Archive for June, 2009

Urban Yamadori Elms

My wife was returning home from work and noticed a local winery had ripped out a line of trees . Big Bonsai was the first thing that entered my thoughts , so i shot off down the road to have a sneak peek at what was happening to these trees .On investigation i notices that the elms in the front of the winery had been destroyed .So with no hesitation i located the office and asked if they would mind if i could have some of the trunks . The head gardener said they were all smashed up by the excavator but i could help myself to as many as i wanted . Like a big kid in a lolly shop i took a good look and noticed that although the tops were snapped off the trunks were usable . I immediately began loading trunks after removing most of the soil. Elm after Elm went into the trailer, then i spotted Japanese Maples they too went on board . Continuing down the row i came across a Golden Atlas Cedar , yes I’ll have that too . Very content with my quick work , 7 Elms , 4 Maples and a Cedar i headed home . Out of the corner of my eye i noticed at the rear of the winery more trees had been removed . The next morning i returned to gather more big Elms ,2 hours later i had collected 2 Dozen trunks . These were the easiest trunks i have ever collected , no need to dig these out just remove the excess soil and load aboard .Now all i had to do was to plant them into the ground .Root trimming was required and into the ground they went. At the end of the day 31 Elms , 4 Maples and a Golden atlas cedar were collected in 3 hours . A new chainsaw will be next on the list of “must haves” to carve these big trunks into something resembling big Bonsai trainers.

This is the first styling of the Ultimate Mugo that has settled in my care since digging .I decided that a style was in order due to the fact that a feeding regime had been carried out whilst still in the ground . The root mass was as if trained in a large pot measuring approx’ 400 x 250 and a mere 60mm thick . With no trimming of the roots or foliage the tree was potted and is as ready as it will ever be .
My original plan was to make a low lean slanting style , however i chose to set the pot on wedges and considered a semi-cascade . With the trunk secured with straps and blocked i then anchored the dead lower branch to the pot for added security . I began wiring using heavy gauge aluminium wire for the main branches and annealed copper for the branchlets . After 6 1/2 hours of very cautious wiring the task was complete . I had an issue with the top branch which required a brace . I used a 16mm hardwood dowel to rotate the rear facing branch 180 degrees and anchor into position to form the new apex . A combination of spiral wrap , hook and hold and a brace was implemented in the process of wiring .After studying the tree i had several good reasons not to pursue the semi-cascade .
1/loss of movement and flow of the trunk .

2/the top smaller branch would required removal to produce a true cascade leaving only2 main branches to work with .

3/the bottom lower dead branches left for the jins would also have to go .

4/the rear of the tree was as bear as a babies bum .

5/i don’t particularly like cascade pines .

With all these negatives a decision was made to revert back to the original plan . So onward and upward with the final styling .With the apex set i began gently manoeuvring and adjusting the main branches and then moving onto the lesser branchlets slowly adjusting and fine tuning as i worked my way around and up to the apex . The new Bonsai is finally complete 2 1/2 hours after the fine tuning and bending into shape began. Whilst this is still a trainer it looks very impressive as if trained for several growing seasons . Below is a pic of the very impressive trunk . An 11 mm stub slice was taken from the lower dead branch and to my astonishment 23 growth rings were counted using a magnifying glass .
The apex of the trunk has a scar from the original tree top it measures 35mm long and 8-9mm wide almost completely healed , armed with this info i conservatively estimate the tree at 65-75 yo and if it is one of the originally planted trees it could be 90+ years old .
The base is a handsome 110mm aged trunk at soil level with a nice taper to 45mm at the main trunk . The finished Bonsai measures 800mm wide x 500mm deep and stands 350mm from the soil . .Pot used is for training only ,i will at a later date repot and elevate the apex about 10-15 degrees . For now this beauty will sit amongst some of my better older trees .

This was a nursery plant i purchased 6-7 months ago for $10 at a throw out sale. It was old and rough but i liked the shape for a cascade or semi cascade . I removed the plant and sliced the root ball 6-8 times vertically to a depth of about 30mm with a sharp clean knife . Then with a Bonsai root rack i teased the top of the root mass and over potted it into a planter bag . The exercise on the roots relieves the pressure on the pot bound roots/ tree immediately.

It was placed in the garden for about 6 months while i pondered other tasks . With a healthy looking plant at my disposal i have decided to transform this ordinary plant into something that will grace my collection. I have considered may styles for this particular plant settling on a informal upright /slanting style .Pics here show the plant from the front , back and side view after removing from the training bag and root trimmed . I then potted the trainer into a larger than normal pot to assist wiring and styling . I removed the lowest branch with roots attached for a future trainer and potted it up .

With the plant wired to the pot at the base i then began wiring the main trunk with heavy gauge aluminium wire , 2 wires for the lower trunk and a single full length wire from the bottom to the top . Instantly the shape of a Bonsai trainer begins to emerge as the main trunk is straightened into the upright position. Using the same wire i wired the main lower branches , choosing to remove another small lower branch and a side shoot leaving long stubs . These will add character to the finished Bonsai as a jin . With the larger branches wired the shape is progressing , the top smaller branches and branchlets are then wired . This now has the look of a quality Bonsai starter .After5 hours of wiring and trimming of the foliage daylight had run out . I used this time to study the trainer under different light and decided to remove the lower 2 branches back to long stubs to improve the base and enhance the jin effect that i was looking for .Using a guide wire attached to the pot base and spiralled around the mid-upper portion of the trunk i then grasp the wire with a pair of pliers and twist which in turn pulls the trunk down and increases the movement and flowing lines of the lower part of the tree. The top is simply bent and twisted with the aid of the full length wire it will hold its position . The Bonsai starter is now finished and will be allowed to rest for a week or two then the Jins will be carved and the trainer will be potted into a smaller pot and allowed to grow on . The void on the left lower section of the trunk is where the final movement will end up . A further 10-15 degrees of bend will be placed on the lower trunk to enhance the design of the Informal Upright / Slanting Style that i have planned on .All up a very pleasing design and another good quality Bonsai Starter .