Bonsai Club in Tyrone Anyone?

I’ll do whatever I can to help promote bonsai in Ireland, and have done so across the island in recent years, both locally here in Northern Ireland, and in Leinster and Munster. I’ve tried to get Tim up and running in Connaught but the rural nature of the area has made that hard work so far, but we won’t give up. Come on Galway!

So, over the last few months I’ve been chatting with Paul up in Omagh, County Tyrone and he’s keen to try and get a club or small study group off the ground. He’s just made a Facebook page to help garner interest and I said I’d give it a push from this end as well. I’ve committed to helping him get it off the ground with a few sessions and see how it goes. It will be based in Omagh town itself and will cater for those interested in bonsai on that side of Northern Ireland and indeed, Donegal as well.

If you follow this blog from the North West of Ireland and have always wanted a bonsai club in your area, this is your chance, don’t miss it. It takes someone with the motivation to get the ball rolling, and Paul is that man in that place right now!

This is a link to the Facebook Page, go and say hello and express an interest and we’ll keep you up to date with what’s happening as things progress.

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Snowdonia

I was on my travels again last week, this time in Wales. We were popping over to see Coldplay in concert in Cardiff but added on a day to take in Snowdonia National Park and visit with a few bonsai friends.

These were taken in and around the park, not great weather sadly but sometimes the mist adds to the mystery. Some nice hawthorn in the valleys and of course great views.

Pacific Bonsai Museum -The Natives

The last Bonsai stop of my journey took me to Pacific Bonsai Museum in Seattle. Check out the video below for an overview.

I had been looking forward to this after seeing the Mirai Live overview of the Natives exhibit and the panel discussion from the involved artists. I had hoped to catch up with Aaron Packard on my visit, but someone gave him the day off! Probably himself 🙂 Well deserved too. Next time Aaron.

Again, I was a little camera happy on the visit and took a serious amount of photos. After spending longer editing them than it took to actually take them, I’ve decided to split it into 2 separate galleries. One about the place and people I met there, and the other, this one, about the Natives exhibit. My photos as per usual, don’t do the trees justice as the sun was shining bright that day and put a lot of the tree detail into shadow. Whoever said it always rains in Seattle missed a great few days.

The ‘Natives’ was a great concept for a bonsai exhibit in the United States. Having been inspired for 3 weeks travelling, by some stunning trees in the landscape and some amazing collections of bonsai, I could see the attraction of getting so many species from so many great artists, together in one place. Add to that a funky art concept capturing the landscape from each trees habitat and even accents that reflect what can be found there, and you have yourself a great exhibit. I walked it twice, in company and on my own. A great experience. It was great to see and compare styles of work from the different artists. Some of Dan Robinson’s rugged trees caught the eye. I’ll have to get back and go see Dan’s place in person next time for sure. I got to see the bonsai that were missing from Ryan and Michael’s place as well. All the artists deserve a pat on the back, or maybe even a man hug for allowing their trees to be displayed here for the duration of the exhibit.

I have added snaps of the name cards were I remembered to take them. Only fair to give the artists credit. The info boards in each bay also were very informative and I have added those too. You’ll need to do a little zooming to see the text though. This may well be the biggest photo gallery yet from this trip. Simply put, go there and see them for yourself if you get the chance. You won’t be disappointed.

 

 

Bonsai Mirai: The Broadleaf Trees

At last, a smaller gallery 🙂 I wasn’t expecting a crammed deciduous/broadleaf section at Mirai but still some nice trees hiding on the benches. I know looking at the photos that I missed a few. Disttracted by those darned conifers 😀

Coastal Redwoods

Having seen Sequoiadendron Giganteum I was keen to see the best of the Sequoia Sempervirens or Coastal Redwood. This meant taking a bit of a detour between Redding and Klamath Falls. We left Redding and headed west through some beautiful country in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest dropping down into Redwood National and State Parks. Stunning views along the way and even the roadworks at a landslide on the 199 didn’t bother us as we got to stop and see a stunning river gorge.

Our first stop proper was the Lady Bird Johnston Grove of Redwoods. A compact walk through old growth Redwoods with loads of character and a quiet spot with very few tourists about. We were able to stroll through and take it all in. Another one of those special moments on our trip.

We then moved on to Prairie Creek, home of the BIG Redwoods which were a treat to behold. I had a stiff neck the next day, and no wonder, after staring skyward for long periods of the day.

Photos just don’t capture the immenseness of these trees. It nearly takes you to have someone standing in each photo to help capture the scale of what you are seeing. These trees are survivors with many showing signs of fire damage. The deadwood in many places was as exciting to view as the living.

I’ve added some wildlife pics and coastal shots too. A coastline that doesn’t get talked about very much but stunning. I’ve tried to make the images run chronologically but they may be  mixed here and there with some from the camera and some from my phone. Enjoy. Next up is Crater Lake, probably my favourite piece of America so far, and that’s saying something.

