Monday, 28 October 2013

Last post!

Well folks, this will be one of my last posts for a while. I am moving my blog to a different provider and incorporating it into my website so that everything can be found in one place. It will also make it more user friendly for having both the website and blog together. I know many of you have had trouble posting comments on my blog due to the way Google's 'Blogger' operates.

I was warned before I started my blog, that one of the problems of having a blog, is that you create a monster. You get criticised when you write and regarding what you write, and you get criticised when you don't write. Well due to circumstances beyond my control recently, I have not written anything for my blog and so I am guilty of the latter, and so for those of you who enjoy reading it, I apologise. (Or should that be BOTH of you who enjoy reading it!).
But that's how life is sometimes. But stick with me as I have been busy, and 2014 promises to be a GREAT YEAR!
I have lots of new things in the pipeline for the future and I am very excited in the direction that
4 Dimensional Art is going. Steve Tolley Bonsai is getting a makeover and I look forward to receiving all of your comments in the months ahead. And yes I already anticipated the first comment!. That, it is me who could do with a makeover LOL.


My last post was way back in August when we were still basking in glorious sunshine. Now Autumn is officially here and temperatures are dropping in the day and quite significantly at night in my part of the world.
Some of the Autumn colours are fabulous to see both in nature and of course in our bonsai.
This Japanese flowering Cherry Prunus incisa var. Kojo No Mai  below, is quite spectacular this year.

Autumn has to be one of my favourite times of the year and this is due in no small part to the spectacular celebration of rainbow colours that nature blesses us with around now.The behaviour of many birds and animals change now in preparation for winter. Where I live flocks of Redwings and Fieldfares have already arrived from Scandinavia and it is wonderful to see them feeding on wind fall apples around the orchard.
Here is another examples of autumnal colour. 
In this case, a Japanese dwarf Hydrangea (below). 
I purchased this dwarf Hydrangea at Ginkgo Bonsai Nursery in Belgium, at the very first Ginkgo Awards in 19997.
The pot is from Ian Bailie, Scotland and it was also purchased at the same event but a few years later in 2001.
If you you have GINKGO Book 3, the pot can be seen in the potters gallery at the back of the book.

Notice the different tones and colour of the leaves in the three images here.This Laburnum left, is really dark.

And also it is a great time to see many different variety's of fungi. Like this fungi 'forest' growing on an old Oak stump.

I am really into fungi, particularly the edible varieties. It was bonsai pioneer Pius Notter of Boswil, Switzerland who really kindled my interest and who also taught me how to identify many of the better edible varieties. I am lucky in that the Wyre Forest area where I live is famous for producing edible fungi. And so at the right times of year, I am out collecting them to add to my menu. Some are wonderful to eat on their own.

Here are some fungi growing with an Uncinata Pine bonsai.

And here more fungi growing among a stand of Eastern White Cedars Thuja occidentalis in the Wyre Forest. Many fungi grow symbiotically with trees.

In this picture, you can see a really nice red autumnal colour after I had an accident recently using a machine while working on a Mugo Pine. I managed to remove the top of my middle finger and the bottom of my index finger.
Unfortunately this incident curtailed many wiring projects for a while, in fact it has curtailed a lot of activities full stop, as you can imagine.

Fortunately I have healed rapidly. My dressings were changed every two days and a special gauze was used that gets rid of dead tissue and promotes new tissue growth by 30%. When they told me this I immediately thought of how the enzymes I use on my trees work on roots in a similar way. Since soaking my finger in the enzymes I have fantastic ramification in my nail!! Next year I will be giving talks on health and safety in the bonsai nursery!

My delivery of new trees from Spain arrived a while back now, and I was really pleased yet again with the quality and the service. And TNT even managed to turn up with a truck that had a tail lift. Bonus! You might remember I mentioned them in a blog way back in July.

These are the pallets just unloaded, you cannot believe the anticipation I feel just before opening the pallets. Even though I chose each of the trees and I know what is inside, I still get excited and the child in me comes out!.

And here below are a few of the trees that came in that consignment and I now have for sale.

As you can see from the pot of cut paste I have placed next to the tree to show scale, this is a chuhin size Sabina Juniper with fabulous deadwood courtesy of Mother Nature.

A really nice Sabina here (right) with multiple live veins and natural deadwood.
It is always great when you get material of this quality but it is a bonus when it is already well established and ready to work on as these are. I am really looking forward to styling some of these established trees over the next few months and recording all of my work. Everything will be filmed and also recorded photographically for use in the future on my website and blog.

This Sabina Juniper has obvious great potential. Again multiple live veins and lots of natural deadwood but with the scope to add further deadwood areas.
As with all of the yamadori in this consignment, there is plenty of foliage to work with.
Junipers offer the greatest scope for an artist to really be creative.


Over many years of cultivating friendships with bonsai importers and yamadori collectors, I have consistently been able to offer great trees to UK and European bonsai enthusiasts and collectors and even other professionals. I was the first nursery in the UK to offer high quality yamadori from all over Europe as well as at the same time high quality imported trees from Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China. And this paved the way for others to follow.
The yamadori material in particular gives great opportunities for bonsai creation and development and I have continued to encourage by example the potential of yamadori material for bonsai.

As a professional, it is easy to forget that beginners or those not as experienced as oneself can be daunted by the thought of tackling such material. Where do I start to design my tree. What is it's potential? What are its horticultural requirements? How do I find the live veins on my juniper etc etc.
And so with this in mind I have decided to launch some courses aimed specifically at working with yamadori pines junipers and deciduous trees for those bonsai people who are serious about learning and working with quality material to create, refine and maintain great bonsai from raw material.

My "Bonsai in Depth" courses will begin in November 2013 but will really kick off in Spring 2014.
Although the emphasise will be on yamadori because it offers a greater learning experience, much of the horticulture and styling techniques and applications will be relevant to Japanese species too and these will be included.
As an example the Juniper course will include species such as Sabina Juniper Juniperus Sabina and Common Juniper Juniperus communis but also Needle Juniper Juniperus rigida and Juniperus chinensis sp. etc. It may well be that I will have Itoigawa raw material also available for these courses for those who want a Japanese tree to develop and learn with.

The Pine course will be the same and include Japanese varieties Black thunbergii, Red densiflora and White Pine pentaphyla/parviflora and European yamadori species, e.g Mugo Pine P. mugo and Scots Pine P. Sylvestris, P. nigra etc.
Dan Barton started his Masterclasses in the 80's/90's where students worked on a specific species over a day workshop.
In the USA Boon Manakitivipart has his Bonsai Intensives and Ryan Neil has his 'Defining Concepts' course. All are great ways to learn for the serious bonsai enthusiast.
I intend to hold my courses over two days so that participants get both theory and hands on experience over the course period. Hands on experience is particularly useful in areas such as defining live veins on junipers. Thick, strong or heavy branch manipulation. Foliage preparation and refinement etc. where physically doing it beats any theory.

If you enrol in the "Bonsai in Depth" courses you will learn how to take a yamadori, raw material or semi styled tree to it's ultimate conclusion, a show able tree of the highest order and how to maintain it as a healthy flourishing bonsai.

There will be more information available soon on my website which will shortly receive a makeover, or you can email me for details,

1 comment:

  1. Steve,
    It has always been entertaining interesting reading your blog each instalment eagerly awaited, I will look forward to your new blog on your site. I hope there is an improvement in your circumstances and buy a pair of Kevlar gloves to protect your little pinkies,
    Best wishes
    Dave Martin.