A Sneak Peek

Like all bonsai enthusiasts in the dead of winter, I’m excited about the potential of the growing season ahead. I’ve a lot catch up on after two years of inactivity in the garden but in some cases this has been a good thing. Some of the field grown material has flourished and thickened considerably and today I decided to check if some projects were progressing as I’d hoped. The following trees were all ground layered two years ago to hopefully produce a better surface root system:

First was a European Hornbeam

It was planted in cat litter in the ground and I found lots of fine root throughout this. Didn’t go down to Nebari level though as I didn’t want to do much damage at this point. I am satisfied though with the new flare at the bottom of the trunk. While I was at it I took care of some top pruning but left the bottom branches. I’ll airlayer the sacrifice branch in spring. Can’t wait to lift this tree when buds fatten up!

Sawara Cypress Repot


This chamaecyparis was rootpruned  last year but has made such a good recovery that I can reduce the rootball further this year and reduce the time it’ll take to get it into a suitable drum pot.


Into a spare glazed pot that was lying about.  I quite like it for the time being.  I’ll continue to keep the sacrifice branches on until it goes into the next pot.

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£10? Yew must be joking.


March 2015. Taxus Baccata (I assume)

Either this was a bargain or else I’m sure some folk may think it was overpriced for what appears to be a sickly shrub.  I was out with my family at a garden centre celebrating some Easter activities but as always I was also on the lookout for anything unusual/cheap that could be used for bonsai purposes.  This 80cm tall tree was the only one of its kind in a corner of a display bed and disguised behind some magnolias.  No information on it at all just a small sticker saying ‘special offer £9.99’.  Now, material like this would usually cost 5-10 times as much depending on where you can find it.  I’ve rarely come across Yews for sale at this size and definitely not this cheap!  The discoloured foliage appears to the only reason for its low price – no apparent signs of fungal/pest problems and when I upturned the pot, there were no roots protruding.  Couldn’t pass it up!


Relatively healthy foliage on one side that was facing outwards, receiving more light.


Discoloured and sparser foliage on the other side that was facing the back of the display and perhaps has not received adequate light for a long time?


Discoloured apex – is exposure to winter frost responsible?

I have a healthy yew growing the garden already and am used to some discoloration over the colder months so I am not too concerned about the lack of health at the moment.  Maybe I’ll know better when I inspect the roots shortly.


The interior.

It’s difficult to see clearly but there are three main trunks that are pretty straight.  One is considerably thicker than the other two.  Not much foliage in the interior so this is definitely a long term project that will involve a lot of regrowing.  If it turns out to be a minger of a tree, at least it’ll be material that I can practise deadwood and wiring techniques on.  To start with though, tomorrow, I’ll inspect the roots, improve the drainage and thin out dead branches.  If I do no work on the roots, I’ll feed it immediately.  Either way I’ll shelter it from the wind for a while yet and make sure there’s enough sunlight and water to help it recover.

If anyone has any advice or suggestions, It would be great to hear from you.