base branches so they go wide but stay low

The Kashima can appear very similar in leaf and extension growth but it grows like most trees - strong apical and upward growth and weaker in the lower areas.

Here was the find - it has been maintained in a healthy state for about 25-30 yrs in the UK, maybe a bit longer than that now but the tree has not been wired or styled for a long time. The top strength and upward tendencies can easily be seen here, the pot is way too heavy too but I have a good Tokoname cream oval - 4.5cm deep- ready for a fairly hard repot in a month or so.

Lots of guy wires will then go on, outer branches will be flattened with normal wiring and then some areas will be cut back harder to put a tree shaped silhouette back rather than a mushroom dome. The trunks need cleaning, the nebari cleaning out and defining and then the foliage pruning begins

The tree will be fed well with Tribolar pellets - 2 applications and a 14 day cycle of using  our fish emulsion after the leaves harden off until they just start to turn for Autumn. Hard feeding is essential on a tree if you plan on cutting losts off but keeping it strong and healthy.

A 2nd maple will be here soon - a large trident maple with 5 trunks that are rising from a fused plate the size of the pot nearly. This tree it a 'start again' project........it has a documented history from 1910 but is now tired and gone beyond simple recovery - health is fine, the branches are long leggy things with twigs on the very end so i'm going to bang in the fertiliser (Tribolar, fish emulsion, algae & seaweed extract and a couple of special compounds) then cut off most of the branches and grow them again - A great project as you cant find tridents with such age and maturity to import anymore, and even if an equally old but refined japanese tree came onto the market it would command quite a price.

The project is at least 5-6 yrs to see even half a result though

Pics to come once the tree gets here

Other than that it was lovely and sunny in the garden today - white pine that needs styling  seems happy with good winter colour, Zelkova to the right and a true yamadori Japanese juniper trunk grafted with Itoigawa foliage ready for a first refine session after a workshop with Ryan Neil a few years ago to give it its first styling from raw material. Plenty to do !!