Best Bonsai Skills to Learn

Best Bonsai Skills to Learn

 

i am a rather sentimental person and over the christmas holiday i was looking at some old photographs and i happened to come across these pictures of the blast juniper that i made back in 1984 which was my second chelsea flower show and i remember making this tree from virtually nothing it was just nursery material and this is a picture of this same juniper at the chelsea flower show of 1990 look at it it’s a rather beautiful juniper and it was made in just six years to get to this stage let me show you other pictures of the same tree these are pictures of my chelsea flower show and by the way one of these days i will be doing some videos about my past chelsea flower shows because i did about 22 or 23 chelsea flower shows and then i stopped in 2006 after getting 21 uh consecutive gold medals so i didn’t want to do chelsea flower show anymore but it’s nice to look back at the photographs of the chelsea flower show and this was the chelsea flower show of 1990 and i don’t often show pictures of my dear wife and that’s my dear wife dawn standing against the chelsea flower show stand and there’s the juniper again so that juniper when you think it was not an imported tree but it was made as a challenge and here i have my second book bonsai master class this book was published in 1987 but i wrote it in 1986 and i wrote it virtually in about two or three months over a period of about seven or eight evenings and on page 80 of bonsai master class 80 and page 81 you will see a picture of that tree when it was just being made and if you compare the picture in that book with this picture you can see the similarity it is in fact the very same tree except that when i had this photograph taken for bonsai master class this photograph was taken in 1986 and it still was heavily wired heavily wired with copper wire now those of you who have the copy of bonsai master class if you look at page 80 it describes this is a juniper from nursery stock so i describe how i used an ordinary bloss juniper that i managed to get hold of after the chelsea flower show of 1984 and i said to myself i will make it into a bonsai so literally in just about half an hour’s work what i did was to wire these branches down and after half an hour this is what the tree looked like in 1984 but two years later by 1986 it was looking like this and i could photograph it for bonsai master class i know it was photographed in 1986 because this book was written in 1986 and i needed a picture so there’s that tree and it’s in a brown golden buffet pot and when i displayed the tree at chelsea in 1990 which was exactly six years after buying the tree as a nursery plant like this six years later it was a showable tree at the chelsea flower show so that’s how long it takes to make an exquisite tree and i will now go to my computer to show you what this tree is like because i never sold it many people wanted to buy it but this tree is now permanently at wesley where we sponsor the bonsai collection in the haremnus bonsai walk and i’m now going to walk over to my computer to show you what the tree looks like today now i’m going to show you a video which you may have already seen it was aired or broadcast about a month ago and it was about my autumn visit to wesley where we have our herons bonsai collection and in that video i want to show you this self-same tree that is on permanent display there so this is october 2021 that means this tree was first made in uh the year 1984 so how many years is that it’s about 38 years ago i made this tree so let’s have a look at this video just to refresh your memory i’ll keep silent and have a look at the video again for those of you who are familiar with my second book bonsai master class this is the bonsai master class tree which was made from scratch in 1984 so this tree is quite old 30 something years old so here i am ready to start this famous bonsai master class project this is my second book bonsai master class which was published in 1987 and on page 80 i’m going to take you to this project so this project was done in 1984 when i just acquired the trees from the chelsea flower show from agro you can see that tree this is a typical bloss juniper and i have several of these we grow these on our land so we have them in different sizes and i’m going to show you exactly what i did when i did it for that book project so if you look at that book i will refer to the book from time to time and what we’re aiming to get is this image here this was after wiring and this was after two or three years so it just shows what you can achieve from here to here in just three years so let us begin let me talk a little bit about blows these are all bloss junipers now many people seem to think that bloss juniper is not the true chinese juniper i have written about gloss juniper in a lot of my books and also on my videos i talk about blowers bloss is a chinese juniper that was discovered by a dutch plant hunter he went to japan i think in the i would say it was probably in the late 19th or maybe the early 20th century and he brought back the junipers from japan which was the true chinese junipers and because his name was bloss it became to be known as the blas juniper chinese juniper junipers is blows variety b-l-a-a-u-w blouse so this is bloss and as you can see the foliage is very fine and as my cameraman josh was saying it’s almost as fine as itoigawa but it grows in this strange bars shape this is a tree that i’ve been growing on the nursery for last three years so this tree is about eight to ten years old these were also grown in and i’ve just dug them up and you can see these have been growing on the land for about 12 years and they have this vast shape that means they are an inverse cone like a conical lots of long branches and the trick is to find the leader so i have several trees here and these could probably be made into a multi-trunk tree because these branches are so nice and thick they’re like trunks so this could be a nice multi-trunk this one i’m looking for a central trumpet stem this has also got a central trunk this could also be used so there are many options for this tree but the one i chose for making the reproduction of the masterclass tree is this particular one because it’s got a nice straight trunk and i can see that there are lots of usable branches so this is what we’re going to do i’m literally going to wire every single branch outwards and then we will see what happens from there on so all i do is literally watch everything in sight i won’t show you the detail of every piece of wire i put on because it’s not difficult to imagine what i’m doing i’ll show you one or two and then i’ll wire the rest