This post features a bonsai that I mentioned in a recent post in the context of it becoming available for sale here at the nursery. ‘Stumpy’ is a European yew, Taxus bacatta, that we are fortunate to have a series of progression photos for, from its first styling to the present day. We sold the tree today and the new owner has given his blessing for this post being published. The name Stumpy was given to the tree by the previous owner, Willowbogger Mike R. and refers to the compact nature of the styling. It was a piece of raw material that we sold and it has garden origins, having purchased the tree Mike decided to entrust the first shaping to Marc Noelanders at a workshop here, that was in 2005.
The above photo is the tree as it was at the Noelanders workshop. Plenty of nice, strong growth so the tree was certainly ready to be worked.
One of many valuable aspects of Marc’s workshops here was a discussion at the outset about each participants trees. Here Marc begins to give his thoughts on the options for the yew.
A close look at exactly what branches there are to work with.
Marc points out to the watching participants the pros and cons of these options.
Involving everyone in looking at alternatives is a vital part of this stage of the proceedings, making folk think about what is proposed to be done. Now decisions have been taken , a change in inclination for example, and a start made on removing unnecessary branches.
Here we see Marc starting to chalk in some lines to indicate areas of deadwood, a vital part of any convincing yew bonsai design.
A moment for referring back to the participants, including, of course, the owner, with the superfluous branching removed and a basic sketching out of the deadwood areas done. Ready for the actual work to begin.
Marc himself begins the carving work using a Makita die-grinder fitted with a suitable cutter.
Marc Noelanders is one of the most outstanding European bonsai artists and teachers and has particular ability in visualising the potential image options with a piece of raw material. He is also perhaps the leading European when it comes to the creation of deadwood.
The owner’s turn to have a go, a bit daunting if you have not much experience in using this sort of tool.
The light use of a blow-torch to burn off frizzy wood that often results when carving very green wood.
A young-looking Dave H. also a regular participant at our workshops, checks out the progress. An almost unique skill that Marc has is to be able to get great results in the carving process whilst still allowing the owner to do the bulk of the work himself, all done through constant monitoring and guidance.
So this is the bonsai at the end of that first workshop. Basic carving done and the initial shaping of foliage complete following the wiring.
Quite a transformation but still a long way short of how the tree looked today as it went off with the new owner.
Planted in an un-glazed Walsall Studio Ceramics pot made specially for it and with seven more years of very careful and diligent cultivation, pruning and wiring and re-wiring completed by Mike to whom great credit goes. It is a very good illustration of what can be achieved with fairly modest material if one avails themselves of help from an experienced bonsai professional and then applies the required time and effort to the follow-up period. Whilst the new owner is from out of our region , he has become a valued customer of Willowbog and more importantly is using the likes of Peter Warren to help him improve both his trees and his own knowledge and experience in bonsai, so we look forward to seeing the continued development of this bonsai under a new care regime,