Maple & Juniper Bonsai Forest Tutorial Herons Bonsai

Bonsai Forest Tutorial - Maple & Juniper

In this video I show you many examples of Bonsai Forests after which I give you a tutorial on how to create one for yourself from Maple and Juniper material.

This guys is such an adept and knows his personal trees so well that he just absolutely manhandles trees I’d be afraid to touch. I’ll be there in 40 years.

Great teachers, share and inspire, rather than show superiority and look down on others. You are a great teacher.

So many trees and he just grabs them like struggling to keep my 4 alive each season. I would love to visit there someday..someday. sigh. Just beautiful.

I love how he always says he’s lazy, even though I’m pretty sure he works like every day and works all day. I’ve seen several videos filmed on Sundays so I really think he does at least some work every single day. I know a lot of people like him including my German grandmother, they can’t stand sitting and doing nothing, they will find ANY work to do even if they have plenty of excuses to rest. If you notice most elderly people that are very healthy are like that, it keeps them young mentally and physically!

Watched this video last year and grabbed a couple of Florida swamp maples and a yellow oval pot and followed your instructions. It’s sitting here smiling at me. I trimmed a little and I’m so proud.

If I use a lump of concrete I may get laughed at! But Peter can create something in minutes with it and I’m willing to pay good money! What a genius he is!

Although it’s in the middle of November we have the odd sunny day lovely beautiful day and some of these trees like the Maples have still got the few leaves left and before the leaves fall I just collected a bunch of trees several maples some Metasequoia this has deer das cedar common juniper so I said to myself what can I do with it so I thought that because these are relatively young plants they’re all like two three four year old plants we will make different forests using these plants it’s not too late to do it we’ve had frost since the last two or three weeks we’ve had temperatures in the South of England of like freezing – one – two – three but not severe enough and because we have all these tunnel and greenhouse facilities I can protect the plants that I make so I’m going to show you what we will do with it and you can do the same at this time of the year or possibly in the spring but it’s the principle and the techniques that I’m going to show you more than anything else here are some examples of force that we’ve made this is a cedrus brevis folia or the very small leaf cedar this comes from Cyprus and this is a large force that we’ve made in this fiberglass tray and these are maple force I’m going to show you how we make maple forcefully create these literally by the hundred because we draw all our own seedlings we also buy some of the young seedlings and these are planted in seed trays and after one or two years the roots mesh so you can take it out of the plastic sheet tray and put it on a piece of slate or even put it in a better ceramic pot so this are they start of life others we also plant in popper bonsai pots these are beech forests and we put straight into bonsai pots rectangular we’ve used here but they are better in over pots this is an over mica pot of a maple forest so this maple forest from here it’s got about 21 or 23 trees this has got even more slightly shorter this is in a ceramic over pot and then a large force that we have large is a very popular species for making for us and again we plant them in seed trays to begin with and once they are established in the seed phase again we can just take them out and there you are you can put it on a piece of slate or whether whatever so using the seed phase is a very handy thing to do these are large Metasequoia force these are ready-made ones which are in these ceramic pots so these illogic trees hang more examples of maples as groups large groups all virtually all the forests that you see on the nursery here this is a group of Japanese Hornby one of the rare ones these individual trees didn’t look very nice so we made that into a forest this by the way although looks like a forest is actually a raft I’ve shown it on a previous YouTube video this is one tree laying on the side and then all the branches brought up to make a forest like tree and these ones are the Japanese cryptomeria we imported these trees about 20 years ago they’re really very old trees and because as individual trees they don’t look very nice but as far as they look very nice so I put together quite a few of these so they make very nice force I’ll show you one or two other examples before I show you the actual demonstration of how to make the forest I taught her to this forest because this forest was made from ordinary privet so they can be put as individual trees in an individual point but put together so there are three four five six seven eight privets of varying Heights and this makes a lovely forest beautiful forest just to show you the different varieties of species that you can use for making forests this is the dwarf Alberta spruce this one of our colleagues made and they’re just different sizes and ages of trees they’re quite old feet is about 15 year old trees and they make a very nice force I’ve got it in that a bit this is a variety of cut leaf