January 2019 Meeting


We are very fortunate at the Taunton and Somerset Bonsai Club to have that well know professional bonsai grower John Trott as our Club President, who even though he is nearing the grand total now of one hundred  RHS Gold Medals still has time to give us some very valuable practical demonstrations.

John’s demonstration evening started our new year off with a lesson on the initial work on a collection of Box trees. Jon our professional forester member had acquired a number of them from someone who was intending to start a topiary business but it never got of the ground evidently and he was lucky enough to purchase a number of sturdy pot grown trees examples some of which members have purchased and these which are to be worked on by John Trott and then offered later in the  club’s annual auction once they have settled down.

Tree No 1


John spent some time choosing the best angle and part of the trunk to concentrate on and soon reduced it then to something totally different with an obvious leader and now in a good state to settle down, put on some fresh growth and make the basis of a jolly nice tree.

Tree No.2


Box . 
Common Box: Boxus Sempervirens. native of south and west Europe, south west Asia and north Africa commonly used as a hedging plant especially in formal stately home gardens. The largest quantity of wild Box was to be found at Box Hill in Surrey , Box leaves have been used for a multitude of medicinal purposes.
Now threatened by Boxwood blight and Box tree moth causing the large gardens such as the National Trust to have to consider other plants for some of their historic gardens.


Tree No.3


Number 3 was to be a multiple trunk with the front view now marked on the pot

Tree No.4


It was an  easy choice to clean out and improve number 4

Re-potting John said that when these are re-potted in the spring that they should have the root growth cut back as much as the upper growth has been and put into training pots about half the size of their present pots for a couple of years or so , not straight into bonsai pots yet.

Tree No. 5


This way on that way, John knows it is in there somewhere


Choice made, number 5 on it’s way now.

 John was thanked by  Roger our new Club Chairman for a most interesting and informative  interesting evening .
I personally think that the great value of the evening was that it showed some of our newer members what can be achieved with trees that may well have been found in a garden centre or even more likely on some nice old off the beaten track nursery where one might come across some fine potential bonsai with ‘capabilities’ as that famous old landscaper Lancelot Brown used to say hundreds of years ago. 


Tree of the Month Competition – Winter Image

Advanced Class

FIRST by member’s votes.
Howard’s Windswept Hawthorn 


SECOND: M.C ‘s Silver Birch dav


THIRD:  Tony’s Crabb Apple









Ade’s detailed critique marks and comments can be found via the following link

totm critique sheet january 2019


Also on display during the evening were two more established trees for the members to study. A fine Beech from Jon, in a splendid pot.

jons beech

And a well established mature Larch from Adrian

These two trees were not in the competition but their presence was  most encouraging for newer members or for those like myself with more modest trees as an inspiration to see what bonsai can have in store for you given the time and dedication. 

Next Meeting February 13th 

POT NIGHT- When we will discuss pot and tree combinations, what works and what doesn’t. Bring along some pots and trees of your own for ideas .

Our Club year has started, subscriptions may be paid to Membership secretary Jon.


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Topical Tips Dec 2018

Every Tree of the Month Competition is accompanied by the Critique notes which mark each tree very precisely under a variety of headings, foliage, roots trunk etc. Those notes are well worth following for their tips and  advice on tree care and presentation.
Now Adrian Taylor who has organised the competitions and generally judges them has kindly compiled these brief notes on bonsai care for this time of the year. Thanks Ade

Just because winter is with us and trees are going into dormancy doesn’t mean that we just twiddle ours thumbs until the mad rush of spring repotting begins! Once deciduous trees haWinter Beech 1ve dropped their leaves give them a makeover so that they look their very best in their winter image state.

Trim out any leggy growths or shoots with overlong internodes, pruning back to buds further down on branches. If buds are not visible, trim to an internode where dormant buds lie. Reduce clusters of buds and shoots down to 2 or 3. Sometimes a little light wiring may be needed to position twigs correctly. Heavy pruning is best done in the growing season if you want the scar to heal over, but otherwise it can be done in winter. Beech and some other deciduous trees retain dead leaves through the winter – enjoy the colour for a week or two and then remove them. This allows the structure of the tree to be seen, and any trimming and wiring needed, but also reduces the risk of pests and diseases that hide in the dead leaves waiting to emerge in spring.

