Nursery Stock Bonsai: Shohin Taxus Selection & Preparation

Finding good Taxus material is hard, so I am using nursery stock to build shohin bonsai or pre-bonsai. In this video I hard prune a basic nursery stock yew in order to stimulate compact growth. I talk about material selection, preparation, timing the work for maximum success, and aftercare

‘m going to be taking the first steps towards creating showing bonsai from nursery stock material in particular I’m going to be talking about taxes or you trees so let’s go and get one now and we’ll have a look what’s happening bonsai friends let’s talk tiny taxes a bit later in the video I’ll talk about the timing for the work that I’m going to be doing today I’ll also talk a bit about selecting material and what to do with it once you’ve obtained it the work we’ll do today is to chop this excessively tall trunk right back and we’ll also prune any remaining branches and that is hopefully going to stimulate plenty of new buds to form on and around the trunk so that we’ll have plenty of options to build branches from and a future apex let’s dive in in the upper reaches of this tree it’s produced a really good flush of growth last year with about 16 centimeters of growth all the way down these upper branches we’ve got some really beautiful buds forming and the foliage is a gorgeous dark green color before I go any further let me just clarify if you’re not familiar with the term show heme it’s a size classification of bonsai that came from Japan and it refers to trees that are approximately no taller than 8 inches in height I like to chop the trunk somewhere around this height so first let’s just whip some of these unnecessary branches that are taller than the future apex will be just so I can see what’s going on get the saw in there nice and comfortably take some of these wispy bits that anything that’s going to obscure my view of what’s going on when I’m doing the chop don’t have to be too precise because all of this will be cut off we’ve got some pretty long branches along here I’m also going to cut these right back so that I’ve got a bit more room to work in and around the tree so let’s start with this piece taxes would really hard even those younger branches are quite tough to cut through as long as I leave plenty of green I know that I can cut quite hard or leave a little bit of foliage because that’s gonna really power the recovery of the tree then we’ve got this huge piece that’s striking me in the face for the time being and I take these pieces out just to get them out of the way but in all likelihood I’ll be cutting these back even further in a little while just look at all those beautiful buds that are forming okay we’re almost there with the rush prune just a couple more bits to go now I’ll come in with the saw [Applause] voila okay so we can see a little bit better what’s going on now let’s have a look around the tree right we’ve almost got a couple of sub trunks down here so I’m just going to do a bit more pruning around this sub trunk let’s see what’s going on Oh probably help there we go see a little bit better what’s going on in here now look like some of these smaller pieces who don’t need more coming from the base now that I’ve got the majority of that heavy pruning out of the way I’ll just talk a little bit about the timing and what I did to get to this stage in terms of selecting material for showing in particular taxes in my area I really have a really hard time finding decent you material in fact it’s just non-existent so what I end up doing is I’ll troll the garden centers and tree and shrub nurseries looking in the hedging section for interesting pieces of taxes material where you tend to get is cookie cutter head material that are all pretty much dead straight summer bushier than others some are a bit taller than others some have got slightly thicker trunks some some are thinner occasionally though if you look really carefully you’ll come across one or two that have subtle features that make them just that little bit more interesting for this level of material I’m really sorry to interrupt but if you wouldn’t mind hitting the like button that would really help me out and if you’re not subscribed consider subscribing Thanks so the first point that I like to look out for is that buttressing bass in fact I don’t think I would bother to even look further if it doesn’t have at least a slight buttress to the base of the trunk doesn’t have to have loads and you’re not gonna you’re not gonna find a fully formed beautiful bonsai nebari in a 10 pound piece of hedging material unless you’re very lucky but you want to see at least a bit of a flair otherwise there could be the worry of inverse taper below the soil line and it’s sometimes worth having a little poke around the soil surface at the bottom of the chunk just get a feel for what’s going on underneath a couple of times I’ve noticed individual pieces of material that that almost have to separate root systems where they’ve been grown in a pot and they filled that pot they then transferred to a bigger container backfilled buried quite deeply in back filled and then they form a second root system near that the new surface of the soil so that’s something to watch out for I’ve actually got one of those in the garden right now hopefully the upper root system becomes strong enough that I can serve that that I can sever the lower root system and we’ll see where we can go from there I don’t know we’ll see another feature that I look for with these small cheap taxes trees is these branches that are coming from the base of the tree and I like those for two reasons the first is that it does give you the option to create a multiple trunk tree if you wish don’t see many multi trunk you bonsai but at least it gives you the option if you say wish but the more important reason for me at least is that I know that I can use that those lower branches as sacrifices to really thicken the base and then when they’ve served their purpose we can remove them or create some dead wood and it just really helps to create that nice wide base at the bottom and add an air of maturity to the finished tree so definitely keep an eye out for those the final feature that I look for in hedge or nursery stock taxes is any interesting movement to the trunk or maybe a lowest branch has some interesting movement they tend to be pretty ramrod straight so just any deviation or movement and there’s a little bit of so there’s a little bit of subtle