Spring In Close

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Scilla siberica

This one keeps on giving, continuous flowering for over a month now and the seed pods now add to the look. Pot by Magic Ceramics

My Month Viewing Mirai Live

I’ve had the pleasure of watching the first four Tuesday Live Stream events on Mirai Live.com and thought it was time to deliver my thoughts on what I found.

Ryan, and the Mirai Team (I now feel I know you all from my online lurking 🙂 ) gave me access to the Tier 3 level of the stream back on the 14th March allowing me to view, chat, watch and learn from one of the best bonsai teachers in the Western world.

Folks, this is without doubt the biggest shift in recent times in bonsai learning. No longer are you tied to your geographical location when seeking advice and knowledge. No longer do you need to attend a workshop to learn specific techniques. This is the best single location option for learning there is, and it’s delivered in a well thought out, well structured, high quality production available onto your computer, phone or whatever device you chose to use.

Let me give you a better breakdown of my live stream experience:

Launch Party

I watched the launch party live back on the 14th March. A brave choice to do this live stream from a bar I thought. I had initially thought that it would be all studio work being streamed but the Mirai Team have created a set up that is mobile giving lots more options for content. The opening stream did have a few hiccups with sound which were quickly solved. This was first, and so far, my last experience of the live chat function on the streams. It was nice to chat with others viewing at the same time. I did notice that I was nearly the only European on there, but not surprising considering it was the small hours of the morning. Content was back to back demos with Ryan giving us his usual flowing supply of information.

Kusamono Mastery 

The live stream the following week came from the studio at Mirai with Young Choe delivering a master class on Kusamono. As a big kusamono lover I really enjoyed this session and it was nice to see Ryan taking a back seat and doing a little learning himself. Young created some truly beautiful kusamono and although she was obviously nervous at the start and was limited with the available plant material to hand, she soon got into the way of things. A great stream that I chose to watch on the Thursday from the archive rather than stay up late. I did find myself wanting to ask questions though. Perhaps a good opportunity for a follow up Q&A at an earlier time Ryan?

Spring Fundamentals

The Next stream was live from The Bonsai Society of Portland  meeting. A two hours look at the Bonsai Fundamentals that should be practiced at this time of year. This was delivered both practically in the shape of demonstrating and with the use of a white board. This should not be missed by anyone reading this. Go watch it! It’s even up there in the archive for free – Spring Fundamentals – The content takes an in-depth look at many different aspects such as repotting, feeding, top dressing, pests etc. Ryan will be back at the club once a month delivering on a different fundamental of Bonsai each time. This is worth a subscription alone.

Pine Innovation 

The last steam for my months subscription was all about design, specifically a stunning Ponderosa Pine collected from the Rocky Mountains. Ryan works the tree over a two hour archive video covering his thought process in selecting which bending technique to use. As a studio produced video, this one hits all the right marks. We get to see close up of detailed work in one camera view and then it pans back to allow us to see the full tree tree image as the design comes together. We are not subjected to long periods of watching Ryan wire either. As a well thought out production we get to cut away at several points to see previously recorded work being carried out on the tree. At points, x2 recording is used to speed up the action even further. After viewing the recorded content we return to the live action having skipped some of the more lengthy wiring work. A perfect way to view a demo.

and that’s not all…….

As a Tier 2 or 3 subscriber you get access to the archive videos which actually predate the launch party. Ryan has obviously put the system through a testing period and sitting in the archive are eleven videos awaiting your viewing. These included further studio work on some stunning creations as well as detail species specific information. There’s also a very interesting interview there with David Benavente. There’s another free one there for you to enjoy as well Beech Forest Creation. Give it a watch.

In Conclusion

Simply put, this is Bonsai TV, yes, it’s a pay channel, but the work that has went into the creation of the content is high quality and created by a team of, and I’m guessing here, 6+ (Ryan, Chelsea, Arthur, Kendall, Troy and others) and worth every penny.

The tag line of  “Design |Grow| Understand: Build your skills with Mirai” , says it all. Learn sound horticulture and impeccable technique. This is a visible, honest education in bonsai.

I tried to think of negatives, but there wasn’t much to latch onto. I think sometimes the content for me, being based in Europe, can be a little too much orientated toward native American species, but the crossover in many cases still makes this content relevant and educational. Also, as the streaming takes place in the evenings PST I’m in bed and therefore miss out on the chance to take part in the live chat. That’s it, I can’t think of anything else that niggles.

