Not Drawn to Scale

Not only am I not drawn to them, I hate the little buggers!! 🙂

Ian B was part of last nights royal pruning session. I had been caring for his big Chinese Elm and brought it out for a chat about how I had brought it back to life (CPR & jump leads 🙂 ) When we started examining the new flush of buds we found the biggest Scale Insects I had ever seen!! These where sorted today with a nice spray of insecticide. Before I did this I took a few photos in case anyone hadn’t seen them before. Nothing else seems to have them. I guess they grew super sized in the heat of the tunnel.

Here’s a few of them and you can also see the sticky white stuff they produce.

and evidence of the new buds.

Larch Basic Styling

This was the last tree to be styled last night. Work finished at 1.30am!!

This is Ben’s Larch recently purchased from Willowbog Bonsai as raw material. We worked through it and gave it it’s first basic styling. There are a few options within the tree but this has been left for Ben to ponder for a while.

Ben’s relatively new to bonsai but I am impressed by his eye for a tree and his level of knowledge gained in a short time. He always asks appropriate questions and on a few occasions I am able to answer them 🙂

He wired so fast his arms were a blur 🙂

Turkey Oak

One of my ‘Royal Bonsai’ Guests last night was Josh who brought along his Turkey Oak, Quercus Cerris. This tree was lifted from a growing bed in his garden this Spring and put into it’s first pot. He brought it along for pinching and I took the opportunity to get a photo. I must say that the photo doesn’t do this tree any favours. It’s amazing in the bark, so to speak. The pot is from Walsall Ceramics. Well, via Willowbog Bonsai 🙂

To give you an idea of the size of the Oak here’s Josh for scale.

Root Over Rock Common Juniper

Amazingly I didn’t post anything on the blog yesterday!! The main reason being the Royal Wedding…. only kidding, I was having a bit of a Royal Bonsai Day at my house with friends coming during the day to play with trees and have a bit of Craic.

First up was this Root over Rock Juniper possibly ‘Repanda’ owned by Stephen. When Stephen bought the tree about 5 years ago it was very overgrown and he has worked hard to get the foliage chased back enough to allow for this styling to take place.

Stephen and I got to work getting the whole thing wired. Well, Stephen drank about 3 pots of my coffee in the process 🙂

Maggie kept an eye on us from a hidden location.

Fully wired but as yet to be styled.

After some basic placement it became evident that the left hand side branch wasn’t required in the design.

We even considered a more brutal pruning option. This is an option for the future but there were concerns over losing a corresponding root by removing the branch all in one go.

Here is the final outcome.

Bonsai eejit & Son

…I hope.

Continuing my manoeuvring to keep my son on the bonsai bandwagon, I spent an hour or so this afternoon working on a tree.  When my friend Stephen donated a few of his to the cause, I asked Matthew which ones he liked. He was drawn to this Root over Rock Trident. ( Not really a root over rock, more like a growing against a rock Trident.)

It’s well hardened off already and has extension growth on most branches. I decided to allow Matthew to defoliate it to begin with. Bit early, I hear you say! You might be right, but I find Tridents so strong and vigorous that two defoliations in the year isn’t a problem. I set him to work.

Blissfully unaware of my camera work, you can almost hear the concentration from here.

After defoliation we wired a few branches into place for practice and discussed the shape that the tree will take in future.

I talked about extending the foliage pads on the right, and keeping the left hand side tight to show off the rock and give the tree more interest. I then explained how, in a different pot, some negative space on the right would really help the overall image. I spotted an old Mica landscape pot under a bench and decided to show him what I meant. The pot was big enough to allow me to lift the planting out of the training pot and into the mica one without removing any root.

I told him that he needs to find a similar looking bit of rock or a big lump of moss to fill the gap between rock and root at the base.

I didn’t set out to do all this today, I think we got carried away!! I am confident that this tree will bounce back in a few weeks. I’ll even post an update here to prove it 🙂

Sea Thrift and Aquilegia

A few more accents flowering today. I was at the rocky north coast last Summer and I noticed a few little Sea Thrifts and other bits and bobs growing among the rocks. This one was growing in a tiny crevice and was easy to pop out into into a pot on my return home.

This is a dwarf variety of Aquilegia. This is actually the tallest I have ever seen it flower!! Usually only a few inches tall.

Free Cotoneaster

and I didn’t even have to dig it up 🙂

My brother was doing a little landscaping for someone and they wanted a large Cotoneaster removed. I think the bro wanted a hand digging it up but my diary was full for the day as I was visiting Roy. On my way home I got a text saying come and get it. This is what I found on my return.

After removing damaged roots and unwanted straight trunks etc, this is what I potted up in one of my new bowler hat training pots.

It is a very small leafed variety. I have left a stump or two for future carving. It was the easiest tree I’ve ever collected 😀

Another collection visit

I had the pleasure of visiting my friend Roy’s garden today along with Stephen. I have been meaning to get over to Roy’s Garden for a long time and it never seems to work out. I was therefore delighted today when the opportunity presented itself. My main aim was to get a few photos for the club website and have a good nosey around. Both achieved.

Here are a few general snaps of Roy’s back garden.

Here are some of Roy’s bonsai.

My favourite was this root over rock Trident. One side has a beautiful hollow in the stone to use to create a water pool but the roots are not as good. The other side has a more convincing root set up and the main pruning scar is hidden, but the rock isn’t as nice. Nice problems to have in my opinion. We discussed a different pot for next year.

I love this pot!

I’m hoping to get back in a weeks time to give Roy a hand with a few bonsai projects that need attention. If you’re reading this Roy, thanks for your time today mate.


Amazingly I didn’t work on a single tree today. I watered everything and spent a little time cleaning and sharpening my tools. All those who know me have just had to take a seat 🙂

Here’s Part one of an interesting series on tool care. Your turn 🙂


Blue Star

This Blue Star Juniper was planted in my flowerbed back in 1993. Over the years I cut it back and eventually I pulled it out. It struggled for years loosing branch after branch. At one point I thought it was dead. After removing all the dead branches I was able to scrap away all the dead bark from the trunk. I couldn’t believe it when I saw just how small a live vein remained. It took a further few years to get it  to full health.

Detail of the live vein at the base.

Today I decided to style the tree. A few things needed sorting out. Most of the deadwood moves to the right but the bit top left goes against this flow.

I decided to heat the jin with a blow torch and bend it into a more complimentary position. I protected the foliage with tin foil while I heated the jin. I used jin pliers to hold and twist the wood as I heated it. Once I got it to the right spot I held it for a minute or so for it to cool down and set in it’s new position.

As you can see, the heating treatment allows for decent bends to be added and has the benefit of ageing the wood with fire.

After a quick coat of Lime Sulphur I applied self Amalgamating Tape to the upper trunk area to protect it while I applied a bend or two. The upper trunk was bolt straight and I wanted to bring the foliage in tighter to the main body of the tree.

This is it after bending and some basic branch placement. It isn’t very refined as the foliage quite heavy and I wasn’t prepared to pinch it back any harder at this point. I reduced the jins at the base as they distracted from the rest of the tree. These will also be refined further at a later point as they are a bit clunky as they sit now.  Further growth will be needed to fill out the image but the basic structure I wanted it there now.