Weekend at Saruyama Bonsai

It’s taken me a full week to thaw out but I’m able at last to feel my fingers and type out a blog post about my trip to Peter Warren’s Saruyama Bonsai aka Monkey Mountain.

Myself and a friend Mark from Cork flew over to Peter’s on the Friday and got stuck in to a full schedule of repotting over the next three days. Peter had lined up some great projects for the both of us with a heavy emphasis on learning and gaining experience with tricky techniques. Big trees featured a lot along with a wide range of species and a few rock planting creations. Friday was T Shirt weather but the snow greeted us on the Saturday morning but hard work kept us warm, mostly! Ireland beating England in the Six Nations Rugby in England on St Patrick’s Day also warmed the heart 🙂

Instead of adding a gallery of a gazillion photos I’ve put together a short video of the weekend. Many of the photos used were from a phone using a shivering hand, so apologies if some aren’t as clear as they should be.

Massive thank you to Peter and Satomi for a great weekend. Never stop learning folks.



New Pot for Chamaecyparis

I managed to pick up a nice Klika pot for this Chamaecyparis at Noelanders last month. I love Klika pots, I ended up with 3 that day. This is the tree in it’s new home.

Go West… And Repot

I posted last year about a great chap living over in the west of Ireland with a collection of bonsai 40 years + in the making. Peter Flint, a long time bonsai enthusiast, now in his 80’s had been working through his trees catching up on some long overdue repotting. However, he had a few that were just to big for him to manage. Derek and myself popped over to give him a hand. When I say popped over, it was a 9 hour round trip for me, but I’d hate to see the trees suffer from lack of hands.

Now, Peter has his own way of doing things regarding mixes etc and even though I didn’t agree with him, who am I to change what’s been working for him for 40 odd years. First up was a tall cedar.

Then a great Hinoki Cypress.

After a fun day with Peter, Derek and I went to check out some great local yamadori, mostly hawthorn and blackthorn. Most weren’t collectable but I did find time to experiment with a few air layers.

Thanks for a great day Peter, and the pizza 🙂 and to Derek for good company on the trip, it just flew in.

Viburnum Repot

Another tree repot, this time it’s a shohin viburnum being moved to it’s new home, a nice little Japanese Pot.


This was it last year when I picked it up. Looking forward to seeing it fill out this year.


New Pots From Ian Baillie

I was lucky to have access to a great collection of Ian Baillie pots at a club event this weekend past and I got my hands on some great pots. Sunday saw me repotting a few trees. Here are the results…

A dwarf Willow with a nice heavy base. This is it’s first time in a small pot and is in the first steps of styling this year. Tree is roughly 10cm tall.


A great pot with stunning detail.


This was the old pot and tree as acquired back in June last year.



A shohin Rose



A root over rock Rose. We had fun selecting a pot for this one. It’s a touch large as it sits but should make a stunning image when it produces pink flowers this year.





This was it before and in flower last year.



And a root over rock Cotoneaster in a new shallow pot adding to the drama .




and here in the old pot last September.

Escallonia – A Change of Home

No not sold, just a change of pot for it to live in. I have enjoyed immensely the journey in taking this tree from from my garden to Bonsai Europa last year. However I was never happy with the pot for any Winter image display. The pot is too large and lacks colour to lift a Winter image display. I have been looking around for a new pot for the tree for a while and this Spring I found what I was looking for from David Benavente.

This was the tree in Bonsai Europa last October.

The tree had been allowed to keep a larger amount of finer branching for the show to show more ramification and also try and get a better balance with the pot size. This resulted in a slightly unkempt image but one I liked. Very hard to prep an Escallonia for exhibition at this time of year.

Back to the present and I wanted to reduce the foliage mass to suit a smaller pot and help reset branches on this species. This needs to be done every few years to prevent inner branch die back anyway. It would also make for a more powerful image with a heavier trunk to branch balance. This is the tree after reduction. You can see how big the original Walsall pot looks now.


And this is the new pot, a pot from Tokaname made by Watanabe Kazuhiro (Ikkou). I feel in love with this one on sight. The glaze with green with an underlying blue, turning blue at the base in drips was just stunning.


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Getting the tree ready, time for a proper repot. This tree has always been robust and after a chop back I was confident that a full repot could be carried out.


A watering in.

And potted up in it’s new home.

Top dressed with a moss mix. It will take a few months to fill in again but it will make all the difference to the final  image.

Photos don’t do this pot justice. The colours and age of the pot are just perfect. The tree was repotted about 4 weeks ago and the tree is budding up nicely with plenty of adventurous back budding to boot. It next outing, all being well with be our clubs Bonsai 30 event this September.



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.


Old Joe Yew

This tree is with me until the end of either it or me 🙂 Perhaps not the best material in the world but I have a sentimental attachment to this tree due to it’s provenance. You can catch up with that here along with other links. 

As I’m keeping it, I decided it was time for a better pot. I have recently acquired this Walsall Ceramic pot which I think adds to the negative space required to emphasise the height of the tree. It’s a glazed pot but subtle which I like for this tree. I under planted a few small Japanese Ferns to help hide a few issues and also emphasise the height of the tree.

Beech Repot

Have you ever had a tree and you just want a change? I have had this Beech since 1999 and for most of that time it’s been in this pot. I like the pot, I like the tree, especially in Winter image. However I just fancied a change.

I was changing another tree over into a new pot on the same day and decided to use the pot from that tree for the Beech. It’s an old Lancashire Pot I’ve had knocking around for years, a nice pot.

and here’s the Beech in it’s new home, for a few years anyway, until I get bored. When I was listening to Boon on one of the Bonsai Empire videos recently, he mentioned about experimenting with pots, making changes to see how things look and gaining experience in what pot suits what tree. I guess it stuck with me.

Chuhin Yew – Time for a Change

I’ve had this little Yew since 2002 when I bought it as raw material. That said, it was in this pot even then. I love the pot, Ian Baillie only makes good ones but after all this time I felt either the tree had outgrown the pot or I just needed a change.

This is it in the old pot.

And this is it’s new home for the next few years. A nice Japanese pot I picked up with a bit of age about it.. It’s perhaps a little big but the tree could do with a few years of freer root growth as I will now spend a little more time on improving the overall image of the tree.

This was it back in 2003 as raw yamadori material. It’s come a long way but probably has as far to go again!