Scottish Bonsai Show 2018

The 2018 Scottish Bonsai Show was held yesterday (6th May 2018) in the seaside village of Troon. The Scottish Bonsai Association, who organise the event, decided to try a new format for this year’s show. Normally, it’s an exclusively club event, with space allocated to each of the affiliated clubs to display their trees as a group, any way that they choose. This year they hired 2 halls at the Walker Institute; one for the traditional club displays and another for displays by individuals. The room where individuals could display their trees was set out with covered tables and backdrops in a uniform colour. This is where I and many others chose to display their trees this year. The difference this made to the quality of display is readily apparent in the following photographs. This is a major step forward for bonsai in Scotland and I for one hope that in the future all the trees will be presented in this way.

A general view of the new display area


Here are some pictures of my own trees at the show.

Shohin Display


Zelkova in an Ikou Watanabe pot Armeria accent in a Masashi frog pot.


Hawthorn in an Ian Baillie pot


Ilex Serrata in a blue glazed pot


Japanese Larch in a Walsall pot, accent in a Shouhachi basket pot


Blaauws Juniper in a Tokoname pot, accent in a pot by Furumoto Masashi


Incidentally my shohin display won 2 awards.

Best Shohin Display and Best in Show


Here is a Gallery of my best Pictures of the other trees in the individual section. Click on any image to see a larger one in gallery mode.


For comparison here are a few images from the club display area. While there were a lot of nice trees in this area they were difficult to spot and see in such a crowded space. in some areas it was difficult to differentiate between club displays and trader’s tables. It beats me why so many people in the clubs desire to retain this form of display.










Some Random Thoughts on Bonsai Design

One of the great advantages of keeping a photographic record of your trees is that it allows you to consider and plan their future development as well as recording their actual development. When a tree is outside on the benches, we may only study it closely 2 or 3 times a year but if we photograph it and place that photograph prominently on our computer desktop then we see it and think about it every time that we go online. I do this all the time with my own trees and those of my friends and I find that it helps me to see and understand the strengths and weaknesses in their current state of development.

Here is an example that I have been studying and admiring today. It is not my tree. It is a recent acquisition by my friend and fellow club member, Gordon.


When I look this picture I see a  little white pine with good potential in a lovely unglazed Japanese pot. Two things stand out for me at the moment.

The first is that the direction and movement in the tree is a little ambiguous. The lower trunk and the lower left character branch are suggesting a left facing movement, while the apex suggests a movement towards the right. Consider it this way. If you were displaying this tree in a show and planed to complete the display with a small accent plant, on which side would you place the accent ? At the moment you could place it at either side and it wouldn’t make much difference but if the trees’ movement and direction were more clearly defined, the position for the accent would be obvious and the overall image would be stronger for it.

Using photo editing software we can visualize both options without harming the tree, to help inform any choice we might make in the future.

The next picture shows the apex reduced to strengthen the movement to the left.


And the next picture shows the bottom left character branch reduced, reinforcing the movement to the right. I personally prefer this one.


The other issue that is very apparent is the relative proportion of the tree and the pot. While the pot is very nice, it is definitely too big for this tree. Using the photo editing software again, we can alter the scale of the pot to bring it more into balance with the scale of the tree.



Final Preparations for the National Show

It’s been a busy week collecting moss and carrying out the final preparation of my trees for the Scottish National Bonsai Show tomorrow. Fortunately the weather has been kind and we are enjoying sunshine and warm temperatures at the moment.


Here are some pictures I took this morning of the trees and accents I will be taking with me.

Chuhin Japanese Larch


Shohin trident maple in a pot by Eimei


Shohin Deshojo maple in a yellow Shibakatsu pot


Cotoneaster in a pot by Eimei


Zelkova Serrata in a pot by Ikkou Watanabe


Hinoki Cyprus in a pot by Hokido


2 Pinus Parviflora in Bigei pots


Sedum Spathufolium Capa Blanca in a pot by Junsun Yamamoto


Saxifrage in a Suteki accent pot by Simon Haddon


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


Lanarkshire Bonsai Club at Barnsley Show

Here is an early preview of the Lanarkshire Bonsai Club’s display at this years Bonsai Traders Association Show in Barnsley, which is being held today between 10.00 am and 04.00 pm.I think it looks great.Unfortunately I am unable to attend the event this year.  The contributors to this years display are Jim McMaster, Fiona Wallace, Maurice Maidment and Robert Porch. Photo credit to Fiona Wallace.


Back from Bonsai Europa


Back home now after a great weekend at the first Bonsai Europa. What a great show it was. Thanks must be given to Tony Tickle and the terrific team that supported him for pulling it off. This was the biggest and best show that I have seen in the UK in the time that I have been involved in the hobby

For myself, and the other members of the Lanarkshire Bonsai Club, It was a privilege and a joy to be selected to show our trees in such an esteemed assembly. Here are a few pictures of our club display. As often is the case, photography with a hand held camera was challenging due to the lighting in the hall.






Jim McMaster’s white pine and trident maple



My trident which managed to hold onto its leaves for the entire weekend



Maurice Maidment’s cotoneaster


All Ready for Bonsai Europa

As I set off on the journey south to Bury, here’s a preview of the trees I will be contributing to the Lanarkshire Bonsai  Club display at Bonsai Europa this weekend.

Juniper over rock in a Chinese pot


Dwarf Hinoki in a pot by Hokido


Trident maple in autumn colour ( I just hope the leaves don’t drop off)


Cotoneaster in a red pot by Eimei


Zelkova in a pot by Ikkou


Bonsai at Ayr Show 2015

I travelled north to the seaside town of Ayr on the west coast of Scotland yesterday, for my annual visit to the Ayr Flower Show. This large county show always has some impressive bonsai displays and this year was no exception. In fact, I would say that this years’ show had some of the best bonsai displays that I have seen in Scotland

The new layout from the Ayr Club included some innovative display ideas and earned them a well deserved large gold medal. Here are my best pictures of the new display.









Dougie Smith of Wattston Bonsai also won a large gold medal for his display for the second year in a row






Here is a gallery of my favourite images from the other exhibits (Click on any image to see a larger image or click on the first one to view the whole gallery)

Getting Ready For The Show Part 1

For the past few days, I have been making the necessary preparations to get my trees ready for the Scottish Bonsai Show, which takes place in the seaside town of Troon, this coming Sunday. I will be entering four of my trees in our club display and one other in the separate shohin competition.

My kifu Acer Shishishigira will be displayed on its own at one end of the club’s small tree display. I have 2 options for a display table for this tree.

Option 1 Large table


Option 2. Smaller Table


I think I might go with the larger table but I would be interested to hear what others think

I will post pictures of the other trees tomorrow.