Rescuing A Neglected Raft Style Bonsai Pine

Rescuing neglected Pine Raft & turning it into a triple Literati

Beautiful transformation. I’ve always been intrigued by raft style bonsai. I feel like it’s a neglected style as I don’t see it very often

During this christmas holiday period i’ve been going around the nursery digging out all the stuff that we’ve left around discarded and see what can be done about it because we’re always doing experiments on the nursery a lot of these experiments either work or don’t work and they get neglected but nothing is ever lost one of the great advantages of bonsai is that the longer you keep a tree as long as it doesn’t die it becomes more valuable unlike newspapers and calendars once the sell by date is over it is not worth anything but with bonsai the older they get i know that they can go downhill if you don’t style it but as long as they’re alive they always have some value so let’s look at this if you come closer you will see straight away that this is a two needle pine it’s also a scot spine but it’s a special scot spine what we call the dwarf scot spine pinus silvestris bouvrenensis the needles are so small it’s almost like a piece here if i can show you what the ordinary scot spines look like you always scott pines or the buckle pines they have much longer needles this is a scot spine you see how long the needles are on this whereas provenance’s point have very very small needles especially if they’ve been left to grow in the container for a long long time so what did i do if you come closer again you will see that this is a rather unusual bouvier lenses this in fact is a raft i laid the tree on the side and i pulled the branches up to make a raft or a forest and originally the raft had one two three four five six may have been even seven trees two or three died i’ve left with four this is also dying and you can see the root ball on this side it was laying on the side and that’s what’s happened usually with pines they don’t tend to root from the trunk but i will just take it out of the plant to see if in fact it has produced any roots so let’s undo the tree from the pot okay let’s put it down and let’s see what underneath oh there are no roots there i can’t see any roots there but i’m going to take the whole thing out of the pot i think i did this about 20 years ago because these are special pots that are commissioned from yi xing and i will show you what’s special about this spot these are our special herons primitive pots that this yi sheng pot maker made for me and it should have a hair and stamp on it oh there you go special herring spots okay that’s that and i priced it up but there are no roots which have grown from underneath the truck which just shows that pines don’t air layer or root so a lot of people tell me that points can earlier but i’m not convinced that the earlier if it earlier it would have rooted so that is a wire i think which i used to wrap around the trunk and this is another piece of wire that was used to wrap around this trunk so this wire here is embedded in here absolutely embedded so i can take the rest of the wire out it’s serving no useful purpose and i try to give it that curly shape so this is now virtually raw material we are back to what we call square one i never waste anything look at these lovely silver birch seedlings we have so many silver birch trees on the nursery as full grown trees and they scatter the seed so i can use these for little mommy bonsai okay so let’s not get distracted by that so what can i do with this so the first thing i will do is i’m going to clean the tree up so no need to waste too much time on that so cleaning up means i will just take off all these dead little tricks all these dead little tricks and just by cleaning it give me 10 or 15 minutes and we will see how the tree can be altered so can you see that quite a few dead branches so we’re going to take these off and clean it so we will come back after so here we are we’ve cleaned the tree up we’ve taken all the little dead traits they’re only little dead trees they’re not a lot of their twigs so it’s looking something but as a raft it’s okay but as a clump it wouldn’t work because the branches or the trunks are too far apart and we’ve checked and there are no roots underneath so i’ll have to still keep it like this now as you know i’m not fussy about the four and these are even numbers but because this part is not looking so healthy i may probably take that off it’s not doing anything but before i do that let me explore the different options now it’s leaning too much like that i may have to reduce the height of the tree what are the different options i can wire it with thick wire and bring it forward like that and with wire and wire to bring it like this but rather than go to the extent of wiring it what if i prop the tree up at a different angle so when i put it in its new part it will be at a different angle how about doing this this is where it gets very exciting we have to explore all the different options that’s not too bad that’s not too bad and let’s see if i turn it on the other way that’s not too bad either now the four trunks may not work even if i did a little bit of dead gin that wouldn’t work either four looks distinctly odd now this is a nice front this is quite a nice front so rather than cut it off completely let me just take a little bit off and see what it looks like that may look old if it just sticks out like that but i’ll leave it for the time being i may regret it if i take it off too soon so this is a possibility so just changing the angle of planting will give it a new lease of life so i’m going to proceed to re-wire these re-wire these and see what happens so we’re going to wire these out so now the wiring is going to take a lot of time but i can’t have a youtube video that runs into four or five hours just showing me doing detail wiring i will just show you how i’m going to do this bit and then