Bonsai & Beer in Belfast (Updated)

I’m delighted to announce an event bringing two of my favourite things together 🙂

On Sunday 20th October ( date change, we are now a week earlier)Bonsai Eejit and Boundary Brewing team up for a one off event showcasing the Art of Bonsai and the art of making quality craft beer.
Come along to the taproom at Boundary Brewing and enjoy These two art forms in one place.

This is a very informal display of quality bonsai with a bonsai demo and a chance to see how quality beer is made and enjoyed in my birth City of Belfast. Come along and join us for some craic

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Garden Changes

Two weeks ago I started the process of removing the grass from my back garden. More space for display and additional drainage due to seasonal flooding were my aims.

This was the starting point.

First step was getting a micro digger in.

Next up was 16 tonne of stone, some decorative some for drainage.

Then it was time to start adding trees. I opted to use temporary bench legs while I figure out the layout that suits me best. I’ll replace them when I’m 100% on the spacing etc. I’ve also a few monkey poles to add and some underplanting. I’m also looking for a nice piece of bog oak to use as a sculpture/feature. I’m still looking.

That’s the front part of the garden nearly complete. Next up is the back with a new Polytunnel.

Bud-Ten Bunratty

From small acorns mighty oaks grow….

It was an absolute pleasure to be be involved with Ray Egan at Bud Garden Centre in Bunratty and watch the first (and not the last) Bud-ten exhibition come together.

Bud Garden Centre in the Shadow of Bunratty Castle

Ray is one of guys who works hard in the background to push bonsai forward in Ireland and do it in the right way. From a chat last year over a few beers when he talked about hosting a Japanese Gardening Weekend at Bud including bonsai, to what just transpired last weekend, it’s been a rollercoaster.

Ray hard at work

Bud is nestled away in a corner opposite the historic Bunratty Castle and although small, offers plants missing from most garden centres. Ray hosts monthly meetings for the Munster Bonsai Club of which he’s a founding member.

Ray asked if I’d help pull the bonsai side of things together and as things progressed I ended up down the rabbit hole 🙂

Ray invited me to judge the exhibition so he could award deserving trees and help encourage exhibitors to push the standard of their display. The exhibits are from various people at a wide range of levels but Ray encouraged many of his fellow club mates to exhibit for the first time for the experience. Here’s the exhibition and the winning trees.

Japanese White Pine Best in Show -Michael Guerin

 

 

 

Higa Siama Japanese Maple Best Broadleaf in Show – Michael Guerin 

Shohin Rack Best Display in Show -Stephen and Vanessa Dodds, Ben Follis, Ray Egan

Best Shohin -Itiogawa Juniper Stephen Dodds

Best Accent – Dodecatheon Paul Lynam 

Best Native Elm -Steven Short

Best Conifer Japanese White Pine- Mark Cashman

Best Tree Pot Combo K. Hornbeam on left in Beko pot – Dermot Woods

Best Mame Musk Maple on left – Kris Stoker

And a few other photos of exhibits

 

 

The accents from the show.

 

WE had some fun social evenings with bonsai enthusiasts from all three clubs in Ireland getting together with our partners for food and drink.

Dangerous putting these girls together!

On the bank holiday Monday, after the exhibition had ended, I delivered a Kusamono workshop for 11 people and afterwards gave a talk on beginning bonsai for the public.

Friends old and new being brought together all weekend.

A massive that you to all those who made the weekend such a success, Visitors, exhibitors, helpers but most importantly to the man below, without Ray’s drive and commitment this simply wouldn’t have happened.

Display Changes

This last month I’ve been making a few changes in the garden with the areas where I display my trees. It started off with getting next doors tree cut down as it was blocking all my light and it sort of got out of hand from there. Here’s it step by step in photos.

This was the tree causing the issues.

Then we carried on and cut back an over grown hawthorn hedge and removed a flower bed.

This left the hedge insecure, so a fence went up and a new display bed area created.

It was a bit of a nightmare getting rid of the hedge and tree.

I then took the head staggers and took away an old polytunnel. This left room for an extension to the display.

more changes to come but they’ll be dripped in as I have time.

 

Noelanders Trophy 2018

Another great Trophy last weekend. That’s my second Trophy attendance two years in a row thanks to my good friend Harry who facilitated my flying visit again. Cheers Harry.

I think I enjoyed this one more than the last. This was mostly due to the traders being in the same slots as last year making it a lot easier to get round the two halls and find what I needed. I was also able to purchase pretty much all the pots I was seeking. I know my carry on luggage wouldn’t have taken any more.

The exhibition was just as you’d expect, a few that looked out of place, most fitted the bill, and of course, a few outstanding trees. I walked the trees with friends on the Saturday and I picked the spruce as my personal best in show. Great to see it getting the best Conifer award.

Great to meet up with old friends and new. Apologies to those who I didn’t get to meet. My phone died half way through the day and I was unable to make contact with a few people to hook up. Sorry Xavier, next time my friend 🙂

Apologies as all my own photos are from my phone and quality is low. These are in the gallery below. However the following quality photos are courtesy of Oscar at Bonsai Empire along with the video. Enjoy.

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.

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.

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.

 

 

Bonsai @ Lake Merritt

After two amazing days in San Francisco we moved on towards our next over night stop in Redding. On the way we stopped off in Oakland to see the Bonsai collection at Lake Merritt.

It was interesting to compare this to Huntington Gardens, Huntington was a more elegant location and inspiring in it’s own way but I think I actually preferred the bonsai here at Lake Merritt. I was told that local club members regularly take the trees home to work on them and I think this shows in the quality and condition. The watering system here also looked the part and I didn’t see any sign of suffering on any tree.

I had a few favourites, I’m a redwood convert and the ones a saw here were excellent with tight tight budding. I can only dream of getting mine that tight! Some amazing junipers of course and a fantastic Japanese Black Pine that I think would be the first one I’d save if the place went on fire. The heat there that day, it might just do that at some point!! Free entry, well done. Donations were evident which was nice to see, I made one myself and bought a T-Shirt for my rapidly growing collection. Some accents there but would have been nice to see them displayed along with the trees but perhaps problematic for watering.

I’m so glad I made the effort to drop by and see this collection. I did manage to peek in at the overflow area, I’d have loved 30 minutes in there too. If you’re in the Bay area, make sure you pop in for a look.  Gallery, the biggest yet I think, is below. Next up will be Redwood National Forest and those awesome Coastal Redwoods.