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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Exhibition By Bonsaigroep de Butuwe

I was delighted to receive these photos from my friend Harry showing bonsai in his clubs Bonsai exhibition in The Netherlands. He’s letting me share them here for all to see. Some great trees on display. This is a small group of only 10 members which makes their display all the more impressive.

For more info click HERE to visit their Facebook Page.

 

 

Grand Tour September 2017

It’s been full on lately with both bonsai and family and the blog has taken a back seat as a result. I’m now playing catch up and thought it only right to share some of the photos from my trip down to Munster to do a few one to one sessions with the folk in the Munster Bonsai Club. A more enthusiastic bunch I’ve yet to meet. I was also lucky to time my visit with their first ever exhibition which, for me, was the highlight of the week.

First up was Mark’s place. A shorter session than usual but we worked late and managed to wire the primary structure into two field grown trees. A first styling for a Japanese Red  and a Black Pine.

The lower branch was left to develope into a second trunk and also improve inverse taper. It can always be removed at a later date.

The next day was at Demot’s, again a first styling on a tall Scots Pine and some tweaking on a few Junipers.

He even gave me a tour of Cobh, the town where he lives and the world’s Second largest Natural Harbour.

Day 3 was Piotr’s place and yet another initial styling of a Pine, this time a Lodgepole.

Next was a little Hinoki Cypress that was in need of thinning and a little wiring.

A Japanese White Pine

and then whilst having a few beers… another pine!

Day 4 was with Michael and a change of species, a yew. Not many photos here as I had a limited time period and a lot to discuss as well as work to get done.

Day 5 was at Steve’s place and saw a fair bit of carving both by hand and with power tools. First was this Yew that had been carved previously but showed a lot of tools marks.

And after some work. Further refinement needed on the deadwood, but a step in the right direction.

 

Some initial carving on a new larch for Steve.

cof

Sadly no finished pics, it was too dark 🙂

Day 6 was the Exhibition and I was delighted to put on a shohin display along with the club members. We set up and had an hour before opening, so we did a critique of the displays with all the club members and exhibitors. I was given a tall Scot’s Pine to style in the demo.

Day 7 was spent with Ray. The main tree was a hinoki cypress that we’d done initial work on 2 years ago. It had grown free for 2 years and was now ready of a new look. We decided to go for a different look that breaks a few rules as far as multi trunk trees go but I feel we created a bonsai that looks like a tree, not a bonsai.

 

 

 

 

We also did a clearing out of a shohin Chinese Juniper. A nice start.

Day 8, my last day, was with Paul. A lover of Japanese Art and by the look of his garden and house, all things Japanese.

Room with a view. A truly inspiring place to stay.

Paul wanted some help with his niwaki style Pine in his garden. Starting at the top and working down 🙂

Afterwards we wired his Japanese White Pine making a few changes here and there to remove faults while keeping the original image that he liked when it was bought. A badly wire scarred apex had to be removed and replaced.

A massive thank you to all the guys who made this tour possible. I was looked after so well at every stop and the craic was mighty. The drive shown by this club is inspiring and this is only their 4th year. To deliver an exhibition to this standard, AND, there where trees there from 10 members, not all from a few with the higher level trees, shows what a fun club they are to be involved with. It was great to meet the newer members at the exhibition and get a chance to talk bonsai and share ideas for the future.

I look forward to seeing you all again soon and exploring new opportunities in 2018.

The Wild Atlantic Way

A few snaps taken on my Donegal trip.

 

Donegal Visit

Apologies for the lack of posts recently, how can retirement make you busier?!

Anyway, I was up in County Donegal a few weeks back with family checking out the scenery and I managed to make time to call in with John Dickie. This was a first time visiting John and I’m sure it’s not the last. John was  previously a chairman of the North East Lincolnshire Bonsai Society, and now is enjoying his retirement in the stunning countryside of Donegal.

The main reason for my visit was to sound him out in supporting the creation of a club in the Northwest based in Omagh to begin with. John was quick to offer his help. We are still doing a round up of anyone interested in Donegal, Tyrone and Fermanagh. Please get in touch.

It was a flying visit with both of us trying to get to know where we stood in our approach to bonsai. I was able to grab a quick walk around his garden and see some of the trees he’s brought over with him from the UK. Hope to see you again soon John.

 

Nice to find a fellow mini hosta lover.

