Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Coastal Redwood Landscape

I have decided to use some of the 300+redwood seedlings i have for a forest planting . The tray is not a Bonsai dish , but a 600mm saucer from an extremely large urn . I drilled 6 x 15mm holes in the outer edge for drainage , and placed mess over the holes before spreading 20mm of coarse bonsai mix around to improve drainage . Because the Redwoods like moist conditions i then added a covering af Spagnum moss to retain moisture around the roots ,covering with Bonsai mix before placing the 2 landscape volcanic rocks into position . With a choice of trees i set a feature in pots to give a guideline to the finished design .

Originally starting with 9 trees i have chosen to add a few extra to give the forest setting more depth , currently 21 trees are in position and still counting . For now i will trim and add seedlings to define the landscape . All in all i am very happy with the outcome and have decided to do another group landscape on a slab of Granite .

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Air Layering a Japanese Maple

This is a simple air layer to remove and improve a maple that failed to impress with good branch development as a chop-top . I have decided to layer the top off to form a raft style maple group, using the top shoot/branch as the main tree and a side branch as the raft as it has 4 strong shoots which will be wired vertical to produce the smaller trees on the raft . I first removed a section of bark around the trunk and underneath the main branch , then painting with hormone gel . Using bubble wrap i made a small cone securing it at the base around the trunk with duct tape , keeping the flat side of the bubble wrap to the outer for ease of sealing . Then i simply draw the wrap down and place damp spagnum moss into the base until a suitable pad is form , then drawing back up the trunk filling the bag as i close the wrap around the trunk and branches . Using a sharp knife i slit the plastic around each individual branch/shoot and sealed again with tape . To keep miost all i need to do is pierce the wrap with a small syringe and inject a small amount of water to maintain the humidity . As recomended by my brother i will leave these layers on until late winter when they will be severed over a 2 week period {to reduce shock / stress} and potted up ready for the spring growth to appear .

Monday, December 29, 2008

Japanese Maples in training

Here is a couple of Maples i grew from seed and then placed in the ground as landscape trees . Due to a borer attack in several larger trees i decided to remove and Bonsai the numerous 5 year old trees . With no initial training as Bonsai material i decided to chop-top the seven trees unaffected by the borer . After careful removal from the garden beds , i chopped the tops down to 400mm and bare-root pruned to fit into 200-250mm pots . I then placed them into large pots completely bare of branches and foliage . This exercise took place in winter 2008 . During spring i carefully whatched the new shoots appear in selected the ones that were going to be used for each individual Bonsai . With a strong root growth over winter the shoots were a little to vigourous so i had to defolinate to slow the growth down . During this time as the new shoots set 2 pairs of leaves i placed spring clothes pegs onto each new branch to hold them at right angles to the main trunk , and adding another peg to increase the weight to hold the branches in position . After the branches were set i pinched the tip growth out to the desired length . I removed the pegs and defolinated again to increase ramafication on the branches . Allowing the growth to thicken as in the above pics i then femoved the unwanted shoots and branches and wired to the desired finished trainer . Iwill allow the trainer the grow on for another 2 months then remove the PVC coated wire {electrical cable} and during winter 2009 i will place them into Bonsai trays or pots of choice and they should be excellent quality large Bonsai 500-700mm high with 30-60mm trunks and they will all have good tapers

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hail Damaged transformation

Here is an example of using an unfortunate incident to alter the design of a bonsai . These 2 Tridents suffered serious hail damage so i have decided to change the styles based on the damage and what was left to work with . By simply laying the trees over the original style of informal upright was transformed into slanting style . After carefull consideration i chose to change the second tree to a slanting style twin trunk as a mojority of the branches were smashed off with the hail . I have also lowered the tree and attempted to stimulate a new root-ball higher up the main trunk to change the appearance to twin trunks . Both of these maples are either root cuttings or hardwood cuttings taken from the big maple 9 years ago . They will need about 2 years to recover from the storm damage in the mean time i will no doubt graft and grow many more .

Mother Natures Fury

While Mother Nature is a beautiful thing , unseasonal summer storms are very unpredictable and capable of unlashing their fury in the most unexpected times . A hail storm dumped 20mm hail on my place and in 10 minutes it done quite a bit of damage to most of the trees that were out in the open . Stipping foliage , new shoots and small branches off all but a few sheltered under shade sails . I do have a number of trees sculptured by nature and the wildlife in the area including Kangaroo's in my backyard , this sort of hammering by hail doesn't do justice to my hard work , i have decided to cover all the Bonsai garden with Sails and Shade Cloth mainly due to the fact the climate changes are quite severe and unpridictable . I recall a hail storm with golf-ball size hail completely stripping a Trident Maple and ripping branches and bark off , my car was in the driveway and it copped a beating on the top panels . Keeping busy fertilizing with a slow release fertilizer and repositioning some trees that have been damaged .