i will do the rest in my own leisure and then you can see the end result i’m not going to cheat at all this is not cheating i’m going to do it all but i don’t want to take up too much video time so right so i’m going to wire those two branches again two branch principles so so in future i’m going to make sure that these wires don’t get left in the trunk because we’ve already got enough character on the trunk i don’t need more so let’s just anchor this wire first before i proceed [Music] [Music] so you again with these bouvernances pines just by taking the tips out i can get it to bud back so there’s no worry about this amazing what a little bit of wire can do it absolutely transforms the tree um every little tree has to be wide even these have to be wired i’m just doing the rough wiring i will have to refine the wiring [Music] so wiring takes a lot of concentration so if i’m not talking very much uh you’ve got to excuse me i’m just flattening the pads there’s a bit of ginger natural gin once that’s polished quite nice that’s a nice literary train itself isn’t it yeah i’m going to do a separate video fairly soon about literacy because literature is one of the loves of my life and uh i haven’t really gone into any great depth about literary because it’s such a i wouldn’t say esoteric but it’s more a philosophical uh approach to bonsai that one really needs to give it a lot of you know justice to it to the front take it to the back let’s see what it looks like at the back front again how old’s this street peter this tree because most of these bover dances were purchased when i came here in the early 80s so it must have been a young plant in 1986 when i came here mind you before i came to herons i was purchasing bouvour nancy’s trees from the continent from holland there was a dutch girl who grew a lot of bovenensis and i literally cleared out his nursery i virtually took every governance that he had on the nursery so much so that he didn’t have any left to sell so on the nursery you’ll find a couple of hundred governments they all date back from 1990 when i used to go to holland to sauce conifers as an amateur and talking of the trip to holland in 1980 i was telling josh only the other day that this grower used to have lots of conifers and in europe and in fact many other nurseries most of the conifers are sold by height they say that you know 30 centimeter tree costs so much 50 centimeter cost so much 60 centimeters cost so much and one meter would cost so much so i used to walk around the nursery and i used to point i want this i want that and on one occasion this poor nursery man he nearly died of fright because i went around with my secateurs and i was pouring off all these trees so trees which about man hide nearly 1.6 meter high 1.4 meter high i was pruning it down to one meter he said what are you doing he said you won’t get any cheaper you know because he sells by height i said no i’m paying for the full 1.6 meter high but i don’t want to carry all that surplus stuff back to england so i’m cutting it off so then he set his mind at rest but i still remember his face he thought that i was going to get it cheap by cutting the trees down but i wouldn’t do such a thing so that tree let me just see i think that is enough there with literary this principle of less is more i’m going to talk about lessons more when i do that literary video so this tree if i can get a plastic bag just hold on a minute let the camera keep running now each tree has to look like a lit variety so if i separate the tree at the back look at it this has become a nice electricity in its own right isn’t it the height is right got a bit of a twist got a bit of a gin i still haven’t decided what to do with that i may take it off but i don’t want to foreclose any options so that is that one done that didn’t take long it’s only taken like 20 minutes and now let’s see what we’re going to do with this one this one because it’s like the principal tree i have to make it taller so i don’t want it to fall this other tree [Music] either so let me take that down [Music] oh very nice so i’m gonna wire these i may have to wire it without the camera running otherwise you’re going to waste a lot of camera time but as i say trust me i’m not going to do any cheating i’m going to literally wire everything in sight and then you’ll see the end result so we’ve wired this side this side is almost done required a bit of this [Music] lots more wiring to do maybe that [Music] there’s always a temptation to have too much we have to always remember that literacy is about sparseness if there’s too much it won’t work so i think i may have to reduce this side i know i took all the trouble to wire this bit this bit i think it’s going to have to come off okay you see i’m going to cut it off you video good see that makes it look a bit simpler not so cluttered this is going to be jammed some more wiring to do that to do that so this is two things and then this side still got to be done so this is going to be done later on so we’ve done two thirds of the tree and that’s only taken not even an hour not even an hour so we’ve got a triple literati literati raft that’s a turn up for the books you couldn’t have planned it you know you couldn’t have planned it i may try a little bit of ginning there to see what it looks like if it looks okay i may keep it but it’s no point keeping it just for the sake of keeping it i’ll see what it looks like and we’ll take it from there i think that gin is too tools just see what i’m doing i’m just removing the bark you see when you leave the wires on the trunk to make it curly the jenning effects can be quite dramatic because you’re going to get the spiral effect spiral gin wait till i gender it completely you don’t see the effect i’ll then decide whether to keep it or not but we’ve got that far and then we’ve got to refine this is this much too dense i’m going to thin this out okay so we’ve got quite far with this