Making a Large Cedar Forest

Making a Large Bonsai Cedar Forest

Our next project is to make a cedar forest like this one this forest believe it or not was made only about eight to nine years ago and it’s over a meter tall i think it would be like 1.2 meter tall and at the moment it has only got eight trees in it it had nine but never mind eight is a very lucky number for the chinese so i don’t mind having an eight tree forest and i’ll show you how we’re going to set about doing it i have some more trees not exactly like this but we can make it grow like this so this is the first shot of what the ultimate object is and we will set about making it so here we go so this is the raw material that i’m going to work with and this is going to be a big group like the one i show you the one i’m trying to uh recreate consists of big trees so these trees have been growing on the nursery from small one and two year old seedlings for the past 20 years so these are 20 year old trees and because i didn’t have the heart to cut it down they become tall i did cut it in one or two places like that i kept cutting that one so many of them have been topped as you can see this one has been topped over there and topped over there so they keep growing but nevertheless it’s still a bit tall uh for what i have in mind so let’s see how we will deal with all of them so i don’t want to confuse you because every tree is different and although they don’t have low branches trees in a forest don’t really need a lot of low branches so we should be okay with them now let me start with some of the bigger ones let me get these out of the way so that it won’t confuse you let me start with say an easy one now this i would say is an easy one and i can see that there’s a potential leader there there’s a branch coming out there some of these branches can go when they’re wired down they should be okay so i will just do a bit of trimming a lot of people think that i work too fast but uh don’t worry i’ll slow the pace down if it helps you now because it’s so tall let me bring the tree down and i’m going to use a very strong piece of wire to wire that leader upwards it has been cut at the top that’s why it’s growing like a spiral like a cartwheel there so that can be taken up the ones that can be wired down i will wire down i love cedar because they are evergreen many people confuse it with the larch when they grow in the summer because the foliage is very similar to the japanese lodge or even the european larch but these are evergreen so this is the last day of january and we can still see that things are growing ever so well so tree like that now sometimes if it’s hard to bend it up i’m going to do a split at the top at the top of the tree and then take it up i can even do a little wedge cut like a kick and then i’ll have to use quite strong wire to wire it upwards that way so let me show you what i do i have another type of aluminium wire which is not proper bonsai aluminum wire this is the uh industrial aluminum wire which is used for all sorts of purposes like welding and all that i may use that in a minute because it is a much stronger wire but since this tree is not going to be complete for at least a couple of years i might use that just to demonstrate the efficacy that means the efficiency of that type of wire i like to show people all these different options that are available i still remember in the days when we didn’t have bonsai wire we used to use overhead electric transmission cables because i used to work for the generating board in the uk i used to buy it second hand from the stores that disposed of the wire they didn’t have any more use for it so it was sold off by the ton i used to buy it by the ton so there you are i’m trying to bend that up so i’ve just brought some of this clear aluminium wire and this is only like four and a half but i reckon this four and a half is as strong as the eight millimeter in the anodized and this one is like 10 millimeter wide and it’s really very strong style really strong stuff so this is the sort of stuff that we can resort to but just to prove a point there’s still another branch there i’m going to use this clear aluminum wire because i think it is more effective than the proper bonsai wire so again i’m revealing some secrets because what i’m trying to say that you don’t have to always use the proper aluminium bonsai wire i remember when i went to india to teach they didn’t know where to get wire from and all i did was go to some of these hardware shops in the old part of town and there there were these aluminium wire which is used for industrial purposes and there was no excuse for saying that you can’t get the wire so i’m going to use a double on this the use of anodized wire has been fairly recent i remember when we used to do bonsai back in the 1980s it was quite hard to get bonsai wire but i believe it was being used and even in the 60s don’t forget after the war there was hardly anything going on in japan most of the japanese girls used copper wire so aluminium wire was not needed and aluminium y i would say started coming into use i would say from the late 60s i would say or early 70s prior to that everyone used copper wire and those who are familiar with the commercial bonsai that come out from china most of the trees including the chinese zones uh the ones which need wiring are all wired with iron wire and iron wire is used because it’s cheap easily available it rusts but it does the job as long as it does the job it doesn’t matter aluminum wire is a luxury oh that is really effective i’ve got the leader going right up certainly more effective than the brown wire look at that look at that it’s got the apex now