First work on a Yamadori Yew ‘Pagoda’ style

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.




Amazing Yamadori Yew that will NEVER be collected Video

deadwood Yew Over the last 25 years I have collected many amazing Yamadori, in all that time I have NEVER discovered a tree quite like this Taxus Bacatta that was growing half way down a limestone cliff. The amazing deadwood and twisting live vein gave the tree an incredible ancient presence.

I believe that very few people… maybe none has ever seen this tree as it’s in a VERY inhospitable, almost inaccessible location, it has survived many hundreds of years… I wanted this tree, but I also felt a deep sense of respect for this ancient survivor… so that’s where its staying.

Cutting the Big Yew to create two trees, including sandblasting

There was always going to be a time when I had to cut the BIG yew into two as the roots were contained in two separate pots. Each pot fed its own foliage, enabling ‘splitting’ the tree.

Using an Industrial size reciprocating saw and my friend Terry Foster we cut the tree in two. It took less than 20 minutes… something I waited three years to do and it was completed in such a short time.

This wonderful tree has such amazing deadwood, the challenge I now faced was how to blend the man made cut with the natural deadwood? My work had to be ‘natural’ looking, not ‘carved and sculptured but in sympathy with the tree.

I did not want to ‘overwork’ the cut. I created indents, accentuated holes and smoothed out undulations deliberately leaving a ‘rough’ finish. I used chisels, wedges and split the tree along the grain of the tree. Where the wood became ‘confused’ I ripped and twisted the grain.

After three hours working without Makita’s or Dremmels I was satisfied that I was ready for the next stage. The tree would be ‘naturalised’ with sand blasting. I first sandblasted a tree 20 years ago using a blasting cabinet, that tree was only 75cm tall. This tree is over one metre, far too large to fit in a cabinet!

Close to my nursery is a commercial blasting company, and after covering the pot, foliage and live vein I ventured to them. The work was completed, a weather ‘ancient’ look had been created in less than an hour! The results are great.