2 Shohin Pinus Sylvestris in Development

Here are 2 future shohin Pinus Sylvestris trees that I have in development at the moment. Both have quite a way to go but it’s that journey which gives me most pleasure in the hobby.


This is how it looked last year before its’ first styling


I started the next one about 4 years ago while it was still in the ground. The main trunk was chopped back which forced a lot of new shoots close to the trunk in a single season, many of these are now forming branches.



Some Recently Acquired Raw Material

Here are some examples of raw material that I have acquired in the past year to create bonsai from in the future.

Pinus Sylvestris, collected last year with mature bark, a thick trunk and good movement and taper at the base. Height above the pot is about 55cm at the moment


Great future potential here I think but it will need a few years more growth before it will be ready for a first styling.

Another thin trunk Pinus Sylvestris, acquired recently from a friend, which should make a nice literati in the not too distant future. About 50cm tall.


2 purple flowering examples of Rhododendron Indicum, collected by division from a large shrub in my garden, this year. I may air layer parts from these trees to increase my stock further


The journey never ends.

More Work on a Cotoneaster

I have been developing this small tree for several years now and it still has quite a way to go before I can consider it finished. It is one of 2 trees that I managed to create from an old stump collected from my garden some years ago. The early work on these trees can be found in this older post.

It was due for a re-pot so I decided to use the opportunity to remove an aerial root, which had been  acting as the main lifeline for the tree in the early days until the weaker roots at the base of the trunk were strong enough to take over. The roots at the base of the trunk have had 2 years to develop and the complete rootball is now filling the pot. The aerial root was severed using knob cutters. To limit the stress to the tree, no attempt has been made to disentangle the redundant roots from the live roots. This will be left until the next re-pot. At the moment I have only removed sufficient root mass to maintain good drainage in the pot.

This is how it looked at the start of this work



And this is how it looks at the moment. The next task, when I’m sure that the tree has recovered, will be to carry out some carving to the trunk to improve the taper.


Juniper Squamata Summer Update

While working on my juniper squamata today, I took the time to look at the photographic record to compare its current state of development with how it looked in previous years. This species grows relatively slowly in a pot sized for the show bench and as is the case with most trees, the apex is far more vigorous than the lower branches.

Look how the foliage has developed over the last five years.







And now in 2016


The apex is beginning to get too wide and its starting to prevent the light from reaching the lowest branches. In the coming weeks and months, I will have to start pushing this growth back. It could be done in a single operation but the tree would look unsightly in the intervening period. The next photograph is a virtual of how I would like it to look by next summer.


11 Years in the life of a Larch


While working on this chuhin larch today, I thought I would take a look at some old photographs of it, to remind myself how it has developed in the time it has been in my care.

This first picture was taken in 2005 about one year after I acquired it.


Until 2011, when the next picture was taken, it was mainly a case of clip and grow to keep it in shape


Late autumn 2012, the tree is in its’ current pot and some of the lower branches have been removed to give the tree a lighter appearance


A year later in 2013, it is beginning to fill out


And today in July 2016, It’s just about as good as it will ever be and it’s one of my favourite trees



Callicarpa Japonica in Flower

Here are a few pictures of my Callicarpa Japonica chuhin bonsai, which is approaching it’s peak flowering period at the moment. This species is best known for the beautiful purple berries it produces in autumn. I have had this tree for 3 years and each season the number of flowers and resulting berry density continues to increase. It still has some way to go until it reaches the fruiting density of some of the specimens I’ve seen but I’m pleased that it continues to move in the right direction.


Shohin Yew First Styling

This is a shohin taxus cuspidata that was imported from Japan 4 years ago, which I acquired about 3 years ago. It has taken all of this time to acclimatise the tree, to re-pot it into a medium which is appropriate for our weather and to get it growing with sufficient vigour to continue its development.

This is how it looked before any work was carried out.


After the creation of a jin, some shari and an initial pruning.


After a little more pruning and the addition of some wire to open up the branches


And from the other side before


During the work


And after


I think this little tree has great potential and I look forward to its continued development in the future.


Shohin JBP Summer Maintenance

Today I pruned off the strong new shoots on my Japanese Black Pine shohin tree. Growth on this species is a lot slower in Scotland than it is in Japan due to our unpredictable weather and the shorter length of our growing season. It’s not guaranteed that you will get a second flush of growth at the base of pruned shoots in a single season, as far as I can tell, with only one tree to work with at the moment.

This is how it looks at the moment


and this is how it looked before todays work


I will thin out the old needles at the end of the summer and open out the new growth with some wire

Bonsai on a Summers Evening

On Wednesday evening I was invited to the garden of a friend, Peter Thorne, to see his bonsai collection. Peter is an active member of the Ayrshire group and each Wednesday during the summer he invites fellow club members along to the shed at the bottom of his garden, to work on their trees. This week 8 members turned up including myself so workspace in the shed was at a premium.


Here are some photographs of some of the trees on Peters benches, which I managed to take before it got too dark.

Large Yew with a good nebari and interesting deadwood


European Hornbeam


2 blue cedars and a Chinese juniper. the one in the centre is a stunning tree


Here are other pictures of the blue cedar and the large yew that I took at the Gardening Scotland Show last month.





A large Juniper Squamata with good future potential, I think.


This is Peter. He has his own bonsai blog, where he documents the progress of all of his trees. It’s well worth a look. http://www.pembrayr.com/ab1.htm