of the tree in my own time so although we are talking of three years three years in bonsai years is not a long time to wait it’s not a long time when you think that decent bonds i take one generation which is 30 years two generations which is 60 years and three generations is 100 years so all i’m going to do is literally wire everything flat flat out so they’re all different thicknesses so i’m going to use different grades or thicknesses of water even if the branches are not usable in the final design they are going to help thicken the trunk by now most of you will know the term sacrificial branch i love the term sacrificial branch because the sacrificial branch is literally a branch that is going to be used temporarily in the initial stages and when it’s done its work it’s done its sacrifice we will then discard the branch but it will have performed its duty as it were in that bonsai master class tree i did something which i don’t often do but on occasion you can get two branches very close together and if you want a thick branch what i did was i planted the two branches together like that can you see what i’m doing i can flap the two branches like that you see you can get these two branches and plat it together and you can get a thick branch if you want to so that is one technique i did to that particular tree i will show you a close-up because when i went to wesley the planted branch is still quite obvious and visible but i will just continue to wire all these branches outwards no secret tricks just plain and simple wiring i will of course follow this too hopefully in three years it will have done the job i will on another occasion show you what are the other options different from this where i use thin branches to get an instant tree this is what i call a longer term project where i’m going to wait three to five years to get the complete tree now there are two long branches here i will keep it because it may have to thicken that part of the trunk i’m not too worried i can always lay that branch if i don’t want to use it but i will just wire it flat again simply wiring it flat nothing else back in the 1970s and 1980s bloss juniper was quite easily available because on the club circuit everyone was using bros junipers to make into chinese juniper mind you we did get chinese juniper imported from japan but they were even in those days quite expensive back in 1963 when i first saw a bonsai and i certainly remember in 1967 when i worked in the city i used to work for the central electricity generating board and their head office was in patent austin next to saint paul’s cathedral and there was a shop called c e henderson’s and hendersons used to sell these imported chinese junipers and they used to sell it by their length one pound for every inch so one inch six inch uniform six pound 12 inch juniper was 12 pound that is going back to 1966 or 67 of course times have changed you know we can’t think of those days anymore because those days have long gone things are much more expensive even the smallest juniper now costs about 200 pounds and the price keeps going up and that’s all i have to do to this tree i’m not going to do more let me just put one more piece of wire i’ll take the leader up and promote the leader how long did that take barely five minutes but what i’m going to do i’m going to shorten these a little bit because there’s no point letting it grow too long there is still goodness going into the tree into the branches these are valuable cuttings that we can make we propagate these by cutting large juniper is very hard to get you cannot find it easily on the open market anymore for some reason people just don’t like to grow this because there is no market for it back in the 1960s and 70s even up to the early 80s there was a cult following in growing dwarf conifers although i never believed that any conifer is really dwarf even some of these so-called dwarf junipers they all become like 12 20 foot high trees in just a few years so every single branch will be wiped flat and i’m going to put it in a blue pot and that will be the end of that and i will wait for another three years to refine it but i will refine it a little more i will show you another shot of what i’ve done to this tree and we will follow the progress of this tree so this is how my famous blast juniper started off and in three years time i got a very decent tree if you come close you can see that the trunk is already quite thick it’s at least inch to inch and a half thick at the base already a very nice nibari and there you go this is the right side of the pot to put it in and i’ll just wait for it to thicken and these branches to go horizontal because the normal habit of these branches is to go vertically like this what we call a vase shape inverted v but what we want is a v shape that way triangular shape that way so from this sort of shape to this sort of shape simply acquiring the branches outwards there you go so this is the tree we did yesterday the brawls and i’m just finishing it off i know that it’s really still in training i shouldn’t be trying to dress it up but i thought i’d just make it look a little more presentable so this was literally done in half an hour literally in half an hour and again i’m mentioning half an hour not so much to show off how easy it is to do or how good i am but it’s just to show that these things don’t take a lot of effort don’t take a lot of imagination so even if you wanted to do an instant bonsai you could get that effect from one of these things so untrained material to this in half an hour that’s not bad so that’s the final shot of that tree but as an addendum i want to show you the method i mentioned about planting the two branches so planting the two branches is a method i use because for several reasons i can make several thin branches into one thick branch and i also can use those multiple branches as sacrificials because the more branches you have the thicker the trunk will get if you bring the camera close look at all these branches there are so many of them one two three four five six all in close succession so because this tree is still being trained i’m not in a rush to sell it this is really for the long term when i say the long term i’m talking about three years if you remember the video i did i showed you the development of that tree in three years it was almost showable and in six years it was a virtual specimen the sort of thing that you can get from japan so it doesn’t take long to make that sort of thing so again let me just reinforce by doing some very quick uh work on this tree you see the trunk is about almost two inches thick at the base and i’m not going to waste any of these branches i just want to wire them