Radical bending on a Kifu Yew to place the character branch.

This lovely little Yew has been collected for 4 seasons and is ready to have some serious bending. I have waited until this seasons new growth has begun before I started the work. I wanted to use the thick branch with the extensive deadwood as a low character branch. The live vein ran up the back of the branch, 75% is deadwood. I started with a fine saw cut all the way through to the live so that when I split the branch it did not go too far down.

Using branch splitters and concave cutters I removed the deadwood as close to the live without compromising the health of the tree. I then drilled two holes into the sawn section, these would secure the thick copper wire that will support the branch and assist in the bend. The whole was then wrapped with wet raffia and secured with cable ties. The bend was done slowly with two hands ensuring a smooth curve with no ‘kinks’ in the live vein. The branch will now be left till the end of the season to recover and continue to grow.

Splitting a Yew root to lower in the pot

The tree todayIn the early years of the wonderful Yew tree, 1999 to be exact! Yamadori rarely comes with a good root base and this tree was no exception. Imagine a catapult upside down; the roots went in two directions with a large gap between, I needed to lower the tree in the pot; this was not possible without radical work.

I was moving the tree to a beautiful Gordon Duffet pot, perfect in every way for this bonsai.

Using a Matika I carved out the bulk of the deadwood at the base of the tree, this enabled me to lower the tree however the live vein still protruded, I needed split the live away from the deadwood. I did this using a large branch splitter and inserting a stone to keep the vein in place. A wire was secured to stop the vein from further splitting and possible folding and snapping off. I remember some of my fellow artists thought I was crazy doing this radical work on such an amazing tree… its common work now… back then in then UK NOT common at all. To get the very best out of your material you must be prepared to do this.

If you look closely at the base of the tree you will see a small stone that I found to mimic a root, the stone has a ‘red’ part that appears to be a root!

The tree stayed with me for a few years and then I passed on the tree to Dan Barton as it was his favourite, using a graphic of the tree as his ‘Logo’. The tree remained mine but was in his custody. This tree is to be auctioned for Cancer Research next year, so now is your chance to own a piece of my and Dan’s bonsai history!

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Bending a trunk on my Hawthorn Raft

At the last re-potting of the Raft hawthorn I change the angle of the tree by rotating the tree anti clockwise by approx 15 degrees to improve the ‘depth’ and to bring the low left hand branch forward. However in bringing this forward meant that the far right ‘trunk’ moved away from the viewer. This needed to be rectified by bringing the trunk forward so that the tree ‘embraced’ the viewer.

The branch that is being bent is shown in the first photo from Swindon Winter show 2011

The problem was that the trunk is very old and stiff (a bit like me) below is shown how I overcame this. The photos speak for themselves. The final photo shows the wire brace that ‘pulls’ the trunk towards the front by being anchored to the front trunk.

When the tree is viewed as a photo you will see little difference as the image is ‘flat’ but when the tree is in exhibition it is much improved.