Shine Bright Like A Diamond

In an attempt to get into a routine of posting on the blog again I thought I’d share this Rhododendron Blue Diamond here.

This years peak bloom.

You’ll notice the one branch at the front without flowers. It’s a weak branch which gets weaker every year. There is a very thin live vein on it and I had removed the flowers from it for the last few years to try and strengthen it with no joy. Enough was enough. It had its chance so time to remove and redesign.

And then past peak with dead flowers showing.

The ideal time to remove the flowers and more importantly the little seed pods at their centre.

I’m sure we missed some late openers.
After deflowering before pruning.
Structural pruning
After pruning and set for the post flowering flush. You’d hardly notice the front branch at the main apex gone. A few bits wired to fill the gap.

Below is how the tree came to me in 2002.

Tale of Two Malus

Exactly a year ago a was wandering around a garden centre in Dublin. A great wee place called Murphy and Woods. All the plants were a little different than you usually see and staff could be seen everywhere taking the time to chat properly with customers. Remember those days when you could just pop into a garden centre 🙄

Anyway, I walked past a open gate marked staff only and about 10 metres inside the gate I could see a lump of malus trunk with a few weak branches and a small cluster of flowers. What can I say, when your eyes in it’s in 👀. As it was staff only I walked on but soon came across some other malus in 10 litre pots up at the back. These weren’t bonsai just small ornamental apple trees. I hoped they were crab apple and spotted one that might make a reasonable tree in time. At 50€ it was worth a punt.

I asked about the 50€ tree in the shop and was told it wasn’t a crab apple but the fruit wasn’t too big. They had been bought as crab apple but turned out not to be. On the off chance I asked about the one I could barely see in the staff area. I was told it belonged to the owner of the centre and had been a bonsai that he displayed in his own Japanese garden at home. However it was diseased and had gone down hill over the last few years. I was taken over to see it and it was a sorry sight lying bare rooted with a lot of dead areas on the tree. The mix it had been in looked way to moisture retentive for a bonsai pot.

A short time later I got to chat with the owner and asked if he’d part with the old bonsai malus. He told me to make him an offer. I asked how much would you pay for a nearly dead tree and that I was actually just trying to save it. We had a laugh about it and he then gave me the tree to try and save. As a good will gesture I then bought the 50€ tree as well as a few plants.

When I got the sick tree home it went into a free draining mix and into a Polytunnel under a misting system. It got sprayed with some big hitting fungicide and insecticide.

The 50€ tree got a little pruning to shape and was stuck in a corner. I watched it produce apples over the year and in the Autumn I sampled one and feck me they were delicious and super sweet 😀

The sick tree took a month or two to settle in and then started to sent our extension growth, even from part of the tree I assumed to be dead. The tree will need to have some deadwood features but with a few more years I hope to prove that it was worth the time and effort.

Anyway, here’s the sick tree now.

And here’s the 50€ special.

I’ll be keeping both trees, one for the challenge and one for the tasty apples 😂

One to One with John

Another day with trees in Dublin, this time with John is his beautiful garden.

Some pics.

One to One with Derek

A few snaps from today’s one to one with Derek in Dublin.

Repotting Theory & Practical

On Saturday I took a day out of one to one workshops to do a Theory and Practical Repotting Day with Munster Bonsai Club at Bruree in Limerick.

I had been asked to focus on this in a session to aid newer members in getting the fundamentals right and gain some new skills.

We had a run through of the why what when and how via PowerPoint and Q&A before a Practical session with club members repotting their own trees and helping others.

I think this was one of the best feel good club days I’ve ever experienced from the outside. A great club. A massive thank you to all those who yet again came out to support a club event. They have been coming thick and fast for a club pushing their learning hard.

Here’s some photos from the day some mine some stolen.

Busy Week on the Road

It’s been a busy week down in the South of Ireland doing some one to one sessions with friends from Cobh, Cork, to Limerick then Dublin. Some good times had and great trees played with. A little styling and refinement and, as you’d expect, some repotting.

Here’s some photos from the trip. snow on the way home as usual in Dublin. Thank you to all who supported the road trip. Back again images weeks for another round.

Pauls Place

Tuesday was a first session with a new customer. Paul has been doing bonsai for a while but has decided to up him game. I spent the day helping him with a few projects and some repotting. Paul’s garden is pretty special too. Here’s some photos of the day.

Day With Derek

Monday saw me with Derek sorting a few trees out. Repotting and a little wiring on the agenda.

First up was a maple that had been recovering for a ew years in a box. Now we’ll on the up again we transferred it into a pot. Derek had a few options but most were too small.

We opted to use a round Gordon Duffet pot he had lying around😂 I only wish it were mine. The other gives the tree a little space in which to continue its development

This was the tree back in the late 80s

Next up was a pine, species unknown. He collected the seed from the Botanical Gardens in Dublin many years ago. The tree got a reworking having had some initial work done by myself a few years ago at a club workshop.

The tree was repotted into a Magic Ceramic pot that Derek picked up last year. We even found a nice widening buttress buried in the box. It’s got a longer needle but back buds well and seems to reduce well.

Another repot was this larch which had been a taller tree last year before being reduced to the bottom branch. Pushing hard for a shohin image but it’s on the larger side. It went into another Magic Ceramics pot.

A Chinese Juniper landscape was next. I doubt this tree had been repotted properly in the last 20 years but now under Derek’s care it was time for a freshen up.

A busy day with Derek but productive and great craic as usual.

Out Clubbing

I only wish I was young enough to go actual clubbing! This time it was a study group session with Leinster Bonsai Club in Dublin on Sunday.

We looked at repotting Theory, how, when and why we repot and what substrates to use. We then got hands on with a few trees to cover the practical side. A big thank to the LBC for supporting my endeavours in this the 5th of 6 sessions.

Trophy Trees

Here’s a selection of photos from the Trophy.