Improving Large Pines & Creating Bonsai from Difficult Material

I take you through the thought process I go through when improving some large pines.

I then make a bonsai from a difficult conifer.

So these trees have been partly shaped but i haven’t done anything for the last 10 years i did prune some of these lower branches because sometimes they die from lack of light so this can still be improved all these trees can be improved every single tree here can be improved so how do i approach a tree like this now the unique thing about this tree is got almost like triple trunk and with pines to get these triple trunks is quite unusual quite rare so i will make the best out of this rather than try and reduce it to a single trunk let’s use the triple trunk to its fullest so i’ll look at it from every side to see if there is one side which is better than the other i want to be able to see all the tree trunks because if they if there are three trunks why should i go and hide them so looking at it from this side the three trunks look very nice like this i think from any other side the three trunks don’t look so good if i turn it around here i don’t think it looks so good like that either so i’ve more or less let’s turn it once more so we can always plant it at a different angle you know so just because it’s planted in a pot like that it doesn’t mean it has to be like this forever in a day that’s also a possibility but i think i will revert to what i looked at originally now this takes some time because i know it can be a decision that is irrevocable that means once you do that you may not be able to change it so let’s think carefully now if i were to prop the tree like this and make that the leader that is also possible and show it like that i’m doing the unconventional that means propping it up like this okay give us a minute we will just put a rock on it so this is something i don’t often do proper tree up but rather than use a side that is not ideal i think by topping it up planting it in the pot at this angle i will get a natural like a leader here and then use the other side as the back so then you can see the trunk better and you can still see the three trunks so let’s see what happens [Music] let’s get the little dead twigs out first these little thin things can come out i know that some people will take ages just to decide on that but it comes with experience the more you do the more confidence you will get so don’t worry about that so we always begin by taking the debris out i call it debris because they’re all dead or half dead these poor trees haven’t been fed for the year so i’m going to feed it heavily although it’s august they still have like a couple of months more of growing season so lots of growth yet to come and it will become very bushy after feeding [Music] i think we can tie down with a bit of string like so can you see if i lower it down that becomes a nice pad and then this can become a nice pad so it was really choosing the correct front and that would make a decent garden tree for starters already a very nice conical shape lovely bark so i’ll be planting it in a bigger pot come monday and see how it goes from there so that’s that one and you must be wondering it must have caught your eye what is this this is a two-year and this was one of those difficult subjects there are things called impossible bonsai and i always reckon that tui is one of those very difficult subjects to create into bonsai and all these golden type conifers very popular for rockeries but useless for bonsai what would i do with a tree like that maybe a bit of a cascade there since i’m doing it i think you must be dying what is going through my mind this is instant exercise in shaping okay what shall we do with that okay you’ve presented me with a challenge i’m going to take it into the back greenhouse and do something with it i know some some of you must be laughing but can we see the bonsai shape there i think to complete it i’m going to take it to the back greenhouse and we’ll complete this right we are halfway there you saw me pulling all those long shoots off in the field it’s got lovely bark i dare say it’s quite an old tree my guess would be that it’s at least 30 years old and all those long branches are pruned off these have obviously become nice gin features of the tree these in fact have been formed naturally without any work being done to it so let’s see what we can create the big question is do i need something over here uh it might be interesting i won’t discount it so this will become driftwood that will become driftwood i think the main interest now is in these young shoots here so let’s uh do something to the top there and they propagate from cuttings very easily you see all these little nodules they are in fact dormant roots if you were to just put some soil there the roots will come out and become a new plant now rather than be put off by having to think about this i will do something to this so i will just tie that in and i will uh make a feature of that long branch i know that i’m quite drastic but i don’t like wasting material if i can help it this in fact is how a lot of garden trees are shaped you know rather than having wireless branches you do just a guy wire like this and you will have the desired results so that will become a gin we can use these and let’s see what we can do with this uh this gene is a bit too long a lot of people are fascinated by ginseng as they say do gins for the sake of doing gin but if it’s in the wrong place it doesn’t look right look at the butt back over there look at the young shoot there so they do butt back they bite back very easily not make very long ugly gins let’s do just short gin so we’re cutting a third of the way through the trunk and then breaking it so that has a torn effect i’ll refine it in a minute so that’s the sort of length you want i’ll decide on that in a minute now let’s put a piece of wire around this and see what emerges from that so my two branch principles i’m going to anchor it on this bit yeah so the two branch principle always is just an anchor situation anchor point i’m not using excessively thick wire this is only i think three and a half mil i may have to use a double but let’s see and they mark very easily because they are fast growing trees this has been in a small pot so the growth has been restricted to a large extent so yeah i remember in one of the comments someone did ask do you make two year bonsai so now you can see 33 have been used [Music] and as you can see i haven’t spent a lot of time i just put one piece of wire and i’ve just cut the branches out in the field that’s all i’ve done so with bonsai i think having the imagination and the vision is really the answer to creating interesting trees for bonsai and don’t despair it will come the more you practice the more you will become good at it i know that it’s a combination of neuromuscular skills and also artistic vision so you’ve got to combine the two and i used to be crazy over swimming that’s when i realized how important the neuromuscular activity is that means you have to keep repeating it to become good at it so here we are so the trees or the plants are just a medium of expression it’s what you do with it that counts i think this transformation