March Club Meeting

Yet another month has passed, and another bonsai club meeting. We met in the usual place as we always do and had small enough numbers with 5. But all in all it didnt matter there was plenty of chat and craic about everything Bonsai.

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We then had a talk about everyones trees individually against are great backdrop. Will have to get a proper one for the next meeting and some decent lighting. I hear blue is the colour to go with 🙂

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Juniper X Pfitzeriana Progression

So this is a little juniper i picked up about three years ago in 2011. It was one of the first trees i bought with the intention of turning it into a bonsai. Probably not the greatest of material to start with, but said i better use it and learn on it while it is still alive. Anyway it has stayed alive over the past two years and was growing quite strongly. Here is a photo of it last year.

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I had a look at this tree the other day and decided i better do something with it as i was quite sick of looking at the horizontal broom it had become. So I took it inside last week and began wiring it. I must say it filled the house with an amazing aroma, although i don’t think the missus was to happy. Here’s a photo of it at the meeting the other night March 2013`.

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Will keep a close eye on it now as to when the wire will cut in, and may decide to give it a repot at the next club meeting.

The Irish Storm That Never Ends

Batten down the Hatches. Yet another few weeks of storms, flooding and bad weather have passed and there seems to be no end to it. Today winds are expected to reach 160kmph. The Storm today has been reeking havoc all over the south. My neighbors wall just collapsed while i was writing this. Cork has been hit hard again today and If its not under water its been blown away. Here are some photos of Cork  and surrounding areas so far today. Photos taken from Facebook and twitter.

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Big Squamata Juniper

Well the juniper which was in my wifes parents house has been finally taken out of the ground. I had originally taken photos of where the tree was originally planted but cant seem to find them at the moment. What i do have are photos of the tree planted in its nice new soil.

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Making new Drain holes

 

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Need to wire tree in place

 

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Tree in Pot Wired down from different angles

 

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A closer look

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Nice natural sharis everywhere

 

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Natural little Jin

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So thats my juniper, that will hopefully make quite a nice bunjin at some stage in the future. The plan is to allow it to survive hopefully in its new environment. I will leave it for a year or two and then look at some options then.

 

 

More Floods on the way

For all the lads in Cork, and even Munster batten down the hatches. Theres more bad weather coming and its only going to get worse. They were handing out sandbags in the city center today to business’s that will be affected by the flooding over night and tomorrow morning.

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The winds were quite strong this evening, and this is a photo 3 hours before high tide tonight.

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Even sea lions were enjoying the lovely weather over the past few days in Cork.

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Hopefully it wont affect to many people and no one will get hurt. If it keeps going like this Cork could be the new Venice of Ireland. And dont forget, Tie them Bonsai Down.

Pinus Mugo Progression

So Yesterday i bought this Dwarf Pinus Mugo from a local nursery. I had my eye on this nursery for a while as they usually have good stock. There was a lovely Scots Pine there but a bit on the expensive side, so decided to pick up this mountain pine as it was nice and cheap.

I know Pinus Mugo have a bit of a bad reputation as bonsai but I have read they are quite easy to train and style. That said i also have heard that certain cultivars are touchy and can react badly to training. So all that in mind i still think its worth a go. Here are a few pics i took today in the Irish sunshine, something which is quite rare.

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Used this bottle as an indicator to the true size of this Pine.

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And another

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One in the sun033

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Decisions decisions ;)

So at the Munster Bonsai Club workshop January 2014 I got a chance to get started with styling with this tree, just ran out of time to finish the wiring but thanks to Ian I got a good head start.

Heres a before shot

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And heres the after shot

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Hinoki Cypress Progression

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This is my Chamaecyparis Obtusa Nana Gracilis. I acquired it just over a 2 years now in 2012 from a small garden center in the middle of no where, it was just sitting in the corner minding its own business until i came along. The garden center owner was more than happy to sell it cheap, I think I paid 6 or 8 euro in the end for it.

I have not attempted to style it in anyway, only keep it alive and healthy. When I first got it I reduced the size of the pot it came in by cutting the top down and removing a small amount of top soil. On doing so I revealed the second trunk and a nice enough small natural shari. I reduced it further this year to get to the base of the trunk.

I just pinched the new growth to allow sunlight to penetrate to the inner branches, as I have heard a Hinoki will never back bud on old wood. I was hoping to maybe begin to style it this summer and repot it next summer as I don’t know how long it has over stayed its visit in the pot it is in. Anyway here is some photos I have been meaning to up load a while since starting the Blog.

I really like this shot from underneath

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Some growth I am trying to protect and encourage

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From above

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Just need to decide now where to start with styling. Plenty of thought and research before hand ;)

At the Munster Bonsai Club workshop, i had the oppurtunity for Ian and Phil from NIBS to have a look at this and see what they thought.

