Leinster Bonsai Club Study Group

It was a pleasure to be invited by the Leinster Bonsai Club to deliver a study group session earlier this month. I popped down for the first of 6 sessions and was met by a group of motivated guys keen to push on their own learning and share knowledge with each other. Looking forward to the next session in December. Here’s a few photos from the session.

The session focused in on how to critique trees looking at the fundamentals of bonsai design and the species in focus on the day was Pinus. This club has a few big changes coming on the horizon, keep an eye out for more content from them soon. If you live in the Dublin area and want to get involved please get in touch with LBC

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Cheers Leinster

A big thank you to the guys at Leinster Bonsai Club for having me down to do a group workshop on Sunday. A great day’s craic. Great to see new faces as well. See you all soon.

Thanks for the photos Max.

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.

 

Steve’s Work

During my time with Mr Warren, Steve Salisian from LA was busy working away beside me. I thought I’d share his work here for you to see.

The first tree is a Sabina Juniper with great deadwood and movement.

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Portuguese Oak

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Another Portuguese Oak

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A raft style Yew

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Japanese Maple

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Thanks for adding to my experiences for the week Steve, look forward to catching up with you in LA in May. 🙂

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Sabina Juniper

Peter told me to pick something out to work on and I fancied a Juniper. With lots of great material to pick from both large and small, I opted for this Kifu sized one. I was left to figure out what options we had for the tree and if possible make it good from both sides. Most of Peter’s smaller (shohin) trees are good for either side, a great option for shohin display stands. Be nice to do the same with this one even at Kifu size. I gave the tree a preliminary clean up allowing me to study the trunk movement and branch structure a little more. Steve and I had a play around with it looking at a few possible angle changes both up and down. However what drew me to the tree in the first place was the angle it was at now. I gave my ideas to Peter just adding a possible tilt forward. I wanted to try and get two apexes on the tree but more separation was needed between the two main branches. As the lower one had shari, we opted to split the deadwood from the live vein a little to allow us to lower the branch further. A slightly risky procedure but fun. First Peter explained that before we carried out the split and bend that we should first look and see what other options we have if it goes wrong as a back up plan. There was a nice tree even if we lost the branch that was to be split.

The back..

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and front…

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Vein to be split from deadwood.

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Making a start

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Raffia applied

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Wired up.

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Initial bend put in place with an option to drop further if required.

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Showing the amazing movement and twisting live vein.

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During the wiring process

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After wiring and lime sulphur was applied. Again the tree was not styled to look refined now. This is a Sabina with flower buds. As the foliage that is flowering now will die back when finished, we leave more of the fresher growth in behind to allow the foliage mass to be rebuilt later this year. There’s no point in fine wiring flowering areas when it will be removed within a year. What is important is the placement of the primary and secondary branches that will form the structure of the tree in years to come. A lesson learned from Peter all week – no point wiring what is being removed soon. An enthusiast may like to create the best image possible right now but is it good for the tree and a speedier development? No it’s not. Do what is required and move on to the next challenge. I still probably wired branches in this one that didn’t need it. A hard habit to break.

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A check to see that it still falls within Kifu size.

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It looks good from the other side too, but I forgot to take a photo 😦  A great tree to play with and I learnt a few things about Sabina along the way. Win Win.

Iwasaki Japanese White Pine

I posted on this last week but I wanted to revisit the tree here and get all the photos in one place. As stated, this tree was part of the Iwasaki Collection in Japan. I have pinched Peter’s text from his Facebook page explaining a little about how he came to have the trees.

Last May I took a very short trip to Japan as I was invited by Mr. Morimae of S-Cube Bonsai to have a sneak preview of the sale of the Iwasaki Collection.
As you may or may not be aware, Mr. Iwasaki was one of the premier collectors of bonsai in Japan over the last fifty years and he amassed a huge collection. He passed away several years ago and after lots of issues were resolved the collection was put up for sale and it was purchased by S-Cube

Due to my long standing relationship with Mr. Morimae, he let me get into the collection before 95% of the Japanese Bonsai world, let alone anybody from outside of Japan. As a result I got to choose a number of very special trees for a number of clients as well as some for myself to sell or style them and keep until someone wanted them. Finally, they got back here after a long process of quarantine. As they are trees with history and pedigree, some of them will be for sale, some of them not. There are a couple that I want to restyle this year but most of them are suffering a little from the importation and there are a few blind buds and branches so major work will wait until next year.

What you can’t tell so easily from the photos is the depth of character in the bark, the struggle these trees have been through giving them genuine old school bonsai flavour. These aren’t average pines which have been grown quickly and made to look pretty, these have age, character and class.
There are another bunch of trees that didn’t make it into the van this time but I should have them by the end of the week, as well as some non Iwasaki collection pines.
As with most of the trees that I put up, 95% of them are for sale but not to somebody I do not trust to look after them and not until I am 100% happy with their health.