all right so i’m pleased with it so far so all that years of work what was a no hope almost has given it a new lease of life okay so we try and complete it tomorrow so we did an hour’s work on this only yesterday and in one hour we transformed the two trunks here and josh has done something to remove the bark and see if that gin works i’m not sure just to show when you leave wire on and you then strip the bark you get that spiral effect which is quite nice now let’s look at those two trees first before we go any further because i think we can improve those a little more before we look at the third tree now i was looking long and hard at this tree here this tree although the gym looks very nice if you come close it’s a beautiful gin there’s a spiral gin but for some reason it doesn’t really fit with the composition so if you go to the back if you look at the tree with the gin there and if i remove the gin you see the effect i think it looks better without so i think despite having grown that gin all those years i don’t think i need it i think i’m tempted to keep both but i won’t even keep both i’ll remove the whole thing there now that is gone a little sneaky yeah yeah we can make a small tanooki keep it nothing is wasted we will put a small juniper on that and use it for tanoki why not beautiful so we got rid of that now the other thing which bothers me is this bit that’s another little spiral branch that i cut off but it’s spoiling the line of the tree so sometimes you know you say oh i’ve taken all the trouble to create it why get rid of it but in this situation it doesn’t really suit the design so without looks much better yeah so that comes off as well so let’s get rid of that maybe use this for a small mommy tanoki the other thing which bothers me i don’t know whether i should keep this branch but my might or i might not is too long this is okay there this has to be flat i’ll probably keep that i need to wire that okay all right up rush like this this i’m not sure i may keep it i may remove it then it comes to this side this side this branch here looks nice but again i don’t think it needs it this also is a bit too long so get rid of that that’s all i need i don’t think i need this so important to remember that in making literati the is derived from the old zen approach to bonsai where the famous expression less is more is absolutely relevant never more so than with literati trees because literati trees embody the zen spirit or the chan i will talk about literary as i said and all this approach to zen culture and chan culture but suffice it to say i will just talk about the concept of less is more so [Music] so this branch also bothers me it’s a lovely branch but does it do anything it’s a beautiful branch if it doesn’t suit the design of this tree i might get it i’ll keep it for a while now how do i finish the apex i need to give it a twist somehow it’s too full i need to lighten it that as a crown would be a bit too thin let’s get rid of this then we will use a fairly thick piece of wire and create a crown over there so let us proceed with that so there’s a lot of fine wiring to do and look at that beautiful literati shape when i like it then it must be nice usually i’m very critical of my own work and i’ve got joshua our cameraman and my volunteer he’s doing a lovely bit of wiring work so we’re wiring every little trick every little trick has to be worn so we are still wiring quite a bit more to do it’s all fine wiring that i’m seeing too so every bit of fine wiring again the basics two branch principle one branch there and another branch here so i’m still trying to find everything in pairs let’s have a look some more fine one to do it’s creating the apex of the third trunk one branch two branch these fine branches and the fine wire they’re very prone to get bitten into if you don’t watch it during the summer so the fine wire is very dangerous to use if you don’t keep a close eye on on it it’s one thing to leave why embedded in the trunk but usually branches we don’t like not going too much [Music] so we’ve done the wiring on this side if you look at the three trees together this one this one this one the first impression is that this squat little tree is a bit too dense compared to the other two and i was just considering whether to remove this branch to make it look more sparse it’s a possibility but probably i will leave it for a while live with it and then come back to it but that is one way of looking at that tree but the shape repeats itself the different heights the tallest one in the middle second one this side so it’s like a mother daughter and a son three trees like that so let’s proceed to potted while we’re talking of pots originally if you remember oh by the way the only foliage we removed is this lot if you come here look this is what we removed not a lot we remove that so this is the original pot one of our special heron spots can you see herons bonsoi anyway so and this by the way is mycelium because it’s a pine the mycelium comes through the pot so this is fungus so that is that original pot now i have two possible pots to use i could either use this drum pot if you look at it from low i could use that or i could use this primitive the primitive is a bit small i think it may be unstable it looks a bit small it may not be able to stand up and also because the root ball is quite big i don’t want to take too much root off i will put it in this so we proceed to tease the roots just hang on a minute i just show you how i’m going to tease it because this tree has been growing in here for about 15 years a lot of debris has accumulated a lot of this black stuff it’s all leaf mold and organic matter which has gotten there and i need to use a more open soil so i’m going to do this and then pot it up in that micro pot the roots are very strong very healthy this is the soil you would find pine trees growing in the wild if you go to the surrey area where we get a lot of