Following all the changes around here it’s becoming evident that everything has worked out well. Our output is up by more than 20% with no more mouths to feed than before and I have, for the first time in years, time on my hands. Not that I am looking for something to do. If I had a staff of six JUST working on trees eight hours a day we would NEVER get finished, we just have TOO many plants to deal with. I am the only one that actually does any bonsai work around here and so I have to content myself with knowing I can hardly scratch the surface.

Last week I spent my early mornings and evenings sorting out some of the less desirable trees I have laying around. Even after all these years it still amazes me what a couple of carving tools and a bit of wire can do. There’s nothing here worth a dam other than my paltry wages…

Creating bonsai trees from collected material is a skilled process of knowing when to get involved and when to leave alone. Failure to carefully observe your material and act appropriately generally results in a poor outcome. Too much work is every bit as bad as too little. We don’t create bonsai, we can only point our material in the right direction, it’s the tree that creates the real magic when we are indoor eating corn chips and drinking beer. Getting a good start is important and every good start begins in the engine room, under the soil. Once that’s kicking out enough power we can make small inroads with a rudimentary shaping after which we need to step back and let the tree get on with its job. Most of these are rough as guts but there is always a time in bonsai when things APPEAR to go backwards and this is that time. Next work will be much more refined and fulfilling. Sadly many folk have a problem knowing or understanding this first work business so here are a few images to illustrate Day 1 bonsai training.


Monday – Big old hedge hawthorn. Was cheap as chips but never got a second glance.

Insane orange wood! Hawthorns are brutal to work and require heavy wire in order to get significant movement into their stiff young branches.

Drool over the potential!

Prunus cerasifera as it arrived last summer. One of THE fastest developing prunus varieties.

Rough, but this is only two years out of the ground when it had NO branches at all.

Unloved little carpinus.

Tuesday – Prunus cerasifera as it arrived last summer. One of THE fastest developing prunus varieties.

Blackthorn. Bought this in to throw it away before I took pity on it. Sometimes it really is hard to see past the ugly.

We sold this about fifteen years ago for £125. A couple of years ago I bought it back (for more). In recovery hence the big pot. This was its third break of summer growth.

Another couple of years should see the ramification restored.

Siberian elm ugliness.

Ugliness with extra holes in it.

Wednesday – Clipping this out took all morning.

Thursday – I bought this because it was cheap. Serves me right because I had to actually make something out of it.

Friday – Most of the day spent wiring.

Saturday – That was easy…..not!