Thursday, 11 December 2014

Mame Cotoneaster

My Eldest son (now six) collected two cotoneaster seedlings a couple of years ago on his first collecting trip. I thought they would work well as a kind of quasi-twin-trunk. They have had nothing other than a light trim since collection. I originally planted them into a Walsall Ceramics pot which was unfortunately broken in a storm. They now reside in one of my John Ostranica pots.

Mame Cotoneaster in John Ostranica pot

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Shohin Yew Second Styling - What Already? Yes, Already!

I posted my recent attempt at styling my shohin Taxus on Facebook, and it was not well received. In fact, comments were along the lines of a "broom with a hanging elephant's trunk!" I was pleased at the honest response, and I always encourage people to say what they think and help me to improve my work through constructive criticism. As I looked at the tree, I immediately felt disappointed in myself for such sloppy work, and knew I could do better.

The tree after its first styling
Other than the hanging right-hand branch, most of the branches were quite stiff, but there was a little movement in the first branch on the left. My first thought was to bring this branch down to give more balance and make the tree less broom-like.

The left hand branch brought down to create less of a "broom" like appearance
There were a few ideas thrown around on Facebook, and Marcus Watts came up with the thought of tilting the tree to the right. He produced a quick, rough virtual which I decided to re-do in more detail with Photoshop.

A Photoshop virtual of the tree in a leaning position

After some deliberation, I decided to go with Marcus's idea and began work with no delay. The original pot did not suit the new angle, so I opted for a crescent. Originally there was a fairly unanimous decision on Facebook to remove the hanging branch. With the new styling, I am currently undecided as to whether it is needed.

Finished for now!
The tree has had quite a lot of work thrown at it and is only two years on from collection. It will now be given some TLC through the Winter.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Blowtorching the Big Hawthorn

Just done a little more work on the hawthorn - burning the carved areas with a blowtorch. There was also an issue with my Labrador chewing the end off a small branch!

The chewed stump
The same stump after stripping back a little with pliers and then burning

One of the uros (hollows) before burning

The surrounding areas were protected with a wet towel before burning

One of the uros after burning

The whole tree as it looks today

Monday, 1 December 2014

Inspirational Natural Trees in Cumbria

Yesterday, my friend David and I took a trip to Cumbria to visit some special places and look at trees. We were out well before dawn so as to give us time to visit a few places including somewhere that we had permission to collect some material.

The first venue was a place of outstanding natural beauty, with incredible limestone pavements. The trees on this site are certainly not collectable, as even if it were possible to gain permission, it would probably take nothing short of dynamite to extract them from the crevices which they have grown in for many decades.

Some viewers will probably recognise this unique terrain, but I would rather not disclose its exact location just in case some fool does decide to go and attempt to collect these trees.

A beautiful landscape
A pine growing in the limestone

Yew with lots of deadwood

A yew with beautiful natural jins

This Taxus appears as if it had tied itself in knots!

The triangular profile of what looks like a natural bonsai... In actual fact, its roots are at the end of a long trunk growing deep through a grike in the pavement.

We then moved on to another location which offers breath taking views across the lake district. There were heavily browsed "bonsaid" yews here - this time growing in limestone scree. Unfortunately the gnarly, twisted deadwood does not really occur here.

A heavily browsed Yew
This Taxus had a lovely, natural, windswept appearance

By lunchtime we had finished site-seeing and photo taking, and had just enough time to visit one of my regular sites to collect a couple of hawthorns. We did not go home with any world class material, but a day in beautiful countryside with good company is never wasted.

Photo by D. Fairbanks

Monday, 27 October 2014

Tatton Park, Autumn 2014

A walk in Cheshire's Tatton Park, October 2014.

Tatton is home to a number of trees of interest. The "Beech Avenue Conservation Trail" contains a number of ancient Fagus sylvatica, some dating back as far as 1739.

Part of the plaque accompanying the beech avenue

Beech Avenue
There are a great number of ancient oak trees around the park. The specimen below is accompanied by a plaque containing information about the significance of ancient trees.
Plaque accompanying the ancient oak

Ancient oak

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Carving of XL Hawthorn

The big Crataegus has had a year to rest since collection and is looking strong. Most of my trees are given longer to recover after collection, but with hawthorns, I feel that it is generally safe to do a little work after one year if they are growing vigorously, as long as the roots are not disturbed.

Hawthorns will often throw out long straight branches with smooth bark, known as water shoots. Wherever possible I remove these smooth, juvenile looking branches, in favour of aged, flaky bark. I recently went through this big Crataegus, cutting these smooth areas out and carving the stumps to hollows. Once the wood dries out I will tidy up the cuts and darken with a blowtorch.

One large water shoot

Same area after work

Another water shoot and an ugly stump below it

Same area after work

Finished for now

Saturday, 27 September 2014

XL Hawthorn Update and Virtual

I am pleased to report that my favourite hawthorn has settled really well after collection and has put out 1 meter growth extensions. I am looking forward to beginning work on the styling and have created a virtual to show roughly the direction that I see it taking...

June 2014

Photoshop virtual image

Sunday, 14 September 2014

New Grow Bed

Most of my trees are of course yamadori, but I have been growing on a few small seedlings and cuttings for the future. Around 30 plants went into the bed today - mainly Japanese black pine and Chinese Elm.

Chinese Elms

Japanese Black Pines

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

New Kaizen Bonsai Video

Graham Potter's bonsai video series are a firm favourite with many enthusiasts, myself included. Graham and his team at Kaizen Bonsai have been very busy recently, and it has been a while since a new video was released. On his blog, Graham has just promised us a new video, due within the next couple of weeks. He has also teased us with a photo of the featured material. It should be a good one!

The full range of Kaizen's videos can be viewed here;

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Cascade Cotoneaster

A small cotoneaster collected from waste ground in 2011.

March 2011

November 2011 (in Walsall Ceramics pot)

September 2014