June 2017 Meeting

A Critique Evening with Roger and Adrian

Jons Beech3Jon’s Beech. This tree certainly started the evening off well with a lot of admiration for forester member Jon’s find of two years ago. Jon potted it up  last winter and achieved the big surprise of the evening when Ade, our Tree of the Month judge, who is noted for his views on using the correct pots, said what a very suitable pot this one was.

Roger was then  found lurking behind the foliage and the two of them went on to compliment Jon for his find and  the health of the tree and  showed where it may be thinned out a bit later to help balance the tree better .

Next up was Geoff’s Stewartia a native to Japan and closely related to the Camellias, these Geoffs stewartiaLime hating deciduous trees make great bonsai and Geoff’s certainly looks destined to be a beauty. A victim of late frosts coming as it does form the chilly heights of the Shaftesbury area his tree is just recovering now and the main topic of interest was deciding which was the front.


Tonys Mugo Pine

Another tree from neighbouring Dorset was
Tony’s Mugo Pine which he is evidently custodian of at the moment, with all the responsibilities that that entails. Roger suggested that  a re-positioning of it might be an idea worth considering.

Our canny bonsai collector Sara who really finds some bargains brought along two trees . Saras CrabA Crab Apple which she got as a bargain at the Exmouth Show last week and which our learned pair thought could do with the top taking down a bit. And a Japanese Elm ,Zelkova,which she has been nurturing ever since Glenbrook Bonsai closed down at Tickenham some years ago. Both Ade and Roger thought it would do best as a windswept tree and Roger pointed out where the trunk needed taking back and the foliage reducing. Saras Jap Em

Another of Tony’s trees a Metasequoia or Dawn Redwood had obviously made him think hard about the art of bonsai as he told us.
“It’s one of those trees that teaches you that Bonsai is a marathon not a sprint.”

These trees are deciduous conifers and come from Lichuan county in Hubei province, China where they can grow to about two hundred feet which makes them the shortest of the Redwoods but still pretty impressive in the wild or as Bonsai .Tonys M.. Tree
To make Tony’s more impressive A & M pointed out that the branches should be wired into a downward position . This tree grows very fast when stood in water and is an example of the  mother and child style of two trunk, (sÔkan) . Dan Barton at Bristol had a very famous specimen Metasequoia  which may possibly  be seen at the Bristol Club Show on Sunday if he still has it.

Dave brought along a very attractive group planting of Turkey Oaks which he had found as seedling in a compost heap, A & M pointed out how natural the group looked and we all agreed on that.Daves Oaks

Another good thing about the evening was that we welcomed a number of new members who had ventured along perhaps after seeing our recent show at Willow brook

New member Ann had purchased her tree in a garden centre as she was taken by the shape and potential but was unsure of what it actually was. Consensus on the nightAnns Sw declared it to be a Swamp Cypress, Taxodium Distichum , which come originally from the famous Everglade swamps of Florida and was introduced into this country by John Tradescant the famous plant collector in 1640. Ann was shown where it may be thinned out at a later date to improve the shape.

One of our other new members Michelle had brought along a little tree that was very typical of the first trees that many of us started off with on the journey that is Bonsai and that she was desperate to rescue.

This particular one was a Privet of sorts and was suffering from the usual combination of lack of shop or Garden Centre care for stock and Michelle Privetprobably the mud like compost that most of these imported small bonsai arrive in in this country. Ade and Roger gave Michelle some tips to revive it, pointed out that it was most likely intended as an indoor tree but that it would benefit from being outside in the summer months and suggested re-potting next spring in a much more breathable and better draining compost.



Richard P. brought along a group planting of Hornbeam which looked very healthy and the main improvement suggested was to trim the trees at each side to vary the levels of the group. Richar P Hornbeams


Apart from his lovely free range eggs Brian had also brought in an Orange Dream Acer which  he had let go on a bit and was wondering where to go with it next. Ade soon had the answer for that and gave us a quick description of the method of air layering which he thought would turn Brian’s one tree into  three trees

Air layering the trunk and the larger branch which he is pointing out, would result in two air layered trees and the remaining trunk should then carry on and become another tree, sounds like you had a good buy there Brian.


I know at times one may worry and fret about a tree but here is one tree that Club Chairman Howard said makes him smile. IMG_20170614_202537 It certainly made Roger smile as well.

With a little imagination is was easy to envisage this Juniper battered by the elements in the winter and then basking in the sun on some lonely beach or dunes on the shores of the Mediterranean and apart from a few suggestion for taking down that higher bit and perhaps lowering a branch or two we all liked it.

Club Chairman Howard rounded off this part of the evening thanking A & M for their most informative comments which all members can benefit from.

There were a few other trees submitted for the words of Bonsai wisdom from two of our most knowledgeable members, photos of which yours truly may not have been so focused on. After my recent cataract operation my specs are now out of kilter with my eyes for a few weeks yet, sorry.


Advanced Class

FIRST by member’s votes
Geoff’s  White Beech_20170615_001642

SECOND  by  Members votes
Jon’s Chinese Elm,  in a pot made  by well known pot maker John Pitt

Jons Tree

Tony’s Azalea


FIRST by both member’s votes and judge’s report

Richard P’s Azalea

Richard P Azalea

Sara’s Korean Hornbeam

Saras Hornbeam

Our TOTM judge has made the point that the standard of trees has improved enormously since the competition was introduced and that in the Advanced Class his marks are the highest he has ever given. Though we often jest about his comments on the pots we use he said that the message is getting through and that the tree/pot combination in the Advanced Class was about as good as it gets.

Follow this link to  the usual carefully detailed report by our judge ToTM Critique sheet June 2017 for critique remarks
that I am sure we can often  apply to our  own trees.

Many thanks to Roger and Adrian for their pearls of bonsai wisdom at an evening where I am sure we all learnt something about caring for our trees.



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