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Passion At Home

This is a small part of my collection of Bonsai ,Semi Trained Trees and collected both nursery stock ,from my own garden and Yamadori collected over a decade and more . Bonsai is more than my passion its an obsession to produce the altimate tree . No not all Bonsaist are obsessed with their trees my hobby has far more appeal than motorcycles which i have had a long association with having owned 72 motorcycles which included several Triumph Flat tankers 1916-1927 To old to ride and carrying to many injuries form my youth , Bonsai is slow and steady with fantastic individual results .

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

7 Foot Tall Not BONSAI Proof

This is a Pinus Nigra "Austrian Black Pine " collected from the wild 8 years ago . I spotted 2 of these Pines in a plantation of Monterey's , they were self sow from a nearby test plot . Seeking the land owners permission , i set about trimming and root cutting over a 2 year period . I eventually removed both trees , standing 2.1m high and potted them into Large timber training boxes . Sadly but not unexpected only one survived due to the poor rootball that failed to cope with the transplant . I kept the tree as a large informal upright for several years to promote growth and as a feature tree to the front of the house . I had many comment from locals about this tree . With more than 120 Bonsai scattered around the yard i chose to take a radical approach to the design and contort the trunk down to reduce the overall height . Using rachet tiedowns and good old truckies knots i began to bend and contort the trunk with no lenght reduction to the tree. The "Bonsai in traning" now sits in a extra large tray 800mm x 500mm and has a height of a mere 500mm with a width of 800mm . further reduction in height will continue and the Bonsai will be rotated 45 degree in both side and back directions to the present position and twisted / contorted sidways as it lacks 3 dimesions in the trunk

Monday, December 15, 2008

My First Big Bonsai

This was my first big Bonsai at the start it was 550mm high with a 55mm trunk after 10 years of training and nurturing it is currently 850mm high with a a 120mm base , while it does look fantastic i have yet to stimulate good surface roots or "Nebari". I have began to work on the root system to improve the radial surface roots by removing and peeling back numerous small sections of the bark , painting these areas with hormone gel and using a cut off split plastic pot or a terracotta split pot to raise the course, sharp mixture around the base of the tree. A small open wooden box will do they same job , i use whatever i can lay my hands on . You could remove the Bonsai from its pot and place it in a deep plastic pot , either way will produce the desired result. Due to the fact the soil level has been raised the top section will dry out before the pot so keeping a close eye on the top section is a must. The lower branch on the tree is only 5 years old grown from a shoot during development of the canopy , numerous shoots appeared in that year and i chose the best one to balance the tree . I allow the branch to grow on moreso than the rest of the branches to thicken and improve ramafication , however it is always in proportion to the rest of the canopy . Originally this tree was part of my landscaped yard until a motorcyclist being pursued by the law took a shortcut through my yard and struck the top of the tree snapping it off. At the time i was rather angry , however the young chap done me a favour as the root system on the tree would have managed to foul the drainage system on the house.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Trident Maple transformation

My old trident has been a pleasure to grow and style . Grown form a seed in 97' i placed it in the ground for 5 years and left it as a feature tree untrained in any respect towards a bonsai . Whilst tending the garden in 02' i noticed the masive radial root system and this was going to be a bloody big Bonsai . Well over 2.7m in height i decided to give it a shot at removing it . I recall taking about 4 hours to safely remove it , cutting most of the tree down to 600mm with full on agression and trimming the roots in the same fashion . I potted the tree and this was the start to a massive Trident . This pic was taken 2 monthes ago after defolinated and trimming the branches back to the first set of leaves on the new growth . It has been trimmed and trained for around 6 years , and after a visit from my Brother who inspired me to graft off the top and make a Raft Style , Formal Upright and of course my original plan a HUGE Sumo trident . The new flush of leaves complete i have decided to take Chris's approach and graft the entire top off , the 2 outer forks will be the raft with a main tree and utilize the branches of the raft to create lesser trees , the center trunk will be an upright as the original and the base will in turn be the Sumo . The height of the Bonsai is 850mm x 650mm wide , the base of the trunk is 100mm with massive radial roots out to 350mm,however after the chop-top has been done i will attempt to layer a new rootball above but including at least 50%of the large radial roots . The angle between the raft and main tree will about 85 degrees a 30mm trunk and raft with the main tree being 400mm high . The Sumo Trident will have a trunk height of 250mm with a new base somewhere around 150mm

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Juniper Squamata

I like working with nursury plants as they dont have a great deal of appeal when first looked at , but inside every pot lurks a potentual Bonsai . This was the case with this paticular Juniper , it had the makings of a cascade if turned over 90 degees to the growing position . However as i have 2 huge cascades {Squamata and Procumbens} i decided to try something different .
The image taken is after removing form the plastic pot and placed into an oversize Bonsai pot , i would rather have the pot too large so i dont have to root prune , merely tease the roots out and pot up . I removed the unwanted foliage to expose the trunk line , not amused with the straight trunks i wound the main around the stake in tied it securely . The horizontal base branch was also arrow straight so i used wire hooks to contort it into a multi "S " shaped form . The plant remained restrained for 4 months then the wires removed during this time i lost interest in its design . In early spring i had another look at what sort of Bonsai i could make out of this ugly-stick . A Twin Trunk was my first thought so i set about wiring the trunks in the traditional method and repotting the tree into a suitable pot . With some gentle persuasion i straightened the bottom branch turning it up to form the smaller trunk , it was looking good so i aligned the trunks with similar bends to form a mother-son or twin trunk style Bonsai . I will allow it to grow on for the next year and decide whether or not to reduce the height or to remodel it into a Literati style Twin Trunk . In the mean time i will pot up into a larger pot to allow good root run and to thicken the trunks as per placing the tree back into the ground .

