How to secure a Tall literati tree in a shallow pot.

This is an article I first posted on IBC in 2010, worth a look. The tree is no longer in my personal collection.

This is a Prunus Spinosa that I collected on my 50th Birthday… it’s called ‘Fifty’ and it has been in this pot for 2 years. This Beautiful Duffett pot was fine to ‘bring on’ the tree but not a good choice as it is way to ‘chunky’.

How the tree looks today

Potting an old Yamadori Yew to encourage growth

George Yew march 2014George 1This is a very old Yew collected in 2010, it is a tree that I visited on the hill many times before the tree was collected, and one that I took students to as an example of a ‘real’ yamadori in the wild. It was never my intention to collect this tree, as it was very long, it was growing directly in a rock crevice on a cliff face with no foliage close to the base of the tree.

Whilst visiting the tree at the end of April 2010 I noticed that it had fallen from its lofty position and was being held in place by a very small section, the fierce weather that winter had dislodged the rock that was gripping the tree and the whole could at any time fall to the valley below.

tree fallen out of cliffThere was only one course of action, ‘Save the tree’ and this took place the next day. Four friends, two on ropes and one helping with passing tools etc. helped me. The tree came away in less than ten minutes as 95% of it was hanging in mid air… But with little root as most had snapped off in the winter storms, what you see in the photo are dead roots that have been exposed to the weather for many months, you can see where the large rocks have fallen away.

After the second year I removed the top of the tree after encouraging new buds lower down the trunk, this was done by slicing the live vein 2cm above the buds to stop the flow of sap and force it to the weaker buds, this worked remarkably well and will callus over at a later date.

The new grown lower down the trunk is now very strong. I have planted the tree in a much larger container to give free root growth to thicken branches and to place the tree closer to the final design I am after. The potting mix is 60% Pumice 20% Acadama and 20% Kiryu.

Tony with Yew on his Backbig Yew other side

deadwood and thick vein strong new growth new growth deadwood and live vein

Tom Benda Bonsai Potter and The Kifu Taxus Baccatta

Toms trade stand

Toms trade stand

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 Virtual Image

The Virtual Image

Stainless steel rods secure large Scots pine in the Duffett Pot

David Barlows Pine

After 10 years of establishing from the wild and two stylings David’s Scots Pine is now ready for a final potting. I found a beautiful ‘vintage’ deep red unglazed Gordon Duffett pot perfect for the tree.

Terry Foster did both stylings for the tree, the first to position the key branches, and six years later at the Burrs event in November 2012 for the second to refine.

When the tree was collected it had NO large roots. Only a few fine feeder roots, David masterfully established the tree in a very open mixture of Acadama, Alpine grit and Perlite. The tree was secured to the box with guy wires to ensure that it would not ‘rock’ and remain firm, any movement inhibit the root growth. The problem with having no LARGE roots meant that the tree could not be tied into the pot, having guy wires was out of the question so a solution was needed.

05 Stainless steel rods and PotDavid is a precision engineer with his own extensive workshop so when I requested two stainless steel rods cut to length and the ends tapered, he delivered these in less than 10 minutes. Two holes were drilled into the base of the tree under the new roots that had grown; the rods were inserted tightly into the holes in the form a ‘cross’. They were then stabilised with hardwood blocks and a layer of soil mix was added, the tree wired down onto the blocks and the whole process ensured that the tree was solid in the pot. The reason for using the wooden block was so that we could angle the position the tree exactly, each block was cut to size. More soil was added and worked into all the cavities with a chop stick.

These stainless steel rods will stay in the tree forever and become part of the root mass, they will never rust or snap. The heavy wire used to secure the tree was necessary for this final potting. After a few years when the root mass has started to solidify and the tree exhibited these wire can be cut and removed.