York Bonsai Society evening talk and demo

I was delighted to return to the York Bonsai Society last night in my quest to further shohin bonsai in the UK, and was pleased (relieved) to see so many attend. I brought some of my shohin with me, a two and a five tree display and gave a talk/demo and finished with a critique/chat about some of the trees members had brought along. Some really nice shohin are being developed here and I was more than happy to give any tips and advice I could to help keep them going in the right direction.

One problem with shohin demonstrations is the diminutive nature of the subject. It’s hard to see much from the back of the room. Plus it took about ten wires to wire the complete tree so to make it a bit more interesting and show a few other techniques it was planted on a rock. A good final image resulted and the evening was most enjoyable. That’s the thing, it should be fun. It is  our hobby after all!!

It’s great to be back doing demonstrations and to be passing on some of my enthusiasm for shohin. If anybody else would like me to visit your club, please do drop me an email.  Plus, as people are showing some interest, I will be arranging some informal workshops at my studio in Leeds very soon. Shohin-drop-in so to speak.  I’ll advertise here and on my Facebook page when a date is confirmed.


Spring is in the air…

Spring must have arrived as we have finally bitten the bullet and gotten around to finally clearing what was once my studio. Once, I ran regular workshops from here although it’s hard to believe looking at it now.

The half way point……

Just a selection of the shohin bonsai stands I have. I have more stands than trees!

Final result. Next job is to throw a bit of paint around and try to make it a bit brighter. Then it will be open for business.

Markham Grange Garden Centre Spring Bonsai Boot Sale 

The Spring bonsai boot sale at Markham grange was certainly the busiest yet. A few professional traders but mostly hobbiests hoping to pass on their tree excesses that we all have. Trees are always priced to sell and an ideal opportunity to pick up a tree or two to play with. 

Not knowing what the footfall would be like, I took a little juniper and a few feet of wire to play with. Bought the weekend before from Ken Leaver of Windybank Bonsai I had always envisaged it becoming a mame size tree.

The tree has a great little trunk but dead straight branches. These will become Jin and have a bit of shape put in them too.

Literally half an hour’s work. Still needs a pot and a bend putting in the Jin. A good, productive morning. 

Next……spring cleaning my studio!!

Looking towards the future.

One of the major influences that caused my swing to smaller bonsai, whilst in Japan, was the accessibility of good, affordable material. Material that, with a bit of effort, can give you results to be proud of. 

I am firm believer that shohin should be for everyone, but rarely is this sort of material is available in the UK. When it is, the hoops that importers have to jump through make these once affordable trees now a seriously considered purchase. Garden centres that were once our hunting grounds for raw material have little in the way of worthwhile stock anymore. 

Anyway, at Swindon I picked up a few bundles of larch and some other bits with an eye for the future. Aiming to develop these as quality material for shohin. 

No straight sticks in pots here. These along with tridents, itoigawa junipers and other self propagated stock should keep me and others entertained in the years to come.

Bonsai Car Boot Sale

Doncaster Spring Bonsai Car Boot Sale is this Sunday (March 5th) at Markham Grange Garden Centre, Brodsworth near Doncaster. I’m going along with a good selection of trees in varying price ranges and in various stages of development for sale.  This boot sale is open 9am-12pm.  I’m also planning on sorting out my accent plants as well. So hoping that I’ll be able to pick up some materials for those at this event.  Hopefully see a few familiar faces there.

Swindon Winter Image Show 2017

Well, it was a good start to the bonsai year at Swindon today! And a good start for me back in to the world of little trees in  pots!

The Swindon Show has always had a reputation of being a high class show within the UK and this year certainly didn’t disappoint. Fantastic organisation and brilliant displays by the many and varied exhibitors.


Being at Swindon has usefully stimulated the old grey matter and given me plenty of ideas for the coming 18 months.  Speaking to the organisers of other shows and club members has given me something to aim for with my trees.


I’ve picked up some interesting material for demonstrations and some for developing. I intend to post regular updates here of both new and old material I am developing, hints and tips and updates on when and where you can find me around the country.


A portion of my shohin display.

Maybe I should drive a greenhouse, not a car.

Every year has one month or maybe more that gives me a misguided hope that I could make a living out of bonsai. I am currently in the middle of such a time.  Although many of my bonsai activities are for fun as opposed for business it’s a busy time. The day job does tend to distract from the fun stuff and drain energy that would be better spent on small trees. However the busy spell will be fleeting and the job does help me buy little trees.

One concern is always the amount of time my trees spend in my car and the damage that tis can cause being packed and unpacked all the time. So far there has not been any casualties.

Starting with the excellent show at capel manor. I managed to sell a few trees, do a demo and pick up the award for best display.IMGP0380

Thas one of the fun parts of shohin bonsai in that you can actually build a display. Larger trees with limited display space tend to be plonked down on a stand with an accent and we are done. It’s much harder to include space, direction, seasonality etc.

Following capel, my display continued the journey without me to the Bonsai San exhibition in Saulieu courtesy of John Pitt and Peter Warren.  A larger display and one that I have been playing with in preparation for Noelanders.


I was extremely fortunate that the display picked up an award. I am also fortunate to have friends that helped make it possible. Mr Pitt and Mr Warren for transporting and setting up the display and John Brocklehurst and Doug Mudd without whom, I would not have stands for my trees to be displayed upon.


This weekend I will be at Tony Tickles BURRS workshop. I hope some small trees turn up!