Chuhin Potentilla some late season flowers

This Potentilla, which started life as a bonsai last year has decided to push out some late flowers. This is the first time I have seen the flowers on this particular tree, which was collected from a friends garden 2 years ago. I’m delighted to note that they are a pale lemon in colour rather than the more common buttercup yellow varieties. It’s shaping up well at the moment and should make an interesting tree in a few seasons time.



2 Shohin Chojubai Quince, seasonal maintenance

I found the time, this week to carry out the seasonal work on my 2 shohin chojubai quince. This species responds better to having the root work done late in the season rather than in the spring. I am doing this work a few weeks later than I did it last year but with the mild weather we have been having and the protection of the greenhouse it should be OK.


This is how the first one looked when in flower in the Spring of last year.


Last Autumn, the roots were reduced a little and it was replanted in this green ceramic pot. It didn’t put on much new growth this season and I suspect that it was because the pot was too small to allow much new root development.


This is how it looks at the moment with the roots reduced a little more, replanted in a slightly larger pot by Eimei at the Yozan kiln


This is how it looked when I acquired it 3 seasons ago

chojubai 2

This is how the second tree looked during the flowering period last year.


Last Autumn, the thick roots were reduced further and it was replanted in the same large pot to allow continued fine root development. It grew exceptionally well this season with lots of new fine roots.


This is how it looks at the moment after another re-pot this week. The pot is about the right size to house this tree for the time being but it is not show quality in my opinion, so the search will continue for the right pot over the winter.


This is a reminder of how the second tree looked, when I acquired it 3 seasons ago.

chojubai 1


Northern Ireland Bonsai Society 30th Anniversary Show

I crossed the Irish Sea at the weekend to visit the NIBS 30th anniversary show in Belfast Botanic Gardens. What a terrific event it was. The quality of the trees and the displays that were assembled for this celebratory event  were exceptional and all praise must be given to the organisers for the effort they put in. Here are some of my photographs to give you an impression of the show.

Opening ceremony carried out by a veteran founder member


Philip Donnelly being his inimitable self


A very well attended event


Visitors from across the sea, Gerry, Libby and Kim from Scotland and Mike Box from the north of England


Best in Show and Best Deciduous went to this enormous European Beech, Fagus Sylvatica. A worthy winner with no wire on it at all


Best Evergreen went to this Scots Pine, Pinus Sylvestris belonging to Philip Donnelly.


Here is a gallery of some of the other trees, click on any image to see a larger one in gallery mode

Blaauws Junipers in development

Here are a few photographs of some blaauws juniper trees, which have joined my collection recently. Blaauws is my favourite variety of scale foliage juniper. It grows extremely well in our wet climate, is relatively problem free and the foliage colour is amazing.

The first was given to me, for free, last year by my Facebook friend Philip Donnelly from Northern Ireland. Since I have had it, its’ been re-potted into a good free draining soil mix and all the long heavy branches, which were growing too straight or at awkward angles to the lower trunk  have been removed. Unfortunately, that meant the removal of all of the branches except one, the weakest one. The plan for the immediate future is to feed it profusely to build up strength in the remaining branch.

This is how it looked after the branches were chopped off in June. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture before I chopped the branches


And This is how it looks at the moment


The second tree is one that I acquired at the start of this year from a local person that had died. This tree, which I originally thought may have been a shimpaku, had been left to its own devices since the passing of its previous owner. It had become very leggy and most of the inner growth had died back.

This is how it looked when I acquired it.


This is how it looks at the moment after lots of fertiliser and a season of growth


It’s beginning to back bud well. The plan for the next few years is to continue to feed it and slowly push the growth closer to the trunk


If I can get these trees to look half as good as the next one in the next five years I will be very happy.


And finally for today, here are some cuttings, taken 3 years ago from the tree above, which are now ready for some wiring to introduce movement in the trunks.

Before wiring


After wiring.It will be interesting to see how these turn out in the coming years.




Thuga Occidentalis Maintenance

It’s been 4 months since I re-potted my Thuga Occidentalis and today it was in need of some seasonal care. This is how it looks today after some cleaning and pruning and a fresh coat of lime sulphur on the deadwood. Still needs more growth on the lower branches but it’s getting closer to how I would like it to look.


Its’ come a long way and been through several transitions since I collected it from my garden in 2004.








Summer Pruning an Azalea Bonsai

We did a little work this week on a large Kaho Azalea, which belongs to my friend Gerry. Gerry acquired this tree 2 years ago. It has a fantastic nebari but the apex was moving in the opposite direction to the lower trunk. We decided at an early stage that this had to be corrected.


The apex was air layered last year and removed from the tree at the start of this season


This is how it looks at the moment after some shaping and pruning of the foliage. I think it is looking a lot better now. It still needs more extension on lowest right hand branch and the branches on the left could be shortened a little more but that will come in time.


This is how it looked at flowering time last year.



An Update on my Air Layers

Here’s an update on some of the air layers I’ve been working on over the past 12 months.

This Acer Shiraswanum was layered last year in early summer, which caused it to display autumn colour very early.


It was separated from the rootstock in the Spring of this year an secured into a large plastic pot for stability and further root development


The new leaves this year are looking good and behaving normally but it hasn’t put on any new extension growth yet. I will probably give it another year in this pot before transferring it to a training pot.


This hawthorn  was started  a couple of years ago.


When it was severed from the parent plant, there were not that many roots on the layer and most of these were on one side of the tree


It was planted into this training pot to allow the roots time to develop. Its been in there for 2 seasons now and the roots are pushing out the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot. I will transfer this to a new pot next Spring.


This larch was started in Spring this year. It has no sign of any new roots yet and the foliage is looking a little weak. I’ve increased the amount of sphagnum moss around the layer and we’ll see how it looks by the end of the season



On the other hand, this little cotoneaster, which was also started this year is showing lots of new roots at the moment. I could sever it now but I think I will leave it until next year to do so.