Archive for March, 2013

..Konnichiwa Nippon!

Posted: March 31, 2013 in Japan

image

Good bye ‘Dear Old Blighty’…

Posted: March 31, 2013 in Japan

image

It was an early start sunday morning and the roads on the way to Failand were pretty treacherous. There were three cars and a van which had skidded onto the verge (the van had flipped over too) due to icy patches near Bristol airport. Despite this we ploughed on and we made to the show. It was bitterly cold and I was glad to get inside. All the display tables were put out the night before and all that was needed was for people to set up the displays. After helping my mentor unload the car and partly setup his sales area I started with my display. I pretty much knew how it was going to go but, with a couple of helpful pointers from my good friend Mark Cooper it was done.

Photo courtesy of Mark Cooper

Photo courtesy of Mark Cooper

Close up of my accent

Close up of my accent

I was pleased with my contribution, I had some lovely comments from people, which I was very grateful for and thank you all.
This was my first time that I had exhibited any of my trees and it was certainly an experience I will never forget. I was never in a hurry to start to show tree’s but, I felt that these too didn’t look too bad and I was glad that they got excepted.
I’ve heard that exhibiting tree’s is like putting a part of yourself/soul on display to be scrutinized by the world and well it certainly felt like it. It was a strange feeling watching people looking, talking and taking pictures of my display. I just hope that most of it was positive and it was enjoyed.
The standard was very high and their weren’t any displays that looked out-of-place. This was a credit to the tree selection by Mark, Ritta and Bob.
The venue is on the small side but, this only helped to aid the atmosphere (I can concur that it was as every bit as good as the reports as well) and the lighting is second to none (Which is more than can be said for some venue’s).
All in all I was very proud to be a part if the show, it was a complete success and long may it continue.

I’m sorry that this post was so late but, with evening an evening class, club meeting and getting prepared for my departure it’s been pretty chaotic. Well my bags are packed.. Next stop.. Japan!

For my two tree display at the up and coming shohin show I had been allocated a half table size which consisted of a three-foot space. That was until a week last sunday when I was informed that I could have a whole table. This was good news because it should help me to exhibit to a higher potential (space is just as important as content). The only problem was that the jiita/wood slice that I had purchased at the Noelanders trophy to go underneath the cascade stand was too small and would look out-of-place with a larger display.
Finding decent large jiita’s with direction in the UK seem’s to be particularly difficult and the only person I knows who sells anything a long those lines is William (Samurai tools) from the Netherlands. That is who I bought my original slice from at Noelanders.
So, as soon as I got the new’s I was on the internet searching for something larger and more suitable. I felt that Japan was my best option at this point and if I had EMS delivery it should arrive the next week. Looking through Yosho-en’s website I found a suitable candidate. After contacting them I found out that the Jiita I wanted had in fact been sold but, they sent some photo’s of one a similar size and directional movement. It wasn’t as good as the other one but, this was reflected in the price. I thought this one would be ok and suitable so, I agreed to buying it and sent the money.
The package arrived safe and sound just in time yesterday.

New jiita from Japan

New jiita from Japan

First intended Jiita

First intended Jiita

I was going to work on this (sand it and stain it) for the show but, I’ll leave it for another time for now.

The two for comparison

The two for comparison

The size of the large jiita is about 57cm long.

Special thanks to everyone at Yosho-en for their wonderful service.

In between preparing one of my tree’s for the up and coming shohin show I mixed up some smaller grade substrate for re-potting some of my shohin. The substrate I’ve made is based on a mix that my mentor formalized a few years ago or more.
I know in japan that pure akadama is use a lot and there are several people here that use it as well. Personally I don’t think that it’s the best substrate to use here in the UK because our weather is very different from Japan’s. We generally have a lot wetter winter and harder frosts. This leads to akadama breaking down quickly and in the space of 2-3 years it’s a complete mush. The trees soon starts to go down hill and is in dire need of a re-pot. If I were to keep all my trees under cover and keep them on the dry side I think pure akadama would be ok. I’m unfortunately not in that position.
The mix contains small grade akadama, sharp horticultural grit, coarse sand, peat, small washed grade pumice, round Cornish grit, heat-treated fine bark and kyodama (a man-made absorbent grit supplied by Kyoto bonsai here in the UK).

2013-03-17 18.47.18

2013-03-17 18.48.03

2013-03-17 18.48.54

I’m please with the mix and I think my tree’s should do well in it.

Time has moved fast and I will soon be departing for the holy land (well at least in my eye’s anyway) that is Japan, the mecca of bonsai. It will be my first time their and Japan is somewhere I have always wanted to go, even before I got into bonsai.

Wallpapers-room_com___Japan_Leather_Flag_by_igorrcarvalho_1280x800[1]

I’m going for a month to stay at Aichi-en in Nagoya, with Mr Tanaka and Peter Tea.

