Creating deadwood on Yew

Shari on Yew trunk. Bottom old, top new
Shari on Yew trunk. Bottom old, top new

Normally one creates deadwood during the first styling of pre-bonsai material. Yew branches that are cut of, or were cut off during the growing out period of the plant are stripped of their bark and carved back to elegant rounded or pointed stubs. I was in my growing out field in December and thought of another route to create Yin and Shari.

I was looking at a few Yews for bonsai, which I pulled from a hedge some 5 years ago. These sat there, originally recovering as they were a sorry bunch after pulling them out, and flat-cutting the rootball (Note, I lost about one third of the trees in the process). Now I just have them sit there, with the idea to pull one out every other year or so to have some yews to work on.

I have 2 yews halfway in their bonsai styling, and 3 in the first phase of bonsai styling potted up in my garden. Therefor, it will be a few years before I bring a yew home from my growbed. I do not however want those to become a lot taller than the current 50-75cm. As such, every other year I trim the largest branches out, where I keep more branches lower on the trunk than in the top. (The alternative years I use a spade to undercut the roots, in an attempt to keep the rootball compact).

In any case.. I realized a little while back that deadwood and the surrounding bark edges on bonsai take a year or two to start to look better than when freshly carved. And that it takes several years before bark will start to lift around the dead areas especially when the bonsai is potted up. As such.. I decided to experiment and create natural looking Shari and Yin on two of the yews in the growing out bed.

Pulled off branches for shari on Yew bonsai
Pulled off branches for shari on Yew bonsai

I did this in the crudest way possible: I just took branches I did not want, and pulled them down along the trunk, creating large damaged areas letting the branch rip along natural weak lines. I hope that with a few years of growth, and exposure to the elements, these areas will weather, lifelines will lift around them. Then when I do pull this out for first styling, it will have natural looking character. Or so the thought process! Note the cut stumps from 2 years ago, and the pulled branch locations from this year. The big pulled section allowed me to count the annual rings. I pulled a 10 year old branch..

Pulled off branches for shari on Yew bonsai
Pulled off branches for shari on Yew bonsai

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