i’m going to wire these down so i’m going to show you in detail what i’m doing to each of these trees and once i’ve done that i’ll just show you a few of the others because all the others are going to be fairly similar not only is it hard to bend but it’s very hard to cut so this is really effective wire so although these are pretty stiff branches i would reckon that in about a year’s time this wire would uh have set the branches in position and then we can try and remove it after about a year many people ask how long do you have to leave the wire on and the answer to that is it depends on how thick and how old the older the branch or the trunk the stiffer they are so they take longer to set so there’s no hard and fast rule but i would say at least a year sometimes it can take more than that you maybe even need four or five years so the two branch principle we always anchor a branch and then take it up to the top if you can wrap it around the trunk once or twice that always helps and if there are any snags take those off now this one is on its own so i can still wire that so there are one or two instances where you have to break the two branch principle i don’t call it a rule as you say i don’t like rules i never say anything as a rule it’s just a principle and the two branch principles makes it easy to wire but where you get a single branch and it’s too far away from other branches you have to make do with the situation and there are many things you can do you can either wrap it around the trunk so the trunk acts as a second branch or you can wire it back on itself like this and then take it out so we’ve broken the two branch principle by using a one branch but we are still making an anchor so don’t forget that the two branch principle is really an anchoring device and as long as you can provide the anchor it doesn’t matter how you’ve achieved that so that’s what i’ve done and then because i’ve done that i still want to take the wire in the right direction so i have to come back on myself like this and take it like that you can see the detail what i’m doing so that’s how i’ve done a single branch on its own so as we say it’s not rocket science as long as you can devise a method to suit your particular situation it’s okay main thing is to keep it neat secret or good wiring is neatness okay now let’s put it up on the bench and see what the tree looks like now this because it’s got a branch this side is going to be used as a branch not as a branch as a tree for the outside of the of the composition so this is the tree that we have now produced and this is going to be used for the right hand side of the group so this is what it looks like and i’m going to now do all the others like that there are so many i think it’s going to be a bit tedious to show you each and every one of them it’ll take up too much video time now let’s take one of these ones this is a relatively young one and you can see it’s nothing tree look at it it’s going all over the place so i need to bring the leader back like that so what do i do i will take that leader up and wire the other branches down simple now to decide whether i use the cheap aluminium wire or the strong aluminium wire i think that may be too strong no it would work let me give it a go so i’m going to take it to the top there let me see where i can anchor it it’s very hard to use it may be a cheaper wire but it’s strong but very hard to bend very spiteful on the hands i think when i come to unwind this wire they’re so difficult to bend it’s all going to be very difficult to unwind i may have to just cut the wire and not save it let’s revert to this soft aluminium wire proper bonsai wire so so i’m hoping to make this group uh an eight or nine tree group so there’s quite a lot of wiring to do see all these little ones have to be award as well no that’s okay i think i’ve done enough let’s show you what this tree looks like so if you can just look at that you see that’s the form i’ve created so these are the two trees i’ve just wired just wiring the branches down so as i say i’ve got to do another seven trees so they’re all different they’re all different some are easy some are difficult let me just show you one more and then i will stop and then you will just have to imagine that i have done them all now this is a difficult one let me do this difficult one look at this one it’s so gangly and sprawling look at all these long branches what can i do with it you know i can’t do it much with it see if you’ve got a tree like this the only thing you could really do is to air layer the tree and if i wanted to i could oil it from here and get a very nice bonsai from it but no i’m going to use it for this forest so and cedar by the way does air layer quite easily so you don’t have to wait very long they will give you the results within a year and i’ve done that to many of my cedars so with these long branches let’s cut it back to there in case i could do something with it i don’t know don’t cut too much in case i regret i might be able to do it like that that is very long now this one is going up there i can make it a shorter tree if i cut it there but i don’t think i need that put it there these will be used for gins if i do indeed need a gin i’m not a great lover of gins i think many people will realize that by now and that’s going to be word and i’m going to wire this so they’re all wireable so we will end up as a tree in the same form with sloping branches so the wood is so hard and old i need to use a locker okay so these are all going to be wide so believe you me i’m not going to do any cheating i will actually wire them all and we will see what comes from that i think this could end up with this tree