September 2016 Meeting – Critiques


Adrian criticising his own Hawthorn purchased in auction recently, a good tree with even greater potential. Adrian of course does not like the pot, that will have to go.




A good attendance this month and with a good selection of trees brought in to be the subject of ideas, help and assistance from Adrian who is the judge of our monthly competition and is usually full of ideas on how to improve ones trees.

At the start of the meeting we welcomed two new members Nigel and Fiona and also send our best wishes for a speedy recovery to Howard our Club Chairman who had taken  a nasty tumble on Exmoor at the week-end.
We then  all sat back and awaited the verdict on our own trees and learn a bit more about the art of bonsai.

Richard P’s Hornbeam.
Rescued from a hedge this was a very promising tree which had a rather large root protruding from the trunk about six or more inches above the ground which though not a greatly desired feature it’s removal however would have created and inverse taper to the trunk. I believe Hornbeam often have these higher roots to be dealt with. Some of the foliage needed pruning back at the top to give a better shape to the tree and a richard-p-hornbeamrepositioning of the trunk to an off centre position in a more suitable pot. .




Sara’s Birch
Sara is well know for rescuing trees from all sorts of sites and this was one of her bonsai refugeessara-downey-birch a Downey Birch which she had done some carving work on and it was agreed that Sara should keep her options open and let it grow on a bit before much further work, though there was an opportunity to hollow out her carving  a bit more  to add character to that area.


Jack’s Holly
Very few of us have seen an English Holly as bonsai but Jack has had this for about eight years he said and it was quite surprising that the leaves had reduced so well .This particular tree was obviously very precious to Jack as he regarded it’s previous state of ill health and it’s following recovery as his personal talisman.

Tony’s Ash
Another tree that most find awkward to bonsai as it grows so fast with long extensions between leaves. Ade made some suggestions    tony-ashfor it’s future development and  pointed out that it just showed what could be done with  such a common tree that most consider ill suited for bonsai .Tony has this tree for about seven years .
Ade was also most complimentary about the pot, which is a rare praise indeed from Ade re pots..


Michael W’s  Chinese Juniper
Michael brought along two Junipers which he purchased about ten years ago,both of which were looking very healthy but were in need of serious styling now and I think Michael may well be signing up for one of the michael-w-junipwer-2club’s day long workshops later to see what can be achieved .





Ray’s Japanese Holly
This little tree needs working on said Ade and he suggested a few options, bringing ray-jap-hollycertain branches down to make it bushier 

As with most of the trees  at the meeting Ade did suggest a different pot, he attaches, rightly so, great importance to the relationship between the tree shape and the type and size of the pot, in particular the depth of the pot in proportion to the width of the trunk.


Jack’s Hawthorn
Jack also brought along this windswept Hawthorn which he rescued from a hedge about forty years ago and I think we all liked this one, Ade suggested taking the highest level of twigs back a bit to improve it jack-hawthorn-widsweptjust that bit more.

Another rare occasion as we heard Ade say what a lovely pot it was.

 This tree was voted FIRST in the Advanced
Class on the evening for our Tree of the Month Competition


Michael C’s Hawthorn
One of my own offerings for judgement was this Hawthorn which I found as a four foot high sapling in my daughter’s garden. I had cut it back about 8 inches above ground and kept it in a 10 inch pot for a year or so before repotting it. It had been wired it a little but Ade did point out that I should reveal a bit more of the trunk shape and cut back some of the rather straight recent growth. It is only two years since I collected it so I am quite pleased with it particularly as the leaves have reduced so well. I wonder how long it will be before it flowers?


Black marks for choice of pot though but I was well aware that it did not suit, I will have to ask my offspring for bonsai pot vouchers this Christmas.

Sara’s Euonymus
Another of Sara’s recued from someone else’s rubbish trees,  this clump is coming on well,  aided and abetted by her father Brian slashing the top off it one day when he got a bit cavalier with his tractor and flail.
We had previously seen this tree back a year ago and you may be able to  see by the two photos how Sara has made it more a group planting looking like a number of trees rather less like  a shrub.   I believe Sara also bought a rather super pot at the South Devon Society Show last week so Adrian might have little to say about that.

This tree was voted as FIRST in the Novices Class on the evening

 By the way
Brian was sorely missed on the evening as he usually brings along some lovely free range eggs and I had promised my Wife that I would get some.

Simon’s Hornbeam
Purchased about 6/7 years ago from John Trott’s field grown stock this hefty tree’s principal feature was it’s root system. Ade’s main comment was that the upper layer of foliage, like Jacks Hawthorn, should be cut back a bit and to  allow the lower layer tosimon-hawthorn extend moving the centre of gravity a bit further across.
Also when wiring trees, to put some vertical movement up and down into growth as well as horizontal directions left and right. Something easily overlooked, I know I have to attend to that myself,  some of my earlier efforts  suffered from that fault.

This tree was voted SECOND in the Novices Class on the evening



 Geoff’s Larch
Geoff purchased this  handsome tree about four years ago and apart from general approval for a nice specimen Ade’s  suggestion was that when repotting it might be an idea to tilt it further forward in the pot as it leans away from the viewer at present.

This tree was voted SECOND in the Advanced Class on the evening


Tony’s Potentilla
A lovely little tree worked on for 3 or 4 years from garden stock, it was pointed out  that the best feature of these trees is the bark on the trunk so care must be taken not to obscure it. Sadly this old duffer taking the photos wastony-potentilla-2 not as focused as he might have been with the camera, sorry Tony.

This tree was voted as THIRD in the Novices
Class on the evening



Geoff’s other Larch
Now this was the one that we all got talking about. Should Geoff remove that upper branch which obscures the Jin and divides the viewers attention or should he just remove a bit at the top instead?  Whichever course is followed Ade said that the lower branch could then do with lowering a little  and to encourage a further layer or two of foliage below that. So here are a couple of photos for you to think about .One as it is and one without that higher branch. I think Ade was so busy contemplating the options he forgot to say that it was a lovely pot.

I know which I prefer myself and then it will be a really dramatic tree after a very dramatic cut.

Many thanks to Adrian for such an interesting evening
and for passing on some useful tips to us all

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  South Devon Bonsai Society Show


Last week the club put on a display at the South Devon Bonsai Society Show at Lupton House near Brixham. Well done you guys for putting in the work and flying the flag for T & Som B.C.
I think the world of bonsai must know now that something happens Somerset


NEXT month  Oct 12th -don’t forget a special speaker, Chris Thomas coming over from Wales to give us a demonstration of group planting. It should be a really good evening  , make sure to be there and bring any interested friends and visitors along they will be very welcome.  Tree of the Month Competition will be  Group Plantings & Autumn Colours.

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 Tree of the Month Competition Results for Sept have been included within this article and Ade’s more precise markings of each tree can be viewed via this link.


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