Norway Spruce

This is the latest find . A decade of hunting for the Bonsai specimen that has eluded me all this time . A locally grown Norway Spruce self sown amidst the destruction of old pines and spruces . Standing 2.1m high and 1.5m wide it was a task and a half to remove it safely , having to reduce the entire tree by 50% in order to transport it home . With a nice rootball attached i headed home and potted the tree up within 1 1/2 hours and placed inside a plastic igloo . Not having a great deal of patience i left it for 4 weeks and observed the new growth extend , during this period i constantly misted the foliage several times per day in order to give it the best chance of survival . The tree has endured extreme heat without any dire effect apart from some burning of the top through the plastic . During this time i have reduced the new growth by half as with my other Spruces . With the braches pointing downward due to the conditions it was grown in i decided to wire the tree into the desired shape . The result is fantastic and all i need to do is nurture and admire my new tree . The tree finished at 1000mm high 650mm wide and 550mm deep with a 90-100mm trunk and excellent radial roots . The top is going to be Jinned for 100-120mm as the branches a very condensed and thick at the apex .
Three months after collection this is the latest pic of the tree with all the branches wired independently and the jin and shari of the top has begun . Further refinements will take place over the coming months . Looking forward to placing it into a bonsai container over Winter and watching the new growth appear in spring , it will fill the canopy 2 fold and complete the transformation from tree to Bonsai . A fantastic result from an amateur Bonsai-ist

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Picea Glauca -Alberta Globe transformed

This is one of the plants that has been transformed into what i call a Triple Trunk or Clump Style Bonsai . My lovely Wife has claimed this one as her own . It was like the Norway Spruce , potted in recycled tip refuse , glass , plastic , tin and all sorts of shocking stuff . The plant had serious die-back , but would only work in its favour to open the canopy into a desirable Bonsai .
With no time to waste i removed the plant from its container , removed 50% of the rootball with a handsaw as it was like a solid brick , not possible to tease the roots out hence the drastic action was taken . I repotted it after salvaging a good root mass and placed it into a deep bonsai pot . With the tree secured i went about removing the dead crown and branches to expose the multi trunks {11} in all . They appeared to be very spindally and the drastic action to remove the lesser {6} was to its benefit . I now had something to focus on , either to leave the {5} remaining trunks as a Clump Style or to further reduce it to {3} trunks and create a triple trunk . Undecided i left it to recover for 2 months then took the drastic action to remove a futher 2 trunks and the end result is a very nice Triple Trunk style Bonsai . I have since repotted the bonsai into a shallow pot and with the traditional wiring method used transformed what was a sick potted plant into what i beleive to be a fantastic Rare Bonsai as Alberta Globes are rarely used for bonsai even buy the guru's of the art . Below is the Norway Spruce described previously in its present state with the wire removed and replaced once again with wire hooks to prevent damage to the new shoots that are appearing in the 3rd flush of new growth in the last 4-5 months . And yes i'm aware of the fact that you should only remove <20%>

Norway Spruce Transformed

The Norway Spruce was part of a ute load of reject trees purchased from a little old lady who has a healthy obsesson with collecting rejected/damaged nursery trees from far and wide . I clapped my eyes on it and low and behold it was in the ute in a flash , along with the rest of the trees . Butchered and neglected this would transform into something resembling an aged Spruce battered by nature. I removed it from its pot to find it was growing in recycled garden mulch from the local council , treated pine , plastic even a shedded aluminium can was entangled in the rootball . With a quick trim of the branches to remove the unsightly foliage and a servere root prune it was placed into the bonsai pot . Further training would take place in 4 weeks . I used the hook and hold method to pull the branches down into their new position , carefully the tree has taken on a completely new image . On the thicker branches i use electrical cable coating to protect the bark from damage . With the new Spring growth bursting i allowed the tree to rest and recover for another 4 weeks during this time i carved a shari down the full length of the trunk,small but affective..After the new growth had extended i then removed another 30% of the canopy,stimulating a further burst of new buds and shoots . Continually trimming the new growth by pinching out the tips the canopy was beginning to thicken , so a further reduction of the branches was to take place . Once again another burst of new shoots has appeared and began to burst . This transformation from neglected tree to bonsai has taken less than 6 months . It is currently wired in the traditional method and is recovering very well . It has pride and place in my vast collection of Bonsai and trainers.