either in the middle or on this left hand side so these are all wireable branches this one because this is quite a interesting tree and because it’s interesting if i had done it on my own and not shown it to you you may not get the benefit of my uh decision making now this tree this is going to be the top there okay but i could also use this as the leader so i don’t always have to use that as the leader i can use this as a leader or use that as related depending on the height of the trees but considering all the other ones i would probably go for the other option so remember i could use this as the leader going up this way or i could use this as a leader and then take this this up this way so these are the different choices i have okay if i use that as the leader now this is a crossing branch so straight away i don’t need this one this is kicking back on itself so take that out now this can be bent now this can be bent down this can be bent down this can be bent down now this one is rather thick so do i want this one probably not because this and this is very close that is a bar branch but no matter it’s not a problem but this is very thick and difficult to bend so i’ve been okay now what i was wanting to show you that sometimes when you find it very difficult to bend you can do a little cut underneath the branch like that if you use a branch cutter the straight bronze cutter not the knob this is a straight branch cutter and this is the hybrid cutter i don’t want the hybrid cut i want the straight branch cutter you use that like this you cut a little nick underneath here it’s like the armpit under the arm for want of a better analogy so we’re cutting under the arm there that will give you space for it to bend down like that so when it bends down it doesn’t have to fight against that space so that makes it easier to bend the branch same with this one you see how difficult that one is to bend but if i made a little nick underneath the branch like so give the armpit more room to move that makes it easier to bend okay so that’s a little trick i thought i would show you okay now that one is too thick i don’t think i need it but so that’s what i’ve done okay so that makes it easier to bend so let me just show you with a piece of wire just to prove that i’m not cheating oh that one is that long i’m still going to use this thick aluminium industrial grade wire when you do the two branch principle always start by giving an anchor that means i anchor this and then take it around the trunk and then go outwards and then do that where you have dead branches like this is a dead branch here and it’s no use you’re not going to make a gin get rid of it if you leave it it makes wiring difficult so all these dead little bits take off it’ll also help the branch to heal better oh this is really difficult wire to use but it does the job i think it’s like using iron wire i’ve never used iron wire but i believe it is very difficult to handle and these poor women in china who make these commercial bonsai it must kill their fingers so so far this is really just a wiring exercise nothing more so these are the two first two branches that i will also wire like that and then they’ll work these i might as well do the whole thing since i’ve started it i wasn’t going to show it to you because i thought it would be very boring but i’m always very pleased that you always console me and say that nothing i do is boring so thank you very much okay i can wire these two they would look nice so let’s try these two i’m not going to still use the cheap wire the cheap industrial aluminium wire so you must be asking me why don’t i use this wire more often i don’t use it more often because it’s a very difficult wire to handle very difficult wire to handle it’s more difficult than handling copper wire very spiteful on the hands now i should practice what i preach i should do a little cut underneath because they’re quite thick you can also do with a little saw but don’t let this saw get you carried away because if you use a saw with great enthusiasm you may cut the blooming branch off so do be careful you don’t go too mad that’s one reason why i wouldn’t advise using the saw but you could get the same effect with a saw but just exercise caution so this is what we call cutting under the arm to bend branches so this principle you can apply to all your other bonsai as well if you get a situation like this you can undercut all trees have different growth habits the cedar grows in a different way from the pine it grows quite differently from the larch and the u so the more you work on different types of trees you get to understand how they all grow in different ways the satisfaction of wiring is that once it’s done it will set in place for a very very long time i know that you’ve got to rewire from time to time but it will stay in place for quite a long time now you see that all these straggly bits i can make another layer like that so it doesn’t have to be on the same plane they don’t always have to be on the same thing so let me just show you as an example what i mean see i’ve anchored that branch now i can proceed to do this so don’t try and just wire one branch completely without anchoring unless you anchor it it’s very hard to manipulate the rest of the branch see how small the needles are it’s the beauty of the cedar there is a type of cedar which i may have mentioned before called the cedrus brevifolia brevifolia means small foliage and that in fact grows in cyprus i believe and that’s a lovely lovely cedar to use so i’ve done like two branches coming down like this so you can go one other one back so we still haven’t decided which is the front i think we’re going to use