Taiga Workshop

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The Next Generation

I’m still recovering from our clubs event on Saturday. We were looking to promote bonsai to the public and seek new members but also give our current members a good day out. We sought funding from Belfast City Council and their Parks department. If you hold a stand alone event in one of their parks they will offer grants to fund this. We applied and were successful. We called the event ‘The Bonsai Experience 2015’

One of the aspects we hoped to address was getting young people into bonsai. We offered out 20 free children’s workshop places on the day for ages between 5 and 16 years. We added this to our promotion of the event and received bookings for half the places prior to Saturday. The rest of the places we filled in the first hour or so. Kids and parents alike just loved this! So did we 🙂 It was my favourite part of the day seeing young people absolutely engrossed in what they were being told and then transferring that to their own tree which they got to keep at the end.

I know other clubs have done a little of this around the world, I’ve seen it on the net but honestly, I feel that this should be good practice for any club looking to grow. Not easy to run, health and Safety is always a concern but kids remain under parental supervision throughout and I think the parents get as much out of it as the kids! We are lucky to have a school teacher on our committee who ran the sessions and as I have experience working with children in my own job, I was able to help out at busy times.

Worth noting that posters and flyers have a limited use in this era of social media. By far the most effective means of promoting an event these days is via Twitter and Facebook, especially if you are seeking new younger members!

All the photos from the event are on multiple posts on the club website  but just look at this selection below and tell me how it made you smile 🙂















One to One: Hawthorn

Had a long one to one session today with the main focus being on the Hawthorn species and a few Maples thrown in for good measure.

This one is really coming on since being worked in a session last July.






This was the tree in July last year. Coming along nicely.



Taiga Taiga burning bright

British Shohin Bonsai

British Shohin Bonsai are delighted to announce that the headliner for the Spirit of Shohin exhibition next April will be none other than Taiga Urushibata.

The son of Nobuichi Urushibata,  Taiga is the second generation of Urushibatas working in Taisho-en,  the family nursery in Shizuoka, Japan.

While Taiga grew up immersed in bonsai tradition and art, it was with another Japanese Bonsai great that he honed the skills learnt originally from his father. In 2000 he became apprentice to Mr Masahiko Kimura and in the six years he worked with the great master,  Taiga went on to develop skills at a very high level. Indeed Mr Kimura always rated Taiga as one of the best apprentices he had ever had.

Taiga returned to Shizuoka in 2006 to work alongside his father at Taisho-en.  Now an  established bonsai artist in his own right,   Taiga has done  workshops and demos in Japan…

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The Burren

On Sunday Phil and I had a flying visit through the Burren, an area of outstanding natural beauty just North of where we held the workshop. 75% of Native Irish plants and animals can be found here in what accounts for only 1% of the landmass. It’s a highly protected area for obvious reasons and it was great to see even just the small part of it we did. Sorry for the photos as most were taken on the move. This is also the home of father Ted for those who followed the series. I would love to go back and spend a few days here exploring.





Valavanis Bonsai Blog



The National Bonsai Hall of Fame has been established to identify and honor individuals who have achieved excellence in the art of bonsai and who have contributed to the advance­ment of bonsai in the United States. The National Bonsai & Penjing Museum wants to recognize those who have dedicated their lives to bonsai in the United States and to fostering a greater appreciation for American bonsai. This recognition is presented at the annual National Bonsai Foundation reception which includes a plaque and award.

Nominees must have been a resident of the United States and have made significant contributions to the art of bonsai in the country. This is an excellent opportunity to recognize individuals who have sig­nificantly contributed to American bonsai. Nominations for induction into the National Bonsai Hall of Fame may be made by anyone in writing and can get specific informa­tion from curator Jack Sustic at the National…

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Well, perhaps not new beginnings as the Munster Bonsai Club will reach it’s 2nd birthday in a few months time, but our visit to Bunratty and Bud Garden Centre was certainly the start of something good. Ray, the co-owner of the Garden Centre is one of the original Club members and has been a keen supporter of all their efforts to drive bonsai forward in Munster. We suggested that Bud Garden Centre, newly opened in March, might be a good location for a workshop, helping to spread the club over the whole Province so at not to become Cork-centric. Ray embraced the idea and Saturday saw us deliver a successful workshop in Bunratty not just to the regulars, but also three new faces. Great to see Steven, Lottie and Harry joining in for the first time. It was a busy session with lots of trees and we also had the public popping in to see what we were doing.

A big thank you to Ray and Andrew, Bud Owners, for making us so welcome, we look forward to another visit soon.

A few photos that capture the venue and the day. Not many of the trees sadly as I didn’t have much time to play with a camera on the day. First up some of the team, sorry to have missed out Lottie and Harry from this one, but it was taken at the end of the day. The others show the day and the amazing location in Bunratty.



















Bunratty 20/06/2015

Munster Bonsai Club

Another lovely day with Ian and Phil, in lovely spot – Bud garden center , just next door to Bunratty Castle.

Displaying and sallying area.

Some lovely materials for sale

and accents with lovely pots

and as usually we started with trees critique

and then all hands on deck, get to work!!

Sorry I have been too busy  so not many pictures. Even not pictures with trees after workshop 😦

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Road Trip

And so it begins….


The girlie bag on the left is Phil’s over nighter 🙂

Bunratty or Bust

This is probably the longest I’ve gone without updating the blog (a whole 10 days!) Life’s been busy.

Today I’m packing up a few trees and accents to take along to a workshop with the Munster Bonsai Club being held tomorrow in Bunratty. A new location for us as we usually end up in the Cork area but we our being hosted by Bud Garden Centre in the beautiful town of Bunratty. This gives folk from the West coast a chance to come along on the day and take part in the workshop or just watch for a while and see what it’s all about.

Looking forward to catching up with the Munster guys and having some craic in the land of Father Ted. Reading this and live nearby? Come join us. I then have The Bonsai Experience to look forward to next weekend!


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bud bonsai flyer