WARNING: The following diatribe includes personal opinion. If you are easily offended by opinions other than your own please don’t read any further. If you are minded to leave hostile comments or would like to tear me a new one I could’nt care less. Last time I checked I am still entitled to my own opinions (and this is my blog), what follows is based entirely upon my own opinion and the experience upon which it was formed.
I am on the horns of a dilemma. As is the way of these things the issue has been developing over time and has now come to a point that requires some thought, discussion and possibly even a decision to be made. Earlier today my daughter discovered a wasp nest in her bedroom as you do, it’s in a built in storage area under the eaves of our thatched house. It’s the size of a football and until this morning there was absolutely no sign it even existed. Trouble is it’s actually less that two feet from where she lays her head down at night. Personally I would leave well alone, there are no wasps in the house and so long as we don’t go poking it with a stick it’ll all resolve itself by Christmas. She’s not so keen so the extermiantors are on their way.
This evening I was outside in the sunshine watering as I often am at this time of year. As I went about my business a little brown wren popped out of one of my trees and sat two feet away from me on top of the fence with a lace wing in it’s beak. It sat there watching me for a while before disappearing into another of the large trees where I could just see it hopping from branch to branch looking for more prey. This got me to thinking but before we go further let me set the stage.
We are privileged (via a lot of hard work) to own a 400 year old thatched house. It’s the last house in the village next to acres of fields all bounded by ancient hedgerows. We are only a mile away from the Norfolk Broads reserve and less than two hundred yards from areas of ancient fenland, endless marshes and tidal mud flats. Our half-acre plot is entirely surrounded by very old hedgerow of mixed native species from holly, prunus, hawthorn, yew, a few modern conifers and the like. There is ivy everywhere and some of our hedges might be considered a tangled mess. In the garden are a couple of mature forty-foot larch, massive cherry trees, a 150 year old oak tree and a fifty foot scots pine. One of our boundaries consist of four hundred year old limes, a couple with trunks as large as a small car. We have a couple of ponds we have turned over to natural management (left to their own devices) that are breeding grounds for the fish that live in them. In spring we see more than fifty balls of frog spawn every year and they also support toads, newts, a great number of varied dragon flies and wildfowl including ducks who have raised broods here several times. I am no twitcher but we have nests of robin, wren, blackbirds, crows, pigeons, doves, magpies and a variety of finches and tits. We regularly see several different birds of prey and can hear owls at night. We see the occasional rabbit, squirrels, mice and sometimes a muntjac deer will wander in from the lane outside. I have seen common lizards and a grass snake as well as two daft Staffies. There really is a lot going on here despite it being fairly quiet.
I am 54 years old this year which means I come from simpler times. A time when common sense was just that and when hysteria was pretty much unknown, stiff upper lip and all that. I was raised by parents that went through the war as children and by their parents that kept a cool head and appreciated just how blessed they were to have a roof over their heads, food on the table and were free from the threat of death falling from the sky every night. Simple pleasures by todays standards which are often taken for granted. Every single day I am shocked by the stupidity and hysteria that has infected our once proud country. I fear it’s all going very wrong and that we will never be able to get back. Just think about how modern Britain’s would deal with what our grandparents had to deal with in 1939. Many Brits’ have gone soft in the head and we may have become a nation of dependant whiners incapable of dealing with life ourselves, taking responsibility and largely incapable of intelligent thought. Everything has become somebody else’s responsibility, the universal cry is “The government should do something ….”. Well, surprise, surprise, I DO NOT AGREE. The government and authorities are incapable of holding everyone’s hand and mopping up after them, in fact governments are incapable of much other than wasting money and cocking things up. If governments are our only source of help then God help us all, we’ll need him.
Bear with me here I AM getting to the point 😉 My big issue is with ignorance, it seems to be infectious and since we all got access to the internet ignorance has increased a lot, in fact since the time we all got our first dial-up modems the spread of stupidity seems to be relentless. Lately what’s been called ‘fake news’ has pointed a spotlight on the fact a lot of folk do actually believe the shit they read or are told online or via a million forms of media streaming into our heads 24/7. As a bonsai artist and a business man involved in the bonsai trade I have to say I am on the verge of leaving and going back to my first love, motorcycles. EVERY SINGLE DAY I am bombarded by frankly quite incomprehensible nonsense and trying to stop the tide like some King Cnut come lately, and educate, what feels like the whole world, has literally sucked the life out of me. I have never been so tired, depressed and lethargic, only my bikes are keeping me alive. Kaizen Bonsai may just be for sale but after reading this you might look away.
