Scottie Initial Work

I styled this tree with Ben a few days ago to help explain the use of raffia in making bends. This is the material, not very exciting and needed a little drama added.


Ben at work.




Ready for bending


After initial bending. A first step towards bonsai. A long way to go but a good start.


Ben’s Juniper Carving

At the recent Willowbog Workshop on Sunday Ben brought along his Squamata Juniper for some block carving work by Peter Snart. Peter got Ben to do a little Rip and tear on a few of the finer bits of deadwood first and then he got stuck in with the Makita to do some basic block carving on the heavier areas. Peter reckons he’d need a week to do the tree. If he carves as fast as he walks, I’d believe it too 😉

Ben’s Kew Visit

A gallery of snaps from Ben’s visit to Kew Gardens this weekend. Tree top walkway, alpine garden , orchids and of course bonsai 🙂

Ben’s Abode

After our visit to Timpany Ben invited us down to his home for a look around his trees. I hope he was ok with the fact that Stephen and I spent more time looking at his garden that at the bonsai! Nothing wrong with his fast growing collection of bonsai, it’s just that I had seen most of them before, but this was a first time in his garden. And what a garden it is. He has only been in the house for 5 years and has created this from scratch (With a lot of help from Emily 😉 ) I think you can tell that he’s a Gardener by trade, obviously a good one! The Alpine rock garden was fantastic, especially with the water feature. Some amazing plants in his beds, oh, and a few nice bonsai too 🙂

Ben’s Maple Repot

After we potted up the collected trees last weekend, I gave Ben a hand repotting his Maple. The pot didn’t really do anything for the tree and Peter Snart had suggested removing a branch to the right side that was always going to look plain ugly. It looks ok in the photo, but trust me, it had to go! It’s not a typical maple, with a hollow trunk and the variety is known to produce a larger leaf. That said, Ben has done a great job of reducing the leaf size and also the inter-nodal length.

The old look

The new look. The little branch to the right will be grown out to add some balance after the removal of the ugly branch.

Conkers, Bonkers!

I always thought Ben was a little bonkers 🙂 This photo proves it…

This also proves it, a horse chestnut as a bonsai.

That’s maybe a little unfair of me to say this. Ben inherited this tree from his Grand Father who got him started in bonsai and, as you would expect, he’s rather attached to it. The tree is over 40 years old and has an interesting base. Leaf size can be made smaller and it is already getting there. I can hardly say it’s not suitable as I have plenty of trees that I’m sentimentally attached too and will never sell.

Another one of his Grand Father’s bonsai, this one is a Crab Apple.

Robert gave this one a look over as well. A few ideas for it’s future were discussed.

I thought this was rather funny too 🙂

Ben’s Berberis Revisited

Friday saw Ben appear with his Berberis. It was repotted in February and has grown strongly since then.

Robert some how managed to get a pass out for the night, he was an unexpected but very welcome guest. I asked him to have a look at the Berberis with Ben and a short time later, with some light wiring, this was the result.

This was Ben’s choice of front but Robert pointed out a few more options. These are still achievable even though we stuck with the original front. This was another angle worth exploring. Some branches would be  moved but I must admit I like this option.

For a while it was a bit like, Paddy Scotsman, Paddy Englishman and Paddy Irishman started t style a tree 🙂

Out of interest, this was it in 2008

Ben’s Beech Group

I plan on looking back at a few of the trees worked on over the weekend, as does Peter on Willowbog Chat. As Peter didn’t get a chance to work on this one, I thought it was safe to share.

This was a beech group that Ben had in a pot for 4 years. They are young trees but even still they can make a nice image. Ben had brought the group to a meeting and I suggested that they would look better on a slate. It just so happened I had one lying under a bench that was big enough, and gave it to Ben. I also suggested that a few thicker trees would greatly improve the image as well.

Ben took me at my word and brought it along on the Sunday along with a few Beech that were recently liberated from a garden.

If it was just a matter of lifting the existing planting out of the pot and popping it onto the slate, it would have been easy. No tie wires even needed as the trees were all meshed together after a few years in a pot already. Our problem was that a few new and bigger ones had to be added. I had 2 choices, split the whole group up and start again or fit the new ones in around the existing trees. I opted for a bit of both. I liked the positioning of the original trees but I split the group in two creating a gap for the new ones. I drilled the slate and wired these in place and also added a few tie lines for the original trees as well. The whole lot where then covered in keto and then moss.

Ben was pleased with the result and I feel the slate works far better than the pot in this sort of forest planting. Now he just has to keep the birds away from the moss 🙂

Here are a few photos of the action. Sorry no starting shot of the original group. I honestly thought I had one somewhere from the meeting Ben, ah well.

Ben me and Ovidiu doing a little manoeuvring.

My secret technique of using the force to position the trees 🙂

Ben checking that the work is up to standard.

Adjusting the heights of a few trees to make a better design.

The finished forest at the end of the day. The new trees are slightly darker bark for now but this will even out with equal exposure to the sun.

Ben emailed these photos taken in 2007 when he put the original group together. I believe it was his first attempt at a forest.