Peter Flint Found!

I posted the above photo yesterday showing this great character, Peter Flint. I was given the opportunity to visit him a few weeks ago and jumped at the chance. Peter had been in the UK bonsai scene up until roughly 15 years ago when he retired and moved to County Galway in the West of Ireland. He brought his large collection of bonsai with him. Over the years he has reduced this collection to match his changing circumstances but his passion for bonsai has never dropped. I had planned to spend a few hours with him chatting about bonsai but more so about the old days of bonsai in the UK. A few hours turned into nearly seven before I hit the road home! What a fantastic day we had swapping stories and catching Peter up on the last 15 years of the bonsai scene. We knew many of the same people, some who have moved up the ladder and some who have sadly passed on. Peter was involved in the first days of Fobbs and the National Collection in Birmingham as well as being a founder member of the Bedfordshire Bonsai Society.

Peter gave me the tour of his remaining bonsai and showed me the meticulous records he keeps for each tree showing when and where he bought it, or where the seed was bought from. Seeing mature bonsai started from cuttings or seed back in the 70’s was a pleasure, nearly more so than the bought trees that were still in his hands.

He has a fantastic Hinoki Cypress that has a great history, a story a half hour in the telling. I tried to persuade him to exhibit it in our Clubs Bonsai 30 Exhibition in September but I’m still waiting on an answer. 😉 The tree had been awarded a certificate of Special Merit by Fobbs back in 1992 at Dunstable. I told Peter I’d ask if anyone had any old photos of the tree from back then as he doesn’t have one. If anyone reading this was there or may know someone who has old photos from 1992 still knocking around, can you please ask around for me? The tree was also one of the first Batch to be loaned to the National Collection in Birmingham before they had permanent exhibits. Some photos of it there might be knocking around too. This is the tree below along with the certificate from the exhibition.

Peter showing us his tree records.

Some of his remaining trees. A Japanese White Pine on a Rock.

Purple Beech from seed

Red Maple bought in 1984 from Lodders

Cedar from garden Centre stock.

Birch from seed planted in the 1970

Another garden Centre Cedar 50 years in the making

I would just like to thank Peter for allowing me to visit and to Derek for doing the driving. Peter is a real character and sharp as a tack. I could spend a week with him just chatting about bonsai and his experiences. I am delighted that I had the chance to chat with him and it won’t be the last time either. If you used to know Peter and want to get in contact with him for a catch up, just CONTACT ME and I’ll try andput you in touch.

 

Lost & Found

This gentleman disappeared from the UK bonsai scene roughly 15 years ago, and I found him a few weeks back hiding in the wilds of County Galway. Anyone recognise him? 🙂 Not looking to shabby for 81 years old.

He’s still got a few Bonsai around.

5 Life Lessons from Bonsai

I loved this, perhaps because my own boys are moving on with their own lives and all I can do is wish them my best.

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It’s a beautiful Sunday morning, the sun is just rising up, birds are singing, it’s going to be a great day.  Although it’s Sunday, I have a full day ahead but I feel the need to slow down and think.  This blog has given me an outlet to do some of that.  I really feel blessed and grateful to have found a hobby/activity such as bonsai that have given me back so much.  My wish is that more people will discover bonsai and experience the many potential benefits that comes with it.

I have been thinking about writing a series of life lessons from bonsai but have been putting it off.   Now, I feel that the timing maybe more appropriate.  Here where I am Washington State USA, many high school kids have graduated and will be moving on to go to college, military service, work, take some time off etc.  In fact…

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Worth a Read…

Jelle Ferwerda has posted this interesting read on his site regarding Zylella Fastidiosa, a nasty bacteria doing the rounds of parts of Europe at the moment.

Click here to read his article.

Great bonsai at Mirai

Last batch

Magic Ceramics

Just uploading few photos of last batch of the pots.

Best regards,

Maciej

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Glaze firing

Magic Ceramics

Just finished glaze firing of the last batch of  pots, everything looks good so far, but the pots are still to hot to be removed from the kiln, so more photos will follow. Just a quick look inside the kiln.

Best regards,

Maciej

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You learn Something New Every Day

Well, you should strive to at the very least. When I was offered the chance to review Bonsai Empire‘s latest joint effort with Bjorvala Bonsai Studio, ‘Bonsai Intermediate Course’, I was keen to learn and intrigued as to what the course contained.

Is there a place for this on-line learning concept within bonsai?

Would I learn anything new?

Is it good value for money?

The course is available here  from today, but I’ve been able to check out the content over the last couple of days and form an opinion. The deal was I’d be honest in my review, this isn’t a free promotion and Oscar was happy with that. After all the hard work put in by Bjorn and him, they are  probably confident in their product.

I think the best way to describe the course is to walk you through my experience of using it. I had already viewed the trailer which you can watch below. It’s obvious from this that the production quality was going to be high.

