Occasionally 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!
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.
I have seen the work of Tom Benda develop over the last few years however his most recent work is up there with the best bonsai potters in Europe. At the recent EDA UCHI KAI exhibition in Belgium Tom’s Trade stand was the busiest by far.My Yamadori trade stand backed onto Tom’s and we had a great weekend together. It was a classic case of “buy the pot NOW” because if you don’t somebody else would! So many pots were purchased in the first few hours of the weekend.
As he would have nothing to display the scope of his work, Tom requested that the buyers collect their purchases at the end of the show. Mario Komsta and Mark & Ritta Cooper snapped up dozens of pots between them, so often through the weekend I heard “Sorry that’s been bought by Mario”… “Mark and Ritta’s” “yes… that’s Marios too!” “no… sorry Tony Tickle has bought that”
This brings me to one of the Pots that I purchased, considered by Tom as “The best bonsai pot I have ever made” (what sales technique!) This was to be for a Kifu size Yamadori Taxus Baccata that I have been working for quite a few years. The current pot is by Milan Klika, lovely but not quite right for the tree, I will be potting the tree into the new container in April 2014. To ensure that the pot will indeed suit the tree I always produce a ‘virtual’ image.
NOTE: I am now the distributor for Toms pots and will be selling them on my stand at next years Noelanders trophy, so if you DO want to purchase one of Toms amazing Pots I suggest that you get there early
The stone and the tree were collected together; I had no option as the tree grew through the stone. I carried the tree for just under a mile down the mountain to my vehicle… it is very heavy and I collected no more that day as I was truly knackered. I have done some work on the right side of the stone as I wanted to expose some more of the trunk line, this has now weathered and is indistinguishable from the rest of the stone. The combination were collected in 2009 and the tree has thrived over the last few years, even though the tree is very slow growing the canopy is developing well and should become a pleasing bonsai in time, a dwarf rhododendron is planted at the front to break up the ‘wall’ of stone. .