We invited Marcus Watts for a workshop and he did not disappoint. He is a man who is down to earth, friendly and knows a thing or two about bonsai, what more would someone want from a day’s workshop than that?

Eight people took part and many more came to watch and listen to Marcus’s pearls of wisdom.  Apologies if this is not new information to you, but it was information that got some response from our members.

Soft needle Chinese junipers like being kept dry, it keeps the foliage tighter

Guy wires. Marcus showed us all a rather nifty, and easy technique for securing guy wires. Using copper wire is a stronger material, and you should only need to use 1mm for most jobs. Using aquarium tubing where the guy wire is threaded through and goes over the branch, protects the tree.

Soft Junipers. Maintaining tight foliage and removing the loose floppy foliage will give a better overall effect.

When hollowing out a trunk, don’t go straight down, given an irregular effect. If you were looking down over the trunk, hollow out into a C shape. To carve this, stand side on to the trunk. Taper inside the hollow, even if the trunk size does not reduce

Pines. If you have three buds, don’t always remove the central bud, as this could leave you with “frogs legs” for shoots which will never look natural. Do not try to train until later in the season as you can break the needles when they are soft. Never prune a pine back to a tiny lone bud, wait until you have a rosette of needles and the new bud extends. Re-style a pine/ bring back to a shape, once in three years. It is claimed that you cannot kill a pine by under watering (but do not complain to me if your tree bucks the trend). Pines like an open grit/pumice compost.

Soft Junipers. If you keep the tree in the same size pot, but drastically reduce the amount of foliage, this will send vigour to the rest of the tree.

Stunted growth on an acer is likely to be due to those leaves opening in poorer weather (i.e. early in the season). On the first flush of growth on an acer, pinch back to one pair of leaves if you want to maintain the shape of the tree.

Azaleas/Acers. If you get the “stock plants” flowers/leaves on a part of your tree/plant. Remove these, as failure to do this will encourage the tree to grow more of the dominant stock growth to the detriment of the specimen growth.

Wire. Do not use copper wire on deciduous trees.