Bay Area Bonsai Associates 34th Annual Exhibit

One to One : Scot’s Pine

Another one to one today, this time helping out with a tricky repot of a Scots Pine. I love this tree! It’s been in a wooden box for a few years to increase vigour after a few years dealing with Needle Cast. I helped with the first styling of this tree back on 11th September 2001, an easy date to remember due to the tragedy that unfolded as we finished the tree.

This was the tree today.


And after a tidy up and old needle removal…


Then the repot



and the result


Over exposure but kinda cool all the same …





It’s been nice to keep a connection with this tree over the years. I even looked back in my files and found some older photos.

September 2001

Scots Pine 2001

March 2002

Scots pine 6 Mar 2002

And a virtual image I made back in 2002. Not too far off the mark.

Scots pine virtual

Stephen reworking the tree back in 2004

October 2003 to January 2004 091

October 2003 to January 2004 078

2011 with Stephen for scale. The tree isn’t really that big, Stephen is tiny!

DSC_0327 (2)

Being inspected by Peter Warren in 2012


One to One : Zelkova Group

Had another one to one session on Tuesday night, this time helping to get this Zelkova group planting on the right track. This is a very natural looking group put together last year after the trees had been field grown for a number of years by a previous owner. The group needed a serious working through planning for the best approach for each tree and branch. We had some die back to deal with and a few straight branches to sort out.

This was it last April after putting it together.

This was it on Tuesday night. Extension growth has been cut back a few times over the last growing season.


This is it after pruning last night with it’s new owner. Still some branches in need of work but care needs to be taken not to lose the naturalness of this image. Another year in the training box gaining vigour will allow for more detailed work next Spring and perhaps a pot.


Signs of Spring

Some signs that Spring is reaching my trees.

Trident Maple


Japanese Larch








Mud Walk

Sunday was our regular walk in the local countryside, this time from the Lead mines in Ards along the Clandeboye Way to Helen’s Bay, about 7 miles. I rarely do the first bit of this walk as it’s mucky, but memories fade regarding this issue and we gave it another go. You guessed it, a mud hole! This is one of the old chimneys from the Lead mines.


This is the state of the paths due to scramblers cutting the shite out of the whole place!!


Helen’s Tower below. An exact replica of this is at Thiepval in Northern France at the site where local men fighting in the 36th Ulster division lost their lives in the battle of the Somme. They training on this hillside before being sent to War.



Some signs of Spring.

Local trees, an old wood.



A laid Hedge, done the old way.


Skinny Beech, but nice.


Some Recent Viewings

Some videos I have watched recently on Youtube. It’s Saturday night now. Pop open a bottle of beer and relax.

2015 89th Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition– Part 2

Valavanis Bonsai Blog


Part 2 of Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition was held on February 10-13, 2015 at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in Tokyo, Japan, following a day closed where 181 bonsai displays were replaced with all new bonsai, except for the four special displays. The Japan Suiseki Exhibition opened on the closed day and the Ueno Green Club sales area was also open for visitors.



These two views may quickly seem similar to Part 1, however all the trees are new. However under close examination a few of the companion plantings were identical, but slightly rotated. I’m not certain because my personal study of Part 2 has not been completed yet, but I think I remember seeing a few display tables from Part 1.


Japanese five-needle pine, Pinus parviflora


Gardenia, Gardenia jasmoindes


Zuisho Japanese five-needle pine, Pinus parviflora ‘Zuisjo.’ Perhaps the reason for the increased number of this choice cultivar is because most…

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One to One: Repotting Session

Saturday was another one to one session for me this time helping to repot some tricky trees.

This Hawthorn collected from a garden by Ben a few years back was one of the first trees tackled. A decision had to be made about a heavy long root that would dictate what pot it would fit into.


First this tree moss covering the lower trunk had to be removed. I hate this stuff. It gets in under rough bark and can cause it to lift off.


We then had to wash out the old mix and any original field soil. This allowed us to see exactly what had to be reduced and allowed us to see that the heavy root could be removed without putting too much stress on the tree. It had done well under Ben’s care and plenty of fine root was in evidence.


My handy root washing system 🙂


And this is the tree potted up at it’s new angle.


Next is a Shohin Cotoneaster. The current pot is too heavy and clunky for the tree.


Ben has this little Epimedium accent in a nice Erin pot and he thought it was a better option for the Cotoneaster.


I think he was right, works for me, especially as the tree fills out further. DSC_0308

This little pine was moved from a flower pot over into this new home. Early days but interesting project.DSC_0315

This Larch from a previous one to one styling was brought along to be repotted at it’s new angle.





This big Juniper was actually first one repotted. It’s a real odd ball of a tree but has been fun to play around with.




This literati Pine also got a move from a flower pot. Early days again for it but going to be really nice in a few years.


A busy but very productive session.

Our visit to Jean-Paul Polmans garden.

Andys shohin bonsai

After the fun of the Noelanders weekend we left on the Monday morning for Jean-Paul Polmans garden just a 15 minute drive from Gent. Not knowing what to expect from the garden we entered through the car port and faced with a bueautiful garden layout very much in the japanese theme. The whole layout and attention to detail is so well done.

The garden is divided in half and the display benches are in the second half along with a huge work room and a covered section with large pot rack behind.

So many outstanding trees that I would love to have taken home. A huge thank…

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