So am I in?

Yes 🙂 I just signed up for Tier 3 paying monthly. Although I could have gotten discount by paying annually, I have opted for monthly for now until I see if the benefits off Tier 3 over the Tier 2 option pay off. As I don’t get much use out of live stream chat I was on the verge of opting for Tier 2, however, the extended archive videos and extra followup content have got me opting for Tier 3 for now and I’ll see how much is made available. I would recommend Tiers 2 or 3 to anyone falling too far outside the PST timeline. As Tier 1 doesn’t have access to the archive content, this is a non-starter for me unless you live in the States.

I hope this review of Mirai live has helped those thinking of jumping on the Mirai wagon. I have chatted to a few friends who have been quick to sign up on my recommendation and their feedback has been as positive as my own. I feel that the content is suitable for all levels, no matter how advanced, we all have something to learn.

Finally, thanks to Ryan for giving me the access last month, and to his team who I will hopefully meet in June when my travels finally take me to Mirai. See you all then. I can’t feckin wait 🙂

Overwhelmed With Gratitude!

I blogged last night looking for ideas for my road trip to the USA and just want to say a big thank you to everyone who responded. I have all sorts of offers from simple advice to offers from people wanting to give up their time to show me around even offering me a place to stay! I will reply to you all, there is a lot of you 😀 , once I get my timings sorted out and see what my long suffering wife will put up with along the road. She’s being a star about it all so far.

What a great thing the bonsai community is. It never ceases to amaze me what kindness is out there. It’s one of the main reasons I keep blogging. Thank you all.

West Coast USA Road Trip – Help Required!

This is a shout out to all those who follow along over on the West coast of the United States.

I’m over on holiday this May/June  starting off in LA and then travelling  north with a final stop in Seattle. I have a basic route showing my stops below. I think the only one missing is Pismo Beach.

I was hoping to pick your brains about good ‘tree places’ on my travels. That’s big trees, old trees and of course small trees.

There are so many places for sequoia/redwoods that I’m bamboozled! At the moment it looking like Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon as my stops. I had hoped to make it over to see the Bristlecone Pines but the timings look to have made that difficult bar a driving all night type scenario.

I’m stopping to see the old Monterrey Cypresses at where else… Monterey.

I’m hoping to stop with Michael Hagedorn on my trip and I’m staying at Bonsai Mirai for a few nights. Pacific Rim Bonsai Museum and Bonsai Northwest are on my final leg.

What am I missing guys?

Is there anything between San Francisco and Sun River? I have a little more flexibility there to fit more in 🙂

I’m open to suggestions in the comments section or send me a private message via email to bonsaieejit@gmail.com.

Mame Fuchsia

A bit of a surprise to see this little one flowering so early.

Go West… And Repot

I posted last year about a great chap living over in the west of Ireland with a collection of bonsai 40 years + in the making. Peter Flint, a long time bonsai enthusiast, now in his 80’s had been working through his trees catching up on some long overdue repotting. However, he had a few that were just to big for him to manage. Derek and myself popped over to give him a hand. When I say popped over, it was a 9 hour round trip for me, but I’d hate to see the trees suffer from lack of hands.

Now, Peter has his own way of doing things regarding mixes etc and even though I didn’t agree with him, who am I to change what’s been working for him for 40 odd years. First up was a tall cedar.

Then a great Hinoki Cypress.

After a fun day with Peter, Derek and I went to check out some great local yamadori, mostly hawthorn and blackthorn. Most weren’t collectable but I did find time to experiment with a few air layers.

Thanks for a great day Peter, and the pizza 🙂 and to Derek for good company on the trip, it just flew in.

He’ll Be Missed

Today, I attended the funeral of Bob Brooks.

Although I’ve already shared this on the club page I have sat today and felt that I needed to add a little something here on my own blog.

When I joined the NIBS in 1993 Bob was one or the old guard even then. In his 70’s sitting in the audience at meetings chatting with who ever wanted to share time with him. As I got to know him I found his fun loving attitude was just a the top coat on a man with much to tell.

He joined the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, altering his date of birth to allow him to join underage. He saw action in Asia and on his return to home after the war he joined Royal Engineers seeing service in the Army as well. I loved chatting to Bob hearing some of the old stories. I found him an inspiration with how he deals with seeing things that most would have struggled with. I know I did.

