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.


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.


Sunday’s Two to One

Sunday saw another workshop session, this time a Two to One with two of the guys from the Leinster Bonsai Club. It was a busy day with a lot of trees examined and a lot of time spend looking at what makes a good bonsai.

When we got down to work this heavy-trunked raw material Hornbeam got some carving to remove dead stumps and some problem branches. What’s left will make the basic structure of a nice tree. The final trunk line at the apex will be reduced further next year. Left for new to allow buds to pop to see when the best chop point should be.

The material


Some major chop points to be worked.


More pruning wounds.


Some chopped roots also needing work.


Owen at work. Think this was his first time with a makita and he loved it 🙂



and the new front after removed of unwanted branches etc. Tree will be a little shorter, just below those top branches, however after the chop just below that pointed I opted to keep it a little taller to draw sap in the Spring. As more adventurous buds appear it will be reduced by about 3-4 inches.DSC_0933

Rear view of the chops after basic carving.


Owen also brought this little Blue Spruce, picked up for 10 euros and bought for practice. He got some wiring practice out of it at any rate.


As the tree fills out a few more branches will be removed.


Another tree worked on was this beast stump of Berberis stump, a two man lift.  Some adjustments were made to the deadwood and then the young branches were placed at the right angles and movement added. This has to be done at this stage before they harden further,berberis are brittle when they thicken. We were only concerned with the first few inches, after that the tips were pointed upwards to give vigour.

Before work.


We opted for a twink trunk image but to make it convincing we had to removed a significant portion of the second trunk to make it look thinner that the main trunk line.DSC_0914


Some block carving carried out  on the sencond trunk. No point doing any refinement at this stage of the trees journey.


It was a busy day but the guys seemed to enjoy it as can be seen on Owen’s blog HERE.


Hornbeam Project

This field grown Hornbeam is going to be one of my Winter projects. Some wiring and carving required. This tree has had very little work so far but it will make a nice tree with time.



Which do you prefer?

Following on from my last post, I thought it would be fun to try out a quick poll among you all to see which front you would pick for Stephen’s Hornbeam.

Here are your two options:

FRONT A No pruning wounds

FRONT B Showing two large pruning wounds

You decide!

Stephen’s Hornbeam Repot

Stephen asked if I’d give him a hand repotting his Hornbeam. It’s a big tree and he’s only a hobbit sized fellow. 🙂 I wanted a hand with my big pine as well, so we opted for a potting session on Saturday afternoon.

This is the hornbeam

It has an impressive buttress, but that has been part of the problem with this tree.

The heavy roots also translate into heavy roots underneath. The problem now is getting the tree into a more suitable pot. Any of the right depth are unsuitable as the tree sits solidly on a heavy wood base. Stephen attempted to pot this tree last year but the pot he picked was a non-starter as it was too shallow. This is the offending base root/s.

This time around we took our time and slowly removed some of the wood to allow it to fit a shallower pot. Stephen had purchased a Wallsall Ceramic pot for this back in the Autumn, and even though it was deeper than the previous new pot, the tree was still was too high when placed in the pot. By removing the wood as seen below we hoped that would be resolved.

Stephen prepares the new pot.

And this is the tree repotted. Now, what’s the best front?! This is the front I prefer. The root spread is impressive and all chop mark deadwood areas are hidden at the back.

This is the other side. Still really nice and some would say that the wounds are more like uro’s and are worth showing off. The nebari is probably slightly better from here as well. Which is your favourite?

This is back to my front and with some slight pruning towards the apex as the buds where too strong in this area.


It was fun watching Stephen trying to get it back in the car 🙂

See it even fits in a hobbit car!!

Clean Up and Tuck Away

I started the process of cleaning up a few of the bits of raw material to tuck away into the poly tunnel for Winter Protection.

This little Hornbeam was field grown and has only been the victim of my chop and grow procedures.

Dead leaves removed. I don’t want any hiding places for little beasties over the Winter.

The original chop will need some carving work to look more convincing.

This Wild Pear was also put away. I will be leaving the branches to extend further next year to thicken before cutting back next Autumn.

Korean Hornbeam

This Korean Hornbeam has been a fast grower this year. I gave it a trim today just to tidy it up for a show next month. No sign of Autumn colour as yet.

Airport Run

I had to pick up my Sister and Nephews from the Airport this afternoon, flying in from Australia. As the flight was delayed slightly, I had time to pop into Stephen’s house on the way to have a look at a few trees. Living 5 minutes from the airport is handy 🙂

His Satsuki has just started on the downhill stretch after flowering. Still worth a few photos though.

A nice hosta accent about to flower.

Big Hornbeam.

Big Larch.

Haws on a Hawthorn.

and I spotted this clump of baby spiders on a Pine just waiting for a breeze to drift off on.

A little bit every day

Jamie commented on one of my posts yesterday and asked if I worked on trees every day. I replied that it felt like it at the moment and that it mostly depended on my work getting in the way.

This got me thinking about what is required to keep on top of a collection. I’m the first to admit that I have far too much sitting about the place and sometimes my better trees miss out on that next step of refinement. I find the best way to stay on top is to do that little task every day. I’ll water everything and then look for something to do that fits the time I have available.

Today I trimmed back a Cork Bark Chinese Elm, trimmed a few extension shoots from my Korean Hornbeam, shortened in the second flush of shoots on a hawthorn and took a few photos of my Cotoneaster in Flower.

Here’s a few photos from today.

Hornbeam after trim

Cork Bark before trim

After trim


Hawthorn Raft trimmed.

I must admit that this blog has highlighted just how much I actually do on a daily basis! 🙂

Photo Session

Today I went to my mate Stephen’s house to take a few record photos of his trees. Here’s a few that looked particularly nice. A big thank you to Stephen who donated a few trees to my son Matthew who is showing an interest in bonsai. If you are reading this Jamie, between Stephen and myself, there’s a few trees in this for you too 🙂

This was the set up for the photos.

And this is where I talked Stephen into posing with his Deshojo for scale purposes. You would think he’d look happier with a tree like that beside him 🙂