Hinoki Cypress

You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.

Richard Branson


One of the nicest species I’ve ever worked with is the Hinoki Cypress. I purchased one about fifteen or so years ago and it was virtually identical to the first image below. Clearly it was in a pot and was secured as a bargain basement purchase from a Bonsai nursery. It had come out of its pot and when I bought the thing the root ball was a dry as a chip. This is NOT what you want to find with this species. They will NOT thank you for having dry feet.

Indeed make sure you check they are evenly moist throughout the year. Dry and you’ll get huge amounts of die-back. Anyway, I digress; this image is very similar.

Hinoki Compacta (Green)

You can do so much with the cypress, as the foliage is already halfway there in terms of fanning. one quick tip, DON’T use scissors to cut unless you remove from source then by all means use scissors. For keeping foliage tidy and how you might like to see it use your fingers. Hold the cloud in-between finger and thumb and just gently pinch with fingers of the other hand. Not using your nails.

Moving on to 2014 I thought long and hard if I should lop the top off and think about a completely different style. As it happens I decided against a ‘chop-job’ and just spent some time seeing if I could get a tree that looked like a real tall grand tree in the wild. I’m initially pleased and the following image as is. i’ve done more, but I need to take another image. still struggling with the Canon 6D but that is another story.

Hinoki 2014 March

Procumbens All Change

If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.

        Leo Tolstoy

Not been around in a while as health issues and moving home (we hope) have taken priority. I have however had a good week or two and thought I would spend a bit of time on all my trees.

I only have eight trees now so really I can now actually enjoy spending time working with them rather than thinking of it as a chore. When I first started on the road to Bonsai and over subsequent years I became what I can only imagine as addicted to having more and more trees.

sure I had nothing like the amount as many do and have done over time mostly because pretty much all my trees were large ones. Some so heavy it took two to move them. Thirty-one years later and I’ve gone much much smaller. Sure not Shohin sized but all manageable by one person and don’t need the wheelbarrow to move them.

I’ll upload a few others, but for now my old cascading Procumbens had gone a bit bushy again so figured I sit and think about a future for it. I repotted three years ago after obtaining a rather nice pot whilst up at the Swindon Winter image Show.

Here it can be seen as a Yeti like Cascade.

Procumbens November 2011

The pot above was a very heavy one from Peter Chan. The great problem with the Procumbens Juniper is the foliage gets pretty heavy and creating a cascade became difficult for me, as I found the weight of the branch required permanent wiring to keep any kind of shape.

Here it can be seen after a fall in high winds with some branches broken. I threw it in this pot which I quickly purchased from the local Garden Centre. To give an idea of size the slab that the pot is sat on is 40cm in diameter.

Juniper March 2010

Again I figured I would leave it and see what happens. It recovered well and I cleaned it out to see once more if a possible cascade without permanent wire was possible. See the first image. Also this one. Cleaned out and removed from pot to go into the PC grey one.


The root-ball was indeed looking well recovered and so into the PC pot it went. Over time I just didn’t or could not get my head round the tree. I wondered if actually creating something with this one was out of my own skill-set? I’m not to proud to admit at times I’ve wondered if I was capable, and fumbled at times. Oh I thought I’d include the absolute original image of the tree. This was prior to falling and prior to a much needed trim.


Moving on and as I started off saying eventually I had had enough of constant wiring and thus decided enough was enough and into a much smaller more manageable pot. This was the one I spoke about earlier the one I got from Swindon.

Procumbens 2011

And yet I still wasn’t happy! Yes it looked to me a heck of a lot better but balance wise it wasn’t right and I still wondered if it had too many branches. Moving bang up to date from 2011 when I popped it into the pot above, I purchased another pot whilst in Swindon this year at the winter Image Show, and paid the mighty sum of £22.50 for it. Brand new, Chinese, perfect condition and deep enough to get a bit more root growing and also to see how it looks in a more rectangular pot. Incidentally I should say I like the following image very much and it will be my intention to get another rectangular pot but not so deep.

Taken a couple of days ago March 2014 in the new pot. Tree needs an overall tweak bend over to the left by a few mm which i’ll do with the foliage when recovered from the repot.

Thank you if you are still with me and reading; I hope you enjoyed it?

Procumbens 200314

A Funny Wee White Pine.

All that really belongs to us is time; even he who has nothing else has that.

