Written by Steve (harleyrider) Jackson
I got a phone call from Tony asking if I’d like to join him and Matt at Tickle Towers to help work on a Buxus stump. Obviously, I had to think about it for several nanoseconds before jumping at the chance. I mean, come on, how often do you get asked by a bonsai genius to participate in the creation of a potential show-winner?
So, early the following Saturday, I met up with Matt near my local Maccy-D’s and we drove the 20-odd miles to Tony’s, both of us full of nervous anticipation at showing our meagre skills to The Master.
Having received the customary warm welcome/cup of coffee, we were ushered straight into the garden where we were greeted by the sight of several new trees we had never seen before. This is becoming something of a recurring theme, as every time I visit I fall over rows of yamadori that weren’t there last time!
Anyway, on the stone workbench in the centre of the garden were several fine examples of raw material, amongst which we spied the object of today’s ‘lesson’. After discussing what we each thought of the potential of these new acquisitions, Tony cleared the decks, leaving the Buxus stump in pride of place. I can’t be sure, but I’m sure I saw it looking round the three of us nervously as we approached.
Tony began to explain what his vision for the tree was, and what he hoped to achieve during the course of the day. It went something like this. “Shorten the stump by a good 6 inches, remove this branch, that branch, that branch and possibly this one, create a ‘keyhole’ channel from the base right up to here, hollow out the trunk from the top all the way down to here, possibly remove this stump and hollow it through to the main trunk, tidy up all the small spurs where old branches once lived, remove any sign of man having touched the tree at all by several devious means, fully wire the remaining branches then give them an initial styling. Right, any questions?”
Matt and I just stared at each other open-mouthed. Surely it can’t be possible to do this amount of work in 5 hours?
This post is intended to show newbie and old pro alike what can be achieved using just a well-thought out plan, a few simple tools and a poor piece of material. Oh, and any spare apprentices you happen to have lying about the place.