i’m really looking forward to because it’s going to be quite dramatic that poor tree has been sitting in the field for the last 15 years i would say maybe even more never did i think of making it to a bonsai so youtube i must say has given me a new incentive and a new lease of life because until i started doing the videos i never thought of sharing these little things with the general public but now i realize that you’ve done me a favor so i’m not doing you a favor you’ve done me a favor because i’ve seen uh the interest there is and it’s given me a real incentive to actually create these things and to share it with you if i hadn’t had the opportunity i would never have thought of using youtube as a medium of expression and as i said to you my style of bonsai is quite different from a lot of other people’s style of bonsai and as i said there’s no right nor wrong it’s just that i do it my way other people do it that way [Music] with this species of tree because they are not long-lived they are very vigorous you’ve got to just accept it as a creation at one particular point in time once the creation has been made that’s it enjoy it for a few months a couple of years and think of recreating another shape from it it’s not going to be like this forever in a day well not all bonsai stay the same forever in a day so that’s the beauty of bonsai it’s forever changing and it gives you the chance to create something new all the time i don’t think i need that one that there’s a branch coming from there i’m just tipping it so that it will bug back further into the wood and the top i think i will make a little more of a dome shape i never like leaving it like that there are some people who don’t know what to do with it and they do leave it like that but it doesn’t give a finished look it’s always like what we call a feather in the cap sticking right up just bend it forward a bit and give it a rounded shape taking care not to track the foliage can be surprised i don’t know whether you call it foliage or needles because it’s neither a pine nor a broad leaf tree just fold it so this is what i do make it slightly rounded like that so this part is nice now i could easily cut that off you know a lot of people would say oh you should get rid of that that does nothing i think this leaning style is nice i think i could do something with this if i don’t like it i can’t cut it off but since that makes it unusual let’s see what we can do with that now now now turning it this way i suddenly realized that this is also a possible front i’ve always said never have a closed mind because very often what you had envisaged as being your preferred front may not necessarily end up as the front so looking at it like this i’m beginning to think that this is our possible front too [Music] very credible front you will appreciate i work very fast so i’m not doing the refinement i’m just showing the general principles that’s what can be achieved so this will all be changed some people could take out just doing the gins this will be a chain will be chin he’s no big end okay let’s work with this as a front let’s work with this is the front and we will do some dramatic gins there so i will take my time to perfect this and wire this so just to show you what i have now created using that really ugly tree and we’ll do a little bit of wiring there to just refine it a little bit this is the sort of tree i think if you gave it to about 10 people i hope they will all come up with different results and different ideas so everyone has a different viewpoint and i would have loved to see what other people would have done to this tree in fact although i set out pruning the great big boovernesses points i stumbled across a little gem now this is a bit of dead uh branch and because it’s dead branch it’s very hard to take the bark off so you have to literally carve it out if it was live just by crushing the broth the gin would have come very nicely driftwood this [Music] uh so i can estimate the length of what i need that comes with practice luckily this variety is quite flexible doesn’t break that easily i tried trouble that chin will have to be made better let’s see i don’t always like the look of guy wise because it always looks a bit untidy crack very often you do this and you hear it crack and cracked it i think the rest are going to have to take my time because i think the chin is not going to be that easy to remove oh this is so but i’m not going to take all your time to show you just peeling the box but this is what i’m going to do and then i know that it’s not the right time of the year to do a report but i may find a part i think a drum pot would look appropriate so i will put it in a drum pot that’s a lot of it to hand so something like that might be okay i’ll just take it here you know my trees let’s see what i can do at the end of the day most trees will grow in any soil but they do grow better in certain soils so this is what you got to understand unfortunately you may not be able to do it if you don’t have these facilities so if you have a humid unheated greenhouse it may help but if you don’t then i don’t think you should try it so this is all good going to be a temporary report come february i’m going to do a proper report so look at all those roots [Music] because it’s got such a lot of root this is where i can use some common sense i know if i cut a little bit it won’t suffer very much and i’m only going to put it temporarily in this pot i will tie the tree in so that it doesn’t shake about i’ll just bring a couple it looks good from all angles yeah josh has just said that looks nice from every side and of course using a round pot i’m going to really be uh not cheating you know exploiting the different possibilities by using a round pot so round pot will give you the chance to look at the tree from every possible side now i’m using proper bonsai compost because this is going to really help the roots will go straight into that wonderful compost and it’s going to stay in this greenhouse i’m not cutting any thick roots off in fact i’m going to just see how it looks like this there’s too much soil here well having said i’m not going to cut a root i will cut this because this is very proud this is where understanding the tree so many roots but taking the few odd ones out won’t make it suffer i’m putting it proud because i’m not going further than that but come february it will be properly repotted this is just to hold this tree in [Music] temporarily and in fact i won’t even use the bonsai composter almost a type of bark very loose soft composter that looks can go in i could if i wanted to even plant it in sphagnum moss because it’s only going to be a temporary measure till february so in about six months time it will be repotted again so i’m doing this just for the demonstration nothing more so i haven’t refined it i’ll take a final shot after refined now let’s take it to the turntable again so in half an hour we’ve transformed that very unpromising material into something which looks a fairly credible bonsai so always just to show you what can be done with some of this difficult stuff i’m going to take a final shot after i refine the gins and there you go that was a useful half an hour spent [Music] you

You May Also Like