beech which has been made in this long ceramic tray nothing special about that this by the way is a raft it’s not individual trees it is one tree laying on its side and individual trees growing out of it this is Needle juniper this is an important three from Japan the top of that is died but I’m going to gin it but it’s still a very nice group this is a splendid example of the Japanese cryptomeria I was referring to earlier this was grown in a large seed tray to begin with and then once it’s established the roots meshed together and I’ve put it on this piece of slate this is not really slate it’s a piece of fiberglass wheat we mold it from the original state that we have that’s another example of the cryptomeria forest and then that’s not in a pot that’s on a piece of fiberglass simulated slate these are zelkova serrata different ages of silk over which are straight trees and put together as a forest so again varying ages of trees these are commercial ones that come from China I believe swamp Cypress this is a rather unusual forest this is the forest of large but just for fun I planted them on to fir this is two for rock and this has grown over the years so this will make a very different type of forest and I’ll just show you one or two others this is not a very popular variety of tree this is the chamaecyparis by Sephora Boulevard or Hollywood juniper they tend to turn brown in the winter and this is a difficult treat species to maintain but nevertheless because they’re grown mainly straight again they are very suitable for making force and how about this as a first look at it this is as tall as iron this is warden a cedar of Lebanon and I made this group only about 10 years ago from large trees and put in a large ceramic pot and everyone dreams about owning this group so one of these days it will get solved because number of people are interested in buying this I’ll share some lesser groups talking of the cedar group I try to simulate that again so this is another group of same variety of cedar cedar of Lebanon I don’t know how many trees there are I’ve always maintained that the number of trees doesn’t really matter once you get above the number seven it doesn’t matter I’ll just as matter of interest counted it’s got three there four seven seven and four eleven and one is twelve twelve trees are lucky of that anyway it still looks nice so this is another large force I think large and massive scale so this is going to be a nice one it hasn’t had any trimming I will have to thin it out and why the branch is slightly done but it’s got the makings of a nice forest this is the zelkova serrata forest this again these trees have been casually put together there are in fact four trees one nor three five trees but it makes it look like six trees because this is a trend trunk but this is quite interesting planted in a large microphone so we have the plants here there are about four maybe five different varieties of plants that we’re going to use for making the forest so what do we need for making the forest because this are only going to be the first time putting these together I did point out early earlier on that you don’t always have to use proper bonsai pots so if you wanted to use seed trees I love these orange trees that have lots of drainage so we can put these together use it as a pot that’s another example of a pot because once the roots have established you can then chop it up like cake and put it in any sort of pot you wish but if you want to use one side pots I don’t mind these are actually Japanese bonsai pots under than what you see that is made in Japan so please don’t think that all parts have to be ceramic pots some of them are in fact Japanese parts some of them come from Taiwan and Korea this one I think is a Taiwanese pot these are fairly shallow or rectangular pots I don’t like using rectangular pots but since they’re being trained we could use them but the proper bonsai pots for forest groups especially ones that are finished should be oval shallow oval pots these again are plastic pots much cheaper than the ceramic pots these are the Korean Mike reports over pots very dense and my favorite parts for making forests are these ones is slight in curved over this makes a beautiful pot for a forest and so that’s this one but they are usually a bit too shallow for the initial planting so for the first planting I’m not always that keen on using it but I will still use it nevertheless just to show you the principles now let’s begin by doing the maples because maples are one of the most popular varieties for making forests so these are seedlings which are about 2 to 4 year old seedlings and do strike how old some of these are but look at the beautiful color on some of these leaves so next year in the autumn the forest groups will have all these beautiful colors to enhance the group although there are all different leaf forms I’m not that fast because the species are the same they’re all is a permitted but different leaf forms so putting them together in a forest would still be very very interesting so what do we do the way we start ok let me just see if I can okay I’ll use this just to show that I don’t always need to start with a seed tray so the first thing you need to do is to prepare the pot preparation does help because by putting wires in this is the first step I do I’m able to secure the trees so