Sitka Spruce 2012 – 2019

I collected this spruce back in 2012.

After a few years to recover and a little tightening in I had this material to work with.

After a little cleaning out.

In 2016 after further chasing in some initial primary branch placement was made.

In 2017 it got it first basic styling.

This was it last week ready for its second styling.

Time for work.

Still a ways to go but I’m loving this species more and more. Deadwood needs refined and I may need welding gloves on the next time I wire it but I’m happy with the results so far. It’s a keen back budder. It’s due a repot so I’ll see what pot size I can reduce it into to.


I got out collecting again a few weeks ago with Phil. We managed to get back on to our old Hawthorn site. As my shoulder and neck are not really up to the task any more, I had Jeff my spade buddy along to help. It was Jeff’s first time collecting and after wind hail and even snow, it might be his last 🙂

Part of the site

Jeff perched on the edge

Dayglo Phil


Up in the heights

I see him

That one can stay where it is!

Jeff playing hide and seek, he’s very good at it.

The weather moved in. Grim 😦

Hard to light up 🙂

Some of the booty

Just before I dropped my phone in the muck!

Too big but beautiful, and the trees not bad either.

I got some smaller Blackthorn as well as Hawthorn. At the end of the day I had some potted up and black bagged. Giving this a go to see what the results are like.

That was 2 weeks ago, I opened a bag today and the budding is going well.

A big thank you to Jeff for doing the heavy lifting for me. I haven’t heard from him since! Only joking.


Some Day’s Are Made For Collecting

Managed to get out with Phil collecting yesterday and amazingly the sun came out!

To be honest the day was more about getting permissions to collect in place and preparing some trees for collection in a few years time, but it was a successful day all the same with a few new additions to the garden. We have a rather special Hawthorn site that we haven’t used for a few years. The owner has since passed away and we were seeking permission from the new owner. After calling and speaking to his wife we were hopeful of getting back on the site. I was then left a voice mail saying we couldn’t collect. We were gutted! 😦 Then today out of the blue, he rang back to say yes, collect away!!! 😀 I think in all my years collecting I’ve only been turned down once and that was a tree from a garden. I was really gutted to think we’d never get back on this special site. Being able to take your time collecting, being selective and legal is the only way to go.

In case you are wondering, these snaps are not the site 😉

Sunday’s Collecting Trip

After an evening with Piotr our host on the Saturday night, we made an early start on the Sunday morning to visit two collecting sites. First off we wanted to collect some Larch for the NIBS, our own club, who have plans about a special inter-generational workshop next year. Here we our selecting some suitable trees for this.



We popped back to Piotrs home for a quick cuppa before some serious travelling to the second site. While we were there we had a look around some of Piotr’s trees in his garden. I think we can safely say he’s hooked on bonsai with a garden rapidly filling with trees.

We then headed along the West Coast to get to a site we hadn’t visited before. We had been told that it was a possible Pine collecting site. I’m not going to go into the location for obvious reasons but Piotr had done the ground work for us so we could just go and collect. He came along with us and it was great to have his help.

It was a bit of a drive and then a bit of a hike from the road but what we found was an excellent site for both Scots Pine and Lodgepole Pine. These trees were self seeded and growing in an exposed area which created some great shapes and bark. These are the best Pines that I’ve found in Ireland. Here are a few shots of some of them on site. A nice mix of sizes. Sorry for a few blurry photos  but it was raining for a while.


Collecting in the Hills

This gallery contains 29 photos.

Sunday saw us head to a few places where Pines have self seeded from forestry areas and have never been touched. The Pines are mostly Lodgepole Pine but the bark was really nice and some had pretty decent movement. Phil … Continue reading

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Scots Pine Prep

This is one of the pines collected from a bog two years ago. It has recovered well but now’s the time to remove a few branches that won’t be needed in any final design. I also needed to chase back the foliage so that the tree back buds into more suitable areas over the next few years. Once I have this I can then start to think about styling the tree.

This was the tree being collected

and now before cut back.

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A straight bit here needs to be removed.

