Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Focus on Accents

Below are some of the fine accents on display at the aforementioned Wirral show.



Sunday, 22 September 2013

Wirral Bonsai Society Show

Today I visited the Wirral Bonsai Society's annual club show at Gordale Garden Centre. I have never heard anything but positive comments about the Wirral club, so I was expecting a good show... I was not disappointed. I am starting to think it may well be worth putting the miles in to attend the club meetings some time, and maybe join.


Thursday, 12 September 2013

Shohin Lonicera

In Spring 2011 I stumbled across a Lonicera shrub which had been tossed out onto a field behind some houses. I collected the tree and cut the base into several pieces. One in particular is beginning to become a rather lovely little shohin - especially since potting into a handmade pot given to me by my friend and upcoming ceramic artist, John Ostranica. Yesterday I had a little play with putting a small display together.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Prunus spinosa Collection and Survival

 The blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) is a popular species for bonsai, with yamadori specimens often displaying incredible, rough, aged bark. Unfortunately the species is notoriously difficult to collect from the wild, not least due to its habit of producing 'sucker growth' meaning that several plants will often be found to be growing from an inter-connected root system which when severed can leave single collected plants with insufficient rootage.

Late 2012 I collected my first blackthorn from a coastal limestone scree slope. The long wait for new growth to appear then began. As Spring arrived and the local blackthorn hedgerows burst into life, the buds on my specimen slowly began to swell (actually, just two buds!) Survival seemed uncertain and I made another visit to collect a few more specimens from the same area.

The Prunus back on the hill were rather more advanced than my own at home, and the new leaves and flowers were beginning to emerge. They were perhaps a little too advanced for optimum survival chances, but I decided to try a few more small trees. I collected three trees together with one interconnected root - hoping that this may stand a greater chance of survival. I also collected a separate, fourth tree which I cut away from its connected neighbours. All four trees were then planted together in  a wooden box.

Come June, my original tree with its two buds was still holding on. The leaves had finally pushed through, but there was no further growth. In an agonising wait of what seemed like forever, the leaves slowly perished and it eventually became apparent that the tree had died.
The emerging leaves on the other trees also withered. My blackthorn collection appeared to be a complete failure. I spoke to Simon Jones of the Cheshire Bonsai Society who has collected a lot of blackthorn and had good success. He recommended a technique where once collected, the potted trees are tied up in black bin bags and kept warm until they begin to grow. There are many more trees on the hill where these came from, so I will try again, using Simon's technique.
Just as I was about to throw away the group of Prunus last week, I noticed some green leaves in the box, initially mistaking them for weeds. I then realised that they were blackthorn leaves!
I removed the moss to reveal three shoots growing from the base of one of the three connected trees. I assume that being dark and humid under the moss, this area of growth had survived being in similar conditions to the bin bag technique! Whether there will be anything salvageable here for bonsai, is uncertain but I am pleased to see this growth and look forward to collecting more Prunus with hopefully better luck.