that they don’t fall out or get pulled out so I’m using here one and a half millimeter war maybe two pieces should be enough you can put more if you like and I show you how we use the war keep them long because I’m going to use them to twist around the trees so if I can just putting together forest is really the easiest thing in the world I always describe it as flower arranging for want of a better word so we’re just arranging a bunch of flowers don’t worry too much about these side shoots because in a forest we don’t want too many side shoots growing so although all that beautiful foliage is that I don’t really want it so what a shame I’m going to cut that off even this rail I should cut off but I’m going to leave it because I want some color so we select together say let’s try seven or nine trees we are still in the autumn but once you start doing the say in February when it’s just about to break dormancy I can take off much more route I can cut off about half the amount of route and the tree still won’t suffer so differing Heights we don’t want them all the same height and short stems try to find trees that have straight trunks now a tree like this which has got a kink here because this was chopped off over there and so it started growing there if it is growing like this don’t Gliss it towards the front like this is better to place it so that it appears to be straight so I will plant it like this as the face rather than that a bit shorter so that’s number three don’t worry about these young seedlings not having side shoots because by topping it if you do that next year all these sights shoots will appear there look at the beautiful color of the leaves they’re pretty they’ve all fallen apart of this size could certainly take about eleven to thirteen trees if I plant it really close together let me put it together roughly and see where we get and usually we find the plant with the thickest trunk to be the principal tree or the main tree but none of these are really that thick so it doesn’t really matter but usually the thickest one is used as the centrist principal tree I’m just putting it roughly for now you can see there already five trees there this is going to be six now that tall wonder I know some of you will be asking come to make cuttings at this time of the year you can make cuttings until you can make cuttings but usually making cuttings in the autumn you’re talking of using hardwood cuttings that means the stems that have already grown during the year and have turned hard but you’ve got to use very strong hormone rooting liquid or powder to dip the ends and then stick it in the soil and usually if you use a heated propagator that gives it a better chance of them establishing and routing but hardwood cuttings are more difficult than making with softwood cuttings but it can be done but I still think maples are easiest from seed these all seedlings you know I just can’t get over all these beautiful colors and this is a very tall one let me get rid of that out because I want some short trees on the side so we have tall trees in the middle that’s the general principle and little shorter ones at the side also you put short ones at the back it gives the feeling of depth and perspective so it appears that the tree is receding away so we’ve got four four eight and one nine so that’s nine trees I can still get two more at least two more so it just shows four and five nine eleven I can get thirteen or even fifteen in this space it’s a smaller one side at the back on the side I’m just putting it very roughly like so now these are too wide apart for my liking a forest should have variation in the spacing so at the moment I’ve just plunked them in without any consideration of how they should be spaced but roughly they’re going to be like this and for many of you if you just put together thing like this it would pass off as a group but to be a bit more sophisticated let’s change the spacing so I’m just going to get a rake and take some of the soil off so as I say if you do this in the autumn of the early spring you’ll get away with removing quite a lot of root but if it is in full leaf in the middle of summer you shouldn’t really do this thing in the summer once the trees are in leaf during the growing season then you can’t really do that with evergreens like the Cedars and Pines which have needles rather than leaves you can be a bit more severe because they don’t transpire that much so you see how close I’ve got that if you want to bring it really close you can even tie it with wire to put it close by the time I finished making this group I’ve cut off all the colorful leaves but at least you can get some ideas to what they will look like next spring now teasing around there’s quite a big tap root there I don’t need that so I’m going to take the tap root out there’s still sufficient root in there I did a similar video some time back where I showed you that you can make a variation of the force by planting a group of say five on one side and six on the other side and have a little path going down the middle or you can make its play outwards like so rather than have them all straight that’s another variation this is a small tree let’s put this at the side here so that is how this for threes oh that’s let’s count again that’s five and three eight and three eleven trees eleven trees I can certainly get two more or even