 

Boon’s Bonsai

After a busy few days of bonsai home and away, I’m only now getting back to the USA trip photos. Here’s the next chronological instalment…..

Next up after Yosemite was a drive back across California to the Bay area and San Francisco. On route one of our stops was in Hayward to see Boon and his amazing Nursery. As with most of my Bonsai stops on this trip, there was a busy nursery found on arrival. Boon’s was no different with a workshop in full flow and many trees being transported in and out for work. Boon made us very welcome even though he was busy with students and Paul, his apprentice, gave us a guided tour of the trees.

It was interesting to see the impact a more northerly location had on the species range in the nursery with much more variety than in LA.  A comprehensive watering system was in evidence and can be seen in the photo gallery below. As we were delayed in the Bay area traffic (horrendous) we arrived later than expected and photos were all a bit of a rush and mostly taken with my phone. Sun was low and many of the pics are in a bad sun/shade combo position. As a result they don’t do justice to the quality of the trees on the benches.

A big thank you to Boon, Paul and Matt for their time on the day and it was nice to chat with the other students as time permitted. A real pity I was unable to accept the invite to dinner with Team Boon but San Francisco beckoned after a long drive. I’ve added a couple of photos from there as well just for flavour.

Yosemite

Next day we took the short journey from the Taneya Lodge to Yosemite Park gate. We were early enough to beat the rangers to the booth 🙂 A drive upwards lead to Tunnel View and our first breath taking view of Yosemite Valley and it’s wonderful waterfalls, mountain views, and of course trees.

We made it down to the bottom of the valley and walked to Yosemite Falls. You can hear these Falls from all over the valley with water crashing down 2425 feet. We then took a hike up to Mirror lake. A beautiful walk through the woods accompanied by the mozzies! A walk back down and a quick lunch saw us visiting the meadow area to watch those crazy enough to climb up El Capitan.

To finish our day we drove out of the valley and made it Glacier Point for some stunning panoramic views of Yosemite. All that was left was to head back to the Lodge and swallow a few beers and toast some S’mores at the fire pit.

 

Giant Redwoods

After leaving Monterrey we headed West and down a little to take in the Giant Redwoods of Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park. This was an ‘add on’ to the trip as I had hoped to see the Giant Redwoods in the Maraposa Grove when we reached Yosemite. However, the Maraposa Grove was still closed and the only way I’d get to see some BIG trees was to drive a little more and hit up these guys.

The weather turned the closer we got to the park and it was a little wet and misty for our visit. At one point we drove up through the cloud on hairpin bends with 10 feet visability. Nearly as stressful as driving in the Bay area! 🙂 We broke through the cloud level and within a few bends we saw our first big Sequoiadendron Giganteum. I pulled over and got out for a first look and a hug. A special moment walking up to these trees for the first time. They make you feel insignificant and short lived.

We travelled on to the visitors centre at Sequoia National Park and took a walk to see some of the bigger trees and then over into Kings Canyon National Park to see some more. General Sherman and General Grant got a visit, the first and third largest living things in the world. I’ll be honest, a few of the other big boys nearby were better for me. Better shape, more character, hollow trunks etc. Everyone’s a critique.

Very hard to capture the awesomeness of these in a photo on a grey day. However, here are some of the shots I captured.

 

The Amazing Point Lobos and That Other Place

When I was planning this trip of a lifetime I was in contact with many people about the best places to stop to see old growth trees. I managed to see most of them with a few escaping until the next trip of a lifetime. 🙂 One of my pointers was from Ryan Neil who said I HAD to make it to Point Lobos State Park for the Monterrey Cypress. Boy was he right! The Allan Grove in the Park is a magical place to walk and the photos just don’t do the wonder of the place justice. It’s a quiet spot, not to many people there on the paths so at many points you were on your own and able to soak it all in. The trees really tell a story of life on that coast with deadwood and character in abundance. Some amazing wild flowers and coastline as well, a great accent for the trees. Interesting to see the rust  fungus on so many of the Cypress.

Now, the other place, which officially is called ‘the 17 mile drive’, is a, you guessed it, a 17 mile private road around the headland at Monterrey over looking the sea and Pebble Beach Golf Course. You pay $10 for the privilege of taking this drive and getting to see the famous Lone Cypress on the rock and the Ghost tree. As a tree person I found the lone tree a bit disappointing after Point Lobos and the Ghost tree was a dead one nearby. There were literally hundreds of better Cypress across the Bay at Point Lobos and entry to the State Park was also $10. The park also offers up much more in the way of scenery. So there you go, tourist tip of the day. Photos of all below. Some general shots from the park as well showing the coast and the Sealions on the rocks. I’ll put the Lone tree last for you to compare.