Sitka Spruce

My Sitka Spruce got another wiring, the second time this year. I’ll not be wiring it in Spring again that’s for sure.

2017

2018

2019 before wiring

and after

and back in 2012 as a reference.

and before collection.

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Adam One to One

some recent tweaking and tidying up with Adam’s trees.

Japanese White Pine before and after.

Chinese Juniper before and after

A few others.

 

 

Bjorn Workshop and the 9/11 Scots Pine

A week yesterday, where does the time go! I was taking part in a group Workshop in Belfast with Bjorn Bjorholm. I missed him the last time he visited due to a holiday but this time I grabbed a slot with Belfast Bonsai’s event.

My tree for the day was only a recent addition to my collection but a tree that I have a special connection to. It belonged to my best friend Stephen who was letting a few of his bigger trees go due to the fact that they were bigger than him. Sorry Stephen, I can’t resist 🙂 The tree was originally purchased as raw material from Willowbog Bonsai back in the late 90’s.

I helped Stephen with it’s first styling on 11th September 2001, a date that will forever stay in my memory and why I call the tree the 9/11 Scottie. I can remember standing wiring this tree with Stephen when my wife knocked the window and told us to come inside. We watched the horror unfold.

When Stephen told me he was selling it all these years later I didn’t hesitate to buy it. I have a few trees that have sentimental value to me because of who used to own them but this tree resonates for a different reason. I’ve dealt with a fair bit of stress in my life including Post Traumatic Stress and, for whatever reason, this tree seems to echo back to a time where those involved and survived no doubt have many of the same issues I have. This probably sounds stupid unless you’ve experienced something similar. Anyway, it’s my tree for my reasons and I suppose that’s all that really matters. It seemed fitting for an American Bonsai artist to carry out the work some 18 years later nearly to the day.

This is the tree back in 2001\2.

and a few other pics of it over the years.

and how it was prior to the workshop.

And this is a gallery of the workshop day with my tree.

The finished tree.

A massive thank you to Bjorn. It was pleasing to see that he was as enthusiastic about the tree and result as I was.

A new pot in the Spring more suited to the style and the tree will live on as a memory for me.

 

Developing Deciduous Bonsai Course

Im always happy to review the latest Bonsai Empire course when it hits the internet. This time its Developing Deciduous Bonsai with Mauro Stemberger, Harry Harrington and Walter Pall.

Deciduous work I feel is often under promoted in bonsai circles and I can see this resource being a great addition to what’s available and can be valuable to many bonsai enthusiasts out there.

This course differs in a few ways from the usual Bonsai Empire offerings. Firstly, with three different teachers with three different approaches, we can see that there is more than one way to achieve results. Secondly, the volume of content is higher. Perhaps it’s not as concise as the fundamentals course from Michael Hagedorn or Bjorn’s Bjorholm’s Beginner through to Advanced courses, but this course has its own feel. It’s like getting a front row seat to a lecture or demonstration and being able to sit for 30-40 minutes at a time being entertained. Boil the kettle and get a coffee in hand and sit back.

I haven’t had the time to watch all the content, there’s a lot, but I did get a look at a considerable amount. I take this reviewing seriously you know 🙂

There is a lot of knowledge being shared and I think most enthusiasts will pick up something new by listening to the artists.

Harry has some great info regarding carving and collecting yamadori. As a fellow collector it’s good to hear the approach of others and compare.

Mauro’s content was excellent and enjoyable to watch with good knowledge being imparted.  For those who want to get to grips with wiring, his how to wire section was well planned out and executed. Not an easy task teaching wiring and this is as good a example as I’ve seen in a while.

Walter delivers in his own unique style and has a lot of his knowledge to share. His hedge pruning technique, much discussed in bonsai circles, is explained in depth. I think many people, myself included, perhaps judged without the full story. Now, I’m not saying I’m a covert but depending on your personal circumstances and your material you might get some use out of this technique. If nothing else, he’s entertaining and he knows it.

Perhaps one of the surprises of this course was the bonus material from Jan Culek, an artist who’s work I admire. He goes deep on rock planting, another subject close to my heart and I found this content very watchable.

For 10 hours of content, made to the usual high standard we now expect from Bonsai Empire, I feel that most enthusiasts, especially those without access to a good club, will be very happy with the lifetime access that Bonsai Empire gives you.

Here’s some further information about the course and a link to sign up.

About the course
Title: Developing Deciduous Bonsai
Three free lessons are available for preview there.
Published: Sept 7
Lectures: 26
Duration: 10 hours
Price: $64.99 for lifetime access
Description:
The Developing Deciduous Bonsai course is centered exclusively on Deciduous and Broadleaf evergreen tree species. The teachers (Mauro Stemberger, Walter Pall and Harry Harrington) explain how goals, as well as techniques, should be approached differently in the main developmental stages of Deciduous Bonsai. Learn about setting the main branch structure of a tree, creating ramification, carving, deciduous apex design, yamadori collection, wiring, creating rock plantings and much more.