For your calendar in 2019

Feb 24th
Swindon Bonsai Society Winter Image Show. 

Further details at Swindon Winter Show
A number of members will be making their way to this show for a good                                 display of trees and trade stands.
Journey sharing, check possibilities with other members at our January or                          February  meeting .

April 7th
Expo Bonsai UK 

Second year of a very successful show organised in association                                              with Heathrow Bonsai Show
Expo Bonsai

June 9th
Bonsai South West at Exmouth more news will follow as we will be displaying there

We will also be at        

June 30th
Blackmore Vale Bonsai Group Show 

  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year Everyone

Snow cover

I wonder what the next few months have in store for us?


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December 2018 AGM


Howard and Andy

Club President John Trott paid tribute this evening to Howard and Andy on their joint retirement from their positions as Chairman and Secretary of our Club and presented them with a personal present from him of a delightful little bronze sculpture of a frog on a toadstool.

It is fourteen years I believe since Howard and Andy first took on the tasks  of keeping us all in order at Taunton. As John said, under their reign the club has thrived and maintained it’s reputation as a friendly  society where their advice and encouragement for new members  has made everyone welcome.Dave 1
Howard fortunately for the Club is blessed with the most practical skills with his hands at the workbench as the new display screen he has made  proves and their enthusiasm for the Club, it’s future plans and projects has helped solve many a problem or inspire new ideas.dav




Andy has had the harder task I should think of looking after all the correspondence, organising our programme, contacting speakers and dealing with all the problems that occur from time to time and keeping the club running so smoothly. That very smooth running being the evidence of what a good secretary can do for a club.


Andy has also organised our yearly night out event and the Club raffle whilst at the same time being the ‘Queen of the Accents’ putting on a lovely display of Accent plantings at our annual show.

Andy accent making


The hospitality at their home has been invaluable for the workshop days where Andy’s homemade soups accompanied by Howards as own artisan homemade breads have made that part of the day alone a treat for members and where our committee have held their meetings in such comfort.

The Club owes a great deal  to these two over the years and we trust that though having laid down the batons of office Howard and Andy will long continue to attend our meetings and keep us company at our outings and shows. In gratitude for all these years of service they were made  Life Members of The Taunton and Somerset Bonsai Club last year.


Thank you Andy and Howard 


Andy in her last Secretary’s report dealt with the protocol of minutes of the previous AGM and  matter arising etc in her usual cheerful and efficient manner which we will all miss in future.

In his last AGM as Chairman Howard thanked the committee for all their hard work and congratulated Club President John Trott for yet another Gold Medal at Chelsea RHS which brings his total tally of gold medals to 88. Johnnec 3



Howard also thanked the members responsible for IMG_20180526_122131our annual show at Willowbrook and for putting on displays of our members trees at shows other than our own, he also drew special the Salisbury Cup

attention to the Silver Cup won by Ade and Adam for our club at the Salisbury Bonsai Society Show.


Adrian and Adam receiving the Salisbury Society Silver Bowl


Retiring Chairman Howard also asked members to remember Jack Wilkins who sadly passed away during the last year and whose trees had been auctioned by the club with the proceeds going to the club, from which a donation was made to a charity nominated by Jack’s wife.

Club Treasurer Roger reported on the healthy state of our balance sheet and ignored a suggestion  that the monies in hand be invested in the 3.30 at Cheltenham as a way of increasing our funds.

Club President John then gave his annual report remarking on the number of new members we have attracted, the success at shows, the popularity of the Tree of the Month Competition organised by Adrian and our professional forester member Jon’s  tree collecting digs, he also reminded us of the President’s Challenge of aBonsai in a Boot  for August 2019.

John  then presided whilst we elected our next Chairman Roger W., Adrian as Vice- Chairman and  Alistair as Secretary. The remaining committee were elected en bloc unopposed.

