This impressive old tree with its melted wax deadwood and cinnamon bark is yet another dramatic Yew. So dramatic that it's easy to miss it's unusual companion. The tree and the little piece of deadwood belong to Mauro Stemberger. The pot is Tokoname.
When we originally posted these photos (December, 2012) many of us were just beginning to appreciate Yew for bonsai. Since then they have been pushing their way into our consciousness with a vigor worthy of their robust nature. Anyway, and bad puns aside, I know that I’ve praised yew before. Still, at the risk of repeating myself, I’m a big fan. For landscaping and for bonsai.
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Every time I open Bonsai Today issue 106 and lay my eyes on this wicked old English yew, my mind does a little double take. It may not look exactly like anything you’ll see in nature, but it certainly jumps off the page. It’s by Kevin Willson. Photo by Simon Carr.
Yews are often over-used in landscaping and as a result their beauty is not always appreciated. Another problem is that the wood is usually covered by the foliage. This is a shame as the color and gnarly shapes that the wood takes can be very attractive, especially with age. And then there’s that brilliant yellow green new growth in the spring.
The foliage on this one is not quite show-ready, but the rest of the tree, wild deadwood and all, certainly is. It's by Mario Komsta. A regular here on Bonsai Bark.
Back in the day when I first became interested in bonsai, you didn’t see that many yews, and to some extent, you really don’t see that many still (this was written over five years ago, things are changing). Perhaps this is because they are so common that we overlook them. The extreme hardness of the wood probably doesn’t help either. Conversely, they are very tough, and respond to pruning and root pruning with flying colors. Carving too, if you have the patience and strength (or power tools) to work their extremely hard wood. Once carved, the deadwood can be striking, especially in contrast to their reddish bark. As an extra plus, yews are more rot resistant than most trees. And then there’s that beautiful spring foliage.
Here's some of that spring color we're talking about... This dynamic Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata) is from the cover of Bonsai Today issue 89. Unfortunately, the artist’s name was lost somewhere in translation.
Here it is again. This time where it belongs
And speaking of…
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