Travels Down Under

I’ll be on my travels again in November, this time heading to Perth in Australia. I’m staying with family and will be travelling south of Perth on a camping trip. I’d be keen to meet up with some bonsai enthusiasts while I’m there. I also want to visit some big/old trees on my travels. Anyone following this blog who lives or knows the area, can you help with a few pointers? Private collections, clubs, it doesn’t matter, I just want to see bonsai and trees Aussie style.

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.

A Slice of heaven in Wales

After two wet days in Wales, we had two days of sunshine. On the day that we were heading home we were lucky enough to be invited to visit the garden of Mark and Ritta Cooper. I’ve gotten to know Mark and Ritta over the last 10 years in the UK bonsai scene, mostly through bumping into them at exhibitions, usually congratulating them on some award or other. At Noelanders this year, when they heard I was coming to Cardiff, they were quick to invite me for a visit. I wasn’t passing this up 🙂

On Thursday the morning, after an amazing night with Coldplay, we drove over the Mark and Ritta’s garden.We got a warm welcome and I was warned that the garden wasn’t quite finished.  I can only wish that one day my garden isn’t quite finished like this one. It was clear to see the quality of material used and the knowledge that was required to get it so perfect. Mark and Ritta of course pointed out what wasn’t finished or what they weren’t quite happy with, but that’s the way with gardens, are they ever finished?

The bonsai were just superb and Mark very kindly gave me a guided tour of each tree and it’s history. A nice mix of Japanese origin trees and some of more humble origins that have been worked to a high level over the years. Known for shohin, the Coopers certainly had a great collection of small trees, but the larger trees were to a high quality level as well.  As a kusamono lover it was great to chat with Ritta about varieties etc and I’m really looking forward to hearing their talk at Bonsai Europa in October. I’m not even going to dwell on the koi! See for yourselves in the gallery below.

Thank you both for making Allison and I so welcome and for the hospitality you showed us. A highlight for me was Ritta’s cake 🙂 The four hours flew in and in the end we just about made it to our ferry back home on time.

Bonsai as a hobby is full of wonderful people and these two are certainly on that list. See you both soon.

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 – Part 2

My last post looked at the Natives Exhibit specifically but I wanted share a few thoughts on the venue and people I met there and share the rest of my photos taken of trees outside of the Natives.

Having seen both Huntington Gardens and Lake Merritt on my travels I was expecting big things from this place. I’d been told, on good authority, that this is the pick of them all. Big praise indeed as the others were impressive albeit in different ways. Pacific Bonsai Museum was the same, impressive in it’s own way. As a stand alone attraction I could not fail to be impressed with the set up, layout, trees, staff, and it’s all free. The Natives Exhibit and the thought that had gone into it made this special but there were other things for me to see too.

On entering we got to see some of the fantastic artwork created for the Natives exhibit and we got to check out the tokonoma set up with a Satsuki azalea. There is also a small tropical exhibit as you enter and I had the pleasure of seeing a tree that I’d seen before in the States, last time in Florida. Paul Pikel’s Buttonwood was sitting there as I walked in. Last time I saw that was at the side of his pool in his back garden in 2011.

Within the main exhibit area were some other trees that I’ve included in the gallery, some natives, some not. Apologies if they should have been included within the Natives section.

A highlight of the day was getting to meet Tony Fajarillo aka Bonsaiko, a fellow blogger who was keen to hook up on the trip. Tony was keen to show me a few other sights in Seattle and made me very welcome. Sadly time was tight at this point and we had to settle for a meeting of the bonsai minds at Pacific Bonsai Museum. He brought some of the family as well and we couldn’t have been made more welcome. Next time Tony, next time 🙂 Check out his Blog if you already haven’t BONSAIKO 

While wandering the exhibit with Tony I bumped into Jak, one of the staff and asked after Aaron. On hearing he had the day off I was disappointed but on instruction from Mr Neil I asked if there was any chance of getting into the back lot for a look at the bonsai currently not being exhibited. Zak, was a gentleman and took us straight there. Many of the photos in this gallery are from that area. Some great bonsai that emphasise that a repeat visit is necessary to see the rest of the trees. Tony pointed out the Nick Lenz Larch with the many hidden deadwood faces. It’s little things like this that create the memories for the visit.

Another treat was getting to see the Domoto Maple, a tree with great history that can be read HERE.

It’s free folks, but donations are essential to help keep this thriving. If only the UK had something like this, don’t take it for granted. I bought a T- Shirt of course, quite the collection now after this trip 🙂 Here’s the Gallery.