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.










Bonsai Europa 2017

Many thanks to Tony Tickle and his amazing team for putting on another fantastic show in Bury.


This was my personal contribution, a medium sized Blaauws Juniper that I have been working on for 5 years.


This is a better picture of it taken in my greenhouse on Thursday under ideal light conditions.


The large trees from the collections of Mark and Rita Cooper and John Paul Polmans were my particular favourites





Here is a selection of my other pictures from the show. Apologies for the quality but they fill the gap until the official pictures are released. Click on any thumbnail to see a larger picture in gallery mode.












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

Ayr Winter Image Show 2017 Pictures

I travelled to the seaside town of Ayr yesterday to take part in the 4th Ayr Winter Image Show It was held in an alternative venue this year as the club rooms in Alloway were closed for essential maintenance. The numbers attending this event continue to grow and each year more trees are brought along for display. Display tables for the trees were placed around the elaborately decorated walls of the banqueting room in the Savoy Park Hotel and the centre of the space was laid out for dining. The tables in the centre of the room were well used but made the space feel  quite cramped and while  they were occupied they created a hindrance to viewing the trees.


The layout of the space, the lack of a backdrop for the display tables and the poor lighting made photography very challenging indeed. Here are some of the better images I managed to take. I have included species and owners name if known to me.

Jim Conlin’s Root over rock Chinese Juniper


Peter Thorne’s English Elm


Peter Thorne’s Siberian Elm


Sauro’s Cork Barked Elm


Dougie Smith’s Chinese Juniper Styled by Kimura


Ian Mc Dougal’s Twin trunk Larch


Carlisle Club Member’s Deshojo Maple over rock


Ian Mc Dougal’sScots Pine


Ian McDougal’s Scots Pine


Potentilla Fruticosa




Robert Porch’s Shohin Scots Pine. I liked the trunk and the exposed roots on this one


Sauro’s white pine with lichen covered trunk. I love this one.






Robert Porch’s shohin Malus


Chinese Juniper


Jim Conlin’s triple trunk Larch


Beech group


Here are my 2 entries a Japanese Larch and a Blaauws Juniper. Compare this picture to the following 2, which were taken yesterday with a backdrop and adequate light. Imagine how much better the record of this event would be if all the trees were photographed like this.







Larch Winter Image

I will be taking this Larch along to the 4th Ayr Winter Image Show tomorrow. This is the first event of the year in the Scottish Bonsai calendar. It’s in a new venue this year, the Savoy Park Hotel, Racecourse Road, Ayr and the doors open at 11.00 am. If you like bonsai and live nearby this is one not to be missed.


I will be taking lots of pictures and they will appear on the blog sometime on Monday.

Here are a few pictures from last years show







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

Bonsai at Ayr Flower Show 2016

The annual Ayr flower show in the birthplace of our national poet Robert Burns takes place this weekend and as usual there are lots of bonsai to see. Watston Bonsai and Ayrshire Bonsai Club created 3 large displays all of which received gold medals. The partitioned display by Ayrshire Bonsai Club also won the best in show award. There is also a small open competition event where anyone can enter a tree and have it judged.

Here are some general views of the displays

The Ayrshire clubs’ partitioned display. I covered this display in detail in an earlier post, which can be found here, when it was presented at the Gardening Scotland Show earlier this year.


The Watston Bonsai display


A new recruit to the hobby purchasing her first tree


Here is a gallery of my favourite images of individual trees. Those taken against the dark backdrop are from the open competition. Click on any image to see a larger one in gallery mode


More Work on a Cotoneaster

I have been developing this small tree for several years now and it still has quite a way to go before I can consider it finished. It is one of 2 trees that I managed to create from an old stump collected from my garden some years ago. The early work on these trees can be found in this older post.

It was due for a re-pot so I decided to use the opportunity to remove an aerial root, which had been  acting as the main lifeline for the tree in the early days until the weaker roots at the base of the trunk were strong enough to take over. The roots at the base of the trunk have had 2 years to develop and the complete rootball is now filling the pot. The aerial root was severed using knob cutters. To limit the stress to the tree, no attempt has been made to disentangle the redundant roots from the live roots. This will be left until the next re-pot. At the moment I have only removed sufficient root mass to maintain good drainage in the pot.

This is how it looked at the start of this work



And this is how it looks at the moment. The next task, when I’m sure that the tree has recovered, will be to carry out some carving to the trunk to improve the taper.


Bonsai at Gardening Scotland Part 3

The third and final part of this post will focus on the trade displays.There were 2 bonsai traders at Gardening Scotland in 2016 and both put forward a display for judging by the Scottish Horticultural Society, both were awarded gold medals.

This is an overview of the Watston Bonsai display.


and here are more detailed pictures of some of the trees. Click on any image to see a larger one in gallery mode.

This is an overview of the North of England Bonsai display


and here are some detailed pictures. Click on any image to see a larger one in gallery mode