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.

Some New Accents.

A firm tree does not fear the storm.      


I was fortunate enough to make the Bristol Bonsai Show at the weekend of the 18th. What a fantastic show with absolute applause from me with respect to the organisation, QUALITY of trees and supporting / companion accents, trade stands .. well, the ‘whole nine yards.’ Superb and thank you all. Sadly I had the compact with me and luddite me managed to have it set on 300k per image and not 3 meg 😦

It really was impossible to single any out but spookily I managed a larger image of a stunning Elm owned by Mark and Ritta Cooper. I’m delighted to show it here on my blog. Pot is a ‘Dansai’ and stunning too.


I managed to purchase a couple of new pots from Dan Barton who had quite a remarkable choice to select from. Gwen pipped me on that gorgeous ‘curly-pot’ almost something H.R. Giger about it. Thankfully ‘Dansai’ is going to make me another but smaller. The pot is below.


My own purchases have been potted up and I include them below. The Blue pot is a Delosperma ‘graf reinet’ and was a gift from my good friend Paul B. Thank you Paul. Along with the White flowering variety Paul also gave me another colour and this one happened to be in a tiny pot Paul had made himself. It was a larger plant but I cut a length off to pot up.

Dan B Blue pot

Paul B pot n plant

This Red pot, also a ‘Dansai’ is now looking after an Echeveria that I rescued. Pot and plant go well together. This pot is a high glaze somewhat different to what I would normally have, hence the appeal.

Red pot planted

Finally I had seen Paul with a rather nice Japanese Rose, which he got from Ritta Cooper. Without a moments hesitation I just knew I too would not be content without one. Potted on into a spare pot so now I will see how it does. Leaves are really tiny.

Japanese Rose

I was very pleased to receive a gift from Dansai which is a Hosta Blue Mouse Ears. It is exceedingly healthy and I will split it next year. Rather like the Dansai pot too. I’ve not done well with miniature Hosta of late and this specimen will be pampered. Thank you again Dan.

Dan Hosta for MJJ

Looking forward to Bristol 2014!

Tis Bright Alright!

I’d seen this gorgeous looking pot on Facebook (the power of an advert). I fell in love instantly but upon contacting David at Walsall Ceramics they had none. With his usual helpful attitude it was a case of “No problem, I will let you know when they become available again.”

What seemed only days later David emailed me to say he had three and to take my pick. I did and I’m delighted to share it here on my blogasphere. 9cm tall and 7cm wide it will take a decent sized wee accent type plant. I’m thinking something with creamy white flowers to compliment the pot.

Walsall Ceramics Red

Mountain Maple After Leaf Removal.

I mentioned in an earlier blog entry that two of my Maples had the most awful leaf burn this year. After much thought and input too from others I have settled on a combination of three areas. I mention this as someone might find it useful if they are either considering leaf pruning or outright removal for a myriad of reasons.

This is the first year I have had each and every single leaf display mild singing to out and out burnt shrivelled leaves. I’ll not include images of the leaves as they are HERE on the earlier post I mentioned above. A detailed explanation of possible causation is to be found in this previous blog entry. HERE.

I know much is bantered around about what an amazing technique it is to grow a second set of leaves, or even a third on a very healthy tree, but truly folks it is little more than what nature could do all on its own. So, without any further babble I include a before image of the small Maple, and one taken yesterday after the new set of leaves turned it into a bush like plant; clearly I attacked it with a pair of scissors though. It will do for now; further trimming will be required over the next few weeks. The first image is after initial leaf hardening but at the burn stage. Eventually it looked awful. In this image I had already taken away 30-40% of the leaves as they had turned completely brown.


Then after leaf removal, with some branch pruning too. SEAL cuts to avoid bleed this time of year and minimise this type of branch pruning.

Mountain Maple strip

In this image it is three weeks after the original removal of leaves. You actually have a job looking at the tree to see any branches at all. This one I have taken looking down at the crown.

New leaves

After a couple of hours of detailed tidying the tree is now without any browning whatsoever. Seen here in a Tony Remington pot. Thanks for looking in.

A quick snap half way through. A typically I forgot to take a front on image.

