Bending a twisty Yew to improve the trunk line

I have had this Yew for over 20 years and it has had major bending done on the lower part to bring the foliage closer to the trunk, this took 3 years to fully ‘set’ and stay in position. The tree was exhibited last year on a pile of book at the Noelanders Trophy and most liked the display and a few traditionalists were horrified. Over the years the tree has been in a variety of pots some crazy… and some not. This is because the tree has been like a petulant child, difficult making the tree do what I want. And finding the best pot has been a challenge.

I have always had issue with the distance of the foliage in relation to the trunk line, combined with the lower trunks movement has never fully been utilized. Having done such extensive carving to reduce the bulk of the upper part the live vein was thinned to a flat part at the rear of the tree. With a bit more carving to thin out the deadwood bending this area would be a simple process. This would pull the tree together and solve a lot of the awkward shapes and angles in the tree. The wire was held in place with cable ties and the tree was bent through and angle of 30º I did not wrap the tree with raffia because the bend was so subtle and the wires and ties held the whole together well.


I am very happy with the final dynamic appearance; I love the angle of the Ten Jin, the movement of the lower trunk and the compact nature of the whole image. The training pot will help the tree thicken up the live vein and meanwhile I can concentrate on filling out the foliage.

Here are some early photos of the development and crazy pots followed by progress photos of the bending done.

Prunus cascade repotting and change of angle

Prunus cascade

Cascade Blackthorn on the wireOccasionally the banner at the top of this blog shows this cascade Prunus Spinosa in full leaf on a Barbed Wire stand. When it was exhibited at The Noelanders show on 2012 it cause a wee bit of a stir. That photo is as the tree looked two years ago. A year later I transferred the tree into a larger pot to let the roots run free and build more vigour yet the opposite happened, I slowly lost vigour in the bottom branch. Another year in the pot to see if it would pull back, it did not, the top went from strength to strength… So here is the tree repotted, at a slightly different angle and without the bottom branch.

The branches that remain will not be cut back until the tree flowers in the next couple of month; they are a bit random as I left the tree to recover vigour.

I will need a rather special table now as the trunk slightly undercuts the pot!

The Show’s Must Go On

Tony Tickle:

I will be with Andy at all the shows and watch his stock go down ever faster

Originally posted on Stone Monkey Ceramics:

In a couple of weeks we will have the Noelanders Trophy upon us then the Swindon Winter Image Show and finally Shohin UK2. I have been working really hard on the back end of Gafu Ten to get more pots made including an award for Shohin UK2 and also a collaboration prize, with the godfather of bonsai and bonsai pots Dan Barton, for Bonsai With Love in June. Then in August it’s Bonsai World in Crawley and then Bonsai Europa in Bury in October. All in all its a pretty full on year after my hiatus and I am looking forward to getting back on the circuit and meeting so many good friends. So if your going to any of the shows mentioned please drop by and say hello.

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A slightly neglected Chinese elm

Tony Tickle:

Adam does a nice job on a neglected little elm.

Originally posted on Adam's Art and Bonsai Blog:

This post begins inside and ends up outside. Opposite of the last post I guess.
Must mean I’m making progress.
Here’s the little tree.
It a very modest Chinese elm. It began life a an s-curve and I chopped it. Kinda like this:
Like I said, it’s very modest. The root base is very average.
And I’ve neglected it a little.
You can see how much it’s grown since I wired it.
My plan today is to unwire, trim and rewire, and repot.
Whoa?! Repot? I say that because the keen eyed readers in the audience probably saw the emergent and even emerged leaves on the tree.
That’s a no no, ain’t it? Repotting a deciduous tree with leaves on it?
Here’s a secret you won’t see in any book: you have, with a chinese elm specifically, a much greater leeway in your repotting times, than with most other deciduous…

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After two seasons Yamadori thrive due to patience

I sell a lot of native European Yamadori all of the trees are very old and of the best quality, trees that I would have in my own collection. I select trees on the hill that I believe will make great bonsai and leave those that have no or little potential. With every tree except pine I bare root, removing all the mountain soil and replace with my own mix suitable for growing new roots and establishing the tree in a pot. I also endeavour to plant the tree in the smallest container whilst still maintaining the future health of the tree. This makes transplanting to a bonsai pot a lot easier without the usual dangerous root ball reduction that sometimes takes place after establishing.

