Another Azalea

Always been my favourite species of bonsai. This a monstrous 27cm diameter trunk at the very base is a long term project. It desperately requires a new pot but thus far I am struggling to find anything. 38cm oval is what I have in mind with some decent depth.

Since Brexit, all my old European sources have stopped shipping to the UK which is such a shame. Maybe in time UK nurseries will improve their websites and take advantage of the fact there are many enthusiasts here in the UK that need more than some basic wire and a plastic pot? We can live in hope.

So far other than spend the hours weeding, trunk cleaning, removal of old wire that was biting in, I have done very little. Some light pruning and further wiring to create a basic shape. In time I will create a more domed crown and create some major branches.

As we age, real long term projects become impossible. I’m thinking fifteen years to achieve a nice tree. That will put me in my eighties: I hope I can still lift this tree then; jeepers, I hope I’m still alive to enjoy my work 🙂

Asahi-no-Hikari is the sub species of Satsuki (Satski) Azalea, a variation on Eikan. It is currently on the work table right now, so I’ll update again. As it was and after a day’s work.

I have no idea if this works, but no doubt someone will say if it looks awful. I came across this one at Kaizen. Quick mock-up.

After much searching, I have settled (for the 2022 repot) on a basic pot from Kaizen Bonsai. One inch less in diameter than I wanted but it still seems to sit well with this azalea.

Back Again

Seems health wise I came out the other side and started on Bonsai once more. The difference is my trees now are a lot smaller. I’m not even sure this site is still active on WP so won’t labour away.

Rather nice Satsuki Azalea joined me recently. Offering image and after a few hours of work.

After a decent session the tree is taking shape already.

Scots Pine Needle Reduction & Others

I was asked to write a very small article about watering and feeding Pine trees. It was for an internet Facebook Group. I thought it might come in handy here too. Not for the intermediate or experienced; it is aimed at beginners to help them understand a little about watering Pines and feeding them.

Pines. Watering & Feeding For Health & Needle Reduction.

I’ve always enjoyed the pleasure from Pines. Ever since I started my Bonsai journey thirty five years ago, I found I was always drawn to Pines. There are many myths surrounding Pines, I cannot possibly go into them all here now, but wanted for the benefit of those new to Bonsai to mention two succinct areas I see enthusiasts get wrong time after time. So as a seasoned pro I would suggest there is probably nothing here for you.

The first is watering. I’ve seen so many dead Pines over the years; people would say they were told to keep them dry. In the growing seasons a Pine will need watering every day, and in many instances more than once a day. In the hot weather it is not unusual for me to water Pines in free draining soil three times a day. The temperature that can be read on the inside of a pot is huge. Those roots need cooling; they do not have the benefit of protection from rocks general stone and the soil. Keep it watered. BUT; out of the growing season they do not like sitting in water. Scots will stand a lot more water abuse that Black Pines or White grown on BP stock. This is why having a free draining soil is so important. Repotting takes care of that issue. Having so said in the Western World I personally think we repot far to frequently. Pines I will repot when I really have to. Clearly frequency is not one cap fits all. Elms will fill a pot in a year and Maples won’t be far behind. Pines however are fickle about repotting. I will cover detailed repotting of Pines at a later date. Brown needles all over the tree in the growing season means just one thing.

The other area to take note of on this occasion is the ‘dreaded’ needle reduction. You have nothing to fear. It is not hard. Correct candle pruning and pinching is a good start. (Loads of internet info on that area). Plenty of sunlight, yep full sun, get that Pine in the sun, with no shade. You may need to water more frequently in very hot Summers. Consider an automated drip feed if you work for a living. So here goes the next big mistake many make. Not feeding that Pine!! If you want a healthy Pine with short healthy needles feed it. I use Rape cakes and or Bio gold, liquid fish emulsion and liquid seaweed with minerals. What frequency then to get those nice tidy needles? Every week, sometimes twice or three times weekly. Shock horror I hear you mumble. Think about it for a moment. You will pop chicken waste pellets, Bio gold, or Rape cakes and or Naruko in the soil surface and you water. What do you think is happening when you water? Yep, feed is released through every single watering! So frankly those that use this method of feeding and say they only feed once a month is absolute twaddle. With permanent organic feed on the soil surface I supplement with FE or SW a couple of times minimum a week. JUST BE MINDFUL though when using seaweed, it can darken the needles if you over do it. Ease back on dilution.