Prior to tidy

Maple on FB reduced size

Scots Pine Needle Size (Watering Difficulties)

No not mine but I have seen two almost dead pines during the last month and wanted to clear up a myth regarding watering of pines.

My own small Scots Pine is building up a nice framework of branching this previous three years.  Come the Autumn I will thin the tree out by around 40-50% to enable me to shape further. Minor pruning can be carried out now, but do ensure you seal cuts. For now the appropriate feeding and watering regime with a position of full sun all day, has given me quality sized needles.

Yes, the tree is rotated, but does indeed sit in sun all day long. Watering is generally twice daily at the moment, as the gorgeous weather we are having .. and owed some; is ensuring most of my trees dry out quite quickly. And it really was this watering I wanted to mention.

I’ve seen two pines during the last fortnight, one a Scots, and the other a Mugo. The latter is still hanging in there, but the Scots seems to be on the last legs. My first question was about watering, and in both cases it had been left to nature to provide water! There seems to be a significant myth about, that suggests Pines are watered very infrequently to ensure small needles and insignificant growth. This is complete ‘Hogwash’ and I’ll gladly argue the point with anyone. Yes, during winter if the pine /s are under cover then watering from mid to late October (Northern Hemisphere) should be kept to an absolute minimum until the first signs of growth the following year are seen; and that in both ends of the season it is weather dependant, so it is not a ‘complete rule of thumb so be careful. Kept outside you could and should be looking to limit rain water, as roots will rot if they sit in water. Just because you have free-draining soil it does not mean water will dissipate quickly; the roots themselves will create a dense rootball with Mycelium and soggy soil you have a wonderful base for potential root rot.

Usually about mid Spring through Summer the Pine will do what it has been waiting to do, and that is grow. By withholding water to keep needles short – is hugely detrimental to the pine, and will quickly see it flounder and probably die in part or full during warm weather. Watering two weekly this time of year is NOT enough. I’m watering my large pine daily and the smaller one at least twice daily. The heat build up inside that pot is hot indeed, and it is not unusual to find that just inside the pot it is at least 40c; clearly it needs cooling so you may prefer to put the pine in dappled shade during very warm bright sunny days. I do try to stand the watering cans full up in a dappled area to gently warm the water through; NOT HOT, just take that cold off. I personally have thought if I find it a shock someone pouring cold water over me right now, then the plants also may find it a shock. Not easy I know when you have many many trees.

So please please please … DO water your pines right now, they WON’T stand being  dry as a chip for anything like as long as you think they will.

My small Scots with a happy look in a John Pitt pot. 70cm in height. Dwarf variety of Scots Pine.

Scotty 15:07:13

Leaf Strip Results

On the 23rd June this year I leaf stripped two Maples. I was concerned that I may have had a disease going on … or it was a uniform leaf burn. I mentioned then that almost every single leaf had signs of burning (See Original Post HERE).

I took the following image yesterday of ‘Stumpy’ and am delighted to say that not one leaf has come through with any damage. It has leafed well, all-be-it there are a handful that have come through huge; these I have removed. In the image below the darker colour leaves are just simply new ones in clusters that have yet to turn green and harden. Wind has been kind lately so fingers crossed.


I feel 100% certain it has been a two fold issue that has caused the dreadful leaf marking.

1. Scorch from strong winds. Without a doubt this was part to blame. Other than keep em coddled and fully protected I can do little about the wind.

2. I’ve been using tap water only this year. I store it for a minimum of two days fully vented to get any gasses present to evaporate. I’m convinced that the build-up of salts I have been experiencing this year mostly in accents has emanated from said tap-water. And actually re-reading this some years later I think not.

With the latter in mind there are really only two things I am aware of that actually stop this occurring.

1. Add a teaspoon of distilled white vinegar to every five litres of water. (Thanks again Will for the correction).

2. Water copiously each watering; ‘shilly-shally’ watering techniques do indeed permit minerals build up, which inevitably leads to salts. You’ll know, as you will have near white marks on top of the soil or at the base of a pot.

