Last Two

A few days back I shared a few pines that had been left with me to wire and style and I said I had two left to go. When given the work to complete its human nature to jump in and grab the trees that excite you the most and leave the tricky ones to the end. Well these are the end ones.

This little Mugo Pine is an oversized pot was a challenge. Humble material with a lot of the branches coming from the same spot high up in the tree. How to make an interesting image and at the same time reduce the branches at the top to stop it becoming an unsightly swelling.

Above is the result. An angle change to add more trunk movement and to bring the apex over to the left to be harmonious with the character branch. A heavy apex branch at the back was removed and a few other weaker ones to start the reduction. This trees image will change massively when the pot is changed.

I keep telling my bonsai friends to practice. We don’t have an endless stream of trees to work nor are all those trees going to be high end. However taking a simple tree like this with a few issues and going through the design process can be beneficial. This took 30 minutes.

This second tree, a Scots Pine grown from seed by the owner, was also a tricky proposition. It’s always been leggy branch wise for as long as I remember it. It seems to cycle between periods of extreme growth with back budding and then shuts down. As its not in my care I can’t say for sure what the cause is. Perhaps as a seed grown tree it could just be genetic.

One of issues currently is drainage. When you see all of this crap on the surface you know that it’s way too wet for a pine to thrive. The mix was good but has broken down to the point where a repot in the spring is required.

Above shows the tree after being worked. Where I could safely chase back branches, I did. This tree left me with a few interesting dilemmas. I was styling the tree with a free hand from the owner but I wanted to give him a few options for his own tastes. The branch/second trunk bottom right adds character and yet has very poor structural branching. I have made the best of it but there’s actually a great tree there without it. It’s now his choice to keep or remove or even Jin and has no impact on the rest of the tree. There’s another bit of weirdness going on down there with the freaky little low branch at the bottom rear. I love leaving funky things on trees that make them different from the usual fare we see. I think a possible option on this tree is to Jin the bottom trunk but leave the freaky bottom back branch and swing it slightly to the right.

Anyway, a few options to discuss with the owner when he sees it in person. After 30+ years in his care I think it’s only right to let him have a say.

Seedling Scots Pines

A friend has some Scots Pine that he started from seed over 30 years ago and have never been out of a pot of some sort in that time. They’ve have good years and bad during that period and this month I’ve been sorting them out and doing a little wiring for him.

Before tidy up
After
Second Pine before
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3rd Pine before
And after

I love the fact that these trees have been grown from seed by the owner and have stayed with him all these years. I have two more to complete work on which I’m looking forward to.

Here is a Mugo Pine that he also collected from his own garden last year getting a first styling.

Before wiring sadly no pic before branch selection.
After styling

One to One with John

Another day with trees in Dublin, this time with John is his beautiful garden.

Some pics.

One to One with Derek

A few snaps from today’s one to one with Derek in Dublin.

Grand Tour September 2017

It’s been full on lately with both bonsai and family and the blog has taken a back seat as a result. I’m now playing catch up and thought it only right to share some of the photos from my trip down to Munster to do a few one to one sessions with the folk in the Munster Bonsai Club. A more enthusiastic bunch I’ve yet to meet. I was also lucky to time my visit with their first ever exhibition which, for me, was the highlight of the week.

First up was Mark’s place. A shorter session than usual but we worked late and managed to wire the primary structure into two field grown trees. A first styling for a Japanese Red  and a Black Pine.

The lower branch was left to develope into a second trunk and also improve inverse taper. It can always be removed at a later date.

The next day was at Demot’s, again a first styling on a tall Scots Pine and some tweaking on a few Junipers.

He even gave me a tour of Cobh, the town where he lives and the world’s Second largest Natural Harbour.

Day 3 was Piotr’s place and yet another initial styling of a Pine, this time a Lodgepole.

Next was a little Hinoki Cypress that was in need of thinning and a little wiring.

A Japanese White Pine

and then whilst having a few beers… another pine!

Day 4 was with Michael and a change of species, a yew. Not many photos here as I had a limited time period and a lot to discuss as well as work to get done.

Day 5 was at Steve’s place and saw a fair bit of carving both by hand and with power tools. First was this Yew that had been carved previously but showed a lot of tools marks.

And after some work. Further refinement needed on the deadwood, but a step in the right direction.

 

Some initial carving on a new larch for Steve.