points most of them grow in peatland those of you who live in the uk places like back shot and reading there’s a lot of peachy areas where pines grow in abundance and this is the sort of natural soil they grow so it’s all very well to talk about using academia and all these sophisticated soils but if you observe nature and see how pines grow in nature and then copy what happens in nature you can’t go far wrong so as with everything in life much of it is common sense certain people like to peddle their own ideas and show how clever they are but it’s not always based on the facts that you will find locally it’s one thing to transplant the ideas from a foreign country to your own situation but very often it’s best to use what is local to you [Music] all right i carry on doing this i don’t need to do that i tried this primitive pot first but it was far too small for that tree but luckily i have another primitive slightly bigger these were all made in lishing for me back in the year 2021 years or 22 years ago when i went to yeshing so this part fits perfectly this drum pod i think was too heavy although drum pots are good for literary this is too heavy too deep with this primitive pot because it flares out it gives a feeling of lightness and airiness you notice that i prop this tree up at this angle because if i didn’t prop it up it would be lying flat it wouldn’t look quite right so i put a little flower pot in there pop it up now i’m just saying to myself if i’m propping it up like this i don’t want to necessarily fill soil at the bottom i will leave that pot there just to prop the tree up and fill the rest with soil nothing wrong with that so let’s prepare the pot and i’ll show you what we do okay so although this is just a primitive pot you notice that it’s wonky on the rim and choosing the right front for this pot is quite critical because as you look around the wonkiness is not consistent it is more wonky in some places than others so you want the wonky effect to be more prominent when you choose the front so i think this is a nice front because this is quite wonky like that remember to put the pot there and then we will pop the in a bit lighter now tree i know it’s more leaning that side i’m not sure whether i should take some router from here might do let’s cut off a chunk of root from there remember what i told you this was grown initially as a raft but the roots didn’t come on the trunk so there are no roots under the trunk so the roots are still on the root ball here putting the pot to prop the tree up i can still see the wonkiness i don’t think i will need that gin it looks a bit odd position is not too bad [Music] i think that should be okay okay so now let’s show you what i’m going to put this is a japanese soil called hyuga and i like to use it underneath the pines because it helps the drainage and it’s also from very light airy soil which pines like so i put that right at the bottom because it’s such an expensive stuff i don’t want to waste any of it i’m going to tie the tree in uh okay the rest is just filling salt so for the soil have you have a look we put more akadama than we would normally put so this is the soil we use our standard bonsai compost so that’s all we’re going to do and the next shorter is when i potted it up and then we’ll put some more so after about two and a half hours work this is the final product of the discarded raft bouvernenses pine which had four originally at six or eight trunks there were four live ones we got rid of one i’m not going to keep that i don’t think that fits there i’ll just keep it for a while but i don’t think we need that so it’s a classic chinese style literary the bunjin the original chinese literati talking of the pots that primitive gives it a light airy feeling because it’s a free and easy tree and it sprays out it looks nice and airy if you use the formal drum pot if you go along and look at it it is too formal for this tree this composition is very informal and full of life and vitality and if you use a formal drum part some something doesn’t look quite right so i’m glad we didn’t use this pot this one instead this primitive so there you go that’s the finished product and i must say i haven’t enjoyed making uh a group like this for a long long time because i love literacy this suited me down to the ground so i hope you’ve enjoyed this as well and enjoyed this transformation so there you go oh by the way i’m going to do another little video in the next couple of days these were the gins that came off this tree this wasn’t gin growing here we got that off this was growing there i didn’t want it so all these little spiral gins which the wire was wrapped around the tree have caused the spiraling marks so when peter chan puts wire in the trunk this is the outcome after about 20 or 30 years you get this bad natural driftwood like this like this you see the spiral causes it to produce that lovely effect and this bleaching is by the sun and i’m going to do a video in the next couple of days i’m not throwing that away we are going to do a little tanooki wrapping a juniper on that and we’ll make a tanooki bonsai so that’s left for another day so and may i remind you this is all we removed we didn’t remove much so enjoy this let’s let the camera play against it this is the front of course this is the back and because it’s in a round part someone may prefer to look at it this way although this is not really and look at the detail this is the raft you see the root ball is there and the trunk was laid on the side and the apex was taken up this way so this was the whole tree these were the side branches there were one two three four five six six branches that we used three of which were discarded and we were left with these three so there you go after 20 years it has finally resurrected and took on a new form and a new life lovely lovely let me take some still shots [Music] so the

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