A Scots pine chooses a new keeper

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A Scots pine chooses a new keeper

Post  marcus watts on Sun Jul 01, 2012 4:47 pm

This is the ongoing story of a quite unusual tree - A UK native tree with a documented and pictured history going back to 1998 that has been worked on by two of Britains early bonsai professionals. The tree is a Scots Pine, either "Beuvronensis" or watterii, that started as a garden center landscape plant belonging to Mr Len Gilbert. The first pictures show the tree undergoing the first styling at a workshop with Craig Cousins back in 98/99.



2 years later there are sketches and a print done by Peter Adams so at a guess he saw the tree, or a photo of it at least, and this lead to a workshop with Peter Adams in 2003. After this workshop the design we see today is quite clear.






Now the portfolio jumps to 2008 when we see the tree planted on a fibreglass slab made by Len, still the trees owner. Just looking back from the huge red pot in '98 to the drum in 2003 to the great shallow slab shows how in 10 years the roots were reduced so much without setting the tree back.



These days virtually the only way to find unique material that has maturity and the established growth to form a refined bonsai is on the rare occassions that a collection is put up for sale. It almost starts a chain reaction that keeps trees and material moving to new owners who want to add their mark to projects started by others......in this case I was making some space on the benches and had 7 trees ready to sell - several of them have gone to pastures new and I was on the hunt for a single replacement. I'd seen the pictures of this tree and the rest of the collection for sale on theWillowbog Web Shop and just like all pictures the trees look so much better in real life....this is certainly one of my shopping benchmarks - if it looks good in a pic it is excelent for real, and that goes for all the trees - the cascade cedar really should be snapped up quickly as its the best one available for sale in the UK at present - I'd say there probably isn't another mature one of this size at any UK bonsai nursery for sale today



I didn't actually go to Willowbog to buy the tree but for a nice social day tacking onto the end of a Saturday workshop while enjoying the extensive selection of trees on site. During the day the pine was displayed in the classroom and it was only after the event while chatting to Peter I started to appreciate the tree for what it was - a unique chance to get a mature native tree. It's funny too - one attendant was very interested in the tree and I was sat there saying "buy it, decide now, shake hands and buy it, or it will be gone when you finally decide to get it :-)" . ...While I was at the Saturday workshop 4 trees had sold online so I left it on Sunday incase the other buyer had decided to get the tree but Monday morning I sent a message through to the nursery that I'd have the pine if it hadn't sold the day before.

This was an exciting drive over as I didn't have a clue if the tree was mine or not....until arriving !



Now we are right up to date and can carry on the trees' history in Cornwall. First job with any newcomer to my garden is to spray it - I'd spotted a pine saw moth lavae and a few other bugs and beasties so made that a priority. If a tree comes home to be totally restyled I tend to just leave it on the bench for 6 months or more, letting it catch my eye from many angles until the new style is spotted, but with this one I like the totally natural overall style and just want to refine it further. With this in mind a look over the tree showed all the needles in place going back 3 years and all of this years candles in the process of opening. Being one of the 'witches broom' varieties there were inner buds everywhere, but they remain dormant due to the auxins produced from the terminal shoots so the very strong shoots in the top were decandled just like a black pine and all other new shoots had the candle shortened so the tip was removed leaving a few pairs of new needles in place.


Here is a section of branch with the outer candle centers pruned, just leaving a ring of new needles


Now the auxin production is upset while the tree forms new buds on all the cuts so the inner weak shoots and back buds will get a growth spurt. The tree is very settled, has not been repotted and was growing strongly all over so perfectly safe to carry on with the work.......next thing to sort out was some light and space on the inner twigs as the new buds that will be forced to develop from the candle work need somewhere to form and room to grow, otherwise the initial effects of the candle pruning will be wasted

This picture below shows the overall density of the variety with all the needles in place, and this is after 3/4 of the new candle is removed.


And a few hours ! later the old needles have been clipped off - leaving more on the weaker areas and less on stronger upper and outer shoots. I clipped all the needles rather than pulled - I think there is less chance of damaging the shoot and more buds are produced.