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Sadly no finished pics, it was too dark 🙂

Day 6 was the Exhibition and I was delighted to put on a shohin display along with the club members. We set up and had an hour before opening, so we did a critique of the displays with all the club members and exhibitors. I was given a tall Scot’s Pine to style in the demo.

Day 7 was spent with Ray. The main tree was a hinoki cypress that we’d done initial work on 2 years ago. It had grown free for 2 years and was now ready of a new look. We decided to go for a different look that breaks a few rules as far as multi trunk trees go but I feel we created a bonsai that looks like a tree, not a bonsai.

 

 

 

 

We also did a clearing out of a shohin Chinese Juniper. A nice start.

Day 8, my last day, was with Paul. A lover of Japanese Art and by the look of his garden and house, all things Japanese.

Room with a view. A truly inspiring place to stay.

Paul wanted some help with his niwaki style Pine in his garden. Starting at the top and working down 🙂

Afterwards we wired his Japanese White Pine making a few changes here and there to remove faults while keeping the original image that he liked when it was bought. A badly wire scarred apex had to be removed and replaced.

A massive thank you to all the guys who made this tour possible. I was looked after so well at every stop and the craic was mighty. The drive shown by this club is inspiring and this is only their 4th year. To deliver an exhibition to this standard, AND, there where trees there from 10 members, not all from a few with the higher level trees, shows what a fun club they are to be involved with. It was great to meet the newer members at the exhibition and get a chance to talk bonsai and share ideas for the future.

I look forward to seeing you all again soon and exploring new opportunities in 2018.

The leftovers

Last week I did a bit of a tour of Ireland working with some of the chaps from the Munster Bonsai Club and even the odd Leinster man thrown in. I had a great week and was delighted to spend quality time with these guys. As I always say, Bonsai is as much about friendship to me as it is about the trees.

I did post each day last week but that was only a few quick snaps from my phone using the wordpress app. I’ve had time to wade through my camera and have added the leftover photos here for viewing. No order really, all a bit random, but I feel they capture the mood of the week. Thanks again folks for all your hospitality and for the kindness and understanding shown by your better halves. They all deserve a medal putting up with us lot for husbands 🙂

It was an awkward time to deliver work on many of the trees but we still managed some good work nudging trees in the right direction. Much planning was done for the future and hopefully some of the reasons why, when and how we do the work are a little clearer. Here’s the photos.

One to One: Hornbeam & Zelkova

Here’s a couple of pieces I worked on last week during a one to one session. Both the before shots are slightly older photos but give a good view of the changes made.

First up is a hornbeam that was getting it’s first proper wiring. Tree has a nice trunk and we wanted to get it started on the path to make a nice deciduous image.

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And then this Zelkova group got taken out of it’s training box and potted into a more suitable pot. Two new smaller trees were added at the rear to help the image.

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One to One: Hawthorn

Had a long one to one session today with the main focus being on the Hawthorn species and a few Maples thrown in for good measure.

This one is really coming on since being worked in a session last July.

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This was the tree in July last year. Coming along nicely.

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One to One – Field Maple

I had a one to one session on Tuesday night and was rather taken with this Field Maple, Acer Campestre, that was one of 4 trees worked on in the session. The tree had been purchased from Kaizen Bonsai a few years back and some of Mr Potters carving was clearly evident. I think this species in under used here in the UK. Yes, I know it a little coarse in the branch structure, but the species bring so much more to the table in the way of character.DSC_0331

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We were limited to what we could do with the tree in leaf but were able to make a few decisions and remove a few unwanted branches. A partial defoliation was done, a bit early but not an issue with this species. A new front was found and a slight change in potting angle for next Spring. The tree will get a full wiring in the Autumn and will be a very nice rugged image in the years to come.

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One to One: Mixed Bag

I had Ben over for a one to one last Saturday with a van load of trees to discuss and work on, always an enjoyable session with Ben.

These are a few of the trees covered on the day. First up a beech that got a pruning, thread grafting and a repot.

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This Beech group on a slate had a few adjustment made to the slate so it didn’t look like it had just been stolen off a roof!

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And finally a Yamadori Hawthorn getting it’s first shaping. A strange one to do but we opted to try and recreate an actual Hawthorn image that can be seen throughout Ireland. Typically seen growing the in the middle of a field with cattle lying under it. I suggested this to Ben as a possible accent feature but thankfully he’s wise enough to know that this would be tacky 🙂

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