As an example to illustrate my point, last summer I sold a pretty little cotoneaster to a “lady” here in the UK. Not an expensive tree, just under £100 including the VAT and delivery. The lady bought the tree from our web site where it was listed under “Outdoor Bonsai Trees”. We shipped it and never heard any more, they say no news is good news and so we thought no more about it. This was around August time. Come October I got an email asking for my advice as to why the tree was not growing. I asked the logical questions about what she had been doing and where the tree was kept. I was told the tree was indoors on a windowsill and since the heating was turned on the tree had started to look poorly. I replied that it needed to be outside year round and what was she doing in regard to watering it. The reply? This is a direct quote! “Oh I didn’t realise I needed to water it”. After I returned from sticking cocktail sticks in my eyes I had to wonder whether my life was really worth anything at all. I did my best to be polite, anyone who knows me well will be grinning about now. After I pointed out her error she went on the attack calling me a crook, thief, charlatan, bandit and some other choice phrases I will spare you from. She then complained to Paypal who took the money off us and gave it back to her. This sort of shit happens almost every day.
Many bonsai folk have sadly fallen foul of the modern epidemic of hysterical silliness bought on by shit, published online by ill-informed, ignorant, unqualified, inexperienced idiots keen to look clever and pick up followers, friends, subscribers and generally be the centre of attention, nowhere is this more evident than in relation to the subject of pest and disease (P&D). The hysteria regarding bugs, fungi and bacteria leaves me completely speechless. I was once excoriated by a guy that re-potted one of our trees a year after he bought it because he found a single vine weevil grub. Bearing in mind these are endemic across much of Europe and will be found across the UK living in grassland and turf you ARE going to bump into one of these little guys from time to time. If you are growing soft tissue plants like Huchera or bedding plants in multi purpose compost and they go unnoticed there may well be an issue but if you grow bonsai trees in modern soil mixes they really will not be an issue worth worrying about and besides, how much of the contents of a 20” pot can a single 8mm grub possibly eat? If your bonsai get to a stage where there are a thousand grubs in your pot and a plant starts to suffer I would suggest you might want to pay more attention going forwards.
My issue is this. My little wren has a nest in our garden alongside a dozen other nesting varieties. Due to careful consideration we have a thriving eco system all around us. We have more bees than you can shake a stick at (and wasps in the roof), butterflies and literally thousands of species of insect. Many of those insects rely upon plants for their existence and many of them would be classified as “Pests” within the bonsai community. Some ill-informed individuals believe bonsai trees can ONLY exist in a sterile environment free of contact with fungi, bacteria and insects. I know this not to be true but in order to furnish such folk with squeaky clean trees should I bust out the chemicals and destroy a beautiful eco system that has evolved around our old house over four hundred years? If I worry about a few aphids (greenfly/blackfly/whitefly etc) and adopt a scorched earth approach to their eradication my customers expectations of a sterile bonsai tree will be largely realised but without those aphids I won’t have lacewings and the like and then my little wren won’t have the food source he needs for his young family.
Just today my good lady was fussing over the trash bin outside that has maggots crawling around in it and is full of condensation due to the warm weather. Inside the lid is absolutely alive with tiny maggots. What can we get to destroy these? My advice was to open the lid and leave well alone. Within ten minutes there were robins and other small birds having a feast. Perhaps surprisingly the world needs flies that come from maggots. Birds like robins eat maggots and birds like swallows eat flies and maggots eat rotting crap we do need to dispose of and what more responsible way is there of doing that?
Here’s another thing that bothers fuss pots. Slugs and snails, not my favourite thing but they do love a bonsai garden that’s constantly being watered and has lots of cool damp pots to hide under. I used to put out pellets to try and clear them until one day I found a hedgehog laying in the middle of the lawn. It wasn’t dead but it certainly wasn’t alive either. I had poisoned it with my slug pellets (via poisoned molluscs). After about a week of care it did recover but was a close run thing. Toads and frogs eat slugs and snails too as do thrushes that we have in the garden and when was the last time you were overrun with those? They used to be everywhere when I was a kid. What nine year old boy didn’t love to watch a thrush beating a snail on a rock? Sure if you are growing lettuce these slimy creatures can be a nightmare, so plant more lettuce and share and don’t poison all the predators and then you won’t be overrun with a slow-moving plague.
