Chojubai #1 (Late Summer Update)

One of the 2 chojubai that I acquired earlier this year, which flowered profusely in the spring, is now in need of some seasonal maintenance.


This is a reminder of how it looked at the start of the season, when I brought it home. Although it had plenty of ramification, the scale of the branch development in relation to trunk thickness was out of balance in my view. It was always my intention to cut it back considerably but when would be the best time to do this. Information on the cultivation of this species is very limited outside of Japan but a trawl of the internet led me to some excellent articles on the Crataegus Bonsai blog of Michael Hagedorn. It would appear that late summer into autumn is the best time to re-pot these.

chojubai 1

I’ve been concerned for a month or two, that drainage in the pot is not as good as it should be and that this was affecting the rate of new growth, so I removed it from its pot to take a look at the roots. The next picture shows what I found when I removed it from the pot. The pot was very full of long roots, which were spiralling round the outside of the pot.


I pruned it back quite severely and re-planted it in this over-sized Yixing pot, tilting the trunk a little to the left. I will allow time for it to recover from the re-pot now. I think the future development will be mainly clip and grow. If it shows signs of vigorous growth next season, I will re-pot it into a nice Japanese pot that I have been saving for that very purpose


When I pruned the roots, I removed a few thicker pieces, which I have re-potted to see if they will bud



Some Overdue Work on my Thuga Occidentalis

I last worked on this tree in the summer of 2012 and the result of that work can be seen in the first picture. The early history of this tree featured in a previous post


I didn’t get an opportunity to work on it last year because of building works at my house, so as you can see in the next picture, by the summer of 2014 it has become quite overgrown again.


This week I thinned out the foliage and removed four main branches to open it up a bit. This is how its looking at the moment



I have mixed feelings for this tree, sometimes I like it and sometimes I hate it. Its been with me for quite a long time and I definitely have an attachment to it.For a number of years, I have felt that the deadwood feature which I created in 2005, doesn’t really work well with this species.


While I have been working on it this week, I have been considering dramatically reducing this deadwood feature and changing the front of the tree to something like the view in the next picture.

What do you think? Am I better leaving it as it is or is it time for a change?




Cotoneaster Shohin in Development (Summer Update)

This post is an update on the 2 shohin cotoneasters in development that were created from a single piece of material, collected from my garden in 2011. The early development and the separation of one tree into two is told in my earlier post 2 COTONEASTER SHOHIN; A 3 YEAR PROGRESSION

Both trees were root pruned and re-potted at the start of this season. They have put on a lot of new growth throughout the summer and are now secure enough in their pots to allow a little more work to be done

This is how the first one looked at the start of this most recent work


After some thinning and preliminary branch selection


The back of this tree has a rather unsightly chop mark, which can be removed now. The tree was tied down to the bench to secure it for carving with the power tools


After a little rough carving the wound follows the profile of the trunk. More detailed carving can be carried out at a later time.


This is how it looks at the moment after some wire has been applied. I will look at the large root at the front of the tree, with a view to removing it, at the next re-potting.


The second tree, which didn’t have a lot of roots at the start of this season is now looking much stronger


This is how it looks at the moment, after some thinning and basic branch selection. At the moment, I like this tree better than the other one. It’s excellent taper should ensure that it will make a lovely shohin in a year or twos time.


Bonsai at Ayr Flower Show

The Ayr Flower Show, which is being held this weekend is the finest county flower show in Scotland. It also has some nice bonsai displays organised by the Ayrshire bonsai club. Here is a gallery of pictures of my favourite trees from the event. I hope you enjoy them

Acer Shishishigira (Summer Update)

This is a summer update on my lion’s head maple, which was the subject of an earlier post back in April. The lime green foliage of spring has hardened off to a rich dark green now. In the earlier post, I mentioned that the growth habit of this species is quite different to that of other varieties of maple, and consequently development of this species as a bonsai is different too. As the growth rate is slower and less predictable than other maples it is even more important, with this species, to partially defoliate on a regular basis to allow light into the interior to encourage back budding. I have been very particular about that this year and it seems to be working well. It has more new shoots this year than its had in the previous 2.


Picture 2. New buds and shoots emerging from the crown. New buds are prolific all over the tree at the moment. Long may that continue.


For the benefit of my regular followers, this will be my last post for about a week or so. I am going into hospital tomorrow for a small operation, I should be fit and back with my trees by next weekend. See you all then.

Shohin Potentilla

This is a little Potentilla shohin, made from garden centre material that I have been working on for just over 1 year. It is 17cm high and is beginning to look quite good I think. I will be looking for a better pot for it over the next few months, although the one it’s in isn’t so bad.


White Pine #3

This post shows the progress in another white pine grafted onto black pine rootstock that I acquired in 2011.

This is how it looked when I acquired it


This is how it looked this morning 08/08/2014. The pot is yamaaki.


After a little wiring to open up the foliage and a slight change of angle


This is a photoshop image which shows how it may look next year if I put it into this bigei pot


A Visit to Dougie’s Workshop

Yesterday I paid a social call to my friend Dougie Smith, the owner of Wattston Bonsai, to see what he was working on today. When I arrived he was re-styling a little juniper belonging to Ian McMaster, one of our local club members. The first picture shows Dougie outlining what he intended to do with Ian’s tree.


And this is how it looked when he was finished


Earlier in the day he had been working on a first styling of some raw itoigawa material. I didn’t manage to get before shots for these trees but they were all put together from stock not dissimilar to the material in the next picture.


The original stock had price tags between £45 and £85. I was very impressed with what he was able to do with these trees in such a short time. I wouldn’t imagine that they will remain on the sales benches for much longer and I am certain the price tag will be different. A great day out, thanks Dougie






New Shohin Yew

This is another recent acquisition for my growing collection of shohin, a Yew imported from Japan last year. It has terrific movement and a nice basic branch structure. Just needs some deadwood and maturity to complete the image. It is 20 cm tall and I look forward to working with this tree very much.Yew