It had a major repot in 2019 and sulked in a big way all that year. 2020 has been a shitty year for most of us but this hawthorn made a come back. I decided that although I like my hawthorn to have a natural angular appearance and to not over wired, this tree needed adjustments. The branches had sprung a bit and a slight angle change at the repot meant things weren’t quite in place.
Even after all this time the tree has plenty of ramification still to be added. And some branch fattening here and there. If I knew back then what I know now this tree would be further on and branches in better proportion. Bonsai is a journey that’s for sure.
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.
Had this Hawthorn for quite a few years now but 2020 saw it repotted at a more acute angle giving it more of a windswept feel.
A few reasons for doing it. 1. I love windswept Hawthorn in nature. I think they are one of the most “Irish” representative tree images and are a common sight along our coastline. 2. After several repots and root workings I’m just not able to deal with the heavy root running along the front of the tree right to left. Normally they chase back and allow for a more compact root system. This one is connected to one of the main feeder paths running up the tree and has yet to product any significant backrooting after 15 plus years. On this tree the more acute lean right to left has allowed me to drop that root deeper in the pot and hide its ugliness.
I still need to deal with the ever creeping moss running up the trunk, but while working the tree I noticed tiny little mushrooms popping out of the little ecosystem along the upper trunk line. I think laying it over has helped create it’s own little world on top.
Running along the top centre of the trunkline is the beginnings of a natural Shari. The tree is pretty much split into two main live veins with the dead patch in the middle. Instead of going in there and clearing it out, I’m just going to let it decay at it’s own rate for now and enjoy watching it change year to year.
This Pine had an average year with some difficulty getting water into the root mass. There’s loads of soil mass in there but a narrow opening into which it’s planted.
Possibly as a result, the lower extending branch to the left got weaker to the point were it was unlikely to bounce back. This was a branch that I was 50/50 on keeping anyway design wise and combined with Shore Pines trait of dropping lower branches, was unlikely to have stayed the course long term.
A long way to go in development but a few years in I’m happy with the result so far. I’m planning a better option for watering next year.
After a few years to recover and a little tightening in I had this material to work with.
After a little cleaning out.
In 2016 after further chasing in some initial primary branch placement was made.
In 2017 it got it first basic styling.
This was it last week ready for its second styling.
This video doesn’t exist
Time for work.
This video doesn’t exist
Still a ways to go but I’m loving this species more and more. Deadwood needs refined and I may need welding gloves on the next time I wire it but I’m happy with the results so far. It’s a keen back budder. It’s due a repot so I’ll see what pot size I can reduce it into to.
I got out collecting again a few weeks ago with Phil. We managed to get back on to our old Hawthorn site. As my shoulder and neck are not really up to the task any more, I had Jeff my spade buddy along to help. It was Jeff’s first time collecting and after wind hail and even snow, it might be his last 🙂
Part of the site
Jeff perched on the edge
Up in the heights
I see him
That one can stay where it is!
Jeff playing hide and seek, he’s very good at it.
The weather moved in. Grim 😦
Hard to light up 🙂
Some of the booty
Just before I dropped my phone in the muck!
Too big but beautiful, and the trees not bad either.
I got some smaller Blackthorn as well as Hawthorn. At the end of the day I had some potted up and black bagged. Giving this a go to see what the results are like.
That was 2 weeks ago, I opened a bag today and the budding is going well.
A big thank you to Jeff for doing the heavy lifting for me. I haven’t heard from him since! Only joking.
Managed to get out with Phil collecting yesterday and amazingly the sun came out!
To be honest the day was more about getting permissions to collect in place and preparing some trees for collection in a few years time, but it was a successful day all the same with a few new additions to the garden. We have a rather special Hawthorn site that we haven’t used for a few years. The owner has since passed away and we were seeking permission from the new owner. After calling and speaking to his wife we were hopeful of getting back on the site. I was then left a voice mail saying we couldn’t collect. We were gutted! 😦 Then today out of the blue, he rang back to say yes, collect away!!! 😀 I think in all my years collecting I’ve only been turned down once and that was a tree from a garden. I was really gutted to think we’d never get back on this special site. Being able to take your time collecting, being selective and legal is the only way to go.
In case you are wondering, these snaps are not the site 😉
After an evening with Piotr our host on the Saturday night, we made an early start on the Sunday morning to visit two collecting sites. First off we wanted to collect some Larch for the NIBS, our own club, who have plans about a special inter-generational workshop next year. Here we our selecting some suitable trees for this.
We popped back to Piotrs home for a quick cuppa before some serious travelling to the second site. While we were there we had a look around some of Piotr’s trees in his garden. I think we can safely say he’s hooked on bonsai with a garden rapidly filling with trees.
We then headed along the West Coast to get to a site we hadn’t visited before. We had been told that it was a possible Pine collecting site. I’m not going to go into the location for obvious reasons but Piotr had done the ground work for us so we could just go and collect. He came along with us and it was great to have his help.
It was a bit of a drive and then a bit of a hike from the road but what we found was an excellent site for both Scots Pine and Lodgepole Pine. These trees were self seeded and growing in an exposed area which created some great shapes and bark. These are the best Pines that I’ve found in Ireland. Here are a few shots of some of them on site. A nice mix of sizes. Sorry for a few blurry photos but it was raining for a while.
Sunday saw us head to a few places where Pines have self seeded from forestry areas and have never been touched. The Pines are mostly Lodgepole Pine but the bark was really nice and some had pretty decent movement. Phil … Continue reading →