Larches in Development

Its still far too cold and wet here, for working outside.


So I’ve brought a few larches in development indoors to continue working on their progress. The first 2 have featured in an earlier post, which can be accessed by clicking on the following link Reworking Some Larches. There you will find some  pictures of the trees in their earlier form.

The first one was chopped back to 2 branches in March 2015 and the branch on the right was wired upward to form a new upper trunk and apex. In the first picture, the wire has been removed and the new apex is supporting itself. It’s still a little straight and will be wired again to create more movement. The lower branch has grown with great vigour in the past year. There is a risk that the secondary branches will thicken too quickly if left untouched. This branch will be pruned heavily to restore an overall balance in the whole composition


This is how it looks at the moment after some pruning, branch selection and rewiring.


This second tree was started a year earlier than the last one. Its growth, this year, has been less vigorous than the previous tree but it does continue to move forward


Here is how it looks today after rewiring. I think next year, I will prune off the top 3 inches of the apex, which hopefully will give the tree a more mature look.


I don’t think I have ever photographed the next tree before. It too was started in March last year from a piece of raw material that was collected several years before. The lower trunk is very straight, lacks taper and has no perceptible nebari. All the interesting movement and taper is in the central third of the tree.


This is how it looks at the moment. The top has been cut back and the central section rewired. The tree will  be air layered this year at the point where the red line intersects the trunk in the next picture. This should hopefully create a more pleasing image in the future



Bonsai Get Together (First of the Year)

Today was the first time this year that Gerry and I were able to get together to work on our trees.


The garden is still very cold and white from the snowfall we had at the weekend, so all work today was carried out in my kitchen.


Gerry brought this larch, which was styled for the first time in March of last year



This is how it looks after a second wiring today. I’m particularly pleased with the way this tree is shaping up considering it was started less than a year ago from the most unpromising material.



This is a reminder of how it looked in March last year


He also brought along this new acquisition to show it off. It’s a shohin Amelanchier , which is a species I know nothing about. It has a fantastic trunk and it will be interesting to observe how it develops in the coming years.


Touyou Pot

It’s always nice when you discover something that you didn’t know you had.

I had this chojubai sitting on my benches for about 18 months before I noticed that it came in an attractive unglazed container. It’s made by Takeshi Matsumoto of the Touyou kiln. I originally thought it was a Tosui pot as the chop mark is worn and bears a similarity to some of their marks but I was corrected  through Facebook by a bonsai friend from the USA, Joe Addis Bonsaimeister. Thanks for the correction Joe.


The tree has been re-potted  into another container, which created an opportunity to photograph and study this pot in more detail. I think it might work well with a literati pine I am developing.




Ayr Winter Image Show 2016 Pictures



I drove through blizzards and flood water yesterday to attend the third Ayr Bonsai Club Winter Image Show in the historic village of Alloway on the Ayrshire coast. The numbers of people attending this year were slightly down on previous years due to the weather but those who braved the elements and made the effort to get there were not disappointed. This show grows from strength to strength with each passing season and the quality of the trees and the way they are displayed just gets better. This year, the organisers set up an area to photograph the trees in an adjacent room, which has made a terrific difference to the picture quality.

I think my favourite tree on the day was this larch over rock created by Ian McMaster and planted on a natural stone that was collected from a beach not very far from the show venue.


There just wasn’t enough time to photograph every tree at the show so here is a gallery of those that made the biggest impact on me.

To see a larger image in gallery mode, click on any image


Hokido Pot from My Collection

This pot is made by Naoyuki Maenami better known as Hokido. It is a scalloped edged round with cloud feet and a diameter of 8 inches. This shape was made in sizes ranging from 4 to 12 inches. I have 8 and  12 inch examples in my collection. This potter’s work bears a strong resemblance to Bigei and is every bit as good if not better than his more famous counterpart. His kiln was in production for a relatively short period of time, as a result there are there are fewer Hokido pots on the market than Bigei pots.




Ayr Bonsai Club Winter Image Display

Ayr Bonsai Club are holding their Winter Image Display in the Alloway Village Hall this Sunday between 9.30 am and 3.30 pm. This is an open event and other clubs are encouraged to participate. For the past 2 years I have displayed shohin trees at this event but I am planning to rest them this year. I think I will tidy this chuhin juniper squamata in an Ian Baillie drum pot and take it along for a change. I have never displayed this tree at a show before.


A New Year Begins



As I sit here at my laptop, reflecting on what was for us here in Scotland, one of the most challenging growing seasons in my experience. A season, which began with a bitterly cold Spring, followed by a Summer with very little sunshine; saved only by some good weather in the autumn, I thought I would share again some of the photographs which are my personal favourites and mark the highlights in my bonsai year.

Without a doubt my favourite tree this year is my Lions Head Maple which just goes from strength to strength with each passing season. It looked particularly good in Autumn this year.


This cotoneaster has been another favourite of mine, more so because it was collected from my garden for free. It was planted in this red glazed pot by Eimei in the Summer to show off the berries and had its first outing to Bonsai Europa in October.


This hobby is as much about the people you do it with as it is about the trees and my life would be a lot duller without my good friend Gerry and the members of The Lanarkshire Bonsai Club who feature regularly on these pages.



The next photograph was taken in late May and it was the first occasion that all my trees were outside at the same time.


My highlight of the Summer was our winning club display at the Scottish Bonsai Show. It’s always a joy to see trees that you have cared for displayed at their best.


My 2 favourite junipers were both re-potted this year.

The first is a Blauws Juniper, which is almost complete. It will need a fine wiring and a good display table this year

Blauws Juniper After (2015)

The second is an Itoigawa Juniper. It is coming along well but the foliage needs more refinement and it will have to be re-planted into a slightly smaller show pot.


A few more that are beginning to come into their own, that may venture out to the show bench this year.





Japanese Larch


Cork Barked Elm


Finally, I would like to thank all of the people who take the time to look and comment on my posts, It’s you guys that make the effort worthwhile.