Photos in the Sun

Saturday saw Phil appear in my back garden with a few new trees to get photographed 😉

Stephen cam for a look and Josh appeared with the first load of his collection coming for some Holiday care.

He’s Back!!!

Just when you thought it was safe to walk the streets……



Phil’s Visit to Shohin Nursery Koju-en

Further Phil Photos From Japan








Phil The Fingers Stag Night

If you follow this blog you’ll know that one of my closest friends, in bonsai or otherwise, is Phil, known for doing his best to get a two fingers salute into every photo I try and take.

Well, Phil has found someone that is willing to marry him, and I’ll be honest, he’s punching well above his weight 😉

Last night saw a few of us head out for an amazing meal at Macau on the Ormeau Road in Belfast and then on to a local bar for a few drinks. Some of us missed the real stag night and we decided to do a night out in Belfast instead.

Not many photos taken, but this one taken by ‘Eeyore’ also known as Mark, Phil’s brother and best man, pretty much sums up the night.

From left to right, Stephen the Bonsai Baker, me, tucked away at the back as I didn’t even bother to wear a proper shirt, Phil who you will notice is actually a lot smaller than Stephen, and lastly Sam, who yes Mark, is my brother 😉




Highlights of the night, good company, good food, Hugh’s Japanese toilet story, Phil kissing the bouncer and getting a kiss back, the Froch v Kessler fight, me not wearing a stripey shirt, and the best one, Eeyore not knowing that Sam was my brother. I can vaguely remember something about white shoes too!

Phil lining up the jagerbombs


The lone stag, a quiet moment of contemplation? Aye right  ❗ Strange to see his back without the Stonebridge Landscapes logo.


Phil’s Quince

This is a post I’ve been meaning to get around too but have put off due to the need to search for old photos. However Phil found some and even wrote the text for me so I couldn’t really leave it on the back burner any longer 🙂

This is the story of a rather heavy trunked Quince that Phil has been playing with for the last 13 years. Over to Phil…..

I collected this quince from an old garden in Bangor co Down in spring 2000 . It was lifted along the side of the driveway from a small bed . There was a smaller one with it but it did not survive the lift , after lifting it I potted it up in a large round container in a free draining  mix it lived here for a couple of years to get it settled with just general pruning from time to time.

[A few photos of Phil putting the quince in a temp pot to await a proper repot with Robert Porch a few days later. Look how skinney he is back then :-)]

In autumn 2002  during a workshop with Robert Porch it was taken out of the large container and put into a large training pot.

And at this stage it had some of the branches removed and the first placement of the remaining  branches. it lived in this pot  up until 2008 , with very little work done apart from pruning from time to time . 

First Branch placement in Spring 2003

It was repotted in spring 2009 into a smaller more manageable pot . Which it is still in at present time . It stayed at Ian’s house up until I got a house with a garden in 2010. And had very little work done, only general pruning as well as all the flower buds removed from the tree as soon as they appeared to let more energy go to branch structure . [Phil says very little work, but It was I who was watering and feeding and pruning it for 7 years!! 😛 ]

At a club meeting in April 2009

March 2010

February 2011

I will worry about flowering after I have built the tree . In the summer of 2012 I was doing a workshop with Robert porch and we thinned out the branches removing what was not needed etc .

Then in spring of 2013 I wired the whole tree and styled it . Looking at it, its branches look more like a c conifer than a deciduous tree but with this styling I was looking to open the pads up more than they were. over the next few years my aim is to have the branches reverting to the deciduous style rising up .I also aim to build up the ramification on the tree through clip and grow , if anyone has any hints or tips on building up ramification  on a quince I would like to hear them .

I was thinking about getting wallsall Ceramic to make a new pot for it . I saw a glaze I liked on a pot that Peter Snart from Willowbog Bonsai had over with him at the last bonsai school. However, over the last few weeks I have been looking at different pics of quince and just seeing the different pot colours. This made me change my mind from my original thought which was a rusty coloured pot which would have tied in with the bark.  Peter also had a cream one that looked rather nice against the tree ,  I am also drawn to a blue pot which would look nice against the deep red flowers of the tree but I will leave this for a bit more thought .

If anyone wants to do a few virtuals of pots work away as I would be interested in peoples views. 

I wrote this for posting on face book about a week ago but have had to add this bit on due to the fact that Robert was over during again and I took advantage of this and did a workshop with him which, as always, was very informative.  We looked at the quince again and we came to the conclusion that with a few tweaks we could improve the image of the tree. This was done with small upwards movements in the tips of the branches making big improvements to the tree . We also decided on the removal of one side branch and another back branch to be removed later in the year. We  looked at a few ways to improve the surface roots of the tree through different processes.

I will feed the tree this year with Japanese rapeseed cakes about 18 -25 of them around the pot with a 4-6 week replenishment . I will also use a foliar feeding programme that was originally devised by Dave Hannah and tweaked a bit by myself to suit my own needs. Using fish emulsion week one, seaweed extract week three , and foliaire week five, I have used this foliar feeding programme for the last three seasons with great results the only draw back being with all the organic material getting sprayed over the tree the bark and branches especially the jin and shari can get a build up of algae quicker than normal. But the results are worth it .

More to follow as and when the tree progresses.

Phil Aka ‘two fingers ‘

Phil’s Garden

Well not quite, some from his and some from his Dad’s place were he keeps a lot of his trees.

Some of the wee ones he keeps at his own place.

And a few bigger ones there for some work.

and now up at his Dad’s place.

Checing the filter to see why the pond has dropped 12″!

A  bit of everything

Collected material

The magic tunnel

Some of the smaller trees.

Scots Pine


Scots Pine

The setting of the sun, time to go home.

Air Layer Gone Wrong!!

Don’t know just what went wrong here, cling film on before moss perhaps?!

Health & Safety :

Do not try this at home, this comedic moment was carried out under close supervision with a team of experts close at hand! 

A few fellow bonsai folk in my garage the other night. See if you can spot Phil ‘Two Fingers’ Donnelly. 🙂

Oh How We Change !

My brother reads this blog and made a comment about my mate Phil who you see featured here quite often. He sees Phil a lot these days but was shocked to see him in photos dating back 10 years. Never one to miss a chance to point this out, here is a before and after of him 2002/2011.

This is him at a show back in 2002

and this was him lounging around my garage reading Bonsai Focus with his keg out 🙂

I’ve known Phil from 1995 and we’ve shared a lot of bonsai experiences together over the years. If you asked anyone in the club, ‘what’s he like?’ I guess most would reply, using the local term, ‘he’s a bit of a Header!!’ 🙂

Here’s a few other photos I found while looking for a suitable before and after. First one is him doing a workshop with Robert Porch back in 2001 I think.

Both of us after collecting some Communis Junipers back in 2002

Showing off his collected Beech back in 2003

One tired looking puppy after wiring this Pine for styling by Marco Invernizzi at a workshop at Willowbog Bonsai back in 2004.

And here are just a few more recent ones showing his talent for feck’n around 😀

Bonsai to me is as much about friendship as about the little trees themselves. In 18 years playing with trees, I have made some great friends along the way.

Bonsai Baker! You’re next for the treatment. That gnome outfit is getting a mention 🙂