Monday, 26 August 2013

Taxus Live Vein Refinement

A week ago I noticed that a line had appeared in the bark of my windswept Yew, running parallel to the main shari on the trunk. Under inspection it became apparent that the live tissue had died back from the original line that was cut last November.

Using a finger nail, I was able to pick at the bark to reveal where the live vein ran - live being green under the bark.

Then, using a knife I picked the dead bark from the trunk, creating a much clearer definition to the live vein. Although not as severe, there was also some die back to the left of the shari - this too was treated in the same manor. All deadwood was then treated with lime sulphur. The deadwood still looks quite fresh at the moment and further refinement work will be needed in the future. I am particularly interested in looking into the possibility of sandblasting the wood which is a technique that I am aware of Tony Tickle using on his Taxus.

Live vein refined

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Will Baddeley at Cheshire Bonsai Society

Last weekend the talented Mr Will Baddeley came to Cheshire to give a carving workshop hosted by Simon Jones of the Cheshire Bonsai Society. Unfortunately, family commitments prevented me from attending the main event at Simon's home, where a number of members of the Cheshire Bonsai Society and also Tony Tickle, met with Will and Simon. The focus was on encouraging people to gain confidence with power tools, get involved and work on their own material, and over the course of the event on Sunday and Monday, a great deal of quality work was done.

On the Monday evening, I attended (and finally joined) the Cheshire Bonsai Society monthly meeting where Will gave a demonstration - carving one of Simon's Prunus yamadori. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and educational demonstration and the work that will performed (especially considering the poor lighting) was excellent.

Unfortunately due to the lighting, it was not possibly to take quality photos at the club, so for illustrative purposes I have borrowed a photo from Tony's facebook taken on the Sunday.

Cheshire Bonsai Society meet at  Little Budworth Village Hall on the third Monday of every month (except December) and are always keen to welcome new members & visitors.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Accrington & District Bonsai Society Show

Today I visited the second of a two-day show presented by the Accrington & District Bonsai Society held at Barton Grange Garden Centre, Lancashire. The trees on display were a range of quality representing all levels of expertise within the club - and including some excellent bonsai. The club seem to be a friendly bunch and are keen to welcome new members.
Unfortunately, space seemed to be a little tight and some trees were partially obscured by their neighbours, or by awards presented by Ian Warhurst the previous day.







Of particular note was the below Larch with had information written as follows:
The tree that you see here is a twin trunk Larch (Larix decidua) started at the same time that Barton Grange Garden Centre opened; it was formed from two separate seedlings in 1963 by one of the founder members of the Accrington & District Bonsai Society. That member was a gentleman named Don Daglish who lived in the Whitefield area of Manchester. He was to become a great friend and loyal member of the society. Unfortunately over the last few years Don had been unable to look after his trees due to ill health, so in 2010 the society was asked to look after this tree and others in his collection. Sadly this year Don died but his trees live on through our club.
During the 1970s and 80s it was pruned, trimmed, re-potted and styled into a wonderful bonsai which eventually won many cups and trophies at our annual shows.
You will notice that the bark on the trunk of this tree has crackled with age over the years, but if you look closely you will also see that it has extended to the branches as well. This takes many, many years to develop, and a lot of credit must go to Don for the time he must have spent working on it.
In conclusion I hope that this tree and Barton Grange Garden Centre will continue to thrive for another fifty years and more!
On a slightly lighter note (if you will forgive the toilet humour) I feel I must say something about Barton Grange Garden Centre's toilets! These are surely some of the loveliest facilities I have ever had the pleasure of using and can honestly say that I have never peed into a giant porcelain flower before. Upon exiting this fine restroom, I was drawn to a framed photo on the wall (see below). I wonder if a photo of Barton Grange's beautiful flower urinals hangs on the wall of Latrine No. 1040 in Giharo?!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

English Elm Progression Photos


April 2011

July 2011

November 2012 before wiring

November 2012 after wiring

August 2013

Old Privet

 In March 2011 I collected an old ligustrum stump with some real character. Looking at the initial photo, it appears as if there are two trees but they are actually the opposite sides of the same huge trunk. The middle of the trunk had rotted away and the tree had actually rooted into the mush that remained in its own rotten core. This old tree is a real survivor. Its roots were actually lifted out of the embankment in which it was growing when there was a flood, so when my friend John and I went to collect it, there was no digging to be done - the tree was simply sat on top of the ground! That does not mean that there was no work to be done though - carrying the tree back to the van was not easy even between the two of us. Upon arriving back at John's we did some reduction work with a chainsaw so that the tree would fit into my car.

The following day I spent a couple of hours bare rooting the tree and removing all of the rotten wood. This was exciting work as I had no idea what I would find. I was pleased to uncover some lovely dead wood and exposed roots.

March 2011
The tree soon started to regrow, but it soon became apparent that large areas of the main trunk were dying back. Over many months I had a number of carving sessions on the deadwood and hoped to incorporate it into the design.

July 2011
Eventually the deadwood on the larger section of trunk became that extensive that I felt that it would overpower the tree. Meanwhile the smaller section of trunk was growing vigorously. I felt that drastic action was called for. On re-potting the tree, I noticed that the two pieces were growing independently and that they could easily be separated. I decided to discard the large section of mainly dead wood and work with the remaining small piece of trunk. This tree - over 100 years of age was now reduced to a neat little pre-bonsai with good proportions, nice movement and interesting deadwood. Today the tree stands 27 cm above its pot.

August 2013

Monday, 5 August 2013

Bonsai in Wales 2012

Some photos from my visit to Bonsai in Wales 2012 at Tredegar House.

Windswept Taxus

In January 2011 I was fortunate enough to be invited to a coastal limestone scree hill in Northern England to collect Taxus baccata. I selected one promising chuhin sized tree and managed to collect it with a good portion of healthy root. Upon arriving home, a custom size wooden box was immediately made and the tree was potted in pure Danish pink litter with a little limestone chippings added.

Initially there was some die back, mainly in the long lower branch, but generally the tree recovered well. Here is the tree pictured in August 2011.

The tree survived its first Winter under a frost blanket and the following Spring I cut back the dead area in the first branch, and adjusted the planting angle slightly, while disturbing the roots as little as possible.

May 2012

July 2012, I accepted an invitation to visit Tony Tickle at his home where we met for the first time. We discussed styling options for the tree and it was a great opportunity to see some of Tony's fine Taxus and other excellent bonsai.

Tony & Myself with Tony's "Big Taxus"
Tony talked me into attending his infamous Burrs workshop, taking place in that November where we could perform the tree's first styling. Here is the tree in November (pre-Burrs).

Attending artists at Burrs were Terry Foster, Will Baddeley, Hans van Meer, Enrico Savini and of course, Tony Tickle. I worked closely with Enrico who had a similar vision for the tree as myself - a windswept form. I thinned and wired the branches before Enrico positioned them and then Enrico chalked out a shari for me to cut.

Enrico Savini at work

The Taxus at the end of Burrs workshop
In the Spring of 2013 the tree was repotted into its first (over-sized) bonsai pot. The root system was very healthy and packed with fibrous roots. The remaining mountain soil was combed from the roots and the tree was potted into a mixture of cat litter, Akadama and crushed pumice.
In the last few week I have done refinement work to the deadwood - now extending up into the apex. Below is the tree pictured today.
The tree is progressing well towards my goal. The virtual below gives an idea as to what direction I would like to head in the future.