My 2 from 1 Cotoneasters

I did some work on 2 of my shohin cotoneasters today. Regular readers will remember that both these trees are being developed from the single piece of material shown in the next picture, which was collected from my garden in 2011.


The first tree, which was created from the left half of the raw material in the picture above has grown strong in the intervening years but I’ve never been entirely happy with it.


It has too many branches, reverse taper in the trunk and a poor transition through to the apex. Today I have decided to change that.. In the next picture, I have removed the lower left branch, thinned the others and done a little carving to remove some of the problem areas and improve the movement through to the apex.


In the next picture the primary branches have been wired and bent into postion and the tree is tilted to the new planting angle.


This how it looks at the moment after working the roots and repositioning it in its pot.


The trunk line is visible now and the movement through to the apex is improved. The reverse taper is still visible but better than it was.. The problem I have with this tree is that both sides of the trunk have significant areas of deadwood and I have to exercise extreme care not to severe the live veins. I will return to this at a later time when the tree has had time to recover.

The second tree is being developed from the right hand side of the raw material in the first picture. This is how it looked in 2014. It had taken 3 years to get it to this stage as it didn’t have many roots at the start.


By 2015 it was looking much stronger.


This is how it looks today after a trim and a re-wire




Some thoughts on getting Hawthorns to flower

I collected this hawthorn from farmland about 17 years ago. Its been in a pot all of that time but never produced any flowers. In recent years, its been subjected to a lot of work, a number of re-pots and several transformations to get it down to the size it is now.


About 6 years ago, before it was chopped back to its current height, I took a hardwood cutting from this tree and placed it in a pot to root. It rooted quickly and was placed in the pot you see in the next picture about 5 years ago. I have done very little to it since. It is pot bound and has never been re-potted. It is rarely fertilised and gets no winter protection in my greenhouse. The following picture was taken this week and shows the result of this neglect.


If there is a lesson I can learn from this that will encourage my other shohin hawthorns to flower, it is this. I will delay any future re-potting to ensure the roots are truly filling the pot to their maximum extent. I will reduce fertilising to the minimum necessary to maintain the health of the tree and I will only provide winter protection if freezing conditions become unusually prolonged and there is a danger of loosing the tree.


Scottish Bonsai Show 2017

I set off at 06.00 am on Saturday morning to travel a hundred miles north to the city of Stirling, to help set up our clubs’ display stand at the Scottish National Bonsai Exhibition. This show is organised by the Scottish Bonsai Association; an organisation of about 120 members. It’s a one day event and the entire show is set up in a 2 hour period prior to opening at 10.00 am. With 3 unfit retired  members available to erect our club display, we struggled to complete the task within the allotted time period. This year, judging was carried out by all the attending association members using a voting card system. Our club, the Lanarkshire Bonsai Club took 5 of the 7 available awards.

Here are some general pictures of our 2 sided display followed by a gallery of detailed shots.


Click on any picture in the gallery to see a larger one in gallery mode


The Ayrshire Club’s display featured 2 large trees in development as well as a number of fine finished specimens. Here are some pictures of their display.


A large Yew in development


Large Field Maple


Deshojo Maple forrest. This tree received the members favourite award.


Acer Palmatum. This tree received the general public’s favourite award.


Lovely Potentilla originally created by Robert Atkinson


Large Hawthorn in development




I have to say that the Perth Club’s display was colourful, well thought out and well presented; the trees were well chosen and well worked. It’s the sort of display that could easily pick up a gold medal at a flower or gardening show. Though it is unlikely that this type of display would be rated highly in a prestigious bonsai show.


Here are a few general shots of some of the other displays


As a general rule I tend to avoid controversial statements in any of my posts online but I feel so strongly about what I am about to say now that I am prepared to make an exception here. The standard of bonsai display at this show falls far short of what an informed person might reasonably expect to see at a show which is billed by the organisers as a “National” bonsai event. The Scottish Bonsai Association, who organise this show, pride themselves on their policy of inclusiveness, where a complete beginner can bring a tree to a show and have it displayed on the show bench next to one of the best trees in the country. They demonstrate this policy admirably and effectively at their Gardening Scotland event. A National Bonsai Show is something quite different. It should be an inspiring showcase for enthusiasts and the public alike, where the best trees in the country are brought together and displayed to the highest international standards. It should be a statement by a nation telling the world where we stand in terms of bonsai development. The Scottish Bonsai Association is the only organisation with the resources to make this a reality. If the will is not there to do it, then the organisation will be failing those members who desire to take their trees to a higher level and it would be an open statement to all its members that there are limits to what you might expect to achieve within this organisation.

Rant over for the moment, unless of course I develop a taste for this type of commentary

Juniper Squamata First Styling

Today I carried out the first styling of a Juniper Squamata, which was dug from my garden 3 years ago


The next 2 photographs are a reminder of how it looked immediately after it was removed from the ground



This is how it looked after the removal of some branches and a re-pot in 2016


This is how it looked at the start of todays work, the top has filled out well in the past year. I have decided that this side will be the future front of the tree. As I looked at this image, I felt that the top of the tree was too straight and there was more foliage at the top of the trunk than I needed to complete the image I was aiming for.


This is how it looked when the work was completed. The foliage was removed from the top of the trunk and the branches were jinned. Now, the relative proportion of the remaining foliage seems more balanced with the long thin trunk. I was also able to introduce more movement at the top of the trunk with a combination of coiled wire and guy wires


The next stages in this trees development  will be to correct the planting angle at the next re-pot; develop the foliage pads and introduce a long shari which extends the length of the trunk.