Raft Maple Progression

Back in 2013 my good friend Stephen bought this Raft maple from Willowbog Bonsai. The tree, Acer Palmatum Anyropurpureum, had previously been started from garden Centre material having. Even laid horizontally in a box for a few year to create the raft image. It had been displayed in John Hanbys Newstead Exhibition in 2010. These are some of the photos from the trees creation through to around 2012.

Stephen exhibited the tree in Bonsai Europa in 2015.

In 2019 the tree moved about 200 yards from Stephen’s home to Kris’s place. The size and weight of the tree meant that Stephen moved the tree on and who better than a friend who is easy to visit. Today we masked up and got down to the task of repotting the tree. It got a trim first. A good time to make cuts as having the roots worked means they won’t bleed. Here’s the full process step by step.

A few branch adjustments to be made once the tree has settled. A pleasure to have helped work this tree for the last 8 years. A unique tree and an awkward species, Antropurpureum is not often used for bonsai as it’s larger leaf and courser growth can put people off. I look forward to seeing Kris progress this tree in the years to come. It’s nice to record the provenance here for all to see.

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.

Chuhin Japanese Maple

Catching up on a little blogging. I’ve missed a few trees in their Autumn garb. This was one. I like to add them here as my record each year. This one had a bad insect attach a few years back and I lost branches. I’m in the process of rebuilding the apex and ramification.



Root Over Rock Trident Maple Repot

I bought this Trident back in 2011. This is the pot it was in at the time. I didn’t like the rectangle and I didn’t like that the rock over hung the left side of the pot.

I opted to change the pot to this Walsall Ceramics pot in February 2012.

And there it stayed until last week. I had another pot come into my hands that I wanted to try out and then of course I found another one as a second option. I tried the tree out in each pot.

This was the blue option

and this was the cream/white option.

After some deliberation I opted for the cream pot. It was my favourite of the two anyway but I was also able to twist the tree slightly more in the pot with the extra front to back space allowing for a slightly new front that shows a little of the rock to the right side of the far right root which I think adds to the image.


Trident Maple Adjustments

Looking at the branch structure of these two Trident Maples I decided to make a few adjustment especially in the lower branches.

A hidden adjustment on the Root over rock is a branch that was previously lying on the top of the rock to the left. This has now been dropped to the back and when in leaf will help add to the depth of the image. With a little work this year and a new pot, perhaps this is an option for Europa 2017 😉

As you can see I have gone through a major Walsall Ceramics faze in recent years 🙂

Thank You

Has it been a week since the workshop!!

A big thank you to the guys who took part in the workshop last Saturday here at my home. Phil and I hope that everyone got the results they wanted on the day. It was a great day with good craic.

Here’s a few General shots from the day.



Trident Root over Rock


Shohin Japanese Maple


Japanese Maple


Trident Maple



Rescue Maple Air Layer Removal… at Last!

The story so far…

September 2011

April 2013

October 2013

I could have removed this layer back in the Autumn but opted to wait until now as the buds begin to swell. I was fairly confident that it had done well last year after a shaky start as it had pushed out a lot of new growth.



On removal of the pot I was please to see some good roots.



With dead sections on the trunk ( see older post links above) I was delighted to see that each live section had produced roots.


The saw cut which got some work before potting.


This hollow up the trunk was really starting to roll over well and instead of leaving a hole to collect water I decided to treat and seal this with wound putty and then seal with cut paste. This will allow it to eventually heal over leaving no hole at all in about 5 years.





Potted up in a wash hand basin to allow it to gain some momentum this year. The original roots on inspection were very poor, I feel that if I hadn’t layered this tree it would already be dead. Which would be a shame with the stunning Autumn Colour it produces.


Winter Image – Trident Maple

That time of the year when we get to see the good and the bad in the branch structure of our trees.The dregs of Autumn removed to show my Trident Maple.





Saturday’s One to One

I had a one to one workshop on Saturday and as part of the session we carried out a little work on this Maple Raft. This is the front before we started.


End on view


Back view


and from the other end


Over the Winter and into next Spring we planned to reposition the last branch on the right of the tree. In it’s current position it stopped the flow. The branch when viewed end on, or even in the back view above, turns almost 90 degrees towards the front and brings the flow to an abrupt end. We raffia’d the branch and wired it to allow us to bring it around into a more suitable position. This was done in stages during the afternoon. We opted to use a bar to act as an anchor point to give us more control of the branch. The tree had a few other branches wired at the same time. The wire will need close monitoring in the Spring as this tree is a vigorous grower. Hopefully the wire can stay in place until the tree is defoliated in late May early June at which point it can be removed.



Some work was also carried out on a deadwood hollow in the main trunk. Some wood was rotting and in a few places deadwood was stopping the rolling in of the cambium layer. The hollow will be darken down to catch the eye less when viewing.


The tree after work.