Next stage was to remove some old wire and decide what to do with all the algae encrusting the trunk. It was easy to see the far northern location the tree had come from was much wetter than here - I've never had such lush moss on a tree.....ever !! The tree had been very dense for a while and in a moist location so the trunk and branches were thick in powdery green algae. The bark on these does get flaky but often in thin paper like sheets



This section of trunk was only partially covered in algae where bark flakes had naturrally dropped off, but the branches were thickly covered and I do plan to wire them all so out came the electric toothbrush and another hour was spent cleaning. The final stage was to use the brass brush along the tops of the branches and scrub them quite firmly - this makes even more new buds pop on the branch tops, right where you want them.

So far its sprayed, cleaned, candle pruned, needle thinned & dewired. Even with over 50% of the needles removed the tree is still very dense - this keeps the tree looking nice while work continues rather than a black pine that looks like a plucked chicken at times



Next all the branches will be wired and the pads defined a bit more. The last time I had one of these within 3 years the needles were really small so the plan is to make tiny needles, then gradually split the initially larger pads into layers of 2, 3 or 4 - this will take the image from a medium sized tree to a much larger one. Funny enough I've just loaded the Peter Adams sketches and it shows the foliage in many layers so we'll have to see if we can move in the direction that was seen 12 years ago.




Last edited by marcus watts on Sun Jul 01, 2012 6:53 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: A Scots pine chooses a new keeper

Post  Zach Smith on Sun Jul 01, 2012 6:27 pm

Very, very fine tree, Marcus. A lot more needs to be said about it than that, but the tree and its development and care pretty much speak for themselves.

Zach

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Re: A Scots pine chooses a new keeper

Post  marcus watts on Sun Jul 01, 2012 6:58 pm

Zach Smith wrote:Very, very fine tree, Marcus. A lot more needs to be said about it than that, but the tree and its development and care pretty much speak for themselves.

Zach

Yes Zach, thanks and I totally agree - I am proud to be able to take one of Mr Gilberts trees onto the next stage of its bonsai path, and the extra interest from recieving the portfolio with the tree has made me want to start one for each tree I have, so they can be passed on to new owners in time with a record - I may do memory sticks though Very Happy oooh that sounds modern now, but will it be like a gramaphone record when the trees sell !! Razz

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Re: A Scots pine chooses a new keeper

Post  JimLewis on Sun Jul 01, 2012 10:41 pm

Congratulations and enjoy your "new" tree.

_________________
Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: A Scots pine chooses a new keeper

Post  Marty Weiser on Mon Jul 02, 2012 2:52 am

Marcus,

Thanks for posting this. Gave me some ideas about how to handle a couple of semi-dwarf Scots I picked up a few years ago. it also reminds me to record the progress of my trees more frequently. There was a dramatic change in this tree from the initial 98/99 styling until the 2003 styling with Peter. That transition is the breakthrough I needed even through it was not documented.

Marty

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Re: A Scots pine chooses a new keeper

Post  abcd on Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:32 am

I think that with the création off many layers , ventilation and light penetration would be best for the tree,

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Re: A Scots pine chooses a new keeper

Post  Loke Emil on Mon Jul 02, 2012 12:05 pm

Hi Marcus

great tree, great provenience/pedigree ;-)

Matured bonsai from nusery stock somehow is more special to me. It is a piece of history, with all the skill and efford put into a tree by several experienced hands, that makes this pine so special.

Regarding your idea of making documentation on your own trees I would like to suggest including documentation of the root work. It is not often one is offered insight in what has been done/is going on beneith the surface...I think most enthusiasts would appreciate this feature.

may you have many enjoyable hours taking this pine to the next level.

cheers
/Loke Emil

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Re: A Scots pine chooses a new keeper

Post  marcus watts on Mon Jul 02, 2012 11:39 pm

abcd wrote:I think that with the création off many layers , ventilation and light penetration would be best for the tree,

hi,
yes, that is basically what my last paragraph says - my later pictures are just one more stage towards the final image. Once the tree is wired (soon ! Very Happy ) the few large pads will be broken into much smaller ones in a similar way to the Peter Adams sketch from back in 2001. It will probably take 3 seasons though to get the needles down to about 1.5cm all over the tree so the spaces need to be planned for the final needle length rather than the length they are now.