I may have been caught out with a liquid feed that was not actually organic, and I may have overdosed slightly. This then actually makes a third point to consider; one of which I’d like to cover another time.

Here then was stumpy on the 23rd June 2013 followed by the 14th July 2013.

Stumpy strip

Leaf stripped July 2013

Siberian Elm Leaf Size.

Although this Siberian Elm is a tree that looks better in a winter image, it is still never-the-less a deciduous tree, that for seven to eight months of the year is in full leaf. I always felt it a shame to just let it grow and wait until winter. Sure late Autumn the leaves turn yellow and if we are lucky with winds, it looks nice at this time, as many fall leaving a ‘skeleton’ like look.

The single biggest flush is as the new leaves settle in early Spring; toward mid to late Spring it starts to look untidy. This year I knew that I wanted to reduce the tree down, or reduce the size of the canopy width primarily whilst balancing up the rest of the tree at the same time. Here it can be seen at mid to late Spring.

Before S:elm

The sheep of course don’t do a good enough job! The next image is off the tree with size to the canopy reduced but not finished. Far better to wait a while as once it comes off, you can’t very well stick it back on. For that you need to wait a year or two.

After S:elm


The Hawk-eyes among you will have seen that I missed the middle of the pot in 2012 during its repot. One of those things, it happens, and I hadn’t noticed until a good pal pointed it out to me. Then again I am due new specs again. I mention this as the canopy looks like it hangs off the right more than it should.

So after many hours of trimming and selective pruning I wanted to let the tree have a couple of weeks to settle; this then for now was as far as I went. Over the next week or so there were plenty of browned leaves to remove. Very difficult on a full foliage to not snip where you should not. I’m limited on time due to my arthritis, suffice it to say it took me a full day, plus I had some help too.

The next few images concern leaf size. That is leaf size on the hardened ones and the plethora of new that would be spring out. During the following images I hope you can see where reasonably hard pruning has induced a wealth of back buds. Some will stay other will go.

Light is all important to species that have such a thick canopy; when they are dense hardly any light makes it in and the best I used to get when I knew no better was a few that would turn yellow within the tree and eventually drop. I did actually think some twenty five years ago that eventually it would became such a huge tree, I would have to plant it in the garden. I could not get my hear around this pruning malarkey, no matter how many books I read. I thought back then a good prune meant taking off twenty or so leaves!

In the following two images you can clearly see the extent of new growth that is springing up well back along the branchlets and within what was the darker areas.

Back budding 1 Back budding 2 Back budding 4

Since the first 2013 hardish prune I have continued to water daily with some overhead showers but waited a short while until much of the new has hardened before resuming feeding. I’m using seaweed as a tonic and for good leaf colour, ‘The ONE’ in powder form so I can mix it myself, and Levingtons Tomato feed.

You can see in this next image how daylight can be seen quite clearly through the foliage canopy.

Back budding 3

Towards the end I will include one from the outside in as a close up. The following images are of leaf size current and new. Obviously the lighter colour ones are the newly emerging, and quite quickly they will blend in as darker leaves when hardened. I’ve included the largest leaf size on the tree as well as the new ones.

Scale size 1 Scale size 2 Scale size 3 Scale size 4 Scale size 5 Scale size 6

Actually leaf size stays quite small throughout the year, also a fairly even size right across the tree.

I have spent a good few hours further pruning, and for now it will stay as can be see in the next two images. I keep removing those wee brown leaves and for now I believe I have just about the lot. In total I have taken the canopy diameter in by 1.5-2.5cm on each left and right side. The front down by approx 2cm and the back has been left as it is fine. The leaves will not grow any bigger once hardened, hence why the species makes such a credible tree as a ‘Bonsai.’ Yes this one would stand some more thinning but for now I shall leave it. It very often becomes a case of pruning ongoing until winter.

Here I have taken a picture close up to show the airy side of the tree. The one immediately below that is as right now.

Sibe close up post trim

Siberian end article

For Photography purposes I have use a Canon 500D with an L series 24-105mm lens with f stop settings selected by me with the camera deciding on shutter speed. ISO 100 mostly, custom white balance, cropped where required in PSE. Thank you for looking.