RogerOur New Chairman Roger then took his place at the table and his first announcement was to propose that the recently won silver cup be known as the Jack Wilkins Trophy in future and be presented to the annual winner of the Tree of the Month Competition Advanced Class.
We then discussed any further shows that we should be entering in future, one addition in 2019 being the Blackmore Vale Bonsai Group. Jon spoke up for his collecting trips next year and Adrian urged members to out their names forward if they wanted to be included in any of the day long workshops.


Jon B then presented a questionnaire for members to fill in on the evening and at the next meeting or so which was to get some feed back on what activities members appreciated most and what if any suggestions they might have for the future. 
If you were not at this meeting please take a few moments to fill one in next time as it will certainly help the committee making plans for the Club.

Coming shortlyBonsai Care Tips.
Between these regular reports on meetings Adrian has kindly offered to write some brief topical bonsai care notes these will be sent out to members in the usual way. They will also be posted to our Facebook Page where I am sure any members questions and comments will be dealt with.

Taunton and Somerset Bonsai Club Facebook

All the committee and officers were thanked by the club for their work in making it a successful year



Novices Class. December voted for by Members


First Dave G. from Shepton, with his nice little Chinese Elm

Advanced Class

First: Jon B’s very impressive Stewartiadav







Second: Geoff O’s  Zelkova    and in  Third place Richard P’s Scots Pine 

The marks for the trees on the night were absolutely crucial in the placing of trees in the overall annual result as certain members were running neck and neck prior to the AGM evening  TotM marks 


Novices Class 

Dave G from Shepton was presented with the trophy for winning the Novices Classdav





Advanced Class


Jon B was the First recipient of the Jack Wilkins Silver Bowl for the Advance Class


Adrian reported how pleased he was with the number of entries and the improving quality of the trees  since the competition had started but chided some of us for not voting on the evenings events.

The following are links to Adrian’s Critique and summaries of the years marks

ToTM Critique sheet Dec 2018

Members Votes for the year
Bonsai ToM 2018     

Critique Marks for the Year

ToM Judges Chart 2018

Don’t forget to get in touch if you want to take part in one of the day long workshops, which are a really good way of learning more of the art of bonsai from two of our most experienced members Roger and Ade.
one of our tree collecting trips, a good day out with the opportunity of adding to your collection and learning from Jon B whose professional knowledge of forestry is a great asset to our club.


Calendar of next years meetings via this link  T & S BC programme for 2019

Until we meet again then 

Xmas snow

OK  Adrian it is now in a much smaller pot, thanks to your advice and assistance




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November 2018 Club Auction Night


This is the third year running now that we have held our auction in November and possibly as members have had the previous two  years to refine their tree collections, sort out their surplus pots and polish up their spare stands there were not so many entries as before.

Or it could be that as there was limited access to our hall this month due to extensive building work some of us older codgers couldn’t face the prospect of carrying their lots a greater distance from the car park, up some steps and along a path  to a more distant doorway than usual.


davHowever Club President and Auctioneer John Trott soon had his gavel in action, bought us to order and was working his way through the lots assisted by Club Treasurer Roger in charge of the bookkeeping and with Jon and Dave as runners doing the fetching and carrying.
One of the earlier lots was this unusual Japanese made pot in a sort of elongated crescent shape.

Among the evening’s lot there was a Cotoneaster Microphillia enhanced by some extra davaccent planting thrown in for free, or weeds as they are referred to by the well informed in the bonsai world. It did however have possibilities and one could see that in a few years would be a nice tree..





Cascade LarchMore possibilities, or capabilities as a certain historic gardener by the name of Brown would have said. could be seen in a cascade larch which attracted some keen bidding .






                      Other lots included a couple of Hawthorns and a Japanese Holly



                         A found Yew and quite an old specimen a variety of a Jade Plant.

And one of  the really very promising lots with both possibilities and great capabilities was this very nice little Juniper the variety of which escapes me for the moment .