Hi Loke,
Good idea - as you say below the surface is just as important - I do plan on leaving the tree in place for at least 5 years on the slab, maybe longer...it is one of the very best ways to get the needles extra short Laughing

Hi Marty -
Yes I agree, that unseen bit is very interesting !! I think there was a bit of trunk buried in the red pot for sure, and the tree was rotated a bit too looking closely. Suddenly the tree appeared so much taller though. Looking closely at how the branches were worked in those middle years is interesting - especially which were kept from the original little bushy tree.

Next picture will be wired...........but there is lots of shoots cheers

thanks Marcus

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Re: A Scots pine chooses a new keeper

Post  gman on Tue Jul 03, 2012 11:01 pm

Hi Marcus,
A great tree and story thanks for posting. It hasn't been repotted for sometime now so I was wondering what your thought are on when you would consider it and if you will put it in a pot or the same slab.
Cheers Graham

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Re: A Scots pine chooses a new keeper

Post  marcus watts on Wed Jul 04, 2012 6:31 am

gman wrote:Hi Marcus,
A great tree and story thanks for posting. It hasn't been repotted for sometime now so I was wondering what your thought are on when you would consider it and if you will put it in a pot or the same slab.
Cheers Graham

Hi Graham, thanks

My approach to repotting has really changed over the last few years - (probably as many of the trees are maturing). Iwill now have no problem leaving a mature conifer 10 years or even more between repots - it is so noticeable how much better 'bonsai foliage' is on a tree that's well settled in its pot and how course, large and over vigorous growth is on repotted trees. Juniper growth tightens 1000 times better than any pinching, pine candles remain smaller and more even etc. repotting every 3-4 yrs is perfect for developing trunks, branches, basic branches etc but I think it is completely wrong for refinment stages, especially with good quality and proven soil components. Obviosly is a tree starts to lose vigor, change colour or behave differently the roots would be the first suspect and need investigating - 10yrs is just a rough guideline I'm using

Purely from tree health this tree would never probably need a repot as it would just slowly raise on the slab over the years and if fed in a balanced way it would live perfectly but in a pot a tree gets so tight that absolutely no water penetrates and eventual repotting would be neccessary.

the slab....yes I really like the slab - as a whole the tree is native, the styling has followed a native very natural style and the slab and moss cover adds to this picture rather than detracts I think. I like variety in my collection too, it creates more interest, and every other tree I have is in a normal pot.

Once the little family of bronze haggis are frolicing below the tree it will be native penjing ! Smile

cheers Marcus

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First fine wiring done

Post  marcus watts on Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:30 am

over the last 2 weeks I've been fine wiring the pine with 1mm copper - doing every branch right to the tip. Now the branches are split up into smaller foliage clusters it makes the tree look bigger. It is a few inches lower now as all the upward shoots are flatter and a bit wider for the same reason.

Some outer needle clusters will be pruned off once the inner buds strengthen and this will improve the silloette of the right side a lot.



And here is the 2 week change from getting home to this morning - - now the tree is on the first stage to refinement - the next few years will be spent making strong back buds and forming dense pads of foliage from these, with all the needles the same size.



cheers Marcus

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Re: A Scots pine chooses a new keeper

Post  abcd on Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:12 pm

An amazing tree, a very natural style , my feeling is that the hand of man has never touched this wonderful tree , congratulations.

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Re: A Scots pine chooses a new keeper

Post  marcus watts on Sun Jul 15, 2012 9:29 am

abcd wrote:An amazing tree, a very natural style , my feeling is that the hand of man has never touched this wonderful tree , congratulations.

thankyou so much - I'm finding this tree so inspiring as it has come from a very normal nursery tree to this image in a little more than 10 years.It has been such a pleasing tree to work on each evening after work too. (and I even sneaked it into the living room when Mandy was out to wire the bottom pad and watch the Grand Prix at the same time Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy )



haha. perfect day


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Re: A Scots pine chooses a new keeper

Post  Rick36 on Sun Jul 15, 2012 9:50 am

Marcus, Christmas Cracker jibes notwithstanding, that is a beautiful creation. Between nature, several others and yourself, you have helped create something wonderful. Never mind inspiring you - the rest of us feel the same, I'm sure.
(Forgot to add - the "work" ethic is inspiring too! Nothing good comes easily.)

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