Thanks to my mother I have an inbuilt fear of spiders. I live in an old house and so spiders are a way of life. All my life I tried to rid my space of these pesky critters. One thing I refuse to do is be a slave to fear and so for a couple of years I worked hard to make my peace with spiders. Rather than pounding them into the carpet now I either let them run off or put them outside. For several years in summer time we were annoyed by little black flies buzzing around in the house, these are impossible to swat and extremely hard to ignore. Last summer I noticed a patch of spider web had appeared in the corner of our living room between two of the beams. It gave me the creeps when I saw two black legs sticking out of the hole in the middle and whilst watching TV from a safe distance I actually became quite enamoured with my new buddy. After a while there were no more flies and in time I guess the spider died or moved on, I kind of miss him now and the flies are back.
One of my biggest fears, since I was a kid, were those big fat bodied spiders that appear towards the end of summer. Apparently they are called European garden spiders (Araneus diadematus). Nasty looking fat bodied brown things that often end up looking like a marble with legs wearing a fur coat. Late summer every year and these would be setting up shop in our greenhouse and just giving me the chills. One year in a spirit of cooperation I decided to stop smacking them with a plank or spraying them with insecticide as I had done for years and just let be. The result was a lot less annoying critters in the greenhouse and cleaner plants, the greenhouse was also becoming a feeding ground for small birds again.
So, now hopefully you begin to get my drift? A while back I wrote along these lines in relation to soil What should be in your bonsai soil. Progressing on from there I have become increasingly aware of the responsibility I have to the little bit of the world I temporarily own. The dilemma is fairly plain, do I wreck everything like an angry bull in a china shop just to satisfy a few ill-informed folk? A blanket use of chemicals will destroy the whole show and probably go some way to poisoning me too. Chemicals are not selective they kill all the pests.
I am acutely aware that some pests do need to be controlled. See my blog post earlier this year about a pesky fungus bothering junipers . As I will explain P&D can get out of hand and particularly where something comes from foreign climes problems can occur. Again hysteria in this respect is rife but often unfounded and ill-informed. Much like the media going into overload about ash die back and blaming it on plants imported from the European mainland. This did massive damage to the nursery and garden centre trade. P&D are no respecter of national boundaries and ash die back has been making it’s way steadily here for a long time and it’s arrival was inevitable with the right east wind. The crazy thing is that more ash trees have been destroyed in an attempt to control the disease than have actually been killed by the disease itself. If a fungus is killing trees where is the sense in killing ALL the trees before it gets there? Truth is authorities are terrified of another Dutch elm scenario on their watch. Sure we lost most of the big elms but there are survivors and resistant strains are now being cultivated and ulmus procera are literally everywhere in southern Britain, sure they don’t get big but everyone in British bonsai loves them, I have two dozen myself. Often times these issues are little more than political footballs kicked about between the media and those same feckless (keen to be re-elected) authorities.
In spite of what some folk tell me I am not actually classified as stupid or whatever the modern parlance is for that term, though I do have my moments. Nobody wants to buy a tree infested with bugs. That’s not what I am talking about here. My point is it’s IMPOSSIBLE to have a plant that’s 100% free from any form of life other than plant. That is unless you submerge it in a vat of pervasive chemicals and then seal it in an air and water free vacuum. The way some bonsai folk run on you could be forgiven for thinking that is exactly how bonsai trees should be kept. Truth is that cosseted and mollycoddled bonsai trees are noting but trouble. Expose trees to the elements commensurate with their natural habitat, do not water or fertilise more than is necessary to maintain healthy growth and just let the tree do its own thing with an absolute minimum of your fiddling and trust me you will be surprised with the results.
Over the last fifteen or twenty years I made the mistake of making myself available to anyone who wanted my help and advice. Each year I spend over a grand paying the phone charges for people who call me for free advice that takes close to a day a week of my time. Clearly that won’t be continuing, especially as I am suffering abuse from some idiots who call me and don’t like what I have to say. Having done all that, one fact has become VERY obvious to me, 99% of ALL the problems experienced by bonsai trees are the result of the actions of their owners and, or, the owners perception of what may, or may not, be an actual problem. In the UK I have almost never experienced, or seen, or heard of a significant problem with bonsai that was caused directly by P&D that did not have an underlying issue related to the trees care in some way. That’s not to say problems can’t just spontaneously happen but it is very rare in my experience.
