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.



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!


Some deadwood will need to be worked.


Help from the chaps in getting the raffia applied.



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…


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.


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!




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.


The sort of ground we had to collect over.



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.

One to One : Scot’s Pine

Another one to one today, this time helping out with a tricky repot of a Scots Pine. I love this tree! It’s been in a wooden box for a few years to increase vigour after a few years dealing with Needle Cast. I helped with the first styling of this tree back on 11th September 2001, an easy date to remember due to the tragedy that unfolded as we finished the tree.

This was the tree today.


And after a tidy up and old needle removal…


Then the repot



and the result


Over exposure but kinda cool all the same …





It’s been nice to keep a connection with this tree over the years. I even looked back in my files and found some older photos.

September 2001

Scots Pine 2001

March 2002

Scots pine 6 Mar 2002

And a virtual image I made back in 2002. Not too far off the mark.

Scots pine virtual

Stephen reworking the tree back in 2004

October 2003 to January 2004 091

October 2003 to January 2004 078

2011 with Stephen for scale. The tree isn’t really that big, Stephen is tiny!

DSC_0327 (2)

Being inspected by Peter Warren in 2012


Some Recent Viewings

Some videos I have watched recently on Youtube. It’s Saturday night now. Pop open a bottle of beer and relax.

The Spoils

Some of the Pines collected on a recent trip. A mixture of Scots and Lodgepole.

Sunday’s Collecting Trip

After an evening with Piotr our host on the Saturday night, we made an early start on the Sunday morning to visit two collecting sites. First off we wanted to collect some Larch for the NIBS, our own club, who have plans about a special inter-generational workshop next year. Here we our selecting some suitable trees for this.



We popped back to Piotrs home for a quick cuppa before some serious travelling to the second site. While we were there we had a look around some of Piotr’s trees in his garden. I think we can safely say he’s hooked on bonsai with a garden rapidly filling with trees.

We then headed along the West Coast to get to a site we hadn’t visited before. We had been told that it was a possible Pine collecting site. I’m not going to go into the location for obvious reasons but Piotr had done the ground work for us so we could just go and collect. He came along with us and it was great to have his help.

It was a bit of a drive and then a bit of a hike from the road but what we found was an excellent site for both Scots Pine and Lodgepole Pine. These trees were self seeded and growing in an exposed area which created some great shapes and bark. These are the best Pines that I’ve found in Ireland. Here are a few shots of some of them on site. A nice mix of sizes. Sorry for a few blurry photos  but it was raining for a while.

And Now for Something Completely Different..

I have been working my way through a few Scots Pines in the last few weeks giving them an initial styling. They were collected from a bog a few years back and have grown well.

As with most bog pines they are tall and straight with not much as the bottom to work with. This one however had an unusual lower branch which I wanted to retain. We often are too quick to remove what we deem as a ‘fault’ when it can actually make the main feature of the tree. Who wants to look at the same boring tree images again and again? Indeed, who wants to style the same boring tree images again and again?

This was it before I started.


And this is it after some wiring. As usual the photo doesn’t show the back to front trunk and branch movement. Some branches need to extend and as it fills I can create a more convincing image, but for a first styling I am happy with the result.




Cascade Scots Pine

A little work on my cascade Pine.


Needles thinned out




Rewired and branch removed to expose more of the deadwood.


Munster Weekend in Photos

Here’s our exploits from the weekend in photos. A great atmosphere for bonsai, fun but hard work getting done as well.

Scottie Initial Work

I styled this tree with Ben a few days ago to help explain the use of raffia in making bends. This is the material, not very exciting and needed a little drama added.


Ben at work.




Ready for bending


After initial bending. A first step towards bonsai. A long way to go but a good start.