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After some discussion it was decided to remove the lower branch and begin to wire it.

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It was decided the whole tree needed to be wired in the end, with help from Ian it finally got done, Here me grooming my balded tree 🙂

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The before image

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The after image, Finally 🙂

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So that’s where the tree stand at the moment, Just need to keep it going strong now.

Our First Club Workshop

Well Bonsai Christmas in Cork has passed for another few months. All the excitement packed away into the back off Phil’s van back up to Belfast. The build up to this workshop felt like it lasted forever, and of course the weekend just flew. There was so much anticipation on the run up the our workshop it was hard for it not to drag. But the wait was more than worth it.

Ian and Phil drove the long journey down from the Belfast to get us started on Friday night. The lads began with setting up the room with loads of bonsai goodies.

I have put up my own photos taken during the two days, and some from Ian, Ray, and Piotr. Hope ye dont mind lads 🙂

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Ian having a quiet moment to himself

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Phil sorting the tables

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Everything from trees, soil mix, pots, tools, wire and even bonsai magazines.

Then the club assembled for the start of two days of everything bonsai.

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I arrived late from work and didnt hear the end of it till i was going home on sat 🙂

What time do you call this?

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There was a critique on club members trees and a demonstration on a pine the lads brought down from the north.

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Mark and Peter look for styling options with the tree.

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After the pine was fully wired by Phil, we were asked for our own interpretation on what way the tree should be styled.

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We all got a chance to demonstrate our artistic side and draw what we thought, and stick it in the pot.

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Phil goes to work

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And shows us multitasking

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It turned out everyone had a different interpretation. Even the way the tree ended up none of us had before hand envisaged.

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Just to sit there listen was enough. I had a smile on my face that a slap of a pineapple wouldn’t remove. But the second day came where things were getting serious. Where we had to bring our own trees and work on them. This is a great way to learn new techniques and skills that are just difficult to read from a book. At first everyone introduced there tree and gave a brief history on it.

Marks Larch

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Peters 5 needle pine

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Rays Big Pine

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Matt’s Lonicera

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Piotrs Yew

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My Hinoki

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Than Ian and Phil looked over it and asked us what we wanted from the tree today. I must say there was such a variation of stuff it was great to get such a vast spread of trees in one room.

After the evaluation we sat at our benches and began to work. What a great experience.

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Ian and Mark working on Mark’s Larch

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Ray with the pine

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Phil just cant wait to bend this beauty

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Matt and Peter working hard

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Piotr grafting away with his yew

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Me with my chopped hinoki

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Group shot

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Ray with his pine

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Ian and Piotr

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I had decided to work on my hinoki cypress which i have been looking at on my bench for two years unknowing what to do with it. It didn’t take long before the lads gave me the encouragment i needed to start cutting.

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I cut a branch which i was determining to remove for two years in two seconds.

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The lads helped with decision on wiring and Ian got well involved, to the point i thought it was going in the back of the van to belfast as well 🙂 I was so impressed with the finished product. Even though its just the beginning of this trees life as a bonsai.

Some before and afters

Peters 5 needle pine before

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And After

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Matt’s Lonicera before

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And after

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My Hinoki Cypress before

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And after

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Piotr’s Yew before

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And after

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Ray’s Big Pine after

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Mark’s Larch after

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Everyone worked on one or more trees that day. And everyone came away with something. I must say i thought it was a great two days,and i must say a massive thank you to Ian and Phil for the long journey, and all the help and advice over the two days. Well done lads, you have just helped the bonsai addiction reach epidemic proportions for us down here in the Munster Bonsai Club.

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Little Juniper Silhouette

The first time in I don’t know how long the sun actually came out to say hello. Not a bad sight I may add. This little juniper made a nice silhouette in the kitchen window.

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The Irish Interest In Bonsai

For the last two years I have been engaged in Bonsai, I have wondered why there is such a lack of Interest in relation to Bonsai on the Emerald Isle. I was confused when i discovered the amount of clubs in our neighboring United Kingdom and yet we had not a single club in The Republic of Ireland.

You see when I got bitten by the bug, i looked for anything in relation at all to bonsai here in Ireland. I was expecting shops, nurseries, clubs and societies. But with all my enthusiasm I was left as a spectator to nurseries, workshops, club meets and more just across the narrow Irish Sea. All I could find was the cheap mass produced stuff in Tesco and a few local garden centers. So why the big difference?

