Club Post Link

I just added this Post to the Club Blogsite:  Hugh’s Juniper.

I thought I would add it here as well as it’s far too cold for me to venture outside and actually do some work on my own trees 🙂

You can read all about it over on the club site, but basically it’s this Juniper getting a long over due haircut.


Virtual Bonsai

I have been asked by a few people about virtual bonsai. I like to use photoshop to try different pots on my trees, add foliage or remove a branch. I Did an article for the club website a few years ago about how I did this. For anyone who uses Photoshop already, this won’t interest you. However, if you are new to the software, it should help. The screen shots are from an older version of Photoshop than I use now but the basic layout is still the same. I have reproduced this article below

Creating Virtual Bonsai

Virtual Bonsai is fancy title for changing or creating bonsai images with computer software. This article will hopefully help the uninitiated get involved with this wonderful way of making decisions with your bonsai without having to lift a pair of Branch Cutters.

Dan Barton was one of the first to start using computer software for projecting his ideas for a trees future. Several articles were published in the UK Bonsai Magazine. (Issues 43 –45.) My own introduction to virtuals was on the Internet Bonsai Club Gallery in 2000. I was amazed with the virtual results created from some of the trees I posted to Gallery. I was instantly hooked and set out to learn how to master this very helpful tool.

Getting started


The most obvious requirement is a computer. Nothing too fancy though, most home computers are quite adequate. Any computer currently on the market will more than suffice.


Now you need the software programme that will allow you to alter the Bonsai images. There are lots of these on the market. Most PC’s come with Microsoft Paint, which is a basic programme and will do most things you require it to do and the beauty of it is that you probably already have it. I personally use Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements a smaller and cheaper version without some of the frills. Photoshop is a proven leader in the field and will do everything you need, but don’t take my word for it, try a few programmes out. You will find lots of free demo versions with computer magazines. When you find one you like, stick with it.

Getting the bonsai into the computer?


A scanner is a great way to get your hard copy photograph into the computer. I personally scan all my Bonsai Photos and keep them on Disk for future use.

Digital Camera

A digital Camera is the quickest and easiest way to get a bonsai image into the computer. It is an expensive  outlay but you will save on getting all those unwanted photos developed. The main benefit is that you can snap the tree in the garden and then pop it straight into the computer and work on it. No waiting for the photos to come back from the Chemist.


Another way to get bonsai photos to play with is to download them from a website or Gallery. These won’t be your trees but you will learn the same lessons as you would with your own. Why not go to the IBC Gallery and get some photos. When you have played with them you can put them back on the Gallery and see what everyone thinks. A great learning experience.

The following are the main ways you can use computer software to assist with the decision making and styling of Bonsai.

Pot selection

We all have trees with which we struggle to find a perfect pot. You think you have the right one but a year later you are looking for a replacement. Now you can put your tree into as many pots as you like and compare them before making a decision on which pot to buy. You can also share the images with others to see if they agree with your choice, they rarely do!

Irish Trees and Towns

As it’s pissing it down today and I have absolutely no photos to share with you, I thought that for today’s post I would share an article written by a club member a few years back.

It was written by one of the founding members of our society, Victor Corbett. Victor is a fluent Gaelic speakers and had mentioned at a club meeting that many of the place names in Northern Ireland had their meaning linked to trees in the Irish language.  We asked him to write this down for us to share with all our members, and that is what you can read below. For those who follow this blog with a Gaelic background, be it Irish, Scottish or Welsh, I thought you might find it interesting….

Following the very interesting and informative discussion on Native Trees at a Society meeting, it occurred to me that where better to identify truly native trees than by understanding the meaning of some of our local place names.

 I’ve always had a general interest in this subject – local descriptive place names are generally derived from the Gaelic language originally spoken in NE Ireland and is still widely spoken today in the Western Isles and West coast mainland of Scotland. After all Scotland got its name and language from a tribe called Scotti which lived in the Dalmade area of North Antrim in the 5th & 6th Centuries. Some of the ‘Scots’ emigrated to Argyll and Isley, ousted by Picts and established a nation and language which still exists today, but enough of the history!