this one wasn’t it i’m going to use that one i can still decide and then i use that one this one there’s so many branches i can even use that as the leader you can use that going up that way now this is very close to all these you see there are three branches there so i think even making a gin may not be that useful i think if i bring this down i can test it this should be okay so i don’t need this one i can use it as a gin but i don’t like the indiscriminate use of ginseng that would be a gin but that may be over egging it those of you who understand the expression you can over egg a pudding and then this one do i need this one i might need it at the back i could do this to the back to this so i can use it like that so don’t worry so that although it’s going up that way it can be used like that so do i need this this i think is too close so let’s get rid of this as well i will just get this done as a gin and see how it looks but i can assure you i don’t think it’ll look right so that’s going to come down there this is going to come down there and that’s going to be the leader so you can see how the tree is coming along so each tree is almost like a bonsai exercise in its own right so i’m anchoring that branch and then taking it off to the next one so reinforcing the learning process and then make a little cut underneath what we call the underarm effect i think this gin is annoying me let’s get rid of it see my hand slipped it nearly took that branch off uh it goes up so this i’m going to wire like this do with this now this long branch if i use this as the front i’ll keep it for a while when i put it together i’ll decide whether to use this or not but this also this seems a bit long but i can still do it but i’m just wanting to show you a little technique i mentioned cutting the underarm cut but rather than use the branch cutter i’m going to use a saw to show you the technique so as i said you’ve got to be a bit careful using the saw so i need to go bit back so i’m going to just with the saw cut a little angle there just cut a v-cut underneath and then that will make it easier to bend same with this one this is very thick so i’m going to make a little cut over here so you can see what i’ve done i’ll cut away over there like that that makes it easier to bend okay so that’s all i’m going to show you and then i’m going to wire it and i don’t need to show you that so we will proceed with those so i’m going to show you where we’ve got to so that one is finished this one we’ve done this one also we’ve done so that’s three this we’ve done four i think we’ve barely worked in our so this has been done uh that one has been done so this one has been done this tall tree so this is going to be the principal tree the main tree so there are two more trees i thought i’d show you what goes through my mind when we do this now this tree uh these are nice branches to have on the side so the obvious thing to do is to use this as the leader wire this down why this down so that’s going to be the leader and these are going to be the side branches so now we’re going to wire this one like that now this one is a pretty tricky one let’s get this out of the way now this one because of the kink here you know how how am i going to use it in a forest in a group all the trees should be straight so let me go and place it so that if i use it in the group it will have to be like this rather than showing it this way we’re going to show it with this as the face on so this is going to be the front of the tree so i could either use this as the leader or use the back one as the leader whichever i wish to use so why take all the trouble to make decisions let’s get rid of this one cut get rid of that there you go take that off now all these can be wired down as branches that’s going to come down like that it’s going to come down like that and this is going to come down this way this can be not that i think it’s too much you can get rid of this these can be wired and the lead is somewhere there and this is going to be the tree looking at it this way so there you go so in another half an hour we will be able to put all these together so there we go now we are about to pot the trees in here but i’m going to show you the soil i’m going to use this is some of our spent compost nothing wrong with it and it’s a mixture of coarse bark and peat i’m now going to mix some kuga soil this is very expensive japanese sauce called yuga it’s a nice and open texture and then i will use some japanese volcanic grit as well and this is the sort of open texture soil i want for cedars cedars and pines are fairly similar so that should be okay if i wanted to i could have just used ordinary soil like that because if you look at the soil of the original trees this is just ordinary compost so i always say there’s no special soil needed bonsai soil does help the trees to grow better but if you don’t have it it’s not the end of the world okay now we’re going to try and put them together and because this is a big pot and a deep pot the trees will get a chance to grow nice and strong and we are now going to arrange it very roughly to see where all these different trees will sit or relate to each other and the thing is i’ll have to now get all the trees together first so all we’re doing is removing some of the soil you can see what beautiful roots are there this is the soil that has come out that’s the original soil that we’ve used so nothing special as i say it’s just a mixture of sandy uh loam peat bark and some grit in the soil and they’ve grown so well as i said they were one year old seedlings about maybe you know 20 years ago i can’t remember exactly okay now let’s put them together so we’ve got