Peter Krebs Pot from My Collection

This is a round unglazed shohin pot, from my collection, by German potter Peter Krebs. Peter has produced some wonderful pots in his career, notable among them the stunning piece that was presented to the first winner of the Noelanders Trophy.




Lanarkshire Bonsai Club Meeting 13/7/2014

I paid a visit to my local bonsai club yesterday to catch up with the latest news. The club meets one Sunday a month at Wattston Bonsai. Here are some pictures from the day.

Andy and Maurice brought along a nice little juniper, a cotoneaster, a yew and a nice seki hinoki shohin.


Dougie Smith, proprietor of Wattston Bonsai advising Andy on the future development of his juniper


This is Andy’s cotoneaster styled on the day by Robert Porch


Maurice’s seki hinoki with some heavy duty guy wiring


Robert Porch advises Gordon on the styling of a picea abies


Gordon deflowering his azalea


Marc Noelanders Workshop 8th and 9th July 2014

This week I attended my second Marc Noelanders workshop organised by Dougie Smith of Wattston Bonsai. There were five students participating so everyone was given a lot of personal tuition by Marc. Here are a few photographs from the event

Blauws Juniper (Part 2)

So by the summer of 2012, largely following my own instincts, my blauws juniper had progressed to look as it does in the first picture

b6 copy

I bought this tree with the intention of using it to improve my skills. I had no grand plan in my head for its final appearance and was happy to take in as much advice as I could get.

In September and October 2012, I was given the opportunity to participate in 2 weekend wiring workshops conducted by UK bonsai professional and Noelander’s Trophy winner Steve Tolley, so I took this tree along.

Steve felt that the large lower right branch was a feature better suited to a tree with a broader trunk base than mine had and recommended it’s removal. I agreed to this, so that branch was removed. The next picture shows Steve carrying out the final placement of the branches on the final afternoon of the workshop.


And this is how it looked by the end of these workshops in 2012. I was delighted with the result, which I felt had lightened the overall image. I also had my wiring skills improved considerably


A year later in September 2013, I was offered the chance to attend a Marc Noelanders workshop at the premises of my local bonsai supplier. I had been an admirer of Marc’s work for a number of years so I eagerly jumped at this opportunity. When Marc had studied the tree he felt that the upper trunk was too thick. He suggested 2 options for dealing with this. The first was to split the upper part of the trunk into 2 and use one part for the apex  and the other as a lateral branch. The second option was to turn the existing apex and the branches to the right of the trunk into a deadwood feature. It was the second option that appealed to me most. The next picture shows Marc carrying out the final branch placement at the end of the second day.


The next picture shows how the tree looked after Marc had worked his magic


The final picture shows how the tree is looking at the moment (July 2014) a dramatically different image to that shown in the first picture. This is the image I will be sticking with as far as this tree is concerned and work over the next few year will concentrate on the refinement of the foliage pads and looking for a suitable pot


Blauws Juniper (Part 1)

This is the tree, which for the past few years has been known as my workshop tree. It is the tree that I have used to learn the skills of wiring and design under the excellent guidance of masters like Steve Tolley and Marc Noelanders. It is one of the best documented trees in my collection, so by necessity, this post will be done in 2 parts.

I acquired this tree in September 2009 from Willowbog Bonsai Nursery the home of the British Shohin Associations annual exhibition. The first picture shows the tree soon after I got it home.


The tree’s height is 24 inches (61cm) from the top of the pot and the diameter of the trunk is about 3.5 inches (9cm) near the base. I had wanted a big juniper to add some quality to my ever increasing  collection of sticks in pots for quite some  time and I hoped that this might do the job. I didn’t do much to it in the first year other than improving the drainage in the pot to allow time for it to acclimatise in its new home.

In the summer of 2011 I took it to one of the monthly  meetings at Willowbog to seek some advice on how to proceed with its development. The result of this was that the back of the tree became the new front and the branches were reduced considerably as you can see in the second picture.


Over the next few weeks I worked on some jins and the beginning of a shari, thinned the foliage some more and gave the tree its first full wiring. the third picture shows the progress by late summer 2011.


I then left the tree for a full year until the summer of 2012 to allow time for recovery. In picture four you can see that it has recovered well and the foliage mass has increased dramatically. Encouraged by this I decided that it was time to do some more work on the development of the shari.


At this stage, although its growing well, I am not that happy with the silhouette and further branch removal is necessary to lighten the image but which branches should be chopped? I used photoshop to visualise a few different options and finally decided on the virtual outline shown in picture five.


Decision made, the irreversible deed is done. The branch stubs are jinned and the tree is wired for a second time. Picture 6 shows the tree in 2012 at the end of the first stage in its development.

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The second part of this post will focus on the major changes that were carried out on this tree under the guidance of Steve Tolley and Marc Noelanders


Shimpaku Shohin #2 Progression

This is a spiral trunk shimpaku juniper, which I first attempted to style in September 2011. It has experienced some setbacks but is now well on its way to becoming a nice little shohin

The first picture shows how it looks at the moment immediately after restyling earlier this week (July 2014)


The second picture shows the tree  after the first attempt at styling in September 2011. It looked nice but that didn’t last very long. I decided to wait until the following spring before attempting to re-pot it. this was eventually done around early April 2012, when the night time temperatures were still pretty cold


The early re-potting was a mistake which shocked the tree, causing the healthy scale foliage to brown at the tips turn yellow and slowly die back. The next picture was taken in the summer of 2012 about 3 months after the re-pot and clearly shows the development of the damage


The following picture was taken a year later in the early summer of 2013 and shows the first signs of new growth and the start of the recovery


The recovery continued throughout 2013 and by the summer of 2014 the tree was about ready to be restyled. The next three pictures show the tree from different angles before the latest work was carried out







The next picture is a close up of the right side of the tree, which shows the existing jins at the top and the complexity of the twisting trunk. I wanted to create a shari, which linked the jins at the top of the tree and followed the twists in the trunk down to soil level. A close examination of the contours of the trunk and the position of the branches indicated that it would be too risky to attempt this as one continuous cut. So the shari was made in 2 parts, although from most angles it creates the impression of one continuous loop





The next 2 pictures show the tree after wiring and branch positioning. It will take a lot more growth to fill out the image, which will allow me to make the outline more compact, but for the moment I am quite pleased with it.



Larch in Summer

The history and recent styling of this tree was featured in a progression post back in March before the new seasons needles had emerged. See Larch Progression. This is a record shot to show how its looking at the moment.

I have reduced the feeding to reduce the needle size and promote a shorter internode length on new shoots. I seems to be working well

Procumbent Juniper (one for the record)

My procumbent juniper has settled nicely after the re-pot of last month and continues to grow strongly. I thought that it was about time I took a record shot of this tree against a nice colourful background


The shari was cut 2 years ago and the live vein is beginning to show signs of swelling. I have been working the edge of the live vein with a fine grade sandpaper to create a nice rounded transition into the deadwood. I will probably divide the live vein into 2 by creating another shari from the jin that is visible at the rear of the tree. This picture highlights for me the need for more refinement in the nebari but this will be done at a later time. For the moment, I am very satisfied with this tree