I have created this very short notation to help those just starting off, and in particular if you happen to like Pines. Like a backside of course, everyone has one, just like an opinion; I’m saying this is what worked for me and many others that I helped over a three and a half decade period of time. As always, if you want to ask a question just fire away. You will see I have included a Scots Pine that I worked for many years. I have included two images. One prior to needle reduction techniques and the second some three years later.

Scotty prior to reduction

Scotty after reduction

Water Garden Area

Been making some progress converting a section of garden that will eventually have ‘light’ Japanese style to it. The pond is now in and some plants are also in. Fish seem fine. Sadly being disabled I am reliant on others being free to lend a hand; although my Wife is pretty good digging holes and planting.

Next step is a pal will be crazy-paving the plain left side of the pond. Then find somewhere up here in Lincolnshire that actually has a decent selection of Acers to choose from. Stepping stones some ornaments rock plants and, oh well, that will be another day. For now a short video. And it seems I cannot put a video on. Oh well a few images then.

p2Pond 1 FBpond plants 1pond plnts 2pond plnts 3pw4pw5pw6

Pyracantha Update

Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.     

Soren Kierkegaard

This then was my first tree purchase after coming back to the ‘Bonsai-Fold.’ I have now had this tree since the 12th July this year so just a month. Thought I would spend a bit of time looking and thinking, but mostly it arrive in awful condition and needed to come back to health first. It was an eBay purchase from a nursery in Italy. Cost me £190 which frankly I realise I overpaid. Stands 33cm from soil surface.

A little wiring but mostly clipping which I find is the best way to shape Firethorns. I will repot into something more suitable next year in late Winter early Spring. I have used the back as the new front. The bottom branches left and right are far too straight so disguise is required with further growth. They are too thick to reshape.

Thank you for looking.

Firethorn as arrived FB

Firethorn 2018 FB_Optimizer



New Crab Apple

The winds of heaven change suddenly; so do human fortunes.

Chinese Proverb


i’m delighted to have found a Crab that has lots of promise. I’ve been looking all over since returning to Bonsai. All I could find was poor offerings at ridiculous asking prices, for basically stuff I’ve given away in the past.

I was saving hard to get a ‘biggie’ from Graham at Kaizen, but then thought, ‘hang on, this is daft; why not get a ‘cheapy’ and spend a few years on it?’ So I did. Peter Chan at Heron had some good ones listed on his website, then I realised you DON’T actually get the tree you see; he will send something ‘similar,’ yeah right I don’t think so. Thanks to a good old pal, I see Heron Bonsai is NOT the establishment it once was. Very sad indeed.

So still looking, I stumbled across Adam Briney at ‘All Things Bonsai.’

And I’m delighted to recommend his nursery based on numerous emails, general help and his prices. For goodness sake ‘get in there,’ he has some great material at sensible money. I am saving hard and will be taking a visit to All Things Bonsai in Sheffield later this year. Anyway, I bought this cracking Crab Apple from Adam at a paltry £100 posted to me in Lincoln. Here it is as received; needs repotting as it is in an open organic soil and the pot is too small, so am looking for a new one. I will start carving this Crab almost immediately. Having had a chat with others, it would seem now is a good time, not during Winter. A ton of carving to do, so looking forward to it. Nebari (trunk diameter) is excellent, almost 13cm. Height is around 42cm from soil. I cannot believe how fortunate I was getting this beauty. And don’t get caught out. Crabs are now on the banned list to be imported from Japan.

Crab3 WPFBCrab2 FBWPCrab 1 WPFB

A Tree Versus a ‘Bonsai?

Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.     

Martin Luther King


Over the years those that know me will no doubt agree I have generally; (not always) gone for a look that could be considered a fully grown tree in miniature. Indeed, I have for as long as I can remember, favoured the miniature world. I built up a miniature model-railway, miniature long-haired Dachshunds, and so on. When I first started out with Bonsai, I was of a mind that one should strive for the wonderful images as seen in many of the early books. After a time I realised that actually I preferred the look that was a full sized tree in miniature without the perfectly manicured pads and shapes. It might have been because I never had the time to spend hour after hour with wire. Highly likely, as there were other pursuits I enjoyed which all took up time.

One little Maple that I once owned, was for me a perfect example. everyone kept telling me I should shape it rather than have it as was. I suppose in the end it looked fine either way? I still like that natural look though.