Baltasar Gracian

When my substantial Japanese White Pine and I parted company and it went to a new custodian I stipulated that the deal should also include a small White Pine. Well small it was and it sat for weeks and weeks wondering what on earth I could possibly do with it!

Well Saturday was a great health day and with sunshine the order of the day I felt it was now or never. Many branches had been pruned very badly over time with quite a few growing back on themselves. I truly didn’t think it had anything going for it.

The tree as it was in its raw state. Excuse the photography; I’ve sold my old 500D DSLR and await my new camera.

Before 2Before 4Before 5

After a while I started to make some progress. I’ve now removed about 70-80% of the existing foliage and branch network. More to do but here it is as is today.


Now I just need to get a suitable pot. Fancy a round one at 20-22cm in diameter.

New ‘Monkey’ Pole (Display Area)

A boring post about a ‘Monkey Pole.’

I’d decided I needed a new display pole with a base on top, and I had stumbled over some lovely sandstone type slabs at B n Q, so felt instead of a wooden top (hmmm That rings a bell). I cut one in half, beveled the edges to look a tad rustic and figured they would make a rather nice top to a pole that would never decay. being very porous I mixed up a water based matt black and added a little more water to ensure deep penetration. Two coats of exterior walnut silk has given a nice finish that will last years.

I forgot to take a few images of how I did the top slab, so a quickie description then. Cut in half as previously stated  to make the two tops; I’ve made another for a second pole. To secure the slab to the pole I fancied a change instead of a 10cm screw. First a  piece of 4×2 into a square, then found centre of slab and after I drilled through wooden block to mount a screw thread bolt thread shaft in middle. Glued the finished block using Gorilla polyurethane glue which I have found over the years to be 100% weather safe. You can not break the joint, so crucial to find right spot.

Glued and then secured with 250kg clamps overnight. On to the pole then. I was delighted to rope in a Bonsai pal to do the sledgehammer work (phew). First image is in place and roughly where I wanted it. I try my best but truthfully the pain to my arthritic joints would be horrendous … assuming I could lift the darned thing in the first place! Thank you good buddy. Here I have placed it exactly where I want it. Propped up by SH while I stand back to take a look-see.

Pole 1

Please note the slab is NOT on the top of pole, that is a hardwood (Beech) block screwed on to top of pole that the sledge will eventually hit. This stops the top getting knacked before you start. Easy I know to saw off, but this works for me. SHOULD … you prefer to saw off after installation then simply measure down from the level top of pole to the spot where you need the top of pole to end, measure down all around, make a pencil line, join it up then when sawing keep checking you are level.

This is a profiled pole which makes for a nice looking finish when stained.

Pole 2

Pole 3

Simply centre the block on top, counter sink to stop screw bending when struck and you are away. I don’t concrete in as my soil here is soft and grips the pole like sticky stuff to a blanket if you get my drift?

Pole 4

I don’t have a post level; someone borrowed it and I never got it back. Now I forget who borrowed it! Keep checking levels as you go. I use a clamp to hold the level and use eyes also to make certain a level pole works.

Pole 5

Now just a quick peak for upright level.

Pole 6

With the post all finished all that remains is to drill a centre pilot hole at the top of the post, ready to take the slab with previously installed threaded bar.

Pole 7

I use a smaller level to check the horizontal both length and depth. If you really want to be flash screw on the top before installing post, turn upside down (NO not you the post and top) and use a sharp chisel to make the square bloke identical to the post profiles. Alternatively I could just unscrew after making a white mark of the pole and just do it on the workbench … which I might do; or rope in a pal to do it 🙂

Close up.

Pole 9

All finished and dry, here then with a small pot atop and snapped with the compact.

Pole 10

This one is getting a rest as it is easier to use a smaller compact for this.

Pole 12

Two New Pots Today

Two wonderful pots arrived today from my good friend Tony Remington. Tony sure knows a thing or two about making pots and usually I cannot resist some of his new ideas. The first I have in mind to try a miniature rose and see how it works. If not then I will look around.

10cm tall, and 11cm deep I have quite a bit of room to play with. This one did not sell first time round on Tony’s site and I must breathe a sigh of relief it did not. This is just pot making at its absolute finest.

TR1 pot today

Next is something completely new for Tony and to say I’m delighted would be an understatement. Tony has such an eye for detail. He also has the biggest hands I have ever seen; how he makes these perfectly shaped pots is beyond me.

Size is 12cm diameter, and 6cm deep. I am uncertain what is destined for this one so will have a good think or three.

