First One of the Year, Bertie!

Well, Bertie, after you asked about the blog the other night, I feel properly motivated to kick start again after a longer than expected absence from bonsai related activities.  I do apologise, Bertie (and others!) if you’ve been checking in and leaving disappointed.  This is perhaps a good opportunity to give you readers some notice that for the month of July I may not be around much as my wife and I are expecting our fourth child!  Anyway, here’s some progression pics of the Chinese juniper mentioned in one of the last posts and I did say I would post when styling was finished.

Here it is earlier in the year, before I began wiring:


Remember this pic I drew of what I had in mind?


Then, after my initial work 2 months ago (no fine wiring completed):



I ran out of fine wire, wife declared pregnancy, and I stopped altogether.  Until the other night when I got some styling advice:


And finally, a wee virtual that I did earlier of what the tree could look like in a few years time:



Happy new year, Bertie!

Sawara Cypress Initial Styling

Well, I had hoped to wire the Old Gold Juniper last weekend and certainly made a start but then put my back out and haven’t been able to lift it to finish the fine wiring! I’ll hopefully post a photo when it’s completed later this week.

Instead I’ve turned my attention to a tree that’s considerably easier to pick up: this Chamaecyparis Psifera ‘Boulevard’.


Oct 15

After repotting this year, it’s grown strongly and becoming rootbound again.  I noticed that water has been pooling on the surface and when I looked under the pot, found roots climbing out of a drainage hole.



Normally I would be prudent and give a repotted tree a full year to recover but this seems to be thriving and so I decided to go ahead and give it a first wiring.  First a rough sketch of a future bonsai tree:

DSC_0180 (2)


I always had a slanting literati image in mind and after removing surplus branching and thinning out I ended up with this:


The pads need to fill out a bit and I may still remove more branches to be more consistent with a sparse literati image but think that’s enough for now.    If any branches are lost over winter then I’ll still have others to work with in spring ( also the reason for leaving the bottom branches – they’ll be removed entirely or jinned at some stage.  For now they can continue to fatten up the base).  I’m not convinced about the apex though.  I think it makes the foliage mass too thin and juvenile looking.  I may remove it entirely down to the next set of branching.  I did a quick virtual that I think may look better:

DSC_0183 - Copy

I’ll dwell on it for a while and update in a further post.


Juniper Old Gold Styling

DSC_0175I’ve had this Juniperus Chinesis ‘Old Gold’ for a few years now and for various reasons haven’t got far in its progression.  I did a workshop with Peter Warren two years ago when he visited the NIBS and this was the tree I brought.  The trunk was shaped and primary branches wired or, if unnecessary, were removed to create deadwood features.  The above photo shows a suggested front.  I’ve been unsure for a while now how to take it further but have decided today to have a bash, seeing as I’m going to be around the house all day and the kids will probably have a snooze at some point.  I did a sketch earlier of what the tree could look like after styling:

DSC_0181I’m not much of an artist but I found this very helpful in terms of giving me a direction to go when wiring.  Hopefully it’ll spur me on to finish the job this weekend.  Better get started!

A Larch Styled from Scratch

I was fortunate enough to have the chance to style a Japanese Larch at the recent NIBS Greenmount Display event.  It was presented to the club for demonstration purposes and so I had a go in front of the half a dozen people who made it out on such a wet afternoon.  The material itself was approx. 4ft tall and had been grown in a large flower pot probably for 4-5years at least. The tree though must be a lot older though due to the mature cones present?  Very straight, tall and slender with no lower branches at all below 2-3ft.  There was only one real option – cascade!


NIce root buttress


Aging bark – another plus point.


Perhaps some adjustments needed – I don’t like the horsehoe but that’s as much as I could bend it on the day.


This angle better shows movement put into the trunk and the use of foreshortening to reduce the length.

I may use this tree to experiment with grafting in future as I’d like to thicken up the lower trunk a lot.

A One to One Workshop

Yes, me and this old Scots Pine 🙂 Sadly I couldn’t make the recent Peter Warren workshop in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Bonsai Society as I was at home with the kids all day but I decided to make the best of it and have a go at styling a tree on my own for the first time.  I’ve had this Scots Pine a few years now and after recovering from needle cast two years ago and a much needed repot and root prune last year, I’ve been waiting to have a go at this one.  Peter Warren saw it two years ago and wired the primary branches.  Since then I’ve just been feeding it and waiting for backbudding to appear.  Anyway, a more detailed history/progression will appear on the blog at some point when the tree is much more presentable.

The tree before work:


May 2015

A lot of undesirable features with this tree but good for learning from.  There are only four primary branches, three of which come from the same spot high up the trunk, they are leggy and so are the secondary branches.  It’ll be many’s a year before I chase back the growth closer to the right hand side of the trunk.  A lot of bending and foreshortening of the branches was necessary to bring the foliage tips closer in.  Anyway, with copious amounts of wire, protection tape (didn’t have raffia) and some guy wires, here’s what I’ve come up with:



I actually think that if I remove the downward needles, lime sulphur the deadwood and cover the surface with moss it might make a decent image to the untrained eye.  We’ll see.


Cedar Initial Styling

The time finally came around last weekend that I was able to give my Cedar an initial styling so I headed to Bonsai Eejit’s garage for some valuable guidance during the process.  Secondary branches were thinned out to aid wiring of the whole tree and every branch (almost!) was wired.  This was my first time wiring an entire tree and it was a bit laborious at first but towards the end I was getting the hang of it (although a lot of practice is needed!). Again, I have very limited experience of styling raw material/trees so Eejit talked me through it and  I learned quite a few things as he carried out the job.  We finished at around 2:30am and I was pleased with the result.



I went with the shorter trunk option and quickly hacked off the taller one before doubts set in.  A long thick jin was left but I plan to refine the deadwood next year.  There were only four primary branches on the tree and they all came from the same place.  Luckily they were pretty flexible as quite a bit of bending was necessary to move them into place.

AFTER (The next day!)

AFTER (The next day!)

Its a skeleton image with a lot of foliage development needed over the next number of years but I’ve got a firm direction to go in now that the trunk and primary branches are set.  More pics from different angles:


The left hand side of the tree


The back of the tree


The right hand side of the tree