Layer by layer, spring workshop

Today we had a spring workshop at our clubs local division. A few brave individuals were there to work on their own trees. I brought two trees with a similar agenda, a large japanese maple, and a dwarf variety of hornbeam. The goal for today was to make ground layers on both, and to make an airlayer also on the maple.

I started with the hornbeam, its a grafted tree with an ugly rootbase. The graft is fairly visible but makes the trunk bulge out slightly. I plan to use this bulging to make the new nebari better
As you can see, this is a material tree. And the bulging is clearly visible on this picture. It will never be beautiful if left as it is.
The cut is made with a sharp knife. I use a grafting knife and make sure that the upper edge is made with a clear cut. Rooting hormone with IBA is used and the cambium layer is carefully removed to prevent it from callousing over.
Spaghnum moss is applied on the layer and a mesh barrier is placed around it. After that it´s filled with my normal decidous mix, two parts akadama, one part burned clay and one part grit.

On the maple, two layers were made. One was a ground layer described above, the other was an airlayer on the top part. Originally, this was a garden tree with a straight section, but there was some movement on the upper area. After discussion with the others, a decision was made on where to put the layer.
After i marked the area where the new nebari for the upper part would be, the bark was removed. The section removed was about 2 times the diameter of the trunk. I also cut away the cambium and some sapwood with a concave cutter.
The upper part was again dusted with rooting hormone and moist spaghnum moss was applied around it. A clear plastic bag was used to hold the moss in place and to prevent it from drying out. The last images shows the finished layers. As a precaution to keep the soil from drying out too fast, moss was applied as a top dressing also.

The only thing remaining now, is to watch it grow. Hopefully i can seperate the upper layer in late summer or early fall. The ground layers will be seperated next spring at repotting.

My Japan visit (part 6, Omiya and the masters)

The highlight of my journey, and one that didn´t disappoint at all. The day before my flight home was dedicated to Omiya Bonsai village and a vistit to the gardens of Masahiko Kimura and Kunio Kobayashi. Got picked up at my hotel in the morning by Yoshi, my guide for the day. More information about the tour and other services provided at his website; After a 30 min drive we arrived Omiya, and started with Mansei-en, Saburo Katos ol garden. A lot of Beautiful trees of course and quite a few forrest plantings, his signature.omiya4
I was surprised to see a variety of species there as he was really famous for rock plantings, forrests and Ezo spruce bonsai. But there were a lot of maples and other trees as well.
The tour continued to other gardens in the Omiya village.
Very famous juniper, i recognised it immidiately.
An elm with outstanding ramification, really impressive.

Next was a visit to Omiya bonsai museum, no photos were allowed but I got an overview shot of the museum grounds.
Very nice seigen japanese maple at the bottom which is just leafing out. Wonderful colour.

After a Quick lunch we set off to visit Kimuras garden. A short drive outside Omiya, the garden was almost invisible from the street. Only way to visit is thru an organized tour, and im glad i had one. Immidiately as you enter, World famous trees of the best quality is viewable. Very few trees had any wire on them and all of them looked like they just returned from an exhibition. Some of them might, as Kokufu was only a month earlier.kimura7
One of the first trees i saw, the Juniper called ‘Ressurection’.
A really awesome Japanese yew, with deadwood to die for.
Also famous, this Juniper has an Amazing trunk line, with deadwood and live vein twisting and turning. All natural of course.
A very large red pine, i remember this tree from a Bonsai Today Magazine. It was such a delight to see it in real Life.
A White pine, also featured in numerous Magazines. Has an intriguing deadwood feature, or hollow.
A very intersting hinoki cypress planting, there were numerous rock plantings. Both on natural rock, but also on carved volcanic stones. Another way of thinking outside the box.
Needed to get a Picture with the master. Only to remind me that it´s true.

After we finish at Kimuras garden we head off back to Tokyo. Last visit for the day was at Shunka-en, the garden of Kunio Kobayashi. In the car on the way over I mentioned that Kobayashi had visited us last september for our annual meeting and that a friend of mine studied at Shunka-en a while ago. All of a sudden i got a private tour of the garden, and a signed book as a gift. Very hospitable, and definately a place to visit again.koba5
The master himself, an honor to meet him again. The garden was very nice, and apprentices of all kinds were busy with different chores. Everything from watering and repotting, to picking out weeds from the gravel on the ground. Not always so glamorous to be an apprentice.
The trees were impressive of course, in his garden exhibition level trees stood next to trees in training.
There were a lot of pines, an many were very large. Different bending techniques were evident everywhere.
He also had a large variety of satsuki azaleas.
At the end of the visit, actually on my way out, i saw some shohin material for sale. I immediately purchased a small juniper, probably kishu variety. And as a favor i got a discount on that as well. As I said, very hospitable.

