Raw Material for the Future

During Gerry’s visit last week, we potted  some of our raw material into wooden boxes to help with their development. I worked on trident maples that I acquired as a mini forest planting a few years ago. I am growing them in large shallow boxes to develop the nebari and it seems to be working well.


I plan to make a shohin tree from this one, so I may begin chopping it back this week


The nebari on this one is beginning to look nice but I would like to see it grow much bigger. This one was potted up into a wider box.


Gerry wanted to pot a nice juniper prostrate that he brought back from Noelander’s.


It was in a peaty soil, which had to be removed.


This how it looks at the moment in its new box with a slight change in the planting angle.


Its an interesting tree with future possibilities from several angles of view.




Juniper Squamata in Development

Today, I had a look at a piece of raw material that was collected from my garden 2 years ago. It is a procumbent needle foliage juniper, commonly found in gardens, that given time, makes a really nice bonsai.

This is how it looked when it was removed from the ground 2 years ago.


And this is how it looked one year on from the previous picture. They are relatively slow growing trees and in its first year of pot culture it didn’t put on much new growth. I decided at this point to leave it for another year.


After another year in the large pot it is looking a lot stronger, so I can do some more work on it now.


Today I took it out of the plastic pot, removed the remaining old garden soil and re-potted it in a good free draining soil mix, in this round drum pot. It will stay in this pot for the foreseeable future while its’ development continues.


Here is another of the same variety that was started about 12 years ago.


my juniper

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


Relaxing Afternoon with my Juniper Squamata

Today, in between the autumn showers and doing the final preparation of my trees for our club display at Bonsai Europa this weekend, I enjoyed a relaxing hour pruning and thinning this seasons growth on my juniper squamata.

Although it grows with great vigour that new growth is rarely placed where I would like it, so most of it has to be removed to maintain definition in the foliage pads and allow the winter light into the interior.


This is how it looked before today’s work


And this is how it looks at the moment. I will fully rewire it next year to open up the branches even more.


Juniper Squamata in Summer

My Juniper Squamata is enjoying the warmer weather at the moment and pushing out a lot of new growth. The roots of this tree were severely pruned last year to get it into this stunning pot by Ian Baillie and I am relieved to say there has been no ill effects on the trees’ vigour.


I will let it grow on throughout the remainder of our summer and redefine the foliage pads later in the year.

Back to Basics, Working with Raw Material

Now that most of the early season re-potting is over, it leaves me with a little more time to study the collected material which lives at the back of my garden, to carry out some basic maintenance on it and to seek out the potential hidden within it.

The 2 pieces that I am looking at today were collected from my garden last year and featured in a blog post at that time.

The first is a Lonicera Nitida. As the first picture shows, it didn’t have many roots, when collected so it was planted deep in a large plastic pot to grow more.



One year on, we can see that it has put on a considerable amount of top growth


When it was removed from the pot and the old compost based soil washed off, you can see that it has a much stronger root system this year. It can now be further developed in a training pot with a good free draining bonsai soil mix.



This is another possible future planting angle, which shows more of the trunks’ twists and turns. The inverse taper at the point where the foliage emerges can be carved out later.


The second tree is a procumbent juniper. This is a reminder of how it looked last year, when it was removed from the garden



One year later, it is looking strong and healthy but it hasn’t put on much new growth. I won’t attempt to re-pot this one at the moment but I’ll wait another year to allow more root development


When viewed at this angle, the tree might have some future potential as a literati


A little branch selection and wiring to help it on its’ way.


Happy New Year

I would like to wish all of the people that follow my blog and the hundreds of others who check in occasionally, a happy and prosperous new year. As we in the northern hemisphere patiently await the arrival of the new growing season, I thought I would share again a few of my favourite pictures from the past year.

The joy of new spring growth


My shohin Pomegranate in autumn


Potentilla Fruticosa in winter



And to finish this first post of the year, here is a gallery of before and after pictures of trees that have featured in my blog in 2014

Procumbent Juniper (one for the record)

My procumbent juniper has settled nicely after the re-pot of last month and continues to grow strongly. I thought that it was about time I took a record shot of this tree against a nice colourful background


The shari was cut 2 years ago and the live vein is beginning to show signs of swelling. I have been working the edge of the live vein with a fine grade sandpaper to create a nice rounded transition into the deadwood. I will probably divide the live vein into 2 by creating another shari from the jin that is visible at the rear of the tree. This picture highlights for me the need for more refinement in the nebari but this will be done at a later time. For the moment, I am very satisfied with this tree

Procumbent Juniper Progression

This procumbent juniper was collected from my garden in 2003. The roots and branches were cut back severely and it was placed in a deep plastic pot to recover. Unfortunately, I do not have any photographs from this early period. In 2006 it was removed from the plastic pot and placed in its current pot. Around about the same time, one of the horizontal branches was wired upward to form an apex. The branch set in a single growing season. No more work was carried out until 2011, when the first photograph was taken. At the start of 2011 the tree was removed from its pot and the roots were trimmed back.


Later in the same year, I began to style the tree for the first time. In the second picture, some of the lower branches have been removed and in the third, the foliage has been thinned out for wiring.



At this stage, I was still not sure which side would be the front, so in the next picture which was taken in 2011 after the first full wiring, the tree is turned in the opposite direction.


In 2012, I began to increase the amount of fertilizer given to the tree and it seemed to respond well. In the autumn, I was able to start work on the shari and jins.


In the final picture, taken in the autumn of 2013, you can see that the foliage pads are developing well and a little more work has been carried out on the shari.