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From March 2011

An Evening With Simon Temblett

“There is nothing impossible to him who will try.”
Alexander-The-Great.

At our most recent meeting, we were very fortunate to have Simon Temblett with us. During the evening he kept us fully entertained demonstrating his techniques and ideas.

Simon Temblett is a professional Bonsai artist, who teaches at Bonsai schools and workshops across the country.

He has had articles published in Bonsai Focus and several of his trees are on the RIBB (Register of Important British Bonsai). He is also on the committee of The Association of British Bonsai Artists (ABBA).

Some random pictures from what was a thoroughly educational evening for one and all.

The gathering is patiently awaiting the arrival of other members and guests for this particular evening.

Simon came with some beautiful trees. He mentioned that each had faults that eventually he would eradicate over time. At this stage, sighs could be heard around the room; not in disgust of course, we were all thinking how nice it would be to have such a magnificent tree with faults!

Simon commenced the evening with a hearty demonstration based around covering the dead-wood in soot and water. Once thoroughly coated he then started to carefully wipe over the dead wood creating a very clever impression of aged and seasoned deadwood.

Simon was quick to point out that the Yew his demonstration was being carried out on had not been the subject of any carving.

You can see the carefully placed coffee cup in the background, giving the impression no-one was consuming anything stronger!

And completed tree. This is the second part of the process that was mentioned before. This is wiping off with a damp cloth what was previously applied.


Please note the photographer had not been consuming alcohol, this was Simon moving at some ‘break-neck’ speed, hence … motion-blur. Oh it’s my story so I’ll say what seems right:-)

A full on view of this majestic Yew tree. Simon can be clearly seen in the background ‘shooting-the-breeze’ with none other than our club Chairman Howard.

Here is a close up of the completed dead-wood work.



Over time this will weather nicely. Simon was also quick to mention the tree was not currently at or near show standard!

Before moving on, a booming voice from within the hall requested that we take a break. Well done that man!

As we took our seats, Simon started talking about the other trees he had with him.

First up was a Boulevard Cypress; Chamaecyparis Pisifera. The cultivar, ‘Boulevard’ is  originally an evergreen shrub with silvery blue-green foliage with a fluffy texture. Horizontal branches form a conical shape when grown as a full size tree. Bark is generally red-brown, and has 1/2 inch cones. Requires well and fast draining soil; this also extends to Bonsai use. Full sun produces best growth results. C. pisifera is a medium evergreen, under cultivation it usually does not exceed 20-30 feet tall, but with age will grow higher, which is a bit tall even for a large Bonsai; clearly branch and root pruning will achieve a height and girth that one would select for Bonsai use. Produces spine-tipped, scale like dark green leaves, lighter beneath. Has rather loose, open growth. Good in large Oriental gardens. Prune heavily to force new growth.

Simon explained this tree came from a non-Bonsai garden centre and would be priced accordingly. He went on to explain in detail how the overall and balanced shape had been achieved. Note the depth of soil the tree is currently in.

Following on from the Cypress, Simon talked us through a San Jose Juniper transformation.

Juniperus San Jose is one of the better spreading evergreens which rarely reaches a height of more than 20 inches and a spread of 6 feet. It is thickly branched and has a sage-green color; this of course makes it an excellent bonsai specimen for landscape or singular planting.

Some degree of care however should be exercised with this  species – they are far more brittle than you would expect of a juniper, and branches do snap clean remarkably easily!

Again for Simon this was yet another traditional garden centre purchase.

Following the Juniper came a collected (Yamadori) English Hawthorn, Crataegus.

The Hawthorn grows as either a shrub or a tree in Ireland & Europe. In Ireland & England it is widely grown as a hedge plant. The trunk or stems have hard wood, smooth and ash-gray bark, and thorny branches. The small, shiny leaves are dark green on top, light bluish-green underneath, and have three irregularly toothed lobes.

The white flowers have round petals and grow in terminal corymbs during May and June. The fruit, or haw, is a 2- to 3-seeded, fleshy pome, scarlet on the outside, yellowish and pulpy on the inside. Frequently used as subjects for Bonsai.

Finally Simon showed us a heavily carved Beech tree. This had also been collected some years earlier from the wild.

The Beech, Fagus sylvatica, has a smooth silver-grey coloured bark. Very often on mature trees you will be able to see the tops of its roots, snaking around the base of the trunk.

In full leaf, the canopy allows very little sunlight through to the ground beneath, and in beech woods you will find very little growing under the trees.

The oval, shiny leaves have a very subtle wavy edge. In autumn the leaf colours change to beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red-brown. They make excellent subjects for Bonsai.

Simon’s tree is shown here followed by a close-up of the carved bark.

All-in-all, the two and a half hours that Simon was talking to us simply flew by, and all that remained was to enjoy some light conversation with this distinguished guest. Simon was certainly in no hurry to get away, and made certain any questions members had were all answered.

The next meeting of the Taunton & Somerset Bonsai Club will be on Wednesday 13th April at 1900 hours.

The Chairman thanked Simon for a truly entertaining evening and a club raffle was then held with some spectacular prizes.


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