four more but I think this is sufficient because these trees are not that mature and I’m trying to preserve some of these leaves so that I can show you what it looks like so I can use the same soil again because these are young trees and for young trees you nurses really use this very peaty type soil which is really bark and Spagna moss Pete you can get them closer by just cramming it close together really ramming it close together with the soil you notice I haven’t started tying them in yet I will tie them in once I’m satisfied that positions are appropriate and suitable for the design I had in mind you can use bonsai compose with a lot of grit but I found that maples especially the young males prefer this very open pity compost with a lot of bark and peat in it so again by experimenting you will get to know what compost suits what type of trees usually professional growers who specialize in growing certain species they know what soil is best for young plants and certainly for young maples this compost I think is slightly better than the conventional bonsai compost you don’t have to go to the extent of the second Spencer almost at this stage maybe later on you can so I’m going to make this group which fans out rather than being all straight so once they are in place we can then use the wires you see where the wire ends are I find that as I push it together there’s still so much space I can easily get four more trees but as I’m sure you only the principal I don’t want to show often sure how many trees I can get him okay now that I’ve got them all together and if I’m fairly satisfied with the position and then go around with the wire and loop it around these trunks I’m just going to loop it around so that they don’t get dislodged and this will help to hold it together for the time being please remember that these wires won’t stay here forever they will be removed after certainly about one year or even in the middle of the growing season I can remove them so it’s just to prevent the birds picking them out we have black birds and starlings and sometimes the crows come they pack in the compost because they look for the grubs and other insects that grow in the soil and these birds are quite a nuisance so they tend to pull out the trees while they’re being established so tying them in has some use so I’m wrapping all the wire ends around the trunk of all the trees so that’s on your temporary measure certainly for the first year I’m going to finish it off with moss a bit later on although as I said these trees are only in the process of being put together initially it’s not the finished product you got to make a start somewhere so they’re all fanning out and then as they grow just keep a check on the height that means we still want an overall triangular shape so all that lovely foliage unfortunately I’m going to cut off and the tree will then develop in this style with lots of Twiggy branches so that’s how you put together a forest of Japanese maple so next autumn we have the prospect of these lovely leaves coming on the tree sorry to have cut them all off but this is what we can look forward to next year so that’s a maple group done I’ve planted in actual bonsai pot which is very shallow I don’t normally do that but just to sure that it is possible because the roots are very compact on these trees so that’s the group done the next variety of tree are gonna use are these common juniper these are seedlings that a wholesale nursery grow for planting on hillsides I was told in Scotland because they want to cover the hillside with juniper for some reason so they’re grown by the thousand and we managed to get these to use ourselves so although it’s common juniper it’s almost like the Juniper rigid or the needed Juniper very prickly tree and they grow very straight and you can if you wish make it into an inner formula by tree by bending it like this and making an individual tree but because we are talking about making forests we will make a forest with these trees so I don’t know how many they are I will put as many as I can into the pot that I decide to use so again I always mention that if you are not fussy about the training pot these only training policies for us have to establish for a year before they and become looking nice so you can use ordinary seed tray like this we use a lot of the seed trays especially for our maple groups but if you wish because the root is so compact I could even use the pop-up bonsai pots straight away so this is a bit deep I don’t need it that deep this is an over pot over mica pot but I can even let’s try doing this because I like to have a bit of variety so this is a classic over pot that you would use for making forests so this is the pot I will choose to use and all you have to do is cover these holes with mesh now these mica pots have very large drainage holes shallow pots don’t drain as well as deep pots that’s why with shallow pots you got to be more careful with the drainage and that’s why this mica pot is well design it’s got lots of lovely large holes you can cover each hole individually with individual squares of this mesh or you can put a sheet across if you’re a bit lazy to cut them into individual pieces I am a lazy person but I find that it works with me what I’m doing is I’m not going to secure these bits of mesh to the hole with the conventional tie that you put for each little