little cornish trees

little cornish trees

Juniper is ready

needles and scales - JunipersPosted by marcus watts Sat, April 07, 2012 19:58:28

In an earlier post I showed the Juniper that came from John Hanby at Newstead Bonsai Nursery. Good friday was lovely and sunny so I started tweaking the bottom branch while taking a walk around the benches......once you start it has a habit of moving to the next branch and so on. !! I went out just after breakfast and next thing I knew it was about 3pm.

The tree was a perfect canvas as it had one big foliage mass to play with so I thinned a few branches out to create defined pads and spaces and this exposed areas of inner wood that will bud out now they are seeing the sun. As the inner buds strengthen it will allow some of the tired outer foliage to be cut off in future years and the whole tree to be kept nice and compact. I decided to take the tree to the Bonsai South West show at Exmouth this May as part of our club display so went a little further and cleaned out the underside of the pads to give them a clean neat look.

About 5pm I went out to take a picture and found a carving tool in my pocket - doesnt everyone ? soon the solid mass of the upper trunk had the start of a hollow carved into it before it got a bit cold so I took a quick picture and decided to dig out the dremel tomorrow. Here is the tree after styling, and the small pics show the tree in 2008,09,10 & 12

Saturday afternoon brightened up so I hollowed the upper area and put a hole right through the trunk to add interest and match the lower trunk better. After wearing out a few wire brushes the new area didnt look too new so I painted it with lime sulphar and left the lot to dry. Picture two tomorrow and now it will be feed feeed feed to boost as much tight growth as possible. The tree wasnt repotted this year so has 4 TBags full of my conifer feed on the soil and twice weekly applications of my new powdered fish emulsion - disolved in water. This gentle organic approach will give better results than blasting it with micacle grow.

I think it could be worth finding a nice stand for this one and I'm going to pop it in the car for the two days at Willowbog with Ryan Neil to pic up further hints to get the very best from the tree - there may even be another better style hiding in there !

And with the carving complete - my favorite Juniper

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800 miles today

needles and scales - JunipersPosted by marcus watts Fri, January 20, 2012 22:32:14


just had one of those mad motorway days - got in the car at 3am, was having toast with a friend 400miles away before 9. As i was in Yorkshire I knew a little bit of bonsai sight seeing was close by at Newstead bonsai so after a few miles detour I pulled into the car park. Due to a upcoming relocation there was a 50% off sale on every tree and plant on the site ! and it was genuine, the original price tags were still in place on all trees.

This was one of those unplanned days that turn into something special and 2 hours disappeared in the blink of an eye while my wish list went from 10 trees to 6, to 3, to a one on one - both trees Junipers, both trees Japanese yamadori imported to the Uk originally from Danny Use at Ginko in Belgium. Each was special, one incredibly twisted and compact - with cracked, aged jin and shari - the other with a slanting aged hollow trunk and amazing narrow live veins....... decisions decisions...........

In the end I was drawn to the foliage quality as both trunks were excelent - both trees were true aged yamadori (wild junipers) so the scale foliage was much longer than the commonly seen ityogawa. One tree was an unknown yamadori species and had quite long foliage with a blueish tint while the other was far more 'British racing green' and was compacting really well, with flowers forming on every branch tip. (It is likely this tree is species 'sargentii' with these characteristics).

When buying a new tree I always look to buy a trunk, as most species can have the branches created later but you are basically stuck with the trunk - with these two the trunks were amazing, and they had plenty of branches, so choice was narrowed down to the overall image that the finished tree would I ended up buying the tree with tighter, greener foliage.

Looking through the Newstead web site i found pictures of the tree from 2008, 2009 and 2010 so progression shots were good to see.

Here is the tree safe and sound back in Cornwall - where it is much warmer than Yorkshire ! so I expect the tree to wake up thinking spring has arrived. I'm going to make the large foliage mass into smaller layered pads, define the lower branch into 2 pads and add a few spaces to the left hand side. There is a beautiful curving part to the shari near the top so it will be good to open a little 'window' through the foliage so it is visible.

The pot was made for the tree by Walsaw ceramics.

A quick play with photoshop to give me the planned final design

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Reviving an old one

needles and scales - JunipersPosted by marcus watts Sun, November 27, 2011 18:56:12

This is the tale of an old tree with a little slice of English bonsai history. It was originally one of the larger trees that belonged to Anne Swinton and as she devoted more time to smaller trees it was one of several trees that found its way to Mendip Bonsai studio. I was having good success with shimpaku junipers at the time so decided to see what could be done with the tree.

from the first pic you can see a probable 10 years of free growth in a pot with a wild mop of bare branches, the foliage all grouped on the ends and no real clues to the trees original style.

I know john had fed the tree a bit so I continued using nureku every 6 weeks and wired the mass of branches into a gentle dome with a few lower foliage pads. I wanted to gauge and build on the trees strength so foliage reduction was kept to a minimum as the treee needs as much greenery as possible to grow strong.

The tree responded over the next 2 years with inner buds appearing in the branch forks so i repotted it and pruned off some of the leggy bits, back to the new inner growth. One more year in the current form and I felt the tree was fully regained in strength so a smaller crown design was wired in, some lower branches were removed and the tree allowed another year to adjust to the styling work.

This year I started looking with a critical eye at the tree and knew the current crown was much too big for the slender trunk so there were 2 options - reduce the crown by at least 50% or fatten the trunk...........I considered splitting the trunk up the middle and adding a wedge of deadwood but after batting ideas around at the St mawgan nursery we decided to use the tree as a tanuki whip !

Out in the japanese garden a log was chopped out of a very large juniper with a chain saw and I set off home with a 2ft long chunk of juniper wood. I needed some speedy carving tools so bought a mad attachment for an angle grinder from Graham at Kaizen - a termite. This soon filled the garage (and house!!) with a lot of sawdust - what an amazing fun bit of kit!

I took the now smaller bit of juniper log into work, and spent an hour sand blasting it, lime sulpharing it etc and the next day screwed it to the juniper ! now we have a trunk to work with so the top will be allowed to grow a bit to swell the live vein, a long back branch will be air layered and added to the other side of the dead wood and the tree will be a nice tanuki I think.

pic to follow tomorrow

Tree: Juniper chinensis shimpaku - 100+years old

origin - Japan

source - Mendip bonsai studio

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