This tree and a number of other stumps came from a hedge on the England/Wales border (in Shropshire) that had to be grubbed-up to make way for building work.
This picture shows the hedge after it had been dug up and bought to my house in August 2004. August isn't a good time of the year to dig up trees. However these Privet had their roots wrapped in wet newspaper and were bagged up to keep the roots as moist as possible before being taken home.
Privet are a very strong species; even after bare rooting to remove the wet clay soil at their roots, not one of these trees died
By May 2005 all of the collected stumps had sprouted well and were growly strongly.
This stump in particular had rooted so strongly that new roots were starting to appear from inbetween the cracks in the wooden box it had been planted in!
The centre of this stump was rotting badly. Before I could consider how to style this tree, it was necessary to see which parts of the deadwood could be saved and protected from rotting further and which parts were so pulpy and soft that they needed removing.
I spent around 3 hours carefully carving away the soft pulpy wood in the centre of the tree.
In my dremel rotary tool I used an ordinary drill bit that could easily remove the soft and pulpy wood, but wouldn't remove the stronger hard wood that hadn't started to rot.
The result was a very natural natural deadwood feature that hadn't been forced into shape by more intrusive carving methods.
The trunk turned out to be completely hollow; having loosened the rotted wood with the dremel, the loosened chips of wood had to be literally spooned out of the hollow!
The right hand side of the tree had some long surface roots that I decided to keep as they add interest to the tree. They are an interesting mixture of deadwood and live wood (there are in fact live roots that continue to support the tree in this area).
The centre of this feature is also hollow and connects to the central cavern of the tree.
To halt the natural effects of rotting, the remaining deadwood was then treated with several coats of wood-hardener.
A remaining problem was that this hollow acted as a reservoir every time the tree was watered. If the water was not allowed to drain out of the centre of the tree, the remaining deadwood would soon rot away.
Using a long flat drill bit I bored out a hole in the very base of the trunk (this round darker area can just be seen in this image) to act as a drainage hole so rain and water can run out into the soil below.
By July 2005 the tree had grown so strongly that I was able to risk chopping back most of the tall trunks or stumps from the tree.
The resulting growth is shown here after styling in August 2005; just a year after collection.
March 2006. Just 18 months after collection I repotted the Privet into a pot commissioned from Erin Pottery.
The tree was found to have rooted wildly and was rootbound in its wooden grow box ! The next few years will now be spent continuing to develop the branch structure.
Height of tree:15"/37cm
For a better indication of the bonsai's size, here is my son pictured next to this tree .
August 2006: Just 5 months later and the tree has developed rapidly. Having allowed the Spring flush of growth grow freely, the foliage was pruned repeatedly from midsummer onwards to increase its density.
July 2007: As with last year, other than in the very top branches, the tree was allowed to grow freely until midsummer at which point it was pruned back hard.
This has two effects; firstly it helps slowly thicken the branches and secondly, allowing free growth invigorates and strengthens the tree.
January 2008: After a few Winter frosts have caused many of the leaves to fall naturally (Privet are semi-deciduous). I have taken the opportunity to fully defoliate the tree so that I can study and refine the branch structure.
August 2008; after defoliating all but the smallest leaves, the increased ramification of this bonsai can easily be seen.
Views from above showing the spread of the branches, each has been individually placed with wire over the years.
January 2009: After the first hard frosts of the winter, some of the leaves become discoloured on Privet and I defoliate them. Instantly the increased ramification from August's defoliation can be seen.
View from behind
Close-up of the apex of the main trunk. As can be seen in this image, small adjustments are continually made to the position of branches all over the bonsai using wire.
View of the hollows and channels on the right hand side of the bonsai.
July 2011: As each and every year passes, the ramification and the taper of this bonsai increases and it is only when I look back at the images from 2009 that I realise the tree continues to improve radically.
This image was taken while preparing the tree for the image above and shows the crown of the bonsai after defoliating all but the smallest leaves. This involved spending approximately 4 hours removing a few thousand 'over-sized' leaves in total.
Detail image of the privet bonsai's crown