bit of mesh I just place it there because I know that it’s not going to move around they won’t move around once the soil is put on it it won’t move and then the next thing I do is we get bits of war I usually only use two pairs of ours a long bit of wire and then this is going to be used for securing the trees once they’ve been placed in the final position like that I’m not sure if professional grows do this but so what this is just something that I’ve discovered and worked what works for me seems to be good so I will stick to what I do because you may pick up some useful tips as well I think that should be sufficient these are lovely straight trees they’re so straight that I won’t have to do anything to them at all look at these roots they just go into the gravel that these trees have been standing on and usually when trees are straight they are ideal for making groups that are how they can stand up in fact they’re so nice I may not need to do anything at all to these trees it’s three and again these branches for a force would be too long so I’m going to slice some of them off all these low branches usually when you make a force you want to show that trunk as well so don’t have branches which are too low tree it’s four I’m going to use all the trees that I have five it is well-known that even in countries like Japan trees which are used for making force all the rubbish trees because they don’t make nice individual trees so all the rubbish is put together to make forests we will see the individual trees don’t need to be that nice because together collectively they look nice but individually they don’t need to be nice again this is the principle of synergy individually planted it would look ridiculous but when put together as a forest they work and because I have a large tray you can use any tray and if you don’t have a micro pot or you don’t have these plastic seats trays that I have why don’t you make a wooden box you can use a wooden box with plywood and some sides that would be a nice temporary container now this juniper I notice has got a seat on it already juniper berry and these trees are only three years old covered in berries now if you come closer you see that look at the juniper berries on this and the berries turned purple very attractive so let’s put these together so that tall trees towards the front the principal trees the shorter trees at the side and again it’s exercise in flower arranging as I say my goodness I thought I had a lot of trees here it doesn’t go anywhere filling the spot I’ll just get some compost to stand the trees up so I’m not just going to put the soil so that I can prop the trees up without the soil it’s going to topple over this part is about I would say little over 60 centimeter or two foot long it’s quite a long pot and if I squeeze all the trees together look at a space there is still left so I haven’t counted the trees this 3 to 5 5 + 3 8 + 2 is 10 now as you know no that’s 11 okay that’s okay 11 trees I could easily get another 11 trees or 10 trees in there look at its only fill half the pot but now let’s stick with this there’s a limit to what we can do so let’s do a slightly different style let’s do a group of 6 and 5 so that’s how one group decide and then group this side they say that when you make a fourth group you really need about four hands or six hands that means draw three people helping you I never plan in detail what I do I just create as I go along so let’s see what happens if I do a two group planting in this case you can put them all together but just for the sake of variety I’m going to plant these in two separate groups so this compost again is our standard young plant compost that means we use this for planting our young seedlings which is mainly Spagna more speed and pine box this is specially made for us you should be able to see each individual trunk to be effective otherwise it’s just a mass of foliage just a shrub I will refine it a little more so that roughly is what it is going to be so we don’t have two groups rather than just one group so this is a variation of the normal single clump group keeping the trees fairly straight now looking at it I feel I need to show the trunks a little more so I’m just going to get the appropriate pruning scissors for it and then that will be the finished product so I’ve now put all the trees together and I’m looking at the back of the group so let me just turn it around to see what it normally looks like when you are viewing it as the viewer so I will firm these trees together before I tie them up I’m just going to trim the trunks a bit I did mention earlier that with the forests you should be able to see the the trunks of the trees if you can’t see the trunks then it looks just a jungle a mess so they’ll certainly the lower branches I’m going to take off I will turn the thing around so that you can see it so I just trim some of those from the front so the base of the tree should be visible that the trunks at the base certainly should be visible so the branches start from much higher up please remember that I work quite fast I think you would rather me work fast and look at each trig I’ve seen some other performers they look at each broads like this for one minute before deciding to cut it I don’t work like that so I will work fast and show you these results fairly soon I’ll show you what I’ve done there I’ve cut