out so that i get the branches feeding back into the trunk so that it thickens the trunk faster there is always a temptation and i dare say that even on this nursery my staff look at this tree they say oh let’s sell it straight away let’s dress it up and do this and that and sell it off but there are certain trees i refuse to sell because i want to see the end results so although it may look a mess to you the object is not to sell this tree immediately i just want to thicken the branches okay so now let me show you this situation here where i’m going to plant two branches together if you come close i can see that there are some branches that i can plant okay that is one of them i’m trying to see which are the ones which are really close together okay so these two i’m just removing a little bit of foliage i don’t have to if i remove the foliage you can see better what i’m doing okay so if you can look at it this is what i’m going to do i’m going to plant the branches like so spiral it together can you see what i’m doing so the two branches have become one thick branch and i can just put a little bit of wire i can have tiny beads with a bit of scrap wire because i’m going to tie it with another branch no i don’t need that okay so that is one branch plated i will plant another branch there are so many cases now that’s another one there’s another two there so let’s look at this one i’m just removing some of foliage to show you more clearly what i’m doing so those two i can plant so i’m gonna plug these two together like that so we can look at the camera and see what i’m doing this planting method is not new i’m not inventing it it is used quite a lot with tropical plants with ficus and other tropicals they’re sold as novelty plants where you get these funny planting arrangements and people like to use them for decorations in the home so that’s another two branches plated together the more i look the more i can find there’s another two here see because there’s so many branches going close to each other so i’m not worried about that in the least i will plant it and then as they grow i will then decide what to do and if i don’t like it later i can always cut it off but meanwhile it will help to thicken the trunk when you do the plaiting when you pluck two branches you don’t get so much dyeing of the weaker branch but if you plant three or more branches i often find that the weakest of the branches tend to succumb and the stronger branches will strangle the weaker branch so there is that a danger when you do platinum okay so i’ve planted those two only on this side okay that’s not thick enough but i can still pluck that one you can plug that one now over here there is like a trim trunk here if you come closer if you look here there’s another branch going straight up like another leader so i’ve got to watch that one i don’t know whether to cut it off i may have to reluctantly cut it off because i don’t want let me see before i cut it out let me think what are the options now i may just take it to the back because it may help to improve the taper because the change is very abrupt here from thick to thin but if i keep that it may help to thicken that a little more so now let me do some wiring to wire these branches out mind you this is by no means the finished article i’m just doing it so that these branches get a chance to thicken so these are just growing and developing techniques they are not meant to be refining techniques by any you know imagination it’s certainly not meant to be that i’m just spreading the branches out just spreading the bronzer as i said there’s always a temptation to try and cut branches and get the final instant bonsai but this is not that situation i mean do another project where i do an instant bonsai with this type of blast juniper but this is just an exercise in the future development of this tree i’m just looking to the future no pruring just developing so that they get a nice thick trunk and then we can decide which branches to use which branches to keep so i’m going to now tackle this very unusual double leader and i will bend that leader backwards again you notice i’m using the two branch principle all the time all the time to branch principle so now this thick one so i’m bending that back can you see what i did it is like an l-shaped bend just to get it going horizontally and i’m not going to prune any of these tips i may just take the very end off so that it doesn’t get any longer but i still want the maximum feeding from this foliage back into the trunk and let’s see i can give some twist to the leading chute and once i’ve done that you can probably see the future potential of this tree i can do some more i will do just to satisfy the viewers usually with trees like this you use the cheapest one i don’t know why i’m using good wire i should be using rubbish recycled wire there’s also a case for using the plain clear aluminium wow that’s very cheap i’ll just take the tips out so you can see how i’m looking to the future you see that’s the direction of development all these branches horizontal rather than going upwards and then when i’m satisfied with how the branches are developing i can then choose which branch to keep which branch to remove so i’ll make sure that my staff don’t sell this tree or get rid of it or change the style i want to follow the progress of this and you will see it in the coming months and years ahead and before i finish this video i would like you to come here stephen i have one of my youtube friends all the way from seattle usa and he’s here on christmas holidays with his folks and i’m always pleased to entertain visitors from abroad this week we’ve had so many visitors from hungary from india two families from india and uh quite a few from united states so i welcome you here do you guys like to say something um i mean like i told you i started in july only in july about yeah around july i discovered bonsai through a video game believe it or not people say video games are bad for you but it led to a pretty cool hobby goes to tsushima if you’re wondering was a video game they don’t have bonsai in the video game itself but in the mountains in the game they had these like curly like mountain junipers and i said like yeah yeah exactly and i said those look like those little plants that people put on their desks like and keep his ornaments and i looked into it and i thought it was really cool so follow through with it okay so keep it up you find it useful yeah yeah yeah all right yeah so i’m delighted you’re here and another chance to appear on my videos so the other fans can uh join with you in sharing the sponsor experience okay [Music] you

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