Munster Manoeuvres

A big thank you to all those in Munster stretching from Middleton to Ennis who allowed me to work on their trees last week. Some great craic and I was well looked after at every stop on the way.

Here’s a few photos snapped along the way some general some before and some after.

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Iwasaki Japanese White Pine

I’ve been looking for a Japanese White Pine for a while, but something a little different than the usual shaped pines we see everywhere. Back at the start of the Winter I was offered one that fitted the criteria.

Peter Warren of Saruyama Bonsai had imported some JWP that had been part of the Daizo Iwasaki collection. I had the pleasure of wiring one of them back in January 2017 whilst studying at Saruyama Towers. I think this was the catalyst to my desire for one. Peter had sold one in the Autumn of 2016 but it just come back into his hands as part of a swap deal and I jumped at the chance of buying it.

This is it back in Japan where Peter first spotted it.

The tree arrived with me just before Christmas, along with Mr Warren 🙂 This is a few angles before we started work.

Getting down to work with the professional.

and afterwards……

I love this tree, a spreading multi apex image and out of the normal cookie cutter Pine image. A few branches are a little behind development wise, especially around the back were we brought up a back branch to make the highest part of the tree. A few branches will be removed within a year or two. The last video clip is probably the best way to view it. It helps give a view of it’d funky quirky style and shows the real age and character in the trunk and branches. I look forward to developing this tree further, it should be a fun journey.

Thanks as always to Peter Warren, the most genuine bonsai professional out there, and, as the music playing in the last video says, ‘Go your Own Way’. 🙂 Let’s not run with the herd.

 

Perth Bonsai Tour – John Di Vincenzo

After hooking up with some members of the Bonsai Society of Western Australia at a workshop, I was kindly invited to visit the collections of a few members. First up was John Di Vincenzo. Joining me at John’s garden was Nigel Atkinson, another club member who I met at the workshop.

We had a great time viewing John’s extensive collection. I was especially interested in the true native species of which John had many. Australia has strict rules about collecting yamadori but I was amazed to see some great Melaleuca that looked as if they were ancient. John was able to show me photos of these trees from previous years and the humble beginnings they had. The potential for this species to make quality bonsai is high. I only wish I could name the other species for you but I’m afraid I was too busy looking at the trees to worry about the names. You’ll also see Ficus, Olives etc which lend themselves well to this climate. Import restrictions mean that imported bonsai are pretty much non-existent in Western Australia. This means that everything you see are locally developed trees which makes it more interesting to explore the benches.

A massive thank you to Nigel for organising the tour and or course to John for his hospitality.

 

Bonsai Eejit in 2018

Happy New Year to all those who follow this blog.

2017 was a big year for me with bonsai taking a bigger role. Ireland is a small place and we are isolated in many ways from the rest of the bonsai community and 2017 saw me covering a lot of ground teaching bonsai.

I’d just like to say a massive thank you to all the other ‘bonsai eejits’ that made this year so successful. To the 30 who took part in one to one sessions, to the 11 who took part in monthly study group sessions. To the 2 Irish clubs in Leinster and Munster who’s support and faith in my abilities has been massive. To the folks over in the Ayr Bonsai for inviting me over to talk back in March.

2018 will see a continuation of the groundwork laid in 2017. I have 10 days in January with the guys down in Munster Bonsai doing one to ones and starting a new Bonsai School set up following the years of success my own club had with this format with Willowbog Bonsai.

I’m continuing the Study Group series with Leinster Bonsai through until May 2018. If you are Dublin based and interested in taking part, contact the guys here.

I will also be expanding the study groups set up here at my home. These have been running for a year now and feedback has been fantastic. If you live local and want to know more, then click here.

I look forward to catching up with bonsai friends worldwide again in 2018. A happy new year to you all.

Leinster Bonsai Club Study Group

It was a pleasure to be invited by the Leinster Bonsai Club to deliver a study group session earlier this month. I popped down for the first of 6 sessions and was met by a group of motivated guys keen to push on their own learning and share knowledge with each other. Looking forward to the next session in December. Here’s a few photos from the session.

The session focused in on how to critique trees looking at the fundamentals of bonsai design and the species in focus on the day was Pinus. This club has a few big changes coming on the horizon, keep an eye out for more content from them soon. If you live in the Dublin area and want to get involved please get in touch with LBC

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.

The Wild Atlantic Way

A few snaps taken on my Donegal trip.

 

Travels Down Under

I’ll be on my travels again in November, this time heading to Perth in Australia. I’m staying with family and will be travelling south of Perth on a camping trip. I’d be keen to meet up with some bonsai enthusiasts while I’m there. I also want to visit some big/old trees on my travels. Anyone following this blog who lives or knows the area, can you help with a few pointers? Private collections, clubs, it doesn’t matter, I just want to see bonsai and trees Aussie style.

Bonsai Club in Tyrone Anyone?

I’ll do whatever I can to help promote bonsai in Ireland, and have done so across the island in recent years, both locally here in Northern Ireland, and in Leinster and Munster. I’ve tried to get Tim up and running in Connaught but the rural nature of the area has made that hard work so far, but we won’t give up. Come on Galway!

So, over the last few months I’ve been chatting with Paul up in Omagh, County Tyrone and he’s keen to try and get a club or small study group off the ground. He’s just made a Facebook page to help garner interest and I said I’d give it a push from this end as well. I’ve committed to helping him get it off the ground with a few sessions and see how it goes. It will be based in Omagh town itself and will cater for those interested in bonsai on that side of Northern Ireland and indeed, Donegal as well.

If you follow this blog from the North West of Ireland and have always wanted a bonsai club in your area, this is your chance, don’t miss it. It takes someone with the motivation to get the ball rolling, and Paul is that man in that place right now!

This is a link to the Facebook Page, go and say hello and express an interest and we’ll keep you up to date with what’s happening as things progress.

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.