• Andrew Robson

Reworking of a Winter Hazel

Winter Hazel (Corylopsis) is one of my favorite flowering species for bonsai. Rarely utilized in North America for bonsai practice, this stunning plant is often found in gardens, both old and new. Winter Hazel flowers early in the spring before other trees have even started thinking about waking up, providing a stunning yellow contrast to all the other twigs on a bench or in the garden. The genus name comes from the Greek words korylos meaning hazel and opsis meaning like for leaf resemblance to Corylus.

March 2017 - Due to weakness, this tree was repotted into a box after flowering

November 2017 - After a strong growing season in a box to regain strength

This Winter Hazel was quite weak when I purchased it, so like any old deciduous tree that seems to be weak and killing off branches, it was put into a box to regain some youthfulness and strength. For a soil mix, I experimented with 50% Kanuma/50% Pumice since Corylopsis enjoy a bit of acidity.

Now that this tree has gained some strength back, we began the process of reworking it. Due to some years of pruning neglect, this tree had several branches with reverse-taper. Rather than prune all of these at once, leaving a pretty thin tree, we decided to remove 1/3 of them this year. Subsequent years of work will involve removing the remain 2/3 of bad branches.

A new front was also chosen, and branches were adjusted to realize this new design. While the old front had boring movement in the main trunk, the new front has much more interesting line. Also the flow of the tree has changed, leaving a much more rare form... where the secondary trunks are on the opposite side of the flow. I enjoyed this tension much more, especially since this is such a rare design to see in bonsai.

February 2018 - After trimming back extensions and before reworking

New front - After removing flowers and reworking the tree

This Winter Hazel has many more years of development ahead, with several challenges yet to be solved. While creating new deciduous bonsai can be quite exciting, redesigning an old deciduous bonsai is equally as thrilling, and gives new life to a piece of material that has seen many hands throughout the decades it has been cared for.

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