Its been a difficult year so far for small trees in small pots

After one of the longest Winters in recent memory and a very poor start to the Spring some of my small trees have had difficulty in getting started this year. A few deciduous trees like maples and elms have suffered some dieback, while others have been very slow to leaf out.

Here are some recent pictures of some of my shohin trees that are looking good at the moment.

2 shohin white pines


5 shohin hawthorns


Potentilla in flower


Here are some that haven’t done so well. Incidentally, all the pictures in todays’ post were taken this morning 27/5/18.

This is a cork barked elm that was severely cut back and had its roots reduced in April. There is no dieback on this tree but its taking an awfully long time to leaf out.


This Chinese elm, also re-potted in April isn’t looking good, most of the new growth is coming off the main trunk.


This trident appears to have lost a lower branch.


This one belonging to my friend Gerry is in a very poor state at the moment.


Its not all bad. At least all of these trees are still alive and with care and attention they will look good again.



Re-Working a Pinus Parviflora

Gerry brought his chuhin white pine to my garden this week to get some advice on how to take it forward.


This is how it looked before the current work


I felt that the apex was sitting a little too far to the right and the outline of the tree could be improved by moving it more to the left and above the main trunk line..

Here is an overhead view of the tree, which shows the existing position of the apical branch. The yellow arrow indicates the apex curving round to the right and the red arrow indicates where it needs to go.


The next picture taken from the left shows how thick the apical branch is with its future position in the foreground.


We decided to wrap the apex with raffia before bending


And this is how it looks at the moment. Better I think



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.



Lanarkshire Bonsai Club Meeting 12/6/2016

Yesterday I attended the monthly meeting of the Lanarkshire Bonsai Club at Wattston Bonsai. It was a busy day with lots of people passing through the workshop. Some of the members were involved in a number of seasonal tasks including defoliation of deciduous species and the re-potting of trees that respond better to this process when the weather is a little warmer.Here are a few pictures that sum up the day.

Gordon and Stuart discussing a larch.


Dougie and re-potting a juniper with Maurice looking on.


Gordons’ White Pine


Dougies’ defoliated trident over rock


Maurices’ re-potted juniper in a new Bigei pot.


A Great Way to Spend an Evening

Its rare in my experience that I get the opportunity to visit the garden of a fellow bonsai enthusiast. This week was an exception as Sauro, a friend from Glasgow, invited me over to see his extensive collection of trees and pots. Sauro, like myself, has a passion for smaller trees. Here are a few photographs of some of the trees that caught my attention. Apologies for the quality of some pictures, this was due to the strong evening sunlight.

Sauro on the right and Gordon on the left enjoying the evening sun.


An overview of the garden


Shohin white pine with a lichen covered trunk


Twisted trunk scots pine, these are a speciality of Sauro.




Cork bark black pine








This larger semi cascade scots pine was styled over the winter by Bjorn Bjorholm, no less


Sauro’s dog Max, a poodle with attitude.


Many thanks to Sauro for a terrific evening and to Margaret for a lovely meal.

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


New Pot for a Shohin White Pine

This week I decided to re-pot this shohin white pine, which I acquired last year. The first picture shows the intended planting angle, which is a few degrees to the right of the original front.


I had been looking for a better pot for this tree since I acquired it and found this one by Bigei at our club meeting last weekend.


Her’s a close up


and taking pride of place in the display shelf in my greenhouse today


I am very pleased with this tree/pot combination and hope to use it on the show bench later this year.


Get Together in the Sun

I had my friend Gerry in the garden today for our regular bonsai get together. It was the hottest day of the year so far and with the trees growing like wildfire there was plenty of maintenance needed.


This is Gerry’s shohin juniper rigida,  a very vigorous little tree, which was needing to be trimmed back into shape.

This is how it looked before todays’ work.


And this is how it looked after the work. We will probably re-plant this into a small round pot in the next week or 2.


This Chinese juniper also needed a trim


Thinned out to allow light into the interior. We are only at the start of the growing season here and this tree will put on a lot more growth before its over. It will need to be thinned again and fully re-wired towards the end of the season.


I even manage to wire a few of my own trees in the late afternoon.

This white pine was wired to open up the foliage a little.


This potentilla stump, collected from a friends garden and started as a bonsai last year, was wired for the first time today. Still a long way to go with this one but terrific potential in there.


All in all, a great day in great company with great weather too.