Much like us, plants have inbuilt defence mechanisms to help them survive in a hostile world. Much like us, where a plant is fighting fit it will happily resist the advances of P&D. However, get tired and run down and you are asking for trouble as I found out to my cost when I ended up in hospital with pneumonia. Living in a bonsai pot is a stressful situation for any tree no matter how good your horticultural skills. Wildly fluctuating temperatures, limited resources and imbalances caused by pruning and the like all make for a stressful time. Thankfully most species are super tough and just shrug this off and the stress serves to make the plant even tougher just as the stress of weight training will make you stronger. But, given time, constant stress will always prevail and cause problems, especially if we miss the almost imperceptible telltale signs of things beginning to go out of whack. The first many of us know that things are not what they should be is when we notice a pest attack or infestation. We blame the pests for the problem of damaging our bonsai’s health when in fact they are a secondary issue to an underlying problem, often of our own making. A few critters on a plant is perfectly natural an infestation (the state of being invaded or overrun by pests or parasites) is not. A few pests will not, in regard to a healthy plant, normally result in an infestation. Nor will a few bugs harm the health of a tree.
I have had folk call me, absolutely beside themselves in blind panic because they found a few leaf munching caterpillars on their bonsai. Much like the vine weevil how much can a few caterpillars eat? Well actually quite a lot but if you have the eco system around you they won’t get out of hand, much like our bin. Consider what a few caterpillars eat and then look at what’s laying on the floor after you have given your beloved bonsai a summer prune. To some, a few munched leaves will spoil their enjoyment of bonsai entirely. Personally I like to know my bonsai are accepted into the natural world and are providing a living for the inhabitants of my garden. Perfection is an impossible target in bonsai and the pursuit of that perfection has seen the disillusionment and demise of countless potential bonsai masters over the years I have been around. I got into bonsai first and foremost because I love trees and that means I MUST love the environment in which those trees live and that environment includes a lot of wildlife and that’s a part of what makes a tree such a magical thing surely?
I was recently listening to a radio program about gardening and there was a question about honey fungus, something that causes utter panic amongst gardeners. The expert was a senior gardener at the RHS’s most famous garden and explained that their very old garden was absolutely riddled with the fungus (which I thought was brave). He then went on to explain that honey fungus will only ever infect weak and poorly trees and those suffering stress from secondary infections or catastrophic damage. The answer to the question of ‘what can I grow in a garden infected with honey fungus’ was basically ‘healthy’ plants. Right plant, right place, right soil, simple enough right? Plants will always have a few stow-aways. A few bugs, caterpillars, spiders and the like is all a part of what makes a tree a tree. It’s estimated that a mature oak living in a British woodland supports three hundred and fifty species of insect and thirty different lichen species. By July the leaves will look worse for wear before the second flush but that’s how these things work. Ok for trees, not Ok for your brand new BMW! Just because a tree has a few bugs and some scruffy foliage does not prove it’s unhealthy, it’s just lived in. An unhealthy tree will invariably suffer serious attack and infestation and a spray may be important to clear away pests prior to other actions being taken in order to correct underlying causes, that’s just common sense. My issue is with the increasing hysteria we are finding in relation to all apparent or so called P&D issues.
For too long now humans have been trying to dominate the earth and force it to conform to our needs. Problem is that the earth has time on it’s side and we don’t, much like the P&D we are discussing, once we have used up all the resources of our host and it’s dead we will die with it because for us there is nowhere else to go. Time to start thinking about working WITH the world around us, subjugation has not worked either in the world that supports us or in bonsai judging by the thousands of carcases of dead trees I have seen on my travels.
So now I have got that all off my chest what about my dilemma? I plan to leave my trees here to get along with the world around them and to take their place in my lovely little eco system. Once they are sold we will give them a preventative spray just to clean them up where (rarely) necessary and send them on to their new homes. That way our customers get a clean tree and my wrens, hedgehogs and frogs get clean food to eat. I’m sure that will not suit everyone but trying to keep everyone happy has put me in hospital before now. We all have a larger responsibility to our world and the only way we are going to make it better than it is will be by taking personal responsibility for what WE do and what WE own and consume. Stomping all over the world telling other folk what to do is actually only making the problem worse, stay home and take care of your own, please.