TR pot 2 today


Thank you Tony!

Some More Then.

Right, fingers are functioning again so here then is the other images I took yesterday. Can’t do any today as it seems like hurricane force out on the patio today!

One of my favourite pots from a smashing chap, Simon of Suteki. 5cm in width and 3cm depth. Clearly being so small this is really suited to sempervivums or similar that can stand a while without water. Check his site if you have time, he knows a thing or two about making stunning pots and creating accents. Oh the sedum just grows on the patio and this time of year the Blackbirds release some for me. I just pick it up where it lays and pot it up.


Another ERIN pot from Vic. Quite a recent one this is for me. Stands 8cm tall x 5cm wide (all measurements are approx. BTW). Planted up with some young Viola plants that have been grown from seed here at home. Not certain what this one will be as I mixed the labels up. (Can’t rely on anything these days, let alone myself!) Anyway the fun comes as the flower arrives. I’lll keep fingers crossed for split colour orange and purple.


An old Chinese pot that I have had here in the cupboard planted up with the other Echeveria I have. Think this one has more red colour.


A rather nice (I think so anyway) pot made in China I believe; 7cm x 7cm housing one of my miniature hostas. I’ve really not done at all well with any of my wee hostas this year. Not quite sure what went wrong.


ERIN pots again here. Very different to my usual choice in pots. 7.5cm wide x 6.5 tall. The Semper in this pot is the one that has the mass of cobweb like strands all around it. Clearly I’ve forgotten the variety name. Added some sedum from same patio which is just coming into flower.


Finally for now a Chinese pot sat doing nothing so I used one of my much larger Sempervivums, and it will stay there until I need the pot for anything else .. or not as the case may be. I’ll get some more up when this infernal wind dies out; which may be never. Whatever happened to glorious summer days????? BBQ has cobwebs!


Siberian Elm will be at Swindon 2013

I’ve made the decision to show my S/Elm at what I consider the greatest Bonsai show within the uk. The Swindon Winter Image Bonsai show. I very much doubt I will have any new leaves showing, and I will of course be keeping it in this wonderful (now getting on a bit) Walsall Ceramics pot.

I’ve only ever shown this tree at a very small local club event so my knees are knocking a tad. My great buddy Will B has an awesome Elm and I know he will have his own beauty looking fantastic.

This then the last of 2012 images. Now I must make a stand and think about a winter accent that may look suitable. Or anything else. Suggestions VERY VERY welcome. Anyway, it will definitely be at the 2013 Swindon show.  Fingers (shaky) very crossed it is liked on the day 🙂


Hinoki Cypress

Chamaecyparis obtusa; Was a bargain basement tree from my good friend Geoff at Glenbrook some years ago. I think it was £25 (give or take), and since then I have grown it as nothing specific. Just thought I’d run with it and see how it goes. This year I repotted into an old Bill Jordan pot which is much much better than the awful round Mica I had it in.

Health is good so will carry out further styling next year. For now I’m more than happy.

Display Area Further Changes

Not a lot, but just a few subtle changes / additions. Have included some solar power pagoda style lighting (now I like I shall get some more). I need a solar light with a separate panel to install in the smaller granite lantern. Nothing around in the stores today … sigh (just full of sale stuff! 🙂

Brought over the K. Hornbeam triple trunk, shifted a couple and raked over, oh and picked up leaves. Would have done more but that wind today … waayyyyy too strong and drying out the evergreens very quickly. Very unusual to be watering right now. Using a moisture meter, they are drying out very quickly.

Anyway, latest image as of this afternoon. Further changes planned!

Small JWP

My much smaller and younger JWP, was to all intents and purposes, displaying exactly the same symptoms as the much larger and older one. At the same time as re-potting the large one I immediately decided that a full on re-pot should be carried out on this smaller version. Again, same MO with 100% root prune and hard I might add. No rinsing of roots as I allowed it to become pretty dry indeed. This benefits greatly as long as you get it right. Soil just falls away.

Much of the original beneficial mycorrhizal fungi was reintroduced and in direct contact with all cut areas of old roots. Much the same then as the larger version; black and dead roots. So at the same period (8 months ish on) health has fully returned, as has that beautiful blue green that five needle pines have.

The second image taken just a few days ago. During the next 12 months I will be thinning out and spending much type on shape. It was always a thought to recreate a miniature version of the much larger one. This first image was during Summer 2010; you can clearly see the difference in health and colour between each image.