The styled tree laid over the raw material (Photoshop)
I traded a small Yew for this Mugo Pine at The Burrs workshop 2012, it was planted in a large flat plastic seed tray in a soil mixture not suitable for the rather damp conditions where I live. Whilst re-potting I saw that all the roots were on one side so decided to change the angle and make a cascading tree. The tree responded well and has thrived all year. Today I styled the tree, I have not wired to the tips of the needles because at this stage refinement is NOT my objective. Branch placement and the establishment of the design. The next few years will be bud development and refining the design.
update image due to a discussion on EBF
Today I did the progressive styling on the Tall Yew. The tree is now well established in the pot and has a strong root system that’s developing sturdy branches and a lot of foliage. With the help of a hot summer and careful feeding regime the tree is growing well.
The Progressive styling
I removed about 30% of the foliage, and wired the rest. I grew a branch at the rear of the tree and replaced the previous one on the lower right because it was brought down from the crown and I was not happy with the structure. This branch now needs to thicken and ramify, the branches are left uncut to grow long, and these will be cut back at the end of the growing season. The lower left branch is well underway and has been cut back to a few needles. Where I want back budding I have removed the inner needles on three year old wood
Due to the vigorous growth the wire will be removed next Autumn just prior to the branches thickening, this growth has also helped the thickening of the live vein.
Branches left to grow to thicken
Branches trimmed to force ramification
Inner needles removed to encourage back budding
Thickening of the live Vein
When the tree was collected in 2007
For my personal collection I have always worked on native European trees, this is for three key reasons. First: I live in the cold wet north of England and working on local material should give me the best chance to create bonsai that will thrive and survive in my climate. Second availability of good ‘imported’ material, for sure GOOD raw material worth buying was in short supply when I started in bonsai 30 years ago, simply put the trees coming out of the far east were the runts of the litter, we got the crap that that they did not want. Thankfully that appears to have changed over the last few years as the art is in decline in Japan more material is becoming available and at the right price. Third: Most material coming from the Far East is either ‘finished’ or ‘semi-finished’ I am an artist who prefers to work with totally raw material even though it takes longer, the satisfaction is greater.
This year however a Chuhin White Pine caught my eye… It displayed all the attributes and potential to create a great tree… Almost 100% of imported White Pines (WP) are grafted on Black Pine (BP) stock, this is done because BP is stronger and the bark quality is great, the problem is the graft is usually so prominent to render the tree quite ugly because the transition from Black to White is pronounced. On my tree it is almost invisible.
The tree was very healthy, had an abundance of foliage, good nebari, movement and taper… all things that you should look for when purchasing a bonsai, I was smitten… I bought my first ‘import’. Immediately after purchase it needed repotting as it was pot bound (this was why the price was favourable) I slip potted the tree into a lovely Dan Barton Pot.
That was six months ago, this week with the help of Mikey I completed the styling started by Hans van Meers and a few of the guys at the Burrs Event… THEY were supposed to complete the tree but never got past needle plucking and wiring a few branches… I believe beers and chatting got in the way! So it was down to me and Mikey to do the work.
The tree had an abundance of needles that needed to be removed. After selecting those branches I no longer required we set about wiring the remainder. This took over seven hour’s work fine wiring and bud selection. WP only has one growth per year and back budding has to be carefully managed, this first styling involved branch placement and random bud removal with a view to the final image being a refined fuller canopy in a couple of years.
The tree finally wired for its ‘first’ styling
I received this tree from Matija Triglav my Slovenian friend a mountain dweller! Matija had the tree for a year and I kept it a further year before repotting and styling.
Some may say the trunk is ugly and had too many thin and fat parts. This larch has endured the worst of weather and environments; I am sure it has been hit by the odd avalanche and crushed under many meters of snow.
The bulbous growth is a result of callusing and ‘recallusing’ caused as the tree was under constant attack from the elements.
I wanted to create a compact tree that reflected that struggle for survival, so the canopy cradled in the bosom of the trunk.
I look forward to the canopy developing and the ramification improving, I prefer Larch as a winter image so the styling must be perfect.