I have more than my fair share of cascade and semi cascade bonsai, here is a selection of the smaller ones photographed today including Yew, Communis Juniper and Olive. They are all still in development (maybe the olive is finished) They are super trees to work but difficult to transport to shows, typically I have to make bespoke carriages for them to fit in the truck.
The tree has undergone two wiring, the second one today. Its been a process of building strength in the tree, developing branches and creating a dense foliage mass. I guess that it will be at least two more years before the tree is anywhere near showing. I have a lovely Gordon Duffet pot ready for the tree when it is potted next April/May.
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.
The Raw Yamadori
A rather young Tickle doing early work on the tree
I sandblasted my first deadwood way back in 1992 and I guess I have blasted over 50 trees since then, I have perfected the technique of protecting the live veins, foliage and soil so that the aggressive nature of this technique does not upset the wellbeing of the tree.
As will any intervention on a bonsai the tree MUST be in great health. Never work on a tree that is recently collected yamadori or is not in the best health. This tree has grown well over the last three years and the deadwood was desperate to be worked. If I had waited another year the foliage would have restricted the access to in inner part of the tree, this is where the most interesting areas of deadwood are on view.
A few days before I removed an upright trunk and disguised by carving and stripping the cut, this can be seen in the photos as a bright orange area.
Gather the foliage up and bind with fine wire so that you have access to the live vein.
Using air-dried modelling clay cover the live veins right to the edge and at least 4mm thick, When dry (about 3 days) cover with Duck tape.
Completely cover over the soil and as close to the base of the trunk as possible, I use rubber inner tubes first then bind with commercial cling wrap.
Wrap the foliage in an old towel and then cover with a thick plastic bag.
I use a commercial blasting service, you can find these locally via the internet.
The results are simply amazing, the deadwood is clean the splinters are removed from the branches I have snapped and all the detail is revealed. I do not put Lime Sulphur on immediately, as I like the wood to weather slightly prior to application.
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.