The other weekend, one of the Swindon newer members ‘Claudia’ attended a workshop at Beechfield bonsai nursery, run by Harry Harrington and his apprentices. Harry owner of Bonsai 4 Me and author of a number of books……

The focus of the workshop was carving, she booked on it to learn all she could before subjecting any precious trees to carving. Claudia wrote the following: Harry really knows his stuff and talked us all about the direction we wanted our trees to go, and helped us look at how to achieve this, or explained why this would not be good for the tree. He/we initially marked out the areas to either be removed or to be carved with chalk and then partly carved one of those shapes for us to see. As all our trees were different shapes/species we then got to view and listen to what he was doing and why, and the techniques required for those results. He then demonstrated some finishing details on each of our trees so we have this to refer to when working on the rest ourselves.  All in all, it was a fantastic day, all of us worked hard, bonded as a great group and had a lot of fun. Harry’s helpers were on hand helping with anything we wanted help with!  I watched a massive pine trunk bend, learned about defoliation on Privet (just one of the trees I took), and got help on finding the direction for a 6ft Yew I took along in the shower compartment of our caravan lol. I can’t wait to book another. Here are a few of the photos taken.

 My medium/large Privet Clump I have had a few months. It has a very complicated multi-trunk so I wanted help deciding on which direction to go with it, especially as it looks good from all sides so there is no real front. The first job was to defoliate it leaving only the smallest of leaves – it was explained this is a good thing each winter and results in the new leaves being significantly smaller. It also makes wiring easier and is the perfect time of year to wire them.  It also enabled us to see the shape of the tree properly and have access to the structure to do cuts and carving.  The photos show before and after the initial cuts. I ran out of time to finish the fine carving, staining, and wiring. This will be a couple of days’ work I expect.

This is the Yew I brought along last night to start wiring. I purchased in on last Monday having seen the nebari while visiting a local garden centre in Cheltenham and had to have it. I decided to take it along to the workshop as Harry loves big trees, and the tree I thought demanded a strong look and I valued his feedback on the direction. I knew I wanted to have a lightning strike kind of apex, dead wood and shizzle.  Apart from this, I needed help to know what height would be best for the chop and selecting branches etc all of which he explained. I made my choices and did the chop with the help and a lot of hilarity from his helper. I exposed the base and chose the front, branches and he confirmed I made the right choices.  At which point the workshop was sadly finished.

During the day there was a chance to view the trees in the nursery, including  the very famous Dragon Pine Tree owned and styled recently by Mark during the Telford Bonsai show. It’s mind blowing!