Scots Pine Next Step

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.

Kimura Masterclass Course

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.

The course is available from today for $79.99 for lifetime access.

Here is a short trailer to give you a feel of the content.

Well done Oscar, I look forward to seeing where Bonsai Empire can take us after this 🙂

 

 

Shine Bright Like A Diamond

In an attempt to get into a routine of posting on the blog again I thought I’d share this Rhododendron Blue Diamond here.

This years peak bloom.

You’ll notice the one branch at the front without flowers. It’s a weak branch which gets weaker every year. There is a very thin live vein on it and I had removed the flowers from it for the last few years to try and strengthen it with no joy. Enough was enough. It had its chance so time to remove and redesign.

And then past peak with dead flowers showing.

The ideal time to remove the flowers and more importantly the little seed pods at their centre.

I’m sure we missed some late openers.
After deflowering before pruning.
Structural pruning
After pruning and set for the post flowering flush. You’d hardly notice the front branch at the main apex gone. A few bits wired to fill the gap.

Below is how the tree came to me in 2002.

Repotting Theory & Practical

On Saturday I took a day out of one to one workshops to do a Theory and Practical Repotting Day with Munster Bonsai Club at Bruree in Limerick.

I had been asked to focus on this in a session to aid newer members in getting the fundamentals right and gain some new skills.

We had a run through of the why what when and how via PowerPoint and Q&A before a Practical session with club members repotting their own trees and helping others.

I think this was one of the best feel good club days I’ve ever experienced from the outside. A great club. A massive thank you to all those who yet again came out to support a club event. They have been coming thick and fast for a club pushing their learning hard.

Here’s some photos from the day some mine some stolen.

Busy Week on the Road

It’s been a busy week down in the South of Ireland doing some one to one sessions with friends from Cobh, Cork, to Limerick then Dublin. Some good times had and great trees played with. A little styling and refinement and, as you’d expect, some repotting.

Here’s some photos from the trip. snow on the way home as usual in Dublin. Thank you to all who supported the road trip. Back again images weeks for another round.

Shore Pine Rock Planting 2

Saturday’s study group also got to play with rock. Another Shore Pine being placed on a rock from Lough Corrib County Galway.

The tree previously styled.

Playing with options. We ended up changing plans yet again and grinding away rock to allow better placement.

The rock had a large hole in the middle which had to seal with mesh from underneath to allow for more substrate to be added.

The photo doesn’t do the rock justice. It has lots of character and I look forward to seeing this composition mature.

Day With Derek

Monday saw me with Derek sorting a few trees out. Repotting and a little wiring on the agenda.

First up was a maple that had been recovering for a ew years in a box. Now we’ll on the up again we transferred it into a pot. Derek had a few options but most were too small.

We opted to use a round Gordon Duffet pot he had lying around😂 I only wish it were mine. The other gives the tree a little space in which to continue its development

This was the tree back in the late 80s

Next up was a pine, species unknown. He collected the seed from the Botanical Gardens in Dublin many years ago. The tree got a reworking having had some initial work done by myself a few years ago at a club workshop.

The tree was repotted into a Magic Ceramic pot that Derek picked up last year. We even found a nice widening buttress buried in the box. It’s got a longer needle but back buds well and seems to reduce well.

Another repot was this larch which had been a taller tree last year before being reduced to the bottom branch. Pushing hard for a shohin image but it’s on the larger side. It went into another Magic Ceramics pot.

A Chinese Juniper landscape was next. I doubt this tree had been repotted properly in the last 20 years but now under Derek’s care it was time for a freshen up.

A busy day with Derek but productive and great craic as usual.

Initial Working #3 Privet & Hawthorn

Two more getting their first direction. First is a hawthorn with great bark and second is an unusual variety of privet.

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Initial Working #2 Hawthorn

This is another Hawthorn I worded on on Saturday, collected from a hedge a few years ago using a digger and now well established in a pot. Some amazing deadwood that will now be protected. Branch selection and some basic placing done. Raffia on  a few of the heavy branches to get the right placement. Leader left to grow free to help with taper. This will be another great tree in a few years time.

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Video Update

I have updated the video of the big Scots Pine that Phil did the bending on with Ryan Neil back in January. After 6 months the wire had to be removed as it was starting to cut in. However Phil left the guy lines in place  to maintain the trunk position. There has been strong growth and there are many signs of back budding. The video is below, if you have already watched the workshop portion and want to skip to the update go to 37.30. I have also included the outtake video of Phil attempting to turn the tree for video. It wasn’t meant to be an out take but Phil in his usual style has managed to make it one. See what we have to put up with !! 🙂

I’m now sitting down to sort through the footage recorded at the Peter Warren weekend. I hope to have these up this week.