100 Days in Lockdown

For those who follow me on Instagram you’ll know that back on day 1 of lockdown in Northern Ireland I decided that it might be fun to do a daily post there and, thanks to Facebook global domination, share it their as well.

Here we are 100 days later and I’ve decided it’s a nice round number to stop at. I’ve enjoyed doing the posts but time to resume my more chaotic posting system. As you can plainly see I’m also trying to breath life into this blog. As usual I’ll get carried away and no doubt I’ll slow it down to a drip 💧

As I posted precious little here during lockdown I thought I’d add a gallery as well of some of the trees etc that I posted over the last 100 days.

Scots Pine Next Step

This Scots Pine, recently arrived into Northern Ireland, hade been featured in Peter Warren’s book, ‘Bonsai’ published by DK. This showed its first styling by Peter.

When it arrived here it was obvious that in the interim it had undergone further changes and refinement.

The tree was ready for the next step and the new owner asked if I would do a little work on it. I was going to wait a little longer to allow the new foliage time to harden but it was surprisingly resistant to a tug on new needles. So with a soft touch I set about following the framework already set in place before. I discussed the tree with Adam the new owner and we agreed on a front but knew the tree had been set up for either side to look the part. My reason for the left lean being the front was the added depth the foliage created and the better base to the tree.

This is the back but styled to give the tree a great look all around.

There’s a few little bits of deadwood that might be distracting but I’m leaving them to see how the tree matures, they can be removed later by the owner if he feels the need.

Two Eejits Chatting

I think I should probably share this here. I’ve been poor at blogging of late, Instagram has sucked me in for ease of use and I have neglected my oldest child as a result. I must do better.

Anyway here is a link to last nights live stream with Peter Warren where we take a walk around my garden on a freak windy day and then shoot the breeze over a beer. We even talk about my lack of blogging. Gripping stuff

 

 

Bjorn Workshop and the 9/11 Scots Pine

A week yesterday, where does the time go! I was taking part in a group Workshop in Belfast with Bjorn Bjorholm. I missed him the last time he visited due to a holiday but this time I grabbed a slot with Belfast Bonsai’s event.

My tree for the day was only a recent addition to my collection but a tree that I have a special connection to. It belonged to my best friend Stephen who was letting a few of his bigger trees go due to the fact that they were bigger than him. Sorry Stephen, I can’t resist 🙂 The tree was originally purchased as raw material from Willowbog Bonsai back in the late 90’s.

I helped Stephen with it’s first styling on 11th September 2001, a date that will forever stay in my memory and why I call the tree the 9/11 Scottie. I can remember standing wiring this tree with Stephen when my wife knocked the window and told us to come inside. We watched the horror unfold.

When Stephen told me he was selling it all these years later I didn’t hesitate to buy it. I have a few trees that have sentimental value to me because of who used to own them but this tree resonates for a different reason. I’ve dealt with a fair bit of stress in my life including Post Traumatic Stress and, for whatever reason, this tree seems to echo back to a time where those involved and survived no doubt have many of the same issues I have. This probably sounds stupid unless you’ve experienced something similar. Anyway, it’s my tree for my reasons and I suppose that’s all that really matters. It seemed fitting for an American Bonsai artist to carry out the work some 18 years later nearly to the day.

This is the tree back in 2001\2.

and a few other pics of it over the years.

and how it was prior to the workshop.

And this is a gallery of the workshop day with my tree.

The finished tree.

A massive thank you to Bjorn. It was pleasing to see that he was as enthusiastic about the tree and result as I was.

A new pot in the Spring more suited to the style and the tree will live on as a memory for me.

 

One to One with John

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

Some pics.

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

Steve’s Bonsai Garden

When I was over at Suruyama Towers the other week I had the pleasure of spending a few hours with Steve McKee who was visiting. Steve and I have a fair bit in common and it was good to get a walk around the trees and chat bonsai.

Steve picked up a nice Literati Scots Pine from Peter when he was there and I have been following what’s happened since on Steve’s Facebook page ” Steve’s Bonsai Garden”.

This is the Pine as bought.

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Steve has since worked on the tree with Paul Finch and this is the result. More photos over on his FB page.

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Steve has a fantastic collect of trees and and great garden layout.

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Well worth a follow over on Facebook to see more of his trees and follow his exploits around some of the exhibition in the UK.

Here’s a link to his page again to save you a search:  Steve’s Bonsai Garden

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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.

 

A Cracking Night!

Last week I had a night at my garage for the guys who do one to ones with me. I needed a hand getting a large Scots pine bent into shape. This was an old tree collected from a bog back in 2012. This is the tree at the time of collection.

This was it a few weeks ago, sitting outside where it’s been for the last 3 years. It’s been chopped back a few times to remove unwanted trunks and branches and to help chase back the foliage.

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The idea was to create a twin trunk image from the remaining foliage. However it’s always good to have a Plan B!!

Here we have the tree placed into the workshop after a 4 man lift. Took a coat of paint off the door on the way in!

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Some deadwood will need to be worked.

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Help from the chaps in getting the raffia applied.

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And then my Plan A went out the window lol. When bending the lighter of the two trunks I managed to snap it beyond the point of repair/survival. I was a bit amazed at the time to be honest as I hadn’t applied that much pressure and the trunk had been raffia’d, taped, and cable-tied. On closer inspection later I noticed a weak point where a branch had died previously, but still…

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I was quite pleased with how calm I remained. Nothing I could do to change what had occurred, all I could do was look for options within the remaining trunk to create a tree. The original plans for this trunk had to be dropped and the whole tree evaluated to select another styling option. Once done we again got to work and did a little more bending, this time with no mishaps.

This is how the tree finished before the guys had to head home.

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As the branches where all hanging at weird angle with buds pointing towards straight down, I felt that it would be better to fire on and get the tree fully wired so all buds were facing up to help with vigour. In some cases this was exaggerated on the weaker buds. This is how the tree turned out. I actually had another smaller branch break, again with hardly any pressure applied. Some trees just seem to be a pain in the arse!

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A first step on a long journey, a lot of back budding will be required but the tree is budding strongly this year. I’m pretty pleased with the result, possibly a better image that I was aiming for with the twin trunk image.

 

I’m Back!

I think that’s officially the longest I have ever went without posting on the blog! I have been meeting myself coming back in work of late, with every minute taken up doing more important things than blogging 🙂 Yes, I do have a life lol.

I did find time to go collecting on Sunday with Phil and Mark. Not great timing with the clocks going forward for BST. It meant that after a couple of hours sleep we had a 5 hour drive followed by a 5 hour collecting session, followed by another 5 hours back home, followed by 3 hours potting up session, followed by a double shift in work today!! I’m feeling pain in every muscle after humping up and down the side of a mountain, but you know what? I wouldn’t have missed it for the world 🙂 Mark had it easy, he only had a 3 hour drive from Cork to get to the site lol.

A wee cup of tea before heading home.

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The sort of ground we had to collect over.

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Trees, Scots Pine and Lodgepole Pine, all now potted up and under cover. Not a lot of photos taken either but more to follow soon perhaps.