The imbecile lady who didn’t know bonsai should be watered was criminal & doesn’t deserve her money back. I wish you could use some other method besides PayPal that would allow you to refund on merit not on who can whine the hardest. Keep up the good work G, your talk about 25 years ago on carving & developing bonsai got me into this great hobby – when you couldn’t ask Google every single time you had a problem!
Graham – Almost nothing you have stated in the blog surprises me, my Bonsai trees provide an oasis of calm which counteracts the crap of just living and earning an honest crust. I genuinely laughed out loud reading about your customer and some of the things you have to deal with, I can’t believe why anyone would even want to get involved with Bonsai without making at least a little effort to understand the basics.
My wife Debbie and I live in an old Tollhouse in Devon, she is also terrified of spiders until, following some advice passed on to me by one of the locals some years ago, I collected a couple of dozen conkers when they fell in autumn, and spread them around the rooms of the house.
Believe it or not we very rarely get spiders and I carry out this ritual every year.
Keep the faith my friend – we need you.
What a fantastic blog, I agree whith your comments Graham about bugs of alerts let them be there is usually another that will eat it. There is only one comment that I don’t agree with and that is you packing up and you ridding off on your motor bike into the sunset. Please don’t we need you.
Well said Graham this year my willow was attacked by sawfly caterpillar and yes I was shocked at the damage done but now a few months later she bounced back and looking great and all the local birdarea had a feast
Excellent blog post Graham
Graham, from another angle, I’ve recently exoerienced a kind of ‘what goes around d comes around’ karma event that has led me too to take a more wholistic view of things.
Twenty five years ago I air layered a chunky piece of elm on an old hedge, down Colchester way. I kept it that autumn and into the next sorting to ensure is was budding back. A mate bought it from me for a few quid (I’d only done the layering to see if I could layer something fist-thick, so never had plans to keep it.), and he kept it two or three years before selling it on to another chap. Unfortunately this guy died in the late 1990s, and my mate bought the elm back from the widow as she was breaking up her late husband’s collection. In 2007 he put the elm in a Gordon Duffett pot and had it ever since.
My mate is now in his 80s, and he and his wife decided last year they would thin out their own collection in 2018 as it was too much for them. I hadn’t seen them for years, although we still exchanged Christmas cards; I hadn’t lived in Essex for a long time.
My mate rang me this Spring to tell me his wife had died suddenly, and we talked about that for some time on the phone (The three if us had started Colchester Bonsai Society in 1987, so had spent a lot of bonsai time together). He said his wife had told him in December that he should get in touch with me about taking the elm I’d layered all those years ago, as it seemed “right.”
This week I drove down to see him, the first time in many years, and we had a long talk about life and death and bonsai. He showed me the old elm and I have to say it was like seeing an old friend again in a crowd.
When I left I had the elm, as Betty had instructed.
Bonsai isn’t always about whether or not the tree is collected in a rare place, or is vastly expensive, or not. It’s about connections, a kind of golden thread that runs through us and the things we love and admire.
My mate and I have arranged to get together again in September.
PS the old hornbeam I got from you last year….is doing great.
Thanks Rob. I feel another post coming on 😉
I just hope you felt better after your rant! I really enjoyed it, and I agree with most of what you said. I’m twenty years older than you, and I believe the whole world has gone mad! So keep up the good work and don’t let the bastards grind you down, it’s just not worth it.
I have had four or five trees from you and they have been and. continue to be extremely healthy One wonders what planet some people live on. Keep up the good work
I wholeheartedly agree. Couldn’t have said it better. Regarding trees and everything else. I’m tired of people not taking responsibly for their actions, and not giving credit where credit is due. “Stay home and take care of your own, please.” Perfection. I wish there were more people like you willing to talk. I would love nothing more than to have a beer and a motorcycle ride with you someday. I know how it can cool the jets. Hopefully knowing you have many supporters makes it somewhat easier.
INTERESTING-I HAVE A SMALL BONSAI GARDEN IN MY BACK YARD (MY COTTAGE ALSO DATES TO 1593).
