The owner has had this tree a long time and it only needs a nudge in the right direction now and again.
The tree needed a good clean before work to clear the last hold out needles and remove the algae starting to clog up the branches.
As many branches had risen a rewiring of most of the primary structure was needed. I find larch need this every 3-4 years even when established. Other work included the removal of branches that had over thickened and replacing them with younger finer ones. Probably the biggest issues with larches is their ability to fatten fast if over fed or left to run too long during the year. Building up a good structure to allow these to be replaced on a cycle over the years by younger finer branches is so important on larch, more so that other species.
After wiring above. Not every fine detail is wired just what was out of shape or needed to be moved to fill space crated by branch removal.
This tree back in the 90’s had the trunk split down the middle to allow more flexibility and had the movement you see now created by heavy wiring. Over 30 years later you’d be hard pushed to see it amongst the flaky bark. Here’s a few other older photos of the same tree dating back to 2012-13.
This was the latest on the tidy up list. It wasn’t quite ready for any wiring. Needed the strong areas thinned out and generally balanced out to aid health f lower branches. Ready for work after 2021 flush. The high root at the base was cut through half way to allow a staged removal. As with most of the Shore Pine I mange to collect, the bark is rather special.
Another piece of collected material into the workshop for a basic first design. With Shore Pine I find you have to hedge your bets. It can take 4-5 years from collection and a first post collection repot before you can be certain what branches are going to be retained by the tree. Good health doesn’t mean the tree won’t drop branches, in fact with vigour they can shed lower branches as a result. If you over fertilise or over pot they can also fatten too fast and shed the old bark that has taken many years in hard growing conditions to create. Keeping on top of stronger upper areas in the first few years is critical in maintaining as many lower branches as possible. All that said they are a fantastic tree with bark and character to die for.
Thinned out that strong upper growth, thinning needle mass, opening out structure by wiring primary lines, retaining and wiring up tips of all lower branches, all steps taken for health and to aid budding next year. The design has made the three trunk lines work together and shows off the wonderful bark. However at this stage with too many branches and a need for ramification, it’s far from the finished article. A long term project for someone to take forward and in the meantime I’ll help it on it’s path as best I can.
I’m trying to work my way through some raw stock here that since collecting has established a good rootball and now needs work or they will fast become green blobs.
This lodgepole Pine was collected beside Lough Corrib a few years back. a tall slender tree with subtle movement perhaps not as noticeable in the photo. It has gotten very strong and I wanted to put the tree to work back budding and create a first basic structure. Many would shorten the tree or perhaps bend it into a more dramatic if unnatural shape but I wanted to embrace the tall elegant pine image. Perhaps not making it an old image but that of a tree reaching maturity and starting to show the pressures of maintaining all those branches.
First job was a good clean out removing yellow needles and then balancing the foliage to the same level throughout the tree. I also removed any triple bud tips back down to two.
And then to work. I’m sharing this time lapse more to show how I work. I have issues with my neck and shoulders so be comfortable when I work is important. This scissor lift table allows me to position the tree just right distance and height wise for me.
And the tree after work. The lower hanging branch was actually split slightly from the trunk to get a better angle. there’s a few branches too many at this point but I like to leave options on first styling to allow for future changes. The hanging branch for that matter may be removed or jinned in a future styling. Leaving options for the next owner is always a wise move. Perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea. Some will say it’s too tall or not dramatic enough. Not to worry there’s plenty of those twisted tree makers out there. I like to go with what the tree offers and what made me collect it in the first place. It’s only the first step on the road to becoming a bonsai.
This tree belongs to a friend but was in my care until it sold. During the last storm it took a leap off the bench and smashed its training pot. I’d always said it needed an angle change and with permission from the owner I removed a few unnecessary branches and placed some primary and secondary branches to set a structure for the future. I worked the deadwood stumps as well. They aren’t to my taste but I’ve left them on for the new owner to decide what their tastes are.
The tree wasn’t actually potted into the grey pot, just set in there during work and a tighter brown oval selected for the final pot. Even then I didn’t remove roots just adjusted to the new angle. The tree can be repotted properly Spring 2021/22.
This Scots Pine, recently arrived into Northern Ireland, hade been featured in Peter Warren’s book, ‘Bonsai’ published by DK. This showed its first styling by Peter.
When it arrived here it was obvious that in the interim it had undergone further changes and refinement.
The tree was ready for the next step and the new owner asked if I would do a little work on it. I was going to wait a little longer to allow the new foliage time to harden but it was surprisingly resistant to a tug on new needles. So with a soft touch I set about following the framework already set in place before. I discussed the tree with Adam the new owner and we agreed on a front but knew the tree had been set up for either side to look the part. My reason for the left lean being the front was the added depth the foliage created and the better base to the tree.
This is the back but styled to give the tree a great look all around.
There’s a few little bits of deadwood that might be distracting but I’m leaving them to see how the tree matures, they can be removed later by the owner if he feels the need.
Once again I’m honoured to get a chance to preview and review the latest online Course from Bonsai Empire. Oscar has done well to keep this one quiet for so long. Back in November he filmed two long format case studies with Master Kimura in Japan, and from today you are able to access this content on Bonsai Empire.
The beauty of the Covid lockdown, if you can find any beauty in it, is the spare time many of us have to soak up more bonsai knowledge from online sources. I should really add the ‘trusted’ to that as we know that there is a lot of poor content online as well. The thing about Bonsai Empire’s content is you know what you are going to get for your money. Namely, lifetime access to top quality, well edited, factual video content. The Kimura Masterclass is no different.
I sat down to watch all four hours of the content last week. Normally time is tight and I skim over the content to get a feel of what the course is like for review, but this time I put the feet up and sat back.
What you first see from scanning the lectures column is that you are getting two demonstrations by Mr Kimura, something that I think will rarely be seen these days. As he says himself in the course, his students do all the world travelling now so he doesn’t have too. Therefore this is a great opportunity for those new to bonsai to sit and learn from a master who in all likelihood you have heard of but most likely will never have the change to seen in action.
The first demo is a yamadori Japanese White Pine that Mr Kimura transforms into a windswept image in his own style. It’s an educational process and gives some insight into his design process as he progresses with the tree. Techniques are discussed and used throughout.
The second demonstration is the creation of a rock planting using six Itiogawa junipers. These have become one of Mr Kimura’s mainstays with many being seen in Europe at exhibitions. We get to see a rock he created by carving being transformed into a really stunning image that many now try and emulate. Lots to learn from his step by step process starting with how to prepare and attach trees, their placement to give depth, the mossing and then styling of the trees to give us the finished image.
Foe me one of the most interesting elements was watching how his apprentices worked for him trying to anticipate his every move and be one step a head.
Bonus video content takes you on a walk around his public and private gardens and we get to hear him speaking about some of his most famous trees featured in his books.
In all you get 4 hours of content to watch again whenever you want. The open demo format gives this course a different feel to the previous Bonsai Empire courses, perhaps not as concise and loaded with carefully thought out dialogue from the like s of Michael Hagedorn or Bjorn Bjorholm, but I don’t think anyone buying this corse would have expected that same format. We get to watch Mr Kimura preform and we can follow along with clear subtitles and enjoy seeing his decision making.