three six seven trees magnificent seven i could put more but i think seven is probably enough so i’ve already put three of them there now because this tree is this funny shape i want to place it so that it looks vertical when viewed from the front so this is where i wish i had about four or five hands but not to worry so i’m working this is the front the camera is looking at the front of the trainer so it’s a tangle of branches but i know it will come good i’m just going to temporarily tie some of the trees together so that they don’t fall apart because i don’t have four hands to work and with all this social distance distancing we’ve got to stay apart so [Music] the principal tree or the biggest tree is always towards the middle and the lesser trees are at the side and i want an overall conical shape although the pot is so large this pot is only barely big enough to fit all these seven trees so this forest has got a different character to the one that i made ten years ago but everything is different we don’t have to have it identical i keep putting it and then going back to see now i don’t want that triangle to be broken so i need to get the tall trees at the back see there’s so many branches that we can’t appreciate the structure of each individual tree so that’s the problem i’m having here at the moment let’s see if i put this there what will happen see the trouble is i’m trying to force all these trees in when in fact it may not be the right combination of trees so i mustn’t fall in the trap of just using everything that i have here i can always find something else to use the beauty is if these are not right i can go to the field and see if i got any more trees that would fit the bill i think that should be about right i think we can always adjust the branches cut some branches off or whatever you can see the advantage of not having low branches so although these were straggly trees with mainly branches at the top they are ideal subjects for making the forest so as we say there is always method in my madness and these seemingly useless trees are ideal for making the forest i think with just a little bit of arranging they seem to have fitted in well i know that i can cut some of the branches off that are intruding see like that one that belongs to that i can cut that off completely so if i’m happy with the general arrangement of the trees i will now support them that was easily done how long did it take hardly any time i will now put some soil so that it can support the trees so to put the soil in let me just bring the shovel you can see this is the easy part we’re just going to shovel soil in please remember that this is not the final pot by any means this is really only the training pot and because it’s not filling the pot quite deep i can see that eventually it can go in a fairly shallow pot but for now while it’s getting established certainly for the first year it’s going to remain in this pot let the roots mesh together and then we’ll see how it gets on so we’ve now put the trees together and i think the overall triangular shape works and as i mentioned earlier we didn’t need the low branches so that works as it is like that and we can then decide whether we keep all the branches or remove some of the branches uh so the rest is what we call fine tuning so the rest is fine tuning so that is as far as we’ve got and if we can come closer i will then show you some of the fine points that i’m going to talk about now this is only a training pot this is not the final pot by any means so the final pot is going to be much shallower so i’ve deliberately kept the soil low so that you can see surface roots and now that i’m fairly satisfied with the relative position of all the trees so to make sure that the trees don’t get out of position i’m going to tie them in by taking the wires around each tree like so don’t forget these wires are only going to stay here about a year i’ll keep an eye that they don’t bite into the trunk you may be wondering why these trees are so large but i’ve always told you that i have a lot of customers who have the space in their gardens and they’re not averse to having these large bonsai right so we’ve got so far and uh we’ve arranged the trees this tree i’ve guide down this branch i won’t get rid of this just yet in case i need it and all that i need to do is probably make some fine adjustments and i need to remember that these trees will continue to grow and as they grow i can then trim it as i wish so there is no rush i’m going to get a lot more growth in the coming year if anything there are far too many branches on this but just as well so the seven trees are here right so we’ve got so far and we’ve arranged the trees this tree i’ve guide down this this branch i won’t get rid of this just yet in case i need it and all that i need to do is probably make some fine adjustments and i need to remember that these trees will continue to grow and as they grow i can then trim it as i wish so there is no rush i’m going to get a lot more growth in the coming year if anything there are far too many branches on this but just as well so the seven trees are here each tree is nice like a literary almost can you get the whole thing in so this is where we’ve got there are some confusing branches at the back again i’m not in a rush to cut it off i think i can cut one of them off because it’s a bit confusing here a little more wiring to that tree so this is what it looks like and that is just in two hours that includes wiring all the seven trees and putting it up is taking us just two hours on a saturday and let’s follow the progress during the coming year [Music] you

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