One to One with John

Another day with trees in Dublin, this time with John is his beautiful garden.

Some pics.

One to One with Derek

A few snaps from today’s one to one with Derek in Dublin.

Grand Tour September 2017

It’s been full on lately with both bonsai and family and the blog has taken a back seat as a result. I’m now playing catch up and thought it only right to share some of the photos from my trip down to Munster to do a few one to one sessions with the folk in the Munster Bonsai Club. A more enthusiastic bunch I’ve yet to meet. I was also lucky to time my visit with their first ever exhibition which, for me, was the highlight of the week.

First up was Mark’s place. A shorter session than usual but we worked late and managed to wire the primary structure into two field grown trees. A first styling for a Japanese Red  and a Black Pine.

The lower branch was left to develope into a second trunk and also improve inverse taper. It can always be removed at a later date.

The next day was at Demot’s, again a first styling on a tall Scots Pine and some tweaking on a few Junipers.

He even gave me a tour of Cobh, the town where he lives and the world’s Second largest Natural Harbour.

Day 3 was Piotr’s place and yet another initial styling of a Pine, this time a Lodgepole.

Next was a little Hinoki Cypress that was in need of thinning and a little wiring.

A Japanese White Pine

and then whilst having a few beers… another pine!

Day 4 was with Michael and a change of species, a yew. Not many photos here as I had a limited time period and a lot to discuss as well as work to get done.

Day 5 was at Steve’s place and saw a fair bit of carving both by hand and with power tools. First was this Yew that had been carved previously but showed a lot of tools marks.

And after some work. Further refinement needed on the deadwood, but a step in the right direction.


Some initial carving on a new larch for Steve.


Sadly no finished pics, it was too dark 🙂

Day 6 was the Exhibition and I was delighted to put on a shohin display along with the club members. We set up and had an hour before opening, so we did a critique of the displays with all the club members and exhibitors. I was given a tall Scot’s Pine to style in the demo.

Day 7 was spent with Ray. The main tree was a hinoki cypress that we’d done initial work on 2 years ago. It had grown free for 2 years and was now ready of a new look. We decided to go for a different look that breaks a few rules as far as multi trunk trees go but I feel we created a bonsai that looks like a tree, not a bonsai.





We also did a clearing out of a shohin Chinese Juniper. A nice start.

Day 8, my last day, was with Paul. A lover of Japanese Art and by the look of his garden and house, all things Japanese.

Room with a view. A truly inspiring place to stay.

Paul wanted some help with his niwaki style Pine in his garden. Starting at the top and working down 🙂

Afterwards we wired his Japanese White Pine making a few changes here and there to remove faults while keeping the original image that he liked when it was bought. A badly wire scarred apex had to be removed and replaced.

A massive thank you to all the guys who made this tour possible. I was looked after so well at every stop and the craic was mighty. The drive shown by this club is inspiring and this is only their 4th year. To deliver an exhibition to this standard, AND, there where trees there from 10 members, not all from a few with the higher level trees, shows what a fun club they are to be involved with. It was great to meet the newer members at the exhibition and get a chance to talk bonsai and share ideas for the future.

I look forward to seeing you all again soon and exploring new opportunities in 2018.

The leftovers

Last week I did a bit of a tour of Ireland working with some of the chaps from the Munster Bonsai Club and even the odd Leinster man thrown in. I had a great week and was delighted to spend quality time with these guys. As I always say, Bonsai is as much about friendship to me as it is about the trees.

I did post each day last week but that was only a few quick snaps from my phone using the wordpress app. I’ve had time to wade through my camera and have added the leftover photos here for viewing. No order really, all a bit random, but I feel they capture the mood of the week. Thanks again folks for all your hospitality and for the kindness and understanding shown by your better halves. They all deserve a medal putting up with us lot for husbands 🙂

It was an awkward time to deliver work on many of the trees but we still managed some good work nudging trees in the right direction. Much planning was done for the future and hopefully some of the reasons why, when and how we do the work are a little clearer. Here’s the photos.

One to One: Hornbeam & Zelkova

Here’s a couple of pieces I worked on last week during a one to one session. Both the before shots are slightly older photos but give a good view of the changes made.

First up is a hornbeam that was getting it’s first proper wiring. Tree has a nice trunk and we wanted to get it started on the path to make a nice deciduous image.


And then this Zelkova group got taken out of it’s training box and potted into a more suitable pot. Two new smaller trees were added at the rear to help the image.


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.



One to One – Field Maple

I had a one to one session on Tuesday night and was rather taken with this Field Maple, Acer Campestre, that was one of 4 trees worked on in the session. The tree had been purchased from Kaizen Bonsai a few years back and some of Mr Potters carving was clearly evident. I think this species in under used here in the UK. Yes, I know it a little coarse in the branch structure, but the species bring so much more to the table in the way of character.DSC_0331


We were limited to what we could do with the tree in leaf but were able to make a few decisions and remove a few unwanted branches. A partial defoliation was done, a bit early but not an issue with this species. A new front was found and a slight change in potting angle for next Spring. The tree will get a full wiring in the Autumn and will be a very nice rugged image in the years to come.


One to One: Mixed Bag

I had Ben over for a one to one last Saturday with a van load of trees to discuss and work on, always an enjoyable session with Ben.

These are a few of the trees covered on the day. First up a beech that got a pruning, thread grafting and a repot.










This Beech group on a slate had a few adjustment made to the slate so it didn’t look like it had just been stolen off a roof!




And finally a Yamadori Hawthorn getting it’s first shaping. A strange one to do but we opted to try and recreate an actual Hawthorn image that can be seen throughout Ireland. Typically seen growing the in the middle of a field with cattle lying under it. I suggested this to Ben as a possible accent feature but thankfully he’s wise enough to know that this would be tacky 🙂








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.