Creating good bonsai is not an easy task, doing it properly building ramification, branch structure and foliage mass all takes time. I love using native British trees because they thrive in my location, I am after all British and living in the cold wet North of the UK.
I have worked other species from the Mediterranean, trees from as far south as Sicily, Olives from Spain and Pistachio from Croatia. I have a heated glass house that over winters these trees and I have had moderate success. NOTHING like the locals where these trees originate because I do not have the all year round heat or UV levels. In January this year I saw that a Myrtle was look looking well, lots of random branches were dying, some areas stayed green. After posting photos on Facebook Warren Radford my buddy from the South of England (he has a rather special Myrtle) told me to cut the tree hard back and it would recover… So I cut back hard, removing all the branches that were clearly dead… and today you can see the tree has indeed recovered. Apparently the problem was lack of water, I really don’t water my trees much in winter (it rains rather a lot where I live) but in the glass house I should consider watering a bit more…Thanks Warren!
I collected this Taxus Baccata in 2004 and it has been through many iterations before arriving at the Kifu size (Ian Warhust always said that the tree should be a small one)
Take a look HERE at a possible early pot selection from Tom Benda, or HERE or HERE for a progress post.
The pot that the tree has been in for the last two years was purchased when I was judging a show in China and it’s the right size for sure. BUT the quality is not great, it’s a good training pot but not good enough for exhibition. I intend to show this tree over the next three years so a change of pot was required. This Tokoname Bigei Pot is by – Mr. Hirata Atsumi and was purchased in 2016 for this tree.
One of the challenges that face anyone creating bonsai is that they GROW not only above the soil but below, of course all trees need roots however sometimes the roots can cause problems such as oversize and out of scale to the tree, particularly with deciduous species.
I have been working this hawthorn raft over 26 years, it has been re-potted 5 times, it tends to sulk for 12 months after re-potting, but it settles down the following season.
At the end of 2015 I noticed that a major root was becoming too thick and changing the nature of the nebari of the tree. The other roots were in scale to the tree and were in sufficient number to sustain the tree if the thick root were to be removed.
I did not want to remove the root during re-potting of the tree as such an intervention combined with disturbance of the whole root mass may have set the tree back or even threatened the life of the tree.
At the end of the growing season I opted to remove the offending root whilst still in the pot, leaving the thinner roots emanating from the oversize root in place. These will be removed when total re-potting takes place in 18 months’ time.
A VERY sharp saw was used and the cut was shaped with a Dremel and ‘nibbler’ finally the wound was sealed and covered with soil to encourage new finer roots to emanate from the cut. In the last photos you can see that the BIG root had been previously severed and callused well with two major roots formed from the cut.
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’.
The original Duffett pot
The original Duffett pot
Here are the pots I have for this tree… on the left is Milan Klika and the right is Brian Albright, both would fit the tree well.
I chose the Albright because of the ‘free form’ of the pot suited the movement of the tree.
In preparing to pot this tree it would need to be stable, the root pad is not dense enough to simply wire into place and hold the tree in the pot so a little assistance in the form of a steel rod is inserted into the base of the trunk (under the soil line)
getting ready to take the tree out of the pot
There is an abundance of new root, none will be cut back as there is enough room in the new pot.
A hole is drilled to accommodate the rod
Here the rod is inserted and placed in the pot to ensure that the position is correct, the arrows show where the rod enters and exits
3mm Copper wire is used to secure the tree to the pot.
The soil mix of Acadama, Alpine grit and Orchid bark is added
Tying in the tree using the rod and the copper wire. the fix is very solid
And here is how the tree fits into this fantastic Brian Albright pot.
The soil level is good
All told it took about an hour to do this tree, It would have been 10 times harder had my buddy not been there
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.