Digging new stock

It is mid winter at Shibui Bonsai. July and August are the months I usually dig all the stock from the grow beds and assess them.

This year I have started on the trident maples.

In the past I have left trees in place for up to 5 years. They certainly grow large but the resulting roots are huge which makes them very difficult to dig up and does not make the best nebari. Now I prefer to dig every winter. Not only is digging much quicker and easier because I can cut through the smaller roots with the shovel, but the more regular root pruning promotes a much more ramified root system leading to much better nebari. Growth of the trees will be a little slower overall but the increased quality is worth the small growth rate sacrifice. the trees shown in this post have been in the grow beds for just one year.

Each tree is dug and the soil shaken off the roots.

trident as dug

trident as dug

I then shorten the roots and make any adjustments that might be needed. You’ll see that these trees already have a well defined spreading root system.

Roots pruned

Roots pruned

That gives me a planting angle and from that I can prune the top of the tree to give the best trunk lines and taper.

top pruned

top pruned

I then heel the trees in a communal group to await assessment. They can sit like this for several months, right up to bud burst if necessary, without any problems.

tridents 'heeled in'

tridents ‘heeled in’

Those that show immediate potential as small bonsai will go into pots and end up in the 2016 Shibui Bonsai catalogue. Others will be replanted in the grow bed to increase in size for another year.

There are many ways to develop really good nebari on trident maples. Before planting new seedlings in the beds I cut the roots really short, leaving only well placed lateral roots that will hopefully form the basis of a well placed radiating nebari

First root pruning. Just leave laterals

First root pruning. Just leave laterals

This tree was developed using root pruning alone.

As dug

As dug

After pruning

After pruning

Even better results come from growing the seedlings through a hole drilled in sheet metal.

Underneath you can see the metal plate.P1150247When the roots are pruned and the plate removed the roots are perfectly flat. That’s going to make fitting it into a shallow bonsai pot so easy.

flat base after removing the plate.

flat base after removing the plate.

This post shows more details of this technique Create show stopping nebari

Promoting lateral root growth and discouraging vertical growth not only form great nebari. As the tree relies more and more on the lateral roots the base of the trunk widens to form a thicker, buttressed base and adds taper to the tree.

Autumn pine work

The new shoots on Black pines have matured so it is time to thin out all the new shoots that have grown since decandling.

It is important to know that this is part of the technique used to REFINE MATURE pines. Younger, developing pines should be allowed to grow freely to gain strength and size and cut back hard every couple of years. Decandling is used to ramify the branches on trees that are closer to being mature bonsai. Continue reading

More from Pavel Slovak masterclass

As is usual at a bonsai workshop I came away with a few new ideas and techniques.

Pavel is noted for working with and, in particular, bending larger collected conifers. During the workshop he mentioned that bends are easier if you twist the branch while bending. Twisting as you bend allows the fibres in the wood to bend further without breaking.

He also mentioned that he often wraps electrical tape over the wire and raffia when making extreme bends. This serves to keep the moisture in a branch if it cracks while bending which he feels aids in healing the cracks and breaks.

Something I had not experienced before was removing ALL old needles from a pine in order to wire and shape the material. I have always attempted to retain as many old needles as possible hoping that some will produce new buds to help ramify the branching. It is certainly much easier to wire the branches without the older needles.

If anyone else has something from the recent NBPCA bonsai week feel free to let me know and I can add it here.

new catalogues

Show season is nearly over so I have managed to find some time to assemble the photos of new stock in some semblance of order for you.

I’ve changed the format a bit this year to make it a bit simpler. Hope there’s enough detail for you to make informed choices. In any case, if you need to know more about any of the trees featured just ask. I can send current photos and other views if you need to have a look from another angle or I can provide measurements if you need those.

Anyway, click on the catalogue tab and see what’s new at Shibui Bonsai.

Those who have visited will know that there is always far more than just the trees featured in the cataloges. I usually have a range of natives that are being grown on as bonsai as well as smaller numbers of garden and roadside collected specimens. If you are after something in particular it can’t hurt to ask, I may just have it here.