I USE NO PESTICIDE WHATSOVEVER, I GET ALL SORTS OF LITTLE BIRDS PECKING AT THE SOIL AND BARK,I HAVE SPIDERS WEBS STRETCHING FROM BONSAI TO BONSAI AND THE SMALLER BIRDS WILL SIT AND REST UNDER THE MAPLE BRANCHES,THE TREES SEEM HAPPY ENOUGH-I LET THEM DO THERE OWN THING IN THEIR POT AND THE MOST INTERESTING THING IS HOW THE BONSAI CHANGE IN THEIR POT OVER THE YEARS AND START TO TAKE ON THE FORM OF LITTLE TREES.
THANK YOU FOR SUPPLYING ME WITH HEALTHY TREES GRAHAM-GREAT JOB.
Graham you are a grump but ……you know your stuff. It comes with the territory that people will know less than you and it can be tempting for us novices to treat every little problem we have with trees we bubble wrap like first-born children. I think some pragmatism comes with experience. I am slowly learning not to overreact to every problem as a crisis but it can be tough. I believe my trees reflect my mental health and I take great pride in keeping them healthy. Without the spiders this year I think the aphids wouldve got out of control. If the aphids are plentiful the ants are a bother. Only observing these cascading factors show you that rare window where intervention IS necessary but just as knowing when to style a tree or leave it alone is an art….knowing when to treat or leave the eco system be is too.
Keep smiling dude and don’t let the idiots get you down buh!
What a beautiful piece . The voice of reason speaks . After i had stopped giggling at the part where you were sticking cocktail sticks in your eye’s, i shed a tear or two . Everything is here for a reason, my garden is much like yours, it grows, it has the odd green fly, wasp’s, lots of butterflies and bumblebees , i let the wild flowers grow , as they feed the insects, newt’s , frogs , toads, midwife toads, that beep all night, i have the very friendly robin and black bird that give you the nod when their supply of meal worms have all gone, being eyeballed through the front window, you can feel their beady eye’s burrowing into the back of your head as you watch the midday news , and by the time you reach the dish with a fresh supply , they are already waiting for you …. My frogs have more than tripled in the last 9 years i have been here, but in that time , i have also noticed that the slug/snail community has dwindled . I am also not a big fan of spiders, but like you , left to their own devices, the fly population is minimal in the house . I have a very busy leaf cutter bee that just loves to chop perfect little crescent shapes from my honeysuckle, and other selected plants , but i kind of don’t mind now, i just love to watch it , and the way it flies off carrying it between his little legs, is fascinating ! The pleasure i get from just watching nature do it’s thing is immense . Much better than telly . I feel at one with my garden more now, than ever . Every day i see and learn new things , nature is smart , no matter where i hide food in the garden , the bird it’s intended for will find it in second’s, how i don’t know, but it never ceases to amaze me. When i took on this bungalow , the whole of it was paved over and gravelled, it was like a desert ! Now, it’s like a mad cottage garden, with ponds and all manner of greenery , the birds come, nature thrives , i have come to the conclusion that this garden is not actually mine, i just tend it , and encourage as much wildlife as i can to enter in , and be a part of it . As for the lady who has no clue, is she mad , who buy’s a plant or tree without researching it . And getting her money back is well out of order , she got paid for trashing a tree , no way , blacklist her from any more sales with you . Please don’t give up though , your blog is a joy to read , and i love the way you just say it how it is. I would like to think , that there are more like us out there, than the dopes you seem to get ringing and moaning . Anyone that can see nature for what it is , is a credit to this world, it does make me feel very ill , thinking that one day , these idiots will have wrecked what nature had intended, and that one day we may never see any of it again. I will be glad to not be around when that happens, for the destruction of this planets beautiful eco structure would bring my heart to a standstill , as usual , people never seem to know what they have , till it’s gone. ! I also forgive the frog that came into the house when i wasn’t looking, after leaving the back door open to try and let some air blow through the place as it was so hot ! . He woke me up at gone 2am slapping around on the hallway laminate, i get up baseball bat in hand , heart racing , , willing to take on the intruder/burglar in my home, only to open my bedroom door to , no , no masked raider , but a very large frog looking up at me , with a pleading look in his eye’s , saying , how the hell do i get out of this laminated hell hole … !!! lol He very kindly allowed me to pick him up and place him back out in the garden, where he hopped off merrily on his way to hopefully , eat some more of my slugs !!! Take care graham , don’t let yourself get stressed out , and leave the idiots to work it out for themselves, they really do , need to learn the way of the world .
