This is the first styling of the BIG Yew Bonsai, I have waited three years since the tree was potted into this pot, it was VERY healthy so now perfect for the work involved. There are no short cuts when it comes to creating a Yew Bonsai from raw yamadori stock, its a long process of structure, branch creation fine branches and foliage. I guess from mountain to Exhibition this will take 20 years, its already been 8 years since this tree came from the mountain, you can read earlier blog posts where I cut the tree in half, and Potting the tree for the first time
I collected this Yamadori Yew in 2011, the tree was very slow to establish in the first couple of years, this is due to the cambium layer being very thin because the hard growing conditions that the tree suffered. In the third year the tree thrives and this year the growth has been very strong. With very old trees such as this it’s important that you wait for the growth of the foliage to be robust and vigorous for the future development of the tree, start work too early and you could set back development or worse kill the tree!
The work undertaken this week was to remove the thick upright deadwood branches, clear the smaller dead branches near the base of the tree and reposition the whole into the ‘final’ planting position. The tree will be left for a couple of years to extend and fill out the foliage mass. I will then work on the deadwood and finally sand blast to clean and smooth out some of the rough areas. Then the first styling will take place, another year in the box and finally planting into a training pot. The foliage mass will take at least 10 years to achieve the virtual image… but I can wait if the end result will look something like this.
How I see the BIG yew developing over the next 15 years
I love this video from Bonsai Focus about Omiya Bonsai Village. I am hoping to visit soon.
Over the last 25 years I have collected many amazing Yamadori, in all that time I have NEVER discovered a tree quite like this Taxus Bacatta that was growing half way down a limestone cliff. The amazing deadwood and twisting live vein gave the tree an incredible ancient presence.
I believe that very few people… maybe none has ever seen this tree as it’s in a VERY inhospitable, almost inaccessible location, it has survived many hundreds of years… I wanted this tree, but I also felt a deep sense of respect for this ancient survivor… so that’s where its staying.