Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Beautiful Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa)

Almost in full flower but I couldn't resist a picture today. March 2012. For a bit of history to this tree, look at

The rest of the flowers came out today in the glorious sunshine. The back of the tree.
The front

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Day 2 in Belgium. Carving workshop part 2

The idea of the workshop was to get the owners to actually work and practice carving the deadwood. With this Yew, some unwanted branches were pruned away and the cut branches were turned into more interesting and aged deadwood. I carved one relatively boring branch to show how movement could be created.
Initially the branch was rough carved adding interst to the straightness.
With a smaller tool more refined detail ws then added
As you can see the work is a little fluffy. The branch was then  burnt. This get rid of small fibres and ages and cracks the wood further. Forgot to take a picture of the finished branch but this gave the owner the idea of how to proceed witht the other cut twigs. 
Eric's large Forsythia. Although mainly deadwood, there were areas that were heavy and needed work.
A timely break to discuss how work is progressing
About half way through. The workshops are intended to carry on from year to year. Lots of work with back budding to replace the straight and uninteresting branches. Look forward to working on this tree in the future.
My favourite piece of work  was to make something of this pruned area on a Pinus sylvestris. Because of the way the branch had been pruned, there wasn't much to play with carving wise. I asked Yan to hollow out the inside of the cut, leaving a wall around 3-4 mm thick.
Then with the use of a small cutter, wood was removed to match the character of the existing deadwood.
Detais added and the wood singed. I was very pleased with this work.
Picture taken from a higher position.
Although the back of the tree, it is important that the detail can be seen all the way around.
At the end of the day. Patrick and Yan enjoying a beer. Something to flush out all that sawdust.
All done. A wonderful couple of days and excellent company. M any thanks to Marc Noelanders for the invite and to Yan's family for putting up with me and their generous hospitality.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Day 2 in Belgium. Carving workshop

The day after Bonsai Association Belgium I was asked by Yannick Kiggen who is a good friend of mine, to help out a few friends on their trees. The day was spent working on problem areas with the use of powertools. The trees were mainly of the type that don't lend themselves to ripping and tearing techniques and need interventions with power tools to make convincing deadwood.
The day started with a discussion on the trees to be worked on. All ideas were thrown into the pot and the best ideas went ahead. First up was Chris and his Prunus Mahaleb.
The trees top was considered too straight, the deadwood was very flat and there was a root that had been cut and needed work
Chris and the tree. You can really see the straight section here.
The top being reduced
The top removed
The large root that needs carving. Chalk marks the line of bark that needs removing.
Initial work on the root. Because the roots wood is still wet it will need to season first and perhaps I will get a chance to work on it next year.
Chris working on the main part of the deadwood. He soon discovered that the tree was in fact hollow
First stage completed and some light scorching to remove tool marks. More detail will be added next year.
Thats enough for one day.
Some of the other trees. Patricks Olive and Yew.
The top of the Olive needed attention
I roughed it out and let Patrick put in some detail.
Difficult to see the detail here.
This cut root also needed some work too.No before shot unfortunately.
The mid section on the left also had some work done too. This tree looks very old indeed.
More to follow.......

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Bonsai Association Belgium 2012

In March this year I was asked by Marc Noelanders to demo at the Belgian Bonsai Association. As most demo's tend to focus on evergreen trees, I thought I would take along and discuss native deciduous trees.
I took along several examples of trees in different stages of development. From two years of styling up to 13 years.
I explained to the audience the history of each of the trees and where they were collected from.
Alongside my demo was a silent one on repotting a Satsuki Azalea by Janine Troste
After I had talked about the trees and their progress, I moved onto a collected Hawthorn. This tree had some faults that needed dealing with before any styling work could go ahead. Firstly the tree had been shortened and the cut needed carving to give the impression that the tree had rotted. Secondly, the  tree had some inverse taper underneath the cut and would need reducing to give taper.
I started carving to deal with the faults and explained to the audience that I would marry the carving up with some detail at the base of the tree as well.
During the break some people came up to get a closer look at what was going on and asked about the tools I was using. Most of these were from Rudi Spanko in Slovakia and a few smaller bits from Kaizen Bonsai.
Discussing some of the trees.
Bark was removed and movement carved into the relatively straight section. Holes were punched into the wood to aid in hollowing out.
A band of bark was carved out to enhance the appearance of a twisting trunk.

Starting to use the smaller carving bits.
Some more of the detailed carving
lots of interest.
 Marc told me 70 plus members had turned out from as far as Germany and  Netherlands. A very enthusiastic bunch                                      
some finer details.
The initial faults dealt with. There will be plenty of buds now to select the new branches.
The demo finished and time to clear up. Many thanks to Bonsai Association Belgium for the invite and warm reception and thanks also to Yannick Kiggen who transported me to the club and took the pictures.
Summer 2012 and growing very well
The deadwood is seasoning well and will soon have some finer detail added
I have never been happy with the apex of this tree. I was in my garden last night with a torch and noticed a more suitable apex behind the present one.
Picture taken from the right showing the possible new top
 Today I decided to take out the boring top with a Makita. I had to be careful not to hit the new apex whilst carving.
            I only removed the branch. Further carving will be done once the wood has hardened off.
                                               The thicker branch was reduced as well.
      There was also a problem on the left side where branches had fused together. This created an ugly bulge
                            The area had bark stripped away and some initial shaping of the deadwood.
                                  Again. This will be left to season before detail will be added.
I changed the planting angle but not as much as I would have liked. There were some big roots that will be cut back in two sessions.
This is more like the angle I would like it at in the future.