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.

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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.

Tenerife – Centro Bonsai Tenerife

Whilst in Tenerife I had the pleasure of finally meeting up with Jose Acuna. Jose and I have swapped a few plants over the years and chatted on Facebook but I never crossed paths with him until now. Jose kindly picked me up from my hotel and showed me around his collection. I had a great few hours with him chatting all things bonsai. Interesting to chat about the major differences in climate, watering, species etc, between Ireland and the Canary Islands. They have heat and light but crap water. We have no heat and poor light but loads of great water lol.

Here are some of Jose’s trees, some fantastic shohin among them.

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This great little juniper won the 2nd World Shohin Photo Award  The submitted image can be seen below the one I took on my visit.

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A stunning little maple.

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A little bit bigger 🙂

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Some of Jose’s awards displayed on his workshop wall.

 

 

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I also fell in love with this pot. Truly beautiful carving.

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I’m kicking myself for not taking a few photos of the pots that Jose made himself recently. Some very nice work.

Thank you Jose for taking the time on your one day off to show me around. I’ll maybe see you again soon 😉

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Saulieu 2016 – The Trees

My friend JP Reitz has a superb album of photos from Saulieu up on FlickR.

Click on the Image below to view. Enjoy 🙂

It’s Over!

Time to reflect and recover from what was a very successful weekend at the NIBS Bonsai 30 Exhibition.

The club has loads of photos to follow in a few days and these are being added to the Bonsai 30 Webpage as we go. Check in there to see some now but more to be added soon.

Here are a few of my own trees from the exhibition. It’s not until you get time to sit and look that you realise that tweaking was required after transportation to the event, a few branches knocked out of place. Not that I would have had time to sort them at any rate. I think that would be my main disappointment over the weekend, not getting enough time to really look at the trees on display and walk around with friends. I think we had roughly 18,000 through the event over the 2 days and every club member helping out gave their all to make sure both the trees and the public were happy.

Yew, Golden variety, collected from my Uncles garden 8 years ago.

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Japanese Larch

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Japanese Maple

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Scots Pine

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Escallonia

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Hawthorn

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Yew grown from a cutting

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Japanese Maple

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Root over Rock Cotoneaster and a little Elm

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Shohin Stand by Ringfort Design Studio –

Japanese White Pine, Pyracantha (not mine) Larch, Rose, Maple, Juniper.

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Blue Cedar

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Fuchsia

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Japanese White Pine

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Larch

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Rose 50% Ownership 🙂

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Japanese Maple

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A few missing, more to follow.

 

 

It’s Here

Bonsai 30 that is. Spent the day knee deep in trees and accents.

This was my front garden this morning taken from the back end of a lorry collecting the bits and pieces.

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And a big thank you to this guy, Jeff has been a star with transporting the bigger trees and getting the club free use of a lorry. Burning it at both ends a tad Jeff but just know it is appreciated.

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A big personal thank you to everyone who gave up their own time to pull this together. Two years in the planning with many major barriers put in our way but it looks like our plan C has come good with a great set up, some super trees never even exhibited before and all done by many many helping hands.

Some snaps from tonight as we were closing up. Flood lights are moody which was actually fun to walk around and see the trees in different light.

Robert Porch in there somewhere, trading at the show as well.

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A few monster trees being viewed in a sneak peek by one of our Scottish visitors.dsc_0086-2

The labels are the QR codes for 30 showcased trees within the exhibition. Scan them and you get taken to a web page with the trees history.dsc_0088-2

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Bonsai 30

As most of you who follow my blog will know, I’m part of the Northern Ireland Bonsai Society. We have a special event coming up in September when we officially celebrate the 30th anniversary of our club. We are calling the event BONSAI 30. We have lined up an exhibition of bonsai from across Northern Ireland and from Republic of Ireland to showcase during this weekend event. We have worked with Belfast Parks to enable us to deliver this event at the Belfast Autumn Flower Festival at Botanic Gardens in Belfast on 17th & 18th September. We even have some guest exhibits coming from across the water in Scotland.

We aim to make this a fun event with free kids workshops and stands from Ikebana international among others, even a few trade stands. Plenty more to see both at the Fair and also around Belfast.

This is right in the heart of Belfast with plenty of hotels nearby along with shopping, restaurants and the odd bar 😉 The flyer for the event is below please share freely and if you feel the urge to pop over into Belfast for the weekend, the City Airport and a short train journey will bring you to us.

Arco 2016

A big thank you JP Reitz for sharing these photos from Arco with me, and from me to you.

These are my personal favourites from the exhibition.

Check it Out

Check out this inspiring exhibition by Ryan Neil at the Japanese Gardens in Portland. This blog post over on Phutu.com has all the information.

Check out Eric’s short video about the exhibition and listen to Ryan’s concept. I laughed when Ryan said he wasn’t striving to create controversy. He may not have been but the 5 exhibits are, for sure, unusual and you will have your own view on them. They are Marmite, you will either love them or hate them. My view, Why not? What better way to exhibit in the open air in a Japanese Garden?   Sticking them up on wooden poles would be predictable. This is a well thought out and in my view inspiring way to exhibit in this environment.