Boggy Scotties

Here some photos from our collecting trip today, well, actually it’s now yesterday. To knackered to type much about it. I’ll let the photos do the talking were I can.

You can see that these Scots Pines have been lifted from a bog. They are self seeded and when asking for permission to collect the farmer told me that they are all scheduled for destruction as they shouldn’t be there. We are happy to try and save them 🙂

First one of the day.

All trees are bagged and taped up to stop the roots drying out.

Nice bark on some if not all of the trees collected.

Trees rooted into the top 6 inches of sphagnum moss, no roots go any deeper. Trees can be dug out in a few minutes.

I wasn’t the only one snapping away.

A large but nice multi trunk.

Clipping out some dead bits.

Easy to dig out.

Bagged and taped up.

Phil, the heavy lifter 🙂

Stephen opts for a tiny one.

and another small one for Stephen, see the pattern here 🙂

We decided to leave this one!!

Scattered everywhere!

Too big for today but cut back for future lifting.


Another tall one but as it was closer to the car it came with us.

Lots of fine white tips to the roots.

Phil wondering why these new gloves don’t work very well. Finished lifting time to head home.

Back in the driveway.

Grit ready and waiting.

Pines in for the potting up session tomorrow, now today!

Phil doing more heavy lifting.

We managed to get the two biggest ones potted up before we finished for today.

More later, off to bed!   zzzzzz…..


10 Days Later..

I took a few photos of the collected trees in the Poly Tunnel and compared them to the same shots from 10 days ago when they were placed in the tunnel. A nice shade of green appearing.

14th March

24th March

Potting Up

On our return from the collecting trip we made a start to the potting up. Well, Phil and I did 🙂 Stephen starts late and finishes early!! He kept talking about needing some sleep, you’d think he had worked all night before coming out collecting 🙂

This was my garage before Phil and I started. I wanted to cry, totally knackered after the weekend away and a full day humping tress down a mountain!!

We started with the Spruce. They were potted into Sphagnum moss specially imported from Willowbog for the job 🙂

We worked until we were seeing double and called it a night. Stephen came back the following day and we finished off the remaining Larch. This is what greeted us in the garage, only 12 Larch left. Not a lot of photos taken here as it was a hassle taking gloves on and off!

The tunnel was emptied out to make room for the new arrivals and we managed to fill it.

It was good to see trees out again after their Winter protection, albeit rather haphazardly dumped onto benches!!

I’ll keep you posted with how these trees progress or die 🙂 I think we should be successful with most. One very nice Spruce had little root and we expect it to die but you never know!!

Tuesday’s Collecting Trip

Managed to squeeze in a collecting trip with Phil and Stephen on Tuesday. We had planned to spread the collecting out over a few years on this site but the land owner moved the goal posts and we only had one day to get what we wanted! This meant lifting way more trees than we had planned for.

Phil and I set out early, Stephen was joining us after he finished work. A few swans followed us West, I thought birds flew south!!

Phil strides out into the site on the hunt for decent Larch.

First one of the day.

We were delighted that the trees could be lifted in few few minutes. They had rooted into the top layer of moss and no tap roots were going into the poor peat soil below. A quick circle with the spade and out they popped.

We then had a closer look at a few of the Spruce and were delighted to find massive trunks. These were trees that had been cut just above soil surface many years ago but a few had remaining low branches that have developed into squat powerful trees. We thought they would be a nightmare to collect but had this first one out in 10 minutes.

We moved on to this even better one. Probably the pick of the bunch. I had looked at this one a few months ago and couldn’t get my hands around the base. It’s as thick as my thigh. The obvious top leader was removed leaving a nicely tapered trunk.

Part of the view. A cloudy but mild windless day, perfect for collecting. Stephen, Bonsai Baker, eventually turned up once the hard work was done and we had enough lifted to fill his car already. We moved on a little further and collected a few more Spruce with lighter trunks.

We humped the booty down to the main Larch area. Dopey and Happy whistling while they work, the other 5 dwarfs will be along shortly behind them 🙂

We them moved to another area with larch and collected what we thought we could handle and fit in the trailer!

Stephen checks out another one, you can see the shari on the trunks caused by the wild goats that roam the mountains here.

Another Spruce.

We get the trees back down to the car and get the trailer loaded up. Phil gulps down his usual Red Bull and Stephen is either eating a Mars Bar or chewing a wasp!! The stone is actually suiseki size 🙂

We had spotted a very nice Lodgepole Pine and went to investigate.

When we cleared the top moss off we found out that the roots disappeared into the rock. The chances of collecting this and getting it to survive are slim to none. We covered it back up and left it for others to enjoy.

Packed up we moved on. Room forHappy in the trailer 🙂

We found another site for Larch lower down. Still Japanese Larch but much redder bark

Phil found another Pine but alas, it was also rooted through rock.