Change of Date Bonsai & Beer

Due to a change of Taproom opening dates we are now holding Bonsai and Beer a week earlier on 20th October.

Hope to see some of you at Boundary Brewing for a a tasty beer and talk bonsai.

Bonsai & Beer in Belfast (Updated)

I’m delighted to announce an event bringing two of my favourite things together 🙂

On Sunday 20th October ( date change, we are now a week earlier)Bonsai Eejit and Boundary Brewing team up for a one off event showcasing the Art of Bonsai and the art of making quality craft beer.
Come along to the taproom at Boundary Brewing and enjoy These two art forms in one place.

This is a very informal display of quality bonsai with a bonsai demo and a chance to see how quality beer is made and enjoyed in my birth City of Belfast. Come along and join us for some craic

Iris Accent

Bud-Ten Bunratty

From small acorns mighty oaks grow….

It was an absolute pleasure to be be involved with Ray Egan at Bud Garden Centre in Bunratty and watch the first (and not the last) Bud-ten exhibition come together.

Bud Garden Centre in the Shadow of Bunratty Castle

Ray is one of guys who works hard in the background to push bonsai forward in Ireland and do it in the right way. From a chat last year over a few beers when he talked about hosting a Japanese Gardening Weekend at Bud including bonsai, to what just transpired last weekend, it’s been a rollercoaster.

Ray hard at work

Bud is nestled away in a corner opposite the historic Bunratty Castle and although small, offers plants missing from most garden centres. Ray hosts monthly meetings for the Munster Bonsai Club of which he’s a founding member.

Ray asked if I’d help pull the bonsai side of things together and as things progressed I ended up down the rabbit hole 🙂

Ray invited me to judge the exhibition so he could award deserving trees and help encourage exhibitors to push the standard of their display. The exhibits are from various people at a wide range of levels but Ray encouraged many of his fellow club mates to exhibit for the first time for the experience. Here’s the exhibition and the winning trees.

Japanese White Pine Best in Show -Michael Guerin

 

 

 

Higa Siama Japanese Maple Best Broadleaf in Show – Michael Guerin 

Shohin Rack Best Display in Show -Stephen and Vanessa Dodds, Ben Follis, Ray Egan

Best Shohin -Itiogawa Juniper Stephen Dodds

Best Accent – Dodecatheon Paul Lynam 

Best Native Elm -Steven Short

Best Conifer Japanese White Pine- Mark Cashman

Best Tree Pot Combo K. Hornbeam on left in Beko pot – Dermot Woods

Best Mame Musk Maple on left – Kris Stoker

And a few other photos of exhibits

 

 

The accents from the show.

 

WE had some fun social evenings with bonsai enthusiasts from all three clubs in Ireland getting together with our partners for food and drink.

Dangerous putting these girls together!

On the bank holiday Monday, after the exhibition had ended, I delivered a Kusamono workshop for 11 people and afterwards gave a talk on beginning bonsai for the public.

Friends old and new being brought together all weekend.

A massive that you to all those who made the weekend such a success, Visitors, exhibitors, helpers but most importantly to the man below, without Ray’s drive and commitment this simply wouldn’t have happened.

Bud-Ten Set Up

Great fun in the last two days helping my friend Ray set up his Japanese Gardening Weekend at Bud Garden Centre in Bunratty County Clare.

There’s a small bonsai exhibition as part of the event that I’ll be judging and running demos along side.

When this idea was first floated last year and I was asked to be a part of it, I jokingly called the bonsai Exhibition Bud-Ten the Japanese term for exhibition. Ray wasn’t keen at first but peer pressure worked wonders and it stuck. 😀

We have bonsai enthusiasts from across Ireland coming for the trees and of course the social side of the weekend 🍻

If you are reading this and you’re a local, come along and say hello.

Here’s a few photos of the set up. No tree pics until It’s all set but this will give you an idea of what to expect.

Building an Empire – Advanced Course 2

Oscar Jonker has been working his magic again on Bonsai Empire. He’s been teaming up with Bjorn Bjornholm again to bring us the second part of the Advanced course.

I’d been wondering where Empires quality content could take us next and I wasn’t disappointed. Having early access and little time of my own to watch so much content, I sat down one evening to speed review the sections. Well, that didn’t work of course! I ended up binge watching it like a season of Game of Thrones 🙂 Addictive stuff this bonsai thing.

If you have watched any of the previous courses on Bonsai Empire you’ll know that you will always get high quality content filmed to a very high standard and edited well cutting to the chase every single time. Advanced Course 2 Didn’t deviate from this in any way.

Highlights for me were the section on display and I hope this will be taken further in the future. Some great case studies in there too looking back on previous work and bringing us up to date with were these trees are now in their development. This covers both conifers and broadleaf species.

Here’s a preview

What’s next Oscar? 🙂 Keep them coming my friend.

Sign up for Advanced Course 2