those lower branches off to reveal the trunk I’m going to continue doing it with these I notice that most of these trees have got berries on them and then once I’m satisfied with so this is a two group composition that means I’ve got one clump decide and another clump decide and again for those purists who want to criticize you’re welcome to criticize let’s look at the number business so this has got three three six on this side and six on this side so there are twelve trees and they will say tut-tut he is using even numbers he should be using odd numbers what does it make any difference I don’t believe it makes any bit of difference so don’t be obsessed with numbers I don’t like conventional you know rules and things like that because it inhibits what you can create so don’t be put off by numbers if it looks right to you that’s right so you see I’m tying all these trees together so that they don’t get accidentally pulled out and as I said the birds around us we are very fond of pulling these little plants out searching for grubs but tying them in makes it look and feel more stable I will do this side as well we do do work shoppers are at our nursery just for groups I had several people come to make maple groups because maples are by far the most popular species for making into groups so I’ve heard quite a few people come for that so look out for workshops just for making groups you can make groups like this we don’t charge very much for it and if you just spend even if you came for a one-to-one I don’t mind this would take only like one hour to do and you can walk away with a group that you can say that you learnt how to make under my supervision so how beautiful is that I’ll just make it a little prettier by putting moss on it so you notice some of the finer points although there are two groups it’s still the overall triangular shape because for some reason artistically the triangular shape is a very restful image and that’s what makes it look attractive I will just bring some moss now to complete it and we will show you how we complete the process I’m going to show you where we get moss foam and on the paving around the nursery we have lots of moss growing so this is where we get the most while putting on all our trees you just scrape it off this comes up in sheets sometimes it comes off easier than others that one’s not coming off that beautiful a lot of people asked how can I grow moss moss grows naturally do you have a wet and damp area this will just grow but of course when you get a dry spell the moss can get brown they don’t die they get green as soon as rains come so I got sufficient to cover that Juniper group so we go back and cover the group so I brought the moss back and I’m now going to cover the surface with the moss it’s just like laying carpet I can’t remember which is the front and which is the back well before I do that you can always make it look more interesting by putting pieces of rock so if you put a piece of rock strategically somewhere this is where your artistic skills can come in these are rocks from other bonsai trees or this is a lump of concrete and if you use that who isn’t who’s to know that that’s a lump of concrete that would look very nice as well so you don’t have to spend masses of money to make a thing look nice so this is Papa Rock but that is concrete but both would look equally nice let me use the lump of concrete just to prove a point no because when I started doing bonsai I literally did it on a shoestring and in fact my first couple of books a lot of people laugh at those books because they say oh he has rubbish trees but they don’t realize that the purpose of those first couple of books was to show how easy it was to make bonsai sold or had major bonsai specimens I didn’t show any of those good trees for a very deliberate reason so that it makes it consumer friendly and make it accessible to ordinary people and now that I have the opportunity to do the YouTube videos in the digital world you can see that this is where my original philosophy still continues making things on the cheap I don’t think it does my business any good I’m not sure because I’m giving all the secrets away and showing how simple it is to make bonsai so I’m doing myself in but I don’t worry about that because this has been a passion for me and I get more enjoyment creating bonsai and sharing knowledge than just you know having a business that just produces plants for money and all our staff have the same philosophy so we of this dedicated team that look at bonsai in a completely different way enough to survive and yet it gives not just ourselves but other people a lot of pleasure and because bonsai is about creating beautiful things at the end of the day it has to give you pleasure if it doesn’t give you pleasure then there’s no point doing it so how easy is this not even twenty minutes to do the whole thing so this is how we finish off the groups I will do it to the maples we do some finished views afterwards so this is very roughly done so as I said this could be the front it’s quite nice looking at it this way two groups and I dare say if we turn it on this way this is also nice as a front so this is how we’ve done a group and this is a group of as I said twelve trees so the Magnificent doesn’t straight common juniper and there you go [Music]

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