Acer Palmatum Bonsai Development

This is a good example of what can be achieved in this hobby with time, patience and very little expenditure. It is an ungrafted acer palmatum with small leaves that I bought in 2012 for £1.00 in an end of season sale at my local Tesco supermarket. The first picture shows the tree in the Spring of 2013. All the old organic growing medium had been removed and it was repotted in a plastic training pot with a mixture of akadama and kiryu.


In 2014, I put the tree into a large pot and fed it with High Nitrogen fertiliser for a couple of seasons. My purpose in doing this was to allow a sacrifice branch to develop low down on thw main trunk inorder to thicken the base of the tree


In 2016, i put it into a small oval pot and started work of developing the branches


In the following years I transfered the tree into a wooden box while the branches continue to develop

pic 1

pic 2

In the Spring of this year 2022, I found a new pot by Erin Pottery which suits the tree very well.A project like this is all about the journey we share with the tree, where progress is measured in years and decades.

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Some Autumn Colour

The autumn colour is over now, for this year, but here are some pictures, which show the best of it in recent weeks.

This Zelcova Serrata never disappoints me


Here are some hawthorns which have performed well this year.



2 maples in development.


My large Japanese beech is starting to look good.


The cotoneaster landscape.



and finally my favourite larch


Acer Palmatum in Development from Seed (2018 Update)


This is an update on an Acer Palmatum  that I started from seed planted in 2001. I grew it on in a container until 2011, when I transplanted it to a shallow pot to start its development as a bonsai. The first picture shows how it looked in the Spring of 2012.


Since then I have been working on the development of the upper trunk by selecting a leader each Spring and allowing it to grow unchecked throughout the season; cutting it back in the Winter months. The next picture taken in 2014, illustrates that process.


After 6 years of doing this, I am at the stage where I want to concentrate on the ramification of the branches for a few years. This is how the tree looks at the moment.


I am 17 years into this project now and there’s still a long way to go. It is rewarding to see a bonsai evolve from seed that you have sown by yourself. For me, this is where the true satisfaction in the hobby lies

Some Shohin Maples in Winter Image

Here are a few recent pictures of some of my shohin maples in winter image. The first one is a trident maple in a Japanese pot by Eimei


Number 2 is an Acer Palmatum Deshojo in a yellow pot by Shibakatsu


The third is an Acer Shishigashira in a pot by Walsall Ceramics. The buds on this one are starting to swell, so it will soon be time to re-pot it.



Acer Palmatum Projects 2016 Update

With the 2016 season at an end, its time for me to assess the progress I have made this year with 2 acer palmatum bonsai trees that I am developing; one from seed and the other from shop bought material.

The first one, which was started from seed in 2001 has spent all of its’ life in a pot. I started to train it as a bonsai in 2013. The nebari has a 5 inch (12.5 cm) diameter and the base of the trunk is 3 inches (7.5 cm) wide. This is a very slow process and its only through photography that you can appreciate the progress.

This is how it looked in 2004m2



November 2016


Today November 2016 after the removal of the sacrifice branches. I will select the shoots I want to keep and wire the new growth in the Spring.


The second one was bought from a local supermarket in 2012. This is how it looked in the spring of 2013.




November 2016 before removal of the sacrifice branch


November 2016 after removal of the sacrifice branch. Still a long way to go but this one is beginning to look like a tree.




Lanarkshire Bonsai Club Meeting 03/04/2016

It was a busy day yesterday at Wattston Bonsai for the April meeting of the Lanarkshire Bonsai Club. The weather was kind, which meant that a good number of members attended to catch up on the news, work on their trees and stock up on supplies for the new season. Here are some pictures from the day.

Maurice, the club’s representative at the Scottish Bonsai Association, getting ready for an announcement.


Totally focussed on their trees


Dougie advising Gavin on the styling of a Juniper with Murray looking on.


Stuart decided to work his hinoki outside in the afternoon sun


A few of the members trees

Stuart’s prunus kojo no mai in full bloom


Ian’s chuhin scots pine


A few new arrivals on the Dougie’s sales benches.

shohin white pine


Large cone shaped yama momiji with great future potential


Lovely large itoigawa juniper with amazing character


Nice multi trunked maple


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


My Other Acer Palmatum Project (Update 2015)

This is the tree that I purchased for £1.00 in 2012 from the price reduced shelves in a local food store. I thought, at the time, it would be suitable material to make a deciduous bonsai as it had been grown from seed and did not have an ugly union with the rootstock at its’ base.

In the Spring of 2013 it was planted into a training pot and allowed to grow freely.


In 2014 it was transplanted into a larger pot and again allowed to grow freely.


At the end of the 2014 season it was chopped back as shown in the next picture.


In the Spring of 2015 it was removed from the large pot and the roots were reduced considerably


It was then replanted into this shallow oval pot. The trunk was reduced further and a new shoot was wired up to form the new leader.


The new leader grew well this year despite the poor weather


This stump left over from last years growth needs to be removed now


This is how it looks at the moment with the stump removed and the leader cut back. It’s beginning to look like a bonsai.



Acer Palmatum Project Update 2015

Today, between some very heavy showers, I found a little time to evaluate this years development in an Acer Palmatum, which was started from seed in 2001. Another post outlining the early history of this tree can be found here.


This is a reminder how it looked at the end of last year. The red line shows where I intended to chop the trunk in the Spring and the red arrow shows the shoot that would become the new leader. The tree needed a bottom branch at the right hand side and the blue arrow highlights the shoot that will be used to form it.


After a full seasons growth the new leader and the bottom branch have extended by about 3 feet. The lower branch was allowed to extend freely to increase its diameter and balance it with the lower left branch, which incidentally has taken 5 years to reach the stage it has.


This is how it looks at the moment after cutting back the extension growth, removing the stub on the trunk that was left over from last year and wiring the useful new growth. The thin shoot at the top left will become the new leader next year. This is a slow but very satisfying journey.