Photo courtesy of Peter Tea

Photo courtesy of Peter Tea

I’ve been looking forward to this for quite a while and I’m glad that it is finally arriving. There is a purpose to me going and it’s for a trial to hopefully become an apprentice to Mr Tanaka. I’m a realist about these things, it is by no means a given and I know I’m not the only one to apply/go for a trial, for this position. So, I’ve not been blowing my trumpet too loudly for that exact reason. Maybe the odd’s aren’t stacked in my favour but, I’m certainly going to give it my best shot. If I can enjoy myself, learn as much as I can, work as hard as I can and represent myself, my family and the UK in a positive light I’ll be a pretty happy guy either way. It will certainly be an adventure and is partly why I started this blog to share my experiences whilst their.
I feel a very lucky, humbled and privileged person to be going and I have a lot of people to thank.
First I’d like to thank Mr Tanaka and Peter Tea for this amazing opportunity. Without them it obviously wouldn’t be possible and without out Peter’s superb blog, also. If you haven’t read Peter’s blog before, I highly recommend it. It is so informative and interesting I can’t really sing its praises enough.
Secondly I like to thank my family, without them and their support it really wouldn’t be possible.
I’d also like to thank Dan & Cea Barton, Mark & Ritta cooper, Mo & Martin (especially for Noelanders), Malcolm, everyone at CBC, Taunton club, BBS, people at workshops, friend’s and all well wisher’s for their constant encouragement and support. I really appreciate it and it goes a long way.
Last of but, by no means least I especially would thank my mentor. Without him I most certainly wouldn’t be in this position. He’s done so much for me I really don’t know where to start but, thank you.

So watch this space and I hopefully should have some great things to post about my time in Japan.

The Unexpected

Posted: March 15, 2013 in My Trees
Tags: ,

034

Itoigawa Jun.1

This is an itoigawa juniper that I bought about two years ago. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of what it looked like when I first got it but, it looked very similar to these pictures here. The tree originally was a lot fuller and was a complete mushroom/dom of foliage. This was the tree after I had separated the branches and thinned the foliage, to open it up a bit. The tree was also re-potted and set on a slightly better angle.

After this work the tree was left to grow freely through the rest of the year.
The tree responded well and this autumn(fall) I had another look at the tree. There were a couple of things that bothered me.
The first was the straight section in the top third of the tree’s trunk. It was totally out of character with the bottom two-thirds of the trunk which, is nice and twisting with interesting shari. This is what attracted me to the tree originally.
The second was the branch and foliage structure. It was still too much of a dome, it offered no depth and a lack of character to the tree.

I decided to do some thing with the tree a few weeks ago and I took it to an evening class that I do with my mentor for a couple of hours each week in the winter and spring. I feel quite comfortable working on my tree’s these day’s but, I find the classes still good to do. There’s always something to learn, it’s good to set specific time to do bonsai (it can be tough to with a job and everything else), it’s always good to get a second opinion and you can get some different perspectives.

IMG_0424

Here is the tree prior to being worked on. After I explained what I was bothering me about the tree and some discussion. I decided to remove some branches, extend the shari and split the wood in order to give the top third section enough flexibility to put a bend in it. An Iron bar was pushed into the soil to use as a anchor point, with a wedge to bend the trunk and create some more movement. This was the result.

2013-03-09 12.50.28

In order to create a more delicate and more natural look to the final image a new angle was used. Something like a long these lines.

2013-03-09 12.51.55

I saved the wiring to be done at a CBC meeting last weekend which I had fortunately been ask a long too. CBC is run by Mr Dan Barton (and his good wife Cea), it is a group of friends/study group/bonsai lovers that meet once a month to socialize and work on their tree’s. I’m not a full-blown member but, I’m very fortunate to be on the fill in list (if anyone can’t make it) and asked occasionally.
I had a great day, throughly enjoyed my self and managed to wire most of the tree but, not all of it. This was the result after the day.

Front

018

Over the rest of this week I finished wiring and placing the branches.

The Front

The Front

The back

The back

The right side

The right side

The left side

The left side

To bring down a fairly thick branch near the top I used a controlled split using a narrow pull saw to make a cut above the top inside of the branch. Which made it a lot more flexible and in time this will heal over and wont even be noticeable.

017 (2)

I’m pleased with the result but, I pushed the tree quite hard doing the styling. Because of that I will not re-pot to change the angle and secondly the tree really doesn’t need re-potting either. It probably wont be re-potted for at least a couple of years and probably more like three to four. It is straight in the green house for now because winter seems to have come back this last week with frosts down to -5, wind chill of near -10 and now north, westerly winds (cold-ish) with rain. Come back gulf stream, please!

When I was doing the final adjustments to this tree I had a moment of clarity and something clicked. I think that it has changed/adjusted my approach to styling and I understand a little bit more. It’s strange how these things come to you, I guess it is all about progression and a tiny step towards raising the bar. I really didn’t see it coming and it was totally ‘unexpected’ with this tree.