I was given details on how to register and the process is painless, an easy interface with easy payment methods and an invoice received via email. I then gave the course format a look and saw some things that caught my interest and a few that I thought might not be of much benefit to me. Eg. Dwarf Kumquat. I doubt I’ll ever have one of these in my collection but I thought, in the interest of a fair review, I’d need to watch it just in case 🙂

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Looking down at the course curriculum I got a better idea of the actual breakdown of the content and could see that some species such as Junipers, Pines and Maples did still hold the majority of the allotted time. I was tempted to jump straight into the ones that interested me the most but I behaved myself and and started at the welcome video. As expected production quality was top notch, indeed it is throughout all the video content lasting 4 1/2 hours.

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During my first sitting I watched the first 6 videos. I hadn’t watched any of the content of the previous Beginners course and I wondered if that would mean I’d get sections that referred to older content that I’d missed, and cause confusion or knowledge gaps for people jumping straight in to the Intermediate course. Within minutes my question was answered with previous learning being mentioned and covered again to bring new users up to date. I watched one of the best explanations on how to wire with ‘step by step’ clear instructions showing  how and why. I show people how to wire on a regular basis and I saw several teaching techniques that I’m going to use myself to simplify the process.

When I started into the juniper content I was hooked. All you need to know for each species is there to view. Great information on Polar Auxin Transport explaining clearly why it’s important to understand PAT when it comes to recovering the health of weak junipers. This is just one of many learning moments that happen frequently during the course.

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I’ll not start going into a constant blow by blow account of my experience from each topic or species video clip, indeed I haven’t even managed to view all the content yet. I constantly found myself stopping and clicking back to repeat certain sections to ensure I took it all in. The audio from Bjorn has been well scripted to ensure every single sentence is concise and packed with learning and is often worth listening to several times. Or maybe I’m just slow to take it in the first time 🙂

The highlights of the course for me were the various species guides with some great info on care with Junipers and Pines being the stand out lectures.

The negatives were few and probably petty on my part. As you probably guessed all the species are Japan- centric. No Larch or Hawthorn for example but then what else would you expect. That said, much of the learning can be transferred to other species. A few of the Progression lectures were a little slow paced for me in places, but mostly it was only because I had seen that content before elsewhere. The music at times is a little out there but I even found myself foot tapping away. That’s it, all pretty minor and if anyone else can tell me a negative, I’d be interested to hear it.

Getting back to the three questions I asked myself at the start of this blog post.

Would I learn anything new?

The short answer is yes. I’ve been playing with bonsai for 23 years, I’ve worked with numerous bonsai artists and professionals in this time and I’m always amazed at just how little I actually know. Bonsai is a massive area to study with that fantastic mix of art and horticulture and a never ending knowledge base to explore. I think many people will see the term Intermediate and wonder what that actually means in bonsai learning terms. One man’s intermediate level is another man’s beginners level or even expert. I guess you’ll have to judge that for yourself to your own standards. What I can say is that the content of this course inspires me to study harder and learn more. I took copious notes during the videos to help retain what I had viewed and even teach others.  The beauty of the course is it’s a one off payment with content that you can return to again and again.

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Is it good value for money?

Ok, so $50 full price or in real money to me £34 ish. This gets you well over 4 hours of content and learning from a Japanese trained bonsai professional and produced to top level we have come to expect from Bjorn as previously evidenced in his Bonsai Art of Japan series on Youtube. You can also ask questions direct via the site and take part in discussions with other content users.

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Is there a place for this on-line learning concept within bonsai?

The world’s a changing, magazines still have a place and the newer books especially the gallery ones will still be good to have to top up our learning and enjoyment of bonsai. But I think most people reading this now will probably get most of their bonsai ‘Fix’ browsing the net. I personally sit and wade through photo after photo on-line looking for styling inspiration or seeking information on some aspect or other regarding bonsai culture. We can’t believe everything we read on-line sadly, but here is a product for bonsai learning that I feel fills a gap. Expert instruction you can trust, with an easy interface made to a high quality that you can view again and again and ask questions that arise. What’s not to like. I can only imagine the efforts that have gone into creating this and what is being asked for the content is small compared to the learning available. There are people out there learning to create bonsai on their own who are not in any club or taking any professional workshops, this course is made for them. There are also people out there learning bonsai in clubs from people who have picked up bad habits and teach inaccurate technique. This course can be used as a reset so you can recognise BS when you hear it 😉

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I guess it’s safe to say that I was impressed with the course. Well done Bjorn and Oscar, and probably a host of other people who assisted in the creation of these videos. Keep up the good work. The question is, will there be an ‘Advanced’ course? Jeez I hate these ability level course names 😀

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bisque firing

Magic Ceramics

Just finished bisque firing of last small batch of pots, there are a few bonsai pots,a few kusamono trays and a few tiles. All they need  now is some glaze and oxides wash and then back to the kiln on Saturday night. I will keep you updated.

Best regards,

Maciej.

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Esprit Bonsai – Soldanella

Another great article from my plant swapping buddy Xavier in Esprit Bonsai issue 82. And even better, my Soldanella in a Magic Ceramics pot made an appearance.

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A nice article on the Pacific Bonsai Museum too, hoping to visit myself next year at some point.

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