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And after cutting back

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Blogging From the Bog

I did a live post yesterday from the bog while we were collecting Scot’s Pine. It was a rare sunny day and as usual turned out to be one of the highlights of the bonsai year. Good company good craic, and good results.

Funny story, guess who forgot to put the memory card in the camera? Yep me! Luckily Stephen had his camera with him and I copied his card Phew! This means that I was actually in a few photos and there is evidence that I do actually do a little work.

Highlight of the day for me was watching Phil Fingers stepping into a hole and sinking into freezing water up to the knee. The usual abuse was given only for me to find a different hole a few minutes later. 😀

We cut back a few larger trees to collect at some point in the future. The land owner says that they’ll still be there for a while and we are the only people who he trusts to collect on the site. Therefore we can go longer term with a few of them.

We collected a few smaller ones and finished early enough to get everything potted up in the one day.

Here’s some photos courtesy of Stephen.

Four Pot Up

Yes, Stephen managed to find his way to my house, so we had four for the potting up session. 🙂

We had to do some major shuffling of trees in and out of protective cover before we started but space was found for everything. The spruce were potted first and put into a tunnel with last years spruce.  Sphagnum moss only seems to be the way to go with Sitka Spruce. Last years trees loved it producing a lot of fresh roots.

We then moved on to the Hawthorn. The first one Stephen lifted bit him on the forehead, opps! We experimented a little with mixes to try out different options, time will tell.

Ben also brought a few trees of his own to get potted and we both finished these off before calling it a day. I didn’t take many photos to be honest, it was a very busy session and dirty hands and cameras don’t mix. You will see a triple trunk in the gallery that I lifted. Bark not very mature compared to some of the others but a nice tree for the future all the same.

Stephen was quick to point out that he was the oldest there yesterday but with all of us mumbling about aches and pains, he said he was the fittest of the four of us!! I would like to point out that he took Friday off by virtue of senile dementia setting in and his failure to find the collecting site when he was half a mile away at one point. Fittest my arse 🙂

Today I plan to catch up with some of my regular repotting on my own. I’m actually looking forward to a little time on my own in the garage with the radio on and wee trees for company. Spring must be in the air 🙂

Two and a Half Men

Yesterday we were supposed to be four but we ended up as three, well two and a half as Ben is the baby/new boy in the group 🙂 Stephen was coming late and was last seen throwing his satnav from the car window and returning home 😛

We ploughed on without the baker and managed to get the ‘all important’ permission from the land owner. Not easy to track down as everyone who seemed to own the land was either dead, moved, or was a millionaire recluse!! After a chat with the owner about, cattle, pigs, money grabbing sisters and how to tell the difference between spruce and fir, we managed to make a start in the first of two fields.

I got off to a flyer by ripping my hand on barbed wire fencing! The Hawthorn we were after were hard to collect. Rocky ground and deep roots meant that many were not worth the effort. We did however collect 7 before lunch. We had to stop as Ben’s stomach was making noises that were scaring the local wildlife!

After lunch we moved to the other field which proved to be better. There is even scope for a return visit for further collecting. At this point we knew Stephen had given up and buggered off back south to Belfast. We wanted to make a return visit to our old Spruce site to see what we had missed. When we got there, we found 3 spruce worth the effort, 2 of which are rather special, for us any way. We had great success with these last year only losing 1 of the 5 collected and it was rather short of viable roots. These three root wise are looking good. Part of the site had been bulldozed and if we hadn’t lifted the ones last year, they would have been destroyed. Lucky break!

Anyway, here’s the day in photos. Might even do a trip video for a laugh 🙂 Potting up tomorrow.

Four Go Collecting

This morning Phil, Stephen, Ben and I go collecting Hawthorn, we hope! It’s a new site, and we hope the quality is good but we still have to get permission. We have a good track record with permission getting so fingers crossed for tomorrow. We do have a plan ‘B’ just in case. No, it’s not just steal them!! We have another site nearby. This is the field we hope to be wandering around at about 10am 🙂