As a young club member I soon found myself taking meetings and Bob was a great mentor, always on hand to praise my efforts and point out were we could improve as a club. When I took a place on the committee and later the offices of Secretary and Chairman, Bob was a font of knowledge on all things club and committee orientated. Always there to run problems past and get his view on how we could dodge a bullet or two.

Last year we were delighted to have Bob officially open our Club’s Bonsai 30 event. He was genuinely delighted to do this despite recent health issues. He dressed for the occasion and did us proud.

I’m pretty sure heaven will have the best Roses ever this Summer.

Bob, thank you for everything.

Ayr Bonsai

I had the great pleasure to be invited to talk at the Ayr Bonsai Group last weekend.

Popping over on the boat from Belfast on Saturday morning, Jeff Banning, club convener and SBA President, collected me and we spent the day looking at trees in gardens.

A great Scottie in a poor pic on a dull day.

English Elm with great character.

A Blue Cedar, one of my favourite trees from the visit.

Jeff and Ian chewing the fat.

A Scottish National Collection tree brought back into great health by Ian’s hard work and care.

 

Another Scottish National Collection tree above. Not a great photo in the rain, but a stunning tree.

One of my favourite trees of the visit above. A stunning wee Scottie in an Ian Baillie pot.

A little wet but this didn’t spoil my fun looking at some really nice bonsai. A great meal out with some of the members on the Saturday night at Ayr India Restaurant.

Sunday was the meeting day and Jeff and I undertook the long arduous walk to the hall, must have been at least 200 metres. On the way we past the birth place of Robert Burns some real wabi sabi going on there with the moss on the thatched roof.

The meeting hall hall was also a stunning location to give a talk. This is it before the members arrived.

I was kept busy with my talk on Bonsai design in the morning moving onto a tree critique in the afternoon. I failed to photograph some of the beautiful bonsai brought along for the sesssion. Some trees more than 30 years in the making and showing great age. I did manage to snap a quick selfie as we were packing up sorry to all those I missed in the pic.

A busy day and feedback was great. Hard task to deliver a talk to a group with such a wide range of ability and keep everyone entertained.

A few notes of personal thanks…

Thanks to all those members who attended and brought so many trees for me to see.

A big thank you to Peter and Ian for letting me visit your homes and view your collections. Trees to be proud of.

and best for last, to Jeff and Helen for putting me up for the night and making me feel so welcome.

 

It’s Time: Mirai Live!

Unless you’ve been sleeping for the last month you can’t have missed the buzz around Mirai Live. Ryan Neil and his Team at Mirai have been building towards it’s launch tonight.

I was delighted when I was offered review access to see what it’s all about and I’ll be sharing my experience with you here over the next month.

First impressions: I was so excited to see what was waiting for me on signing in and I wasn’t disappointed. Ryan has already populated the archive section with some videos even before the official launch. If these are a snapshot of what’s to come, then I’m in. Great quality, top notch info that you can view again and again. Here’s what it’s all about….

On March 14th, 2017 –  Bonsai Mirai is releasing Mirai Live – a cutting-edge online educational platform where you can learn the skills to design, grow, and understand bonsai like never before.

During weekly live streams, you can interact with bonsai professional Ryan Neil and artists from around the world. With Mirai Live’s chat function, you can directly ask and access the secrets to designing and growing robust trees in realtime.

Accessible anytime, anyplace in HD from your smartphone (iOS, Android), tablet, or desktop computer (Mac/PC), Mirai Live has an ever-expanding video archive for you to re-watch and build your bonsai skills.

Mirai Live is designed to accommodate every skill-level in bonsai. We offer you a wide range of knowledge, from nuts-and-bolts techniques to high-level design concepts. Whether you’ve been practicing bonsai for decades or are simply intrigued by the art form, Mirai Live will reorient the way you experience and practice bonsai.

With various membership levels and pricing tiers, what used to be exclusive knowledge will now be yours for the taking. When you approach a stumbling block in bonsai, you now have a place to get your questions answered. With Mirai Live, you will have the tools to maximize every tree you put on your turntable.

We will teach you what no one else can. Join us Live.

 

Design, Grow, Understand

Build your skills with Mirai Live

I’m looking forward to tonight’s launch and all that it brings. I get the feeling that bonsai is taking a huge step into the modern world and one that will be there for everyone to see. Best wishes to the Mirai team in this new endeavour.