In the 1960s my father-in-law Geoff Duckworth, was the assistance chief engineer for Ramsbottom District Council. One of his responsibilities was the construction of new roads as the town began to expand. The widening of Summerseat Lane was needed as a new housing Estate was in the planning, the route of the existing lane would have required the felling of an ancient oak tree. The idea of tree preservation was introduced in 1947 and was yet to be widely adopted throughout the United Kingdom. Read the rest of the story here
Bill Valavanis trusted me with this Hinoki Cypress, the tree was simply too tall and the style was lost, having previously worked by Corin Tomlinson a few years ago my job was to bring the tree back on track. I pre-wired most of the lower branches in the morning prior to the demo that took place at noon. This is because watching somebody wire a tree for a couple of hours is frankly mind numbing.
I attempted to create some drama with the upper part of the tree by making a twisted jin, this works superbly on green wood however the heartwood of the tree was too stiff making the bending impossible. I noted at the start of the demo that it may well be cut off if the technique was not successful.
I was very pleased that the finished tree made a record figure in the Auction at the end of the event.
Thanks to Bonsai Empire for recording the demo, take a look at their website here, its full of great content.
This is the first styling of the BIG Yew Bonsai, I have waited three years since the tree was potted into this pot, it was VERY healthy so now perfect for the work involved. There are no short cuts when it comes to creating a Yew Bonsai from raw yamadori stock, its a long process of structure, branch creation fine branches and foliage. I guess from mountain to Exhibition this will take 20 years, its already been 8 years since this tree came from the mountain, you can read earlier blog posts where I cut the tree in half, and Potting the tree for the first time
I collected this Yamadori Yew in 2011, the tree was very slow to establish in the first couple of years, this is due to the cambium layer being very thin because the hard growing conditions that the tree suffered. In the third year the tree thrives and this year the growth has been very strong. With very old trees such as this it’s important that you wait for the growth of the foliage to be robust and vigorous for the future development of the tree, start work too early and you could set back development or worse kill the tree!
The work undertaken this week was to remove the thick upright deadwood branches, clear the smaller dead branches near the base of the tree and reposition the whole into the ‘final’ planting position. The tree will be left for a couple of years to extend and fill out the foliage mass. I will then work on the deadwood and finally sand blast to clean and smooth out some of the rough areas. Then the first styling will take place, another year in the box and finally planting into a training pot. The foliage mass will take at least 10 years to achieve the virtual image… but I can wait if the end result will look something like this.