This 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.
There 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.
I have been developing this Tanuki over the last six years and the live is thickening up well although it has many years of growth before I would consider this a ‘convincing’ bonsai. The host tree is a piece of Yew I collected on my travels and the ‘scion’ is also Yew, the perfect match!
Fitting the scion to the host was done via a ‘keyhole’ groove and the Yew whip inserted; it has grown out and is firmly attached.
The tree has been growing well however there was a very straight section that was disturbing to the eye; also all the foliage was at the top of the tree, I needed a lower branch! The solution was to split a branch away and strip it down the trunk creating a Shari, adding interest to the ‘boring’ section.
This was done using a small branch splitter working my way from the top down to the lower part. To ensure that the split section did not break away I secured a small piece of hose with wire this also held in place two copper wires that were fitted along the length of the split that would help keep the thin section from damage during bending.
The whole section was then tightly wrapped with wet raffia and then self-amalgamating black tape. Carefully bending and twisting I positioned the ‘new’ branch into position under the deadwood. All the exposed edges of live were then covered with cut paste to help callusing and to stop infection.
The styled tree laid over the raw material (Photoshop)
I traded a small Yew for this Mugo Pine at The Burrs workshop 2012, it was planted in a large flat plastic seed tray in a soil mixture not suitable for the rather damp conditions where I live. Whilst re-potting I saw that all the roots were on one side so decided to change the angle and make a cascading tree. The tree responded well and has thrived all year. Today I styled the tree, I have not wired to the tips of the needles because at this stage refinement is NOT my objective. Branch placement and the establishment of the design. The next few years will be bud development and refining the design.
This is a Chuhin Yamadori yew that I collected 10 years ago, I have slowly worked the tree down from a large double trunk to this little tree. Prior to making the photos I was undecided as to which ‘front’ I wanted for the tree. I think know, but what do you think? Please vote on your preferred front and comment as to why you have chosen. Thanks for taking part. BTW the pot is NOT the final pot for exhibition.
Today I did the progressive styling on the Tall Yew. The tree is now well established in the pot and has a strong root system that’s developing sturdy branches and a lot of foliage. With the help of a hot summer and careful feeding regime the tree is growing well.
The Progressive styling
I removed about 30% of the foliage, and wired the rest. I grew a branch at the rear of the tree and replaced the previous one on the lower right because it was brought down from the crown and I was not happy with the structure. This branch now needs to thicken and ramify, the branches are left uncut to grow long, and these will be cut back at the end of the growing season. The lower left branch is well underway and has been cut back to a few needles. Where I want back budding I have removed the inner needles on three year old wood
Due to the vigorous growth the wire will be removed next Autumn just prior to the branches thickening, this growth has also helped the thickening of the live vein.