2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here's an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 43,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 16 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


Shohin White Pine (Winter Update)

Here are some recent pictures of one of my shohin white pines. This tree was re-potted earlier this year and has had no work done since then. The old needles will be thinned out soon and the tree will be fully re-wired.



Those of you who have been following my blog may remember that this is the tree that almost died from a lack of water in 2012. This is a reminder of how it looked then


The full story of this tree can be found here

Root Over Rock Juniper Winter Update

Today is the last time I get to play with my trees before Christmas. I have been rewiring the main branches of my root over rock shohin juniper with a view to opening up the foliage pads, which were beginning to look like a single homogenous mass and also to allow light into the interior. I have also managed to compact the foliage at the rear of the tree and bring it a little closer to the trunk. This is how it looks at the moment, after the work


This is how it looked before the work


Side view before


Side view after


I am pleased with the progress made this year, on this tree. This is a reminder of how it looked at the start of the year.

juni 2


2 Shohin Junipers (Winter Update)

Here are 2 shohin junipers that were styled earlier this year. They had both put on a considerable amount of new growth in the late summer months but very little of it was situated where it was needed so most of it has been trimmed off today to maintain a basic outline and allow what little light there is at this time of year, into the interior.




Another Acer Palmatum Project

I bought this Acer Palmatum for £1.00 at my local supermarket in the autumn of 2012. I thought it would make a good learning project on building a deciduous bonsai from scratch. In the spring of 2013, when the first picture was taken, I had just bare-rooted it and transferred it into a small training pot containing a mixture of akadama and kiryu. I planed to let the long lower branch grow to thicken the base of the trunk


The next 3 pictures were taken earlier this week (winter 2014). At the start of this year I re-planted it into a larger pot to speed up its development. It certainly made a difference. The sacrifice branch is over 5 foot long and has doubled the thickness of the trunk base


It will be interesting to see how the trunk is looking below soil level but I will have to wait until spring for that


I have cut off the sacrifice branch so that I can store it in the greenhouse over winter. I suppose I could have left it on a bit longer to thicken the base even more but I like the taper it has provided at the moment. The branch stub will be profiled to the trunk in the spring, when I will also take a close look at how the roots are developing beneath the soil


2 years into this project and progress is difficult to assess without close scrutiny of the photographs. There are no instant transformations with deciduous trees

Some Random Thoughts on Shohin Display

I have been specialising in shohin sized trees for about 3 years now. In that time, I have put together a collection of about 50 shohin sized trees. Despite having that number to choose from, finding 5 that work together and are sufficiently well developed and presented to be considered show worthy, is proving to be quite a challenge.

This is the best that I can come up with at the moment


When I think about trees that work together in a display, I am thinking about the relative proportions of each tree in the group. I want trees that are all approximately the same size. If you have 1 or 2 trees that are a little larger than the others in the group, the eye is immediately drawn to that.

Take a look at this next picture, which was taken in February of this year.

pic 4

The cork barked elm at the top of the display is considerably larger than those below it. It just looks out of proportion when viewed with the others. The black pine in the first picture creates a far better balance

I think the relative positions of the zelkova and gardenia in the centre of the display works better in the second picture, however, the striking blue and white Echisen Hosui pot suits its position at the top and centre.

While the basics of shohin display are relatively easy to comprehend, the subtleties can be infinitely varied and complex. There is no substitute for trying it out at home or in the club and listening to the advice of knowledgeable friends.

As a starting point I would strongly recommend the display pages of Morten Albek’s website to those who are not already aware of it

Shimpaku Shohin #2 Winter Update

This is a recent winter record picture of the shohin shimpaku juniper that had an extensive shari cut into the trunk earlier this year. The foliage has filled out a little in the intervening period and its looking quite healthy. The plan for next year is to try and make it more compact and to change the planting angle to improve the movement in the lower trunk


For comparison, this is how it looked in the summer, immediately after the work


And this is a reminder of how it looked at the start of this year.