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.
This hawthorn has been knocking around my garden for probably 15 years and can be seen here as part of a case study on air layering.
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.
For those who follow me on Instagram you’ll know that back on day 1 of lockdown in Northern Ireland I decided that it might be fun to do a daily post there and, thanks to Facebook global domination, share it their as well.
Here we are 100 days later and I’ve decided it’s a nice round number to stop at. I’ve enjoyed doing the posts but time to resume my more chaotic posting system. As you can plainly see I’m also trying to breath life into this blog. As usual I’ll get carried away and no doubt I’ll slow it down to a drip 💧
As I posted precious little here during lockdown I thought I’d add a gallery as well of some of the trees etc that I posted over the last 100 days.
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.
In an attempt to get into a routine of posting on the blog again I thought I’d share this Rhododendron Blue Diamond here.
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.
The ideal time to remove the flowers and more importantly the little seed pods at their centre.
Below is how the tree came to me in 2002.
A week yesterday, where does the time go! I was taking part in a group Workshop in Belfast with Bjorn Bjorholm. I missed him the last time he visited due to a holiday but this time I grabbed a slot with Belfast Bonsai’s event.
My tree for the day was only a recent addition to my collection but a tree that I have a special connection to. It belonged to my best friend Stephen who was letting a few of his bigger trees go due to the fact that they were bigger than him. Sorry Stephen, I can’t resist 🙂 The tree was originally purchased as raw material from Willowbog Bonsai back in the late 90’s.
I helped Stephen with it’s first styling on 11th September 2001, a date that will forever stay in my memory and why I call the tree the 9/11 Scottie. I can remember standing wiring this tree with Stephen when my wife knocked the window and told us to come inside. We watched the horror unfold.
When Stephen told me he was selling it all these years later I didn’t hesitate to buy it. I have a few trees that have sentimental value to me because of who used to own them but this tree resonates for a different reason. I’ve dealt with a fair bit of stress in my life including Post Traumatic Stress and, for whatever reason, this tree seems to echo back to a time where those involved and survived no doubt have many of the same issues I have. This probably sounds stupid unless you’ve experienced something similar. Anyway, it’s my tree for my reasons and I suppose that’s all that really matters. It seemed fitting for an American Bonsai artist to carry out the work some 18 years later nearly to the day.
This is the tree back in 2001\2.
and a few other pics of it over the years.
and how it was prior to the workshop.
And this is a gallery of the workshop day with my tree.
The finished tree.
A massive thank you to Bjorn. It was pleasing to see that he was as enthusiastic about the tree and result as I was.
A new pot in the Spring more suited to the style and the tree will live on as a memory for me.
After visiting John on my first stop, John and Nigel took me over to CJ’s home to see a superb collection of bonsai crammed into his garden. CJ has been creating bonsai for a long time and this showed in the hundreds of trees he was working on. I was most impressed by his use of native Australian species. I suspect that many of his trees will feature in 2021, and rightly so. Great detail in the images he’s created and nice to see plenty of shohin.
In such a full garden it’s hard to get a good clean shot of the trees. The strong sunshine also blows out any details. A pity I couldn’t do justice to CJ’s trees. He also grows the best blueberries I ever tasted. Is there no end to his talents? 🙂
CJ thank you for your great welcome and a nice lunch to boot.