He then spotted a Spruce and got down for a closer look. So tempted to deliver a size 11 boot to the target presented!!

We even managed to spot the herd of wild goats that had helped us with the shari 🙂

Some nice mature forest too.

Phil decides to try a Le Mans Start for the trip home and some potting up 🙂

We even found a new site for Hawthorn! Different land owner but worth further investigation I think!!

I post photos from the potting up tomorrow.

Harold and Kumar go Tree Hunting…

…. lol and we found some 🙂 Apologies for the movie reference, in an odd mood today.

Phil and I decided to check out a site that we thought might yield a few nice Larch and Spruce to collect. Phil had spotted it near one of his fishing spots up in the Sperrins area in Tyrone. Being vague here but you can understand this 😉 Anyway after a rather long and wet hike over 5 miles on rough ground, we found a small patch of trees that fit our needs.

We hadn’t planned to collect anything today. The whole point of the trip was to find the site and gain permission. The trees were commercially planted but no longer viable for harvest due to some very nice goats and sheep roaming the hills. 🙂 They have stripped the bark on many of the trees causing multiple trunks and shari.  The Spruce are to be cleared anyway by cutting off at the base!!

Can you call this yamadori? Not really, they are commercially planted trees and is some cases not even that old. However nature and the elements have done some good work here for us in a short space of time. We don’t have the Alps on our doorstep and have to make do with the best we have on offer. As Larch and Spruce aren’t native in Ireland, this is the best we can do with regards to those species.

After finding and photographing the trees we set out to find the right person to gain permission. This turned out to be harder than walking to the trees in the first place. After some detective work, we got the right man and returned to the site with him. A quicker route as he had the key to the locked gate! When he saw what we wanted he was happy for us to remove trees that he was going to have to remove anyway.

The moral of this story, always ask for permission. I’ve asked twice this year for two separate sites and both were happy to say yes on hearing what they were for. Take a bonsai book with you to show examples and keep a big friendly smile on yer face. Works a treat 🙂

Here are the photos of a few of the trees we looked at. First some of the larch. Not the best trees but it gives you an idea of the ground we are collecting from. The trees are right on the treeline of the mountain and are quite exposed.

Phil gets the camcorder out. The deadwood on the ground is the remains of Lodgepole Pine that had been planed there but failed at some point a few years ago. A few survivors still showing here and there.

Typical damage caused by goats.

Trees eaten early on by having there apex damaged result in multi trunk trees. This is one of them but there are a few really tasty looking ones there and for some reason I didn’t snap them at the time.

Some of the Sitka Spruce that have to be removed. Someone told me today that they are spikey buggers. I found that out for myself yesterday!!

This one is interesting. I couldn’t get both my hands around the base of this one. It’s 4 feet tall but after major height reduction, I think it’ll make a powerful tree.

Showing some of the terrain that we had to walk over.

We spotted this Lodgepole Pine and gave it a closer look.

Me for scale. Some nice bark and deadwood on it. A few others were pointed out by the landowner later in the day as the light was disappearing.

Some nice little mountain streams feeding down into the lake nearby.

 Some nice little mountain streams feeding down into the lake nearby.

Stream cut through a peat bog surrounded by heather.

So there you go, I hope you enjoyed the photos as much as we enjoyed our day out. Being caught out in an open area during a cloud burst and having sore legs today was worth it. 🙂

Plum Tuckered Out

I had planned to spend a little time posting pics from a trip to the Sperrin Mountains in County Tyrone today. Phil and I wanted to check out a new site for collecting Larch and try and get the necessary permission to do this.

It was a successful trip but I’m just too knackered to post now 🙂 I’ll add all the photos tomorrow. In the mean time, here’s a pic to wet the appetite.

Cut Backs Update

Just over a month ago I chopped back two big escallonia cut backs

A month on and the back budding is in full flow.

Stephen and Ian’s big Adventure

Well, not big, a few hours out driving around speculating where there might be trees to collect. I wanted to get a few snaps of some trees in a field near where I live before they came into leaf. This is them.

No trees but nice all the same.

I took Stephen to see some Blackthorn that were amazing but totally un-collectable. Deep deep rooted into stone. To even attempt to lift these would be a waste of time and a sin for ruining a beautiful tree. Some things are better left alone. It was blowing a gale at the time but Stephen was still amazed at the quality of these wee fellas. The bark was to die for. We collected a few dead branches to use as accents. The movement and character in them is amazing.


Bursting into flower

We then came across these Ivy’s among the rocks. Not deep rooted 🙂

The place was covered with them!

Removal of a few stones resulted in a few keepsakes. This is Stephen doing his impression of Father Jack. DRINK!! 🙂

Back at the bat cave…

This one held onto a rock

I’m hoping for these to put out some decent root and then I’ll air layer a few small bits off here and there. I have a wee Ivy air-layer and they take easily. We picked up a few nice stones for display as well. I’ll post more pics tomorrow.