Saturday, June 17, 2017

Yews and Youtube

By Michael Rusnak

My kids always shake their heads a little in one of those "No Duh" moments when I point out what an incredibly great resource Youtube is.  Of course they already know.  But I still marvel at it. I mean if you need to fix a faucet, put up dry wall or change the head light on your Civic and you aren't sure how, there probably a dozen videos there where someone shows you the way.

June 15 before wiring shaping
My point is you there are some great videos there too for helping with your bonsai skills--and specific skills.  There are some really good videos on yews, for example. English bonsai guy Graham Potter has this excellent one that leads you though the stages of how he works a stump into a specimen.  Or this one on making a bonsai from something out of the trash, which he calls a sort of "blank canvas" for learning bonsai, the type of material on which he "cut his teeth." In addition, the series that Tony Tickle posted is also excellent.  He shows some great ones in his garden and for dead wood don't miss his little video tour of yews in the wild.  As I've never been seen yews in the wild, this video provided some models on how the dead wood on yews is shaped by natural forces. 

June 17 starting to look presentable after wiring & thinning
Here in northeaster Ohio, yews are commonly used for shrubbery.  It's not unusual to see some sizable ones laid out for the trash. This of course is a great opportunity, if you can get them to live in a pot.  Sizable trunks, the price is right, the digging work has already been done, and they have such wonderful reddish purple bark and deep forest green foliage.

Anyway, I've been watching these yew videos over and over again to learn how to make something out of some of the massive yews I've grabbed on trash nights.

It has taken a couple of years. First to get them healthy (they usually weren't pulled out of the ground carefully)  and into good bonsai soil, and to the point of throwing out nice new shoots.

 Another view of yew
With the help of the videos by the English bonsai guys, I am starting to bring them along.  The process of preliminary wiring, thinning, letting it grow wild, and wiring again, is making this one start to look like something.
Anyway, it's great that some of the world's outstanding bonsai artists have taken the time to post such quality videos.  And help people in clubs like ours improve their skills.  Kudos Graham, Tony and many others.

It's always exciting to start a new bonsai project.  It's good karma too, these unwanted shrubs will have a whole new life as a bonsai. 

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