Its always exciting when you tackle a piece of raw material for the first time, the element of discovery (and sometimes disappointment) seeing the image that you have in your head appear before your eyes is great.
This tree was collected over 4 years ago, this is a tall thin English Yew (Taxus Baccata), it has a shari that runs from top to base. Its never been re-potted out of this washing up bowl and it is now ready. The first work is not actually styling but formulating the branch structure and foliage locations. No wiring, no styling no branch positioning, the tree will be left to grow. All I will do over the next 12 months is clean the tree and tidy up the cuts.
The Myrtle before the die back
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!
The Tree at the time of purchase
Myrtle cut back
The tree has recovered
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.