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.










The Sun is here At Last

Its been a slow start to the season and most things in the garden are about 4 weeks behind where they were last year but the weather has warmed up and the sun is out and my trees are beginning to grow again, at last.

This little hawthorn was re-potted recently into a beautiful Ian Baillie shohin pot.


This is how the same tree looked back in 2012


This is another little hawthorn, whose buds are beginning to open. Its in a nice green pot by Eimei at the Yozan Kiln.


and this is how it looked in 2012


Here are a few more trees that are beginning to glow with their new growth

3 of my medium sized larches





My shohin Japanese Yew


This little cotoneaster fell of the shelf and its original pot was broken. Here it is now in another pot by Eimei.


2 shohin Shimpaku Junipers





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

Re-potting some Deciduous Shohin Trees

I have been concentrating on my deciduous bonsai over the past few days. Here are some of my shohin bonsai that were re-potted.

Chinese Elm in a pot by Walsall Ceramics


Here is an earlier picture of the same tree in 2012, when I acquired it.


Trident Maple in a new pot by Koyo


Cork Barked Elm in a pot by Erin


And for comparison, the same tree in 2012


And finally for today, my other little trident in a new pot by Walsall























Acer Shiraswanum air layer goes into its first bonsai pot

I started this air layer in 2015 to try and improve the nebari on this acer shiraswanum that had been growing in my garden for a number of years. The first picture shows the old root base and the position of the layer further up the trunk.


I severed the layer in April 2016 and placed the tree in a large plastic pot for 2 years to let the new roots develop. I removed the tree from the pot this morning to find that it had filled the container with fine roots in just 2 seasons.



It took quite a lot of effort to comb out and shorten the new roots and to cut back the remains of the stump beneath the roots. This is how it looked after this work was completed.


Here it is now in its now in its new pot.It’s now ready to begin the long journey that will transform it into a bonsai.




Re-potting Some of My Larches


The rain stopped today so I was able to go outside and continue my re-potting. The first up was the first tree I ever purchased back in 1999 if memory serves me right. I keep this tree in a small pot so it has to be re-potted every year. This is how it looks at the moment. I’ve probably photographed this tree more than any other in my collection but I never tire of looking at it.


The following trees are ones that have been newly styled or re-worked recently. The next tree was chopped back to 2 branches a couple of years ago. I’ve never been entirely happy with it, the lower branch grew too thick and looked out of balance with the upper branch. I think chopping larch back to single branch gives a far more pleasing result, so I decided to cut it back severely and start again. This is how it looked at the start of the year.


and this is how it looks at the moment.


The next one had similar problems to the previous one so I decided to jin the upper part of the tree and work only with the lowest branch. This is how it looks now after re-potting into a new round pot.


The last one today was styled for the first time just over a week ago. It needed a change of angle. This is how it looks now in a new pot by Eimei.


Looks good on a root stand too


Chopping the Trunk of a Trident Maple

For a number of years I have been growing trident maples with a view to creating my own shohin trees. Most of my stock started life as pencil thin saplings and have been growing in boxes to thicken them up and create nice spreading root bases. A few are now at the stage where the next step in the process, chopping back the trunk, can begin.

Today I completed the work on the first of these. It’s the one you can see in the foreground of the next picture, taken last Spring.


The following pictures show a closer view of the base of the tree before the chop was carried out.



I decided to err on the side of caution and chop the tree in 2 stages. The first chop was made last Spring and this is how it looked at that time.


I am glad that I decided to complete this task in 2 stages because the tree pushed out a lot of new shoots below the first cut, which allowed me to position my second cut more accurately in relation to the new branch which will form the apex of the tree. This was how it looked at the end of last season. That tall branch in the centre wasn’t there at the start of the season.


The second chop which was carried out this week was positioned just above that tall branch in the centre. The next picture shows how it looks at the moment. You can see that the nodes on the thick branch are too far apart for a shohin  tree but fortuitously there is a short thin branch right next to it with short internodes and 5 nodes. This is the branch that will form the top of the tree and the thicker one will be removed in due course.