P.S. The wasp’s nest is stunning ! absolutely beautiful ! Please don’t destroy it .. : (
Great letter and right to the point. I to Bonsai Trees and they all are outside. In the sun,shade,rain,snow and all the little flying critters around.Just lately I have had a few small birds (I call them sparrows but I am sure they have a real name) fly and landing on my trees.
Apparently looking for delicious bugs. If my trees suffer at all it is mostly my fault, trying to give the right amount of water,sun light
and fertilizer. I have no bug spray in my garden shed nor will I buy any. All my maples and Pomderosa Pines ,Black pined ,Red pines
and Japanese White pines are all giving me awesome new growth every year.
i hope that you never quit this Bonsai business as I buy several of your products.. I would like to get some of your trees, but living where I so I don’t need dead sticks.
Thanks for all and keep the meaningful letters comming as the really help people to thing about what they are doing in life.
Great post as always Graham. If you ever give up Bonsai as a living you could always take up writing as a career. You used to do a fantastic job of the Norfolk Bondsai Association’s newsletter.
I have been working with bonsai for over 25years now and for a lot of those years l have bought trees from various bonsai suppliers and private individuals that need a lot of work to bring these trees back to their best.
All of these trees have problems created by their previous owners.The bonsai nurseries normally buy them as part of a collection or part x.l buy these trees at bargain prices and spend a few years bringing them back to health then l style and carve them.Not once have l purchased any of these trees with a problem created by P&D it is nearly always neglect by their previous owners.
I have purchased several trees from you over the last two years and have had them supplied in the best of health anything that happens to them after that is my responsibility.
You have an excellent mail order service and offer for sale probably the best selection of trees in the UK.
I also buy all my bonsai supplies from you so if you decide to jack it all in it will be a big miss.
Absolutely agree with your thoughts on leaving all manner of bugs and beasts alone. If it isn’t harming your tree, leave it be. If you don’t know if it’s harming your tree – go and look it up! However, though, international (and national) bio security is important. It -isnt- ‘getting hysterical about pests and diseases’. I’m one of those annoying local authority types … and a tree officer to boot. Dreadful! In my 30 year career so far my heart breaks at the species we now think twice about planting because we know either there’s new pests and diseases already here, or they are on their way or that they are likely to increase as the climate changes and some native tree species start to suffer … just like you said, it’s the stressed trees that tend to succumb. Ash die back is a problem, phytophthoras are a problem … not just because it means we as individuals or as a nursery find it hassle. They are changing our very landscape and ecosystems. Yes, all trees play host to a range of fungi, bugs and the like, but rapid introduction on soils, in timber, spread around the country from less-diligent nurseries sending out stock etc of new pests and diseases, or new strains -isn’t- how nature plays the game. the problem is is that trees are usually longer lived than a human lifespan so we don’t usually see the changes and the losses. Unless something dramatic hits- and the hits come when something new arrives. And these days they tend to come in imports. So. Biosecurity is important. Otherwise yes, you have the bl*ody Council having to step in- and we all know how much we hate that. I do too, clearing up after other people. Like someone else said, we all need to take responsibility, and that means responsibility for bio security. Not every rule or every authority is the enemy, in this instance.
Of course we don’t want another Dutch Elm disease on our watch. Why would anyone who loves trees and the British landscape want to see that happen? But you make it sound like local authorities are terror stricken numpties, and tbh local authority tree officers are usually the ones who are arguing -for- the trees, -for- not felling in an untimely way, -for- considering the wider ecosystem and landscape impacts… the forestry commission advice is -not- to pre-emptively fell Ash because we may discover the ones who are resistant.
So, Just to be clear, I’m not arguing for messing with the balanced ecosystem in our gardens. I’m not at all suggesting we should spray and squash everything in sight lol! What I’m saying is, is that landscape scale, species scale pest and disease control is a far cry from the garden situation, and I think it’s wise to keep them separate..
Well said !
Please accept a comment from the states. Everything you said concerning the expectations of many of your fellow citizens can, sadly, be said concerning us Yanks. My time in our hobby has only been a few years but my time observing the completely unreasonable and ignorant expectations of our fellow human beings has been much much longer. I chose bonsai primarily because working with the trees gives me peace. I can no longer garden but my few trees in pots fill my soul in ways that are beyond words.
I recognize all the frustrations you may have in operating a business. I humbly suggest when the bas***ds start to get you down, spend time with your trees to be at peace again.