Has it something to do with demographics? The fact the population is much greater? No I cant imagine that being the reason there is no club in the South of Ireland. Tenerife has quite a large bonsai community and has less than 1 million inhabitants. So it must have nothing to do with Population.  Are we Irish just cautious of anything that originates from outside the Island? Quite possible, but why since the spread of the art form from east to west the past century has bonsai been so poorly received in this country? I thought Mr Miyagi would have been a good ambasador. But even Mr Miyagi himself couldn’t spread bonsai like it is in Great Britain. That’s not to say there is no love of bonsai in Ireland, quite the contrary.

When i did a bit of research, I discovered there was a Bonsai Shop in PowersCourt Shopping Center, Dublin. Worth a visit as there is no other shop in the country dedicated solely to Bonsai. On more investigation I discovered there was an Irish web page named bonsai.ie. Bonsai.ie is mainly dedicated to Japanese Culture, but had quite a good few articles and contacts regarding Bonsai in Ireland. The man behind Bonsai.ie Paul Masterson put me in contact with many people around the country who were interested in bonsai. And he continues to be a great ambassador for spreading the art of bonsai around the country. But what I really wanted I suppose was a club, shop or nursery in Cork or somewhere close. I know you might say I’m asking a lot. But then again am I really asking to much?

When I discovered Ian’s Bonsai Blog I found that there was a club in the North of Ireland in Belfast. The Northern Ireland Bonsai Society, aka NIBS. Its only then I realised Ian was quite famous 😉

 

I then realised there was a bonsai Scene in Ireland. It might be 400 km away but there was a place that had regular club meets, workshops and enthusiasts. I couldn’t believe it. Again there was a club but quite a journey to make the meets. I watched the videos that Ian uploaded to youtube of workshops and Bonsai schools with Peter Snart from Willowbog Bonsai. I thought that NIBS was brilliant and wished we had something like this down south. Here is quite an interesting video on the history of The Northern Ireland Bonsai Society.

 

I remember being in Venice on my Honeymoon a year and a half ago sitting inside a internet cafe, checking my emails to see had any more people contacted me in relation to starting up a bonsai club. Myself and Piotr met this summer discussing plans to get something off the ground. We both started blogs, to further the attention bonsai may receive in Ireland. And to great extent it helped to gain momentum in laying a foundation. The blog helped me not only to get in contact with other bonsai enthusiasts but also to keep my motivation to gain knowledge and constantly learn.

A couple of months ago I posted a link from Bonsai Empire, showing a map of Bonsai Interest worldwide. And to no surprise The Republic of Ireland showed to have no interest on the map. Here it is below.

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But only recently I have looked back at the website,and there has been an updated version of the map. And now Ireland is in the shaded. I thought this Indicated that Bonsai Interest had risen in our country. But it turns out its by continent. Still though its good to see us in the shaded area 🙂 oh what pleases me.

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Well even though it might just be by continent I believe we deserve some shade in the next update. Partially due to the fact e we have started to get the ball rolling in the south. With the help of Ian from the Northern Ireland Bonsai Society, Paul Masterson from Bonsai.ie, and myself and Piotr down in Cork. In September the Munster Bonsai Club was initiated

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We have people travelling from all over Munster to the club meetings. All the contacts that have been floating around the past few years have finally come together to create something. Something which hopefully in 20 years can have the experience of the NIBS. Something that will be a foundation to build on for the rest of the country.

Only last Month the Bonsai Ireland Hub was set up by Paul Masterson. It is a base for the whole country to discuss everything bonsai.

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From the four corners of Ireland there are enthusiasts, waiting for a club to begin in their own region. There has been people coming out of the woodwork the past few months that have been involved with Bonsai for 20 years. Like Mark in Cork, who was part of the original Cork Bonsai Club, which we didn’t even know existed. Here i have been searching for people the past two years and this gentleman only live ten minutes from my house and has a vast collection of bonsai. In two weeks we have our First workshop thanks to Ian and Philip from NIBS. In the space of a few months we have come along way.

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So the conclusion I come to regarding the interest of bonsai in Ireland I believe comes down to one thing. Spreading the Art of Bonsai. After World War 2, if bonsai did not spread to the western world, its popularity in Europe, Asia, and even America wouldn’t be what it is today. We probably wouldn’t be speaking about this topic right now. It all comes down to word of mouth, shows, bonsai clubs, societies, advertising on and off the web and just causing a fuss about bonsai. Our sister club NIBS started the ball rolling in the North and we hope to continue that passion in the South. We have a lot more work to catch up with the UK in terms of accessibility to clubs, nurseries and workshops. But with the right communication and organising we can put Ireland even more on the Bonsai Map.

Heres looking forward to what 2014 has to offer and what we have to offer Ireland in regards of Bonsai 😉