movement through this one it’s not massive movement but it’s just enough to make it stand out from all hundreds of others that you’d look at and any branches that you can find lowdown always worth a look gives you something to chop to or to work with in the future another thing that I tend to notice with these taxes nursery stock trees is that the better examples tend to have been sat around for longer in the nursery so they often are quite pop pound they may have infestations of critters in the pot munching away on the roots the foliage may be showing signs of stress gallery browning sometimes you can see that the plastic contains a slightly misshapen where the roots have really filled the pot to such an extent that they’re bursting at the seams another sign to look for is discoloration in the foliage and I mean discoloration that isn’t typical of the variety or the time of year there are some yellow leave varieties of use that you can get i personally don’t bother with them just because i prefer the green foliage if we attempted this work on one of those taxes which are showing signs of poor health we’re just not going to get a really good response I think what I’ve done so far is to first sort out the root system which is usually the cause of ill health in these nursery stock use they become pop bound and then start to suffer so I like to liberate them from that nasty soil get rid of any grubs that are munching away at the roots and get them into some better quality free draining soil where they can really spread their roots establish a nice healthy strong root system which in turn causes the tree to regain its health and then we come in and do this work and get a much stronger response in terms of the timing I am referencing ryan neal of bonsai mirai in a stream on taxes Ryan gave some advice about the timing of when to you heavy pruning works in order to compact the growth of use his advice was to wait until the first freeze of the winter and then come in and do the pruning work that needs to be done and what will happen is the tree as a result will produce loads and loads of buds right back on that remaining older wood there were a couple of points to bear in mind first of all the tree needs to be pretty damn healthy if you perform this operation on a weakened tree the results are going to be a lot less predictable at best at worst you could end up with very poorly you so make sure all the tree is bursting with house showing lots of growth good buds good extensions before you consider such aggressive work the next point to bear in mind is that you need to make sure you leave some foliage on any areas that you would like to survive otherwise it can become a bit hit and miss as to whether the branch will develop buds or die back and his last point was that the tree mustn’t experience freezing temperatures from here on in so a bit of protection may be necessary depending on your climate and where you are in the world obviously I have to point out that I’m not sponsored by bonsai Mariah and I would say that if you want more info definitely subscribe to the Murray life service with all the big cuts out the way I just need to do a little bit more pruning because it’s a little top-heavy I want to maintain plenty of foliage up here so that we don’t get died back but at the same time there’s just more here than we need so let’s take some of these pieces out I’m never going to use this branch I’m not going to use this branch in the design so I’m going to take those two pieces off in order to prevent any shading of buds below let’s do this one first and here we go at this piece now this area is looking a bit dense again we’re not gonna need this great big I’m not gonna need this great big horizontal branch and this one can come right back as well now some of these finer pieces we’re cutting back quite aggressively but ensuring that we leave some needles in place cut these pieces right back as well we don’t want this to be the strongest part of the tree once it starts to grow so I can almost guarantee that all of the growth from this point upwards is never going to be used in the final design it’s it’s also debatable whether we’ll use anything from here upwards but I’ve left all of this growth in place in order to continue drawing SAP throughout the trunk to really reduce any risk that there might be that die back would occur and would subsequently maybe maybe I’m being unreasonable but would subsequently result in us not getting buds in these areas for instance by keeping this foliage here is going to continue to draw a SAP through 360 degrees through the trunk and it’s going to really maximize the chance that we’ll get buds throughout and then we’ll be able to come back at a later date and cut back to any new growth and really start to bring out the design that we really want for the time being I’m just going to have to put up with this tuft up here that we’ll never ever use it’s just necessary for the time being sacrificial growth to ensure the health of the tree and prevent die back we do have some little buds down here by keeping this growth in place it can be extra extra confident that they will grow and develop next year I just worry that if I cut back down here now there would be a risk that these wouldn’t develop the risk might be slim if there’s a simple way to get around any risk that may be present why not this sub trunk that’s coming out of the base actually has a nice bit of movement to it depending on what we’ve got down here it might be that this is included in the design it might even be that this becomes the tree I doubt that will happen because this is quite a meaty sacrifice if this were to be the main trunk but who knows it might be that the the base lends itself to this becoming the next trunk so I’ll leave that there for now and we’ll see what it looks like when we come to repot at some point in the future but as I said this tree is going to go out into a protected area I don’t get horrendous freezes in my area but I will just to be safe I will protect it from the worst of the Frost’s and then in the spring hopefully growth will resume with great vigor I’ll continue watering and fertilizing as heavily as I always do and hopefully we’ll get rapid development and I’ll bring you some updates in the summer all right don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already hit that like button and drop me a comment let me know how you’re getting on

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