In the Dromara area of Mid-Down where I spent much time among the farming community there was a local hill called Singer’s Mountain – its proper name was Mullaghdrin, meaning the hill-top of Blackthorn, drinn being the Gaelic for Blackthorn. To this day it’s still a tangle of Blackthorn scrub.

Not far away in the opposite direction is the Townland of Aughnaskeagh – the fields of the Hawthorn. Any name containing Skeagh or Skea indicates the presence of Hawthorn, eg. Lisnaskea – the hill fort of Hawthorn.

The Oak is widely referred to in many place names containing Derry from Doire, an Oak tree.Londonderry itself, Edenderry, the hill brow of Oaks, and Deramore in the Malone area of Belfast is derived from Doire Mor, the great Oak that used to exist in the area.

A few others for consideration :-

Alder : Fearna

eg. Cloughfern, the rock of the Alders

Birch : Beithe

eg. Beaghmore, the big Birches.

Rowan : Caorunn

gets its name from the second syllable in the Gaelic name for Mountain Ash.

Yew : An Iubhar,

Pronounced An-your-uh. Easily becomes Newry, also Ballynure.

Holly : Cuileann

eg. Slieve Gullion, Collin Glen.

Willow : Seileaeh

eg. Ballysallagh, the town of the Willows. Willow is often referred to in country areas as the Selly – Very similar to the botanical name Salix.

One tree I can’t identify yet in any place name known to me is the Scots Pine – Giubhais, but if you know of any place name ending in ‘ooish’, you’ve probably located one.

Caledonie, the poetic name for Scotland, I suggest is derived from ‘Coille Donn’, the brown wood, which describes the old Caledonion Pine forest, originally widespread over the Scottish Highlands. Caledon is also a local name in Co. Armagh.

So keep your eyes and ears open and some of our peculiar place names might give you a clue to original locations of native trees. Finally, have you ever given any thought to the place where we hold our meetings? Cregagh, its from Creagach meaning a rocky place and there’s still a Rocky road up the hill there.

 Victor Corbett

Another Weather Update

I hope he’s wrong, but I bet he isn’t!! 😦

Winter Image Corkie Elm

You many remember this Cork Bark Elm ORIGINAL POST

This is it now without leaf. A little tidy up required but I’m very happy with the ramification. A nice pot in the Spring will make a big difference.

Sunrise on Sunday

Took these this morning as I went out the door for my Sunday walk.

As it was very windy with sea spray everywhere on my walk, I kept the camera in the bag. Then, right at the end of the walk, I spotted Alien Spaceships attacking Belfast Harbour!! Well, it looked like something out of Stargate until I spotted the Kite Surfers underneath 🙂

Juniper Cascade reworking

Michael came over to my place yesterday to finish off some work we were doing to his cascade Juniper. This tree had been neglected for a few years and a few branches were weak and one had died due to a strimmer incident!

This is it before any work.

The main task to complete was to get the branch structure sorted. There where a few poor branches that needed attention. The tip of the cascade was very weak and straight and this was removed and replaced by the branch above. I also wanted to compact the apex and bring it over the base of the tree more. No fine wiring was carried out. We where not looking to create a finished image. The continued recovery of the health of the tree was more important.

Michael’s not new to bonsai and was keen for his own ideas and views to discussed. This became a great tree to talk through. In many place branches require back budding and in a few other spots we need extension growth. This is the tree after our work.

A shari startiung at the base can be taken the length of the trunk connecting with a few other deadwood areas.

Depending on health and if a suitable pot can be found, it may be repotted into a more suitable pot next year. Here is a pot virtual.

and with foliage added. Perhaps a tad heavy but you get the idea.

Before, after and virtual all together.

Ed Bonsai Blog

I’m always looking for another decent bonsai blog to follow and I thought I would share this one with you. Click on the image below to visit the blog of Ed van der Reek. I have also added this to my favourite blogs list in my sidebar.

 You can also visit Ed’s Website HERE

A stage further…

I posted this Korean Hornbeam last week and as you can see, it’s moved on in its Autumn colour. It should be stripped by the end of next week and ready for Winter protection.

Chuhin Maple Winter Image

It took a while but my little Chuhin Japanese Maple is now finally without leaves. Here it is before being tucked away for the Winter under cover. I’ll maybe do a a series of pics showing it throughout 2011 over the weekend.