On arrival at Peter’s last week I was given the task of clearing out the dead twigs and branches on this tree. Some had been lost during quarantine perhaps due to the fact that they were over due a repot and maybe watering was difficult to get right. Peter has turned the health around and there were many strong shoots on the tree.

This is it as I started.

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Here after I cleared out the majority of the dead branches. Some left for jin as required.

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Peter then informed me that I would be working on this tree for the first few days. A great honour to be trusted with the work on such a tree. My first job was to go through the tree removing shoots that were too strong, mostly towards the apex and then do some bud thinning. This is it before.

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And after that process.

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I then worked my way up the tree wiring each branch after discussion with Peter. So many little tips were given during this process. Information on JWP, wiring, branch placement, health etc. Below is the tree as we finished the work. This was not styled to look it best now, but shaped for the health of the weaker lower branches and gaining better structure in the next 5 years. A new front was selected due to brach removal but Peter was keen to point out that it must look good from all angles and we constantly spun the tree during the whole styling process.

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Final tweaks

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Structure from underneath.

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A happy me, tired but happy 🙂

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Covetous eyes…

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Check out the video clip…

 

Reflection On a Great Week

Back home a few days now after a week away studying at Saruyama Bonsai. I’ve been giving some thought to all the little things that I learned in my time with Peter and also a few bigger things that are more concepts or approaches to creating bonsai. In all I think I got what I wanted from my time and I think Peter was happy with the work I did on his trees. I will now use what I’ve learned here to help progress Bonsai in Ireland and I hope to get back to Peter’s place again soon.

I’ve been through all my photos of the week and want to add them here as a reference for my work and also a memory of the good times had. I did a little posting when I had time during the week, usually in bed, but I’d like to be a little more comprehensive now I’m home. There’s a lot so I’m going to upload them as albums here and split them up over a few different headings. I’ll start with a few general shots from around the nursery.

Thanks to all those who I met at Peter’s place. It was great to work with Steve Salisian over from the United States  and see his approach to bonsai, much of it gleaned from his sessions with Ryan Neil. Also to Jose, Steve and Les, who popped in for a few hours during my stay. Good to have time to actually chat to them rather than during the manic atmosphere at Exhibitions. And of course a big thank you to Peter, a great host, teacher and artist and Satomi who made me feel so welcome.

Steve McKee visiting for a few hours

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Steve Salisian hard at work.

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Jose stopping by for a cheeky beer after a hard days work.

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Les spending a few hours with us on Monday, great to catch up.

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And the boss, cheers Peter.

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The rest of the general shots from the week….

A Flying Start….

Well, one more sleep and I get my bonsai adventures in 2017 off to a flying start. This Thursday, bright and breezy, I pop over to London to spend 6 days at Monkey Mountain with Peter Warren. My New Year’s resolution was to push bonsai learning in Ireland as much as I can for the next 12 months. This starts with me 🙂  We should all strive to learn and, having worked with Peter many times before, I can’t think of anyone better to burden myself on for a week. Peter is now offering the option to study with him at his home. Once I heard this, I was on it like a car bonnet and it looks like I beat my way to the (joint) first spot. Really looking forward to my time in the big smoke and making a few new friends, but more on that during the week I think.

Group Workshop Announcement

 

On November 5th Bonsai Eejit and Belfast Bonsai, Phil Donnelly and I, are hosting our final joint workshop opportunity for 2016. Approaching 50 years of Bonsai experience between us, we can tailor the session to meet most needs on the day.

This is an ideal opportunity to evaluate deciduous bonsai and do some wiring. Pines, Larch etc  can be brought for wiring and styling. If you have a tricky project that requires more than one set of hands, then this is a great way to get direction and assistance. A range of carving tools will be available if you require them. Feel free to bring multiple trees for working and advice. Workshop open to all levels of experience.

The workshop runs from 10am to 5pm, in Newtownards and includes a snack lunch with tea and coffee on tap during the day. Total cost for the day is £30 per person. Bring whatever trees you wish to work on and other material will be available if you wish to purchase a suitable workshop tree. Spaces are limited so to avoid disappointment please register asap by emailing me at bonsaieejit@gmail.com or using the contact me tab at the top of the screen.

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Workshop: MBC In Bunratty

Had a great weekend in Bunratty with the folks in the ever growing Munster Bonsai Club. A great mix of existing and new members on the day with lots of interesting trees to play with. Here some photos, some from myself and some stolen from the MBC guys.

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Some sales items

Ray, the Boss at work

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Tut tut Mark Tut tut 🙂

Piotr, another boss at work

More sales, Magic Ceramics

 

Harry’s little Larch finished28040896854_f9f743dfdc_z

Kung fu fighting! Ninja Kieran

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Finishing that Larch

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How much for just the pot? 🙂

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Mark’s Holm Oak finished

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The gang minus Ilene who had to shoot off before the team photo. Thanks for supporting the workshop everyone, a very enjoyable and productive day.

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