Saturday 4th February 2017 will be forever etched in my memory as the day I was lost for words. I was presented with an award that I simply thought would always be beyond reach ‘The Best Deciduous Bonsai at the Noelanders Trophy’
The tree was one that I had worked for 26 years, a Hawthorn in the raft style that I collected from the hillside way back in 1991. I had worked the tree as best I could, styling, feeding, watering, treating it when it was not thriving, repotting 6 times, I created every branch on the tree, this was a tree that had grown with me. In all the years the tree had received many awards and now it had won what must be the ultimate accolade from the most prestigious bonsai show outside of Japan.
Prior to showing the three I announced on social media that the tree was to be shown at The Noelanders Trophy 2017 and that it was available for sale. This caused consternation among many of my friends. I decide that it was time to sell as I had taken the tree as far as I could, it was as close to perfection as I could make it and it was time for another person to take on the responsibility of this beautiful tree. Any money raised would go help a family member with their future. The tree sold on Sunday morning after it had won the award. I also have a lot of trees that are coming into maturity that will fill the space in my private collection.
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.
I am still making various quality tests with my new studio set up, here is my Hawthorn Raft today just coming into leaf, I am really excited too because for the first time in 26 years there are flower buds on the tree. So expect a flowering raft in the next few weeks! Select the photo to see full size!
Over the last 18 months a rather large growth rapidly appeared on the lower right side of my Hawthorn Raft it was growing so large that the lower branch was being hidden and its movement lost look closely and you can see how fast it grew… cracking and swelling in all directions. It was changing the character and shifting the visual weight of the tree, it had to be stopped in its tracks and the growth suppressed.
Completely removing the bulge would leave a large scar and ‘dead’ area so careful consideration as to the final ‘image’ was critical. A Scar is inevitable as the bulge was so large, so I hollowed it out retaining the front but removing the lower part to expose the movement in the lower branch.
Using a fine ‘pull’ saw I made a horizontal cut towards the area where the growth started. Then using chisels cut away the bulk, refining using a Dremel and cutter.
The work was done in the fall so that no callusing will take place, in fact I would like a small amount of natural dieback, I will not be putting wound sealant on either to create a more ‘natural’ appearance.
I love Hawthorns and especially at this time of year. I call hawthorns a four season tree, they are great all year! BUT I love springtime where the foliage appears and it is vibrant green, the leaves are fresh and new.