The next day was my last in Japan. But already on the Airport, i was planning my next one.

My Japan visit (part5, Takamatsu)

After Kyoto i went for a non bonsai trip to Hiroshima. I visitied the remebrance hall for the victims of the first nuclear bomb in the second World War. I also took the time to visit the museum there and the A-Bomb dome, the only building preserved as it stood after the bomb fell. A time for contemplation. I also visited Hiroshima castle, rebuilt after the war as the original one was completely destroyed.

My next stop on my journey was Takamatsu on Shikoku Island. Every bonsai enthusiast that loves pines really should visit this mecca for pines. In Kinashi bonsai village, the black and white pines are field grown an masse, and refined in nurserys before sold on to professionals and enthusiast all over.
The number of nurserys is in the double digits and I only had time to visit a few, but the type of material to be seen here is Everything from small nursery material to larger garden trees. Most of the trees were of high quality, and there were quite a few really magnificent ones.
It´s really hard to express the feeling when i walked aroud there, i had to grasp the magnitude of the trees there. At the same time i tried to learn as much as possible thru observing what they had done. Techniques for field growing, wiring, bending and grafting. All which is needed to produce high quality trees.
As the trees i´ve seen before were relatively small, i tried to get a picture with one of the larger trees i found. However, the perspective of the photo makes the tree look smaller than it is. At least I got a shot of the t-shirt my brother got me as a birthday present..
I mentioned garden trees also, These were not like the niwaki trees i´ve seen so far. But more like  bonsai, but without the pot, ment to be planted in a garden.
Really large white pine, with nice branchings, would love that in my garden.
Another white pine, but then again, i´m a real sucker for white pines. In Kinashi though, most of the trees were black pines. Very few junipers or decidous trees.

Another thing i needed to see was Ritsurin Garden. I´ve Heard of it Before and a good friend recommended it also. I was not disappointed. It was a larger type garden with nature Close by, so you had a hard time figuring out where the garden ended and nature begun.
I took a lot of photos here and will share the best ones. Every part of japanese garden architecture is available here. Enjoy
It was a breathtaking day and i could have stayed there for ever. But it was time to go back to Tokyo. The next major bonsai event was a tour to Omiya, and a visit to the masters gardens. Namely Masahiko Kimura and Kunio Kobayashi. More on that in part 6.

My Japan visit (part4)

At the last day in Kyoto i wanted to go to Koju-en, a nursery who specialises in shohin bonsai. I had read a lot of good things about it and knew that there were a large variety of material there. Could there be a chojubai quince there for me to take back home?
As i started my walk early, i took my time to stop at Toji temple, just a 10 minute walk from my hotel. One of the highlights of the temple was of course the large weeping cherry.
As it was forbidden to dig at the temple site, the gardeners had filled up a large mound of dirt, and planted it there. The blossoms were spectacular. The temple had all the common attributes that a japanes garden should have. Stone lanterns, a pond, bamboo fences and so forth.
The thing i found really intruiging about Kyoto in particular but all over Japan was the mix of old and new. Wabi Sabi in a greater scale.
You walk around in modern highrises and if you dont look closely you miss the shinto shrine embedded in a hotelstructure. Very odd for me as a westerner. One last thing i found in Toji temple was this small planting. This idea of small plantings is something i find very beatiful, and will try to replicate myself.
Again, very simple. But very beautiful. Bigger isn´t always better.

Next stop was Koju-en nursery. Didn´t take a lot of photos, this was the first bonsai i´d seen so far on my journey. I was so excited i forgot to photograph. Wonderful trees at affordable prices.koju1
And there were a large variety of species, evergreens, decidious and flowering. And i did get my chojubai 🙂
After a while walking around at the nursery i didn´t see the trees anymore. It´s too much to take in, so i walked back to the train station, got my luggage, packed my chojubai in there, and headed of to Hiroshima. The only non bonsai/garden stop i had planned.

More on that in part 5

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