Usually the planting position in the ‘training’ pot is not the ‘finished’ angle or position that the tree will be styled, when purchasing I advise one ‘what’s happening below the soil level’ so that future ideas and possibilities can be explored with confidence.

When purchasing yamadori it is crucial to let the tree acclimatise to your local conditions, garden, weather, elevation etc. and not start work on the tree the moment you get it home.

These photos are from a Prunus Spinosa (Blackthorn) after two years in the pot. My student had this tree for 12 months prior to bringing the tree to be potted in the bonsai pot. It was full of new fine roots, the student had fed the tree well and did not cut back or ‘style’ the tree in any way. The tree responded well and when potted on into a Bonsai Pot retained a lot of new root. NO wiring of the branches too place only cutting back to two buds. The tree will deliver flowers and an abundance of new growth this season. Patience always pays off when working with yamadori.

Blackthorn 2 seasons 01 Blackthorn roots 02 Blackthorn roots 03 Blackthorn roots 04 Blackthorn roots 05

Blackthorn 2 seasons 02

The Calm before the Storm

Tony Tickle:

Get them while you can

Originally posted on Stone Monkey Ceramics:

After the last week of events all surrounded by Gafu Ten which knocked me sideways, in the best possible way, it’s back to business of making stock for the next three shows, those being Noelanders, Swindon and Shohin UK2. I have been grabbing every spare moment and opportunity to make pots plus squeeze in the commissions that I have. I am really looking forward to Noelanders this year as I will be on my own tables and no longer with my former partner in crime 😉 eh Tony?

Those of you who are going to Noelanders drop by and say hello. I will have lots of new pots and ideas that spurned the blossom pots that went to Gafu Ten this year. A new and exciting time for me as a potter and look forward to seeing you in Belgium in a few weeks.


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The Joy of Bonsai

Tony Tickle:

Another great post from Bill

Originally posted on Valavanis Bonsai Blog:


The Kawa Bonsai Society of Florida is sponsoring their annual convention The Joy of Bonsai, on January 16-18, 2014, in Bunnell, Florida, near Daytona Beach. Louise Leister did an outstanding job organizing the event. The speakers, Sean Smith, Ted Matson, Mike Rogers and Wm. N. Valavanis will be conducting demonstrations, workshops and critique. There is a wide selection of trees, containers, tools, supplies, suiseki and magazines for sale by a select group of vendors.






Come, join us as the speakers share their skill and knowledge!

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The 10th Annual Modern Shohin Container Artist Exhibition, Part 2

Tony Tickle:

Some beautiful pots here… all you need as some beautiful trees to go in them… or just have them as objects of beauty!

Originally posted on Japanese Bonsai Pots Blog:

There were many other artists in this year’s exhibition that deserved note(in fact all of them were excellent). But my time is limited, so here are the entries that most caught my eye.
If you’d like to see the rest of the entries, and read a little more in depth about the artists in this year’s show, this is the Japanese Shohin Bonsai Association’s page for the exhibit:

10th Annual Pottery Exhibition, JSB

Special thanks, Again, go out to Mark and Rita Cooper, Miyazato Rintaro, Koji Yoshida, Dario Mader, and Haruyosi for allowing the use of their images. Thanks Once Again!

Painted Containers




As mentioned in the Part 1, i had another friend whose work was accepted in the exhibit. Ruban Yu is from Taiwan and has been making ceramics for Bonsai since 2008, and painting containers since last year. I’ve followed his painting progression from the beginning, avidly. His…

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The 10th Annual Modern Shohin Container Artist Exhibition, Part 1

Tony Tickle:

One for My buddy Stone Monkey

Originally posted on Japanese Bonsai Pots Blog:

Every year I look forward to the images and summary of the Shohin potters exhibition held during Gafu Ten in January and sponsored by the Japan Shohin Bonsai Association. But this year I was anticipating the results something special as I had two friends in the exhibition.
This will be my 4th article on the exhibition, tempus fugit and all that, click on the “Table of Contents” page for the previous articles on the 2012-2014 exhibitions.


Due to the large volume of images and detail photos, I’ve separated this article into two posts, the winners and special exhibitions and other entries. Stay tuned for part two later today.

However, before we take a look at the winners and the exhibition photos, allow me a second to once again congratulate British Potter Andrew Pearson, of Stone Monkey Ceramics, first for having the fortitude to even enter the show(at the clearly right…

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