Club Chairman Howard thanked John for his auctioneering services and as we finished earlier than previous year we had time to hear a few tips from John and to discuss the future of Bonsai.
Here in Taunton we are lucky enough to have attracted some new members of late but nationally the hobby could do with some fresh  blood, even in Japan there is a shortage of younger people taking to Bonsai. When it come to joining clubs is the internet killing such  activities? Some folk think they can get all they need from a website and YouTube but there is no better way to learn  than to watch someone at work on their trees or assisting you with your own.
But at the same time the internet has helped to publicise the shows throughout the country and is often beginners first introduction to a club via Google.

We discussed the role of FOBBS the Federation of British Bonsai Societies and the UK Bonsai Association. One of which caters for  groups only whilst the other also welcomes individuals, not a bad idea as there are part of the country where it is hard to find a club or society within reasonable travelling distance. Anything to spread the word of Bonsai must be a good thing and if every club could could just add a few more members it would all help.
So if you know of a friend, neighbour or relative  who has expressed an interest in your trees drag them along to one of our workshop or speaker evenings and you could introduce them to a very satisfying and enthralling hobby.

Andy reminded us that next month the 12th December  is our AGM and the last Tree of the Month Competition of the Year the theme being – Your personal favourite. Competition judge Adrian told us that it is running very close in both classes for the winner for the year and encouraged more members to enter their  trees, however much a beginner they may consider themselves to be everyone is always welcome.

See you there then




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October 2018 Meeting.

A Workshop Evening and Colleague Auction


T. & S. B. C  member Tony looks like a man whose passion for his trees brings him a lot of pleasure and contentment, showing that the therapeutic value of the art of Bonsai cannot be over stressed, perhaps courses on the NHS might be a good idea.

It was an evening of hard work, clipping, pruning and drastically restyling trees at our meeting this month as members set about their treasured specimens and their potential trees with the advantage of having a number of other members only too willing to lend hand or offer advice. We were also able to welcome Matthew another new member to our band of little tree enthusiasts.

Tony (above) was working on one of his many training trees whilst Alistair (below) brought along  a mature pine to work on. 

Geoff, who along with Tony travels miles for our meetings had a most circuitous drive from davthe Blackmore Vale due to roads being blocked by an accident, spent some time working on a beautiful little windswept  Juniper,  so like some ancient cliff top tree battered by the winds and elements.

I don’t know if Geoff really needed two cups of tea though to see him through this task.

The Club’s two Richards worked away at the Concentrated richardsend of the table next to one of our two Dave Gs, Across the room from Sara who was preening one of her Pines, it seems that  coniferous and evergreen enthusiasts were to the fore this evening.

Our other Dave G (Shepton Dave G I think I will have to call him), was  fiddling around with a pine when Andy suggested that he ask our Club President John Trott for his professional bonsai growers opinionDave 1

Dave 2

‘You think I should take it off here John?’

‘And a bit off here John?’Dave 4

Dave 5

Well’ they say less is more and if you are going for a Litterati it’s just a matter of nerve.

Meanwhile Geoff was  admiring  the good housekeeping at Tony’s workplace, my Wife would certainly love to see me work that tidily.

Good housekeeping


Sadly one of the Club’s long term members Jack Wilkins passed away recently and the last of his trees had to be disposed of whilst they were still reasonably healthy. Our condolences to Pat and the  family and Pat has asked that the proceeds from tonight’s sales should be split between a charity of her choice and the Club funds, many thanks for this kind gesture.

We are only guardians in the life of a bonsai and members will take pride and care in restoring the trees to the standard that Jack would have liked to have seen them.


A number of trees, though not recently tended re styling, were like this cascade in rather nice signed pots.


Well I don’t think it’s Wedgwood







Club Chairman Howard and John Trott soon dealt with  the few lots with some serious research regarding the pots .


Can Michael manage this back to the car park OK?


‘Ok, what are you lot laughing about?’











Autumn Colour

Very few entries this month, perhaps the recent winds had ruined some members autumn foliage.

Advanced Class, FIRST by members votes
M.C. Acer groupdav

Second: Geoff’s White Beech                                                                                                     dav

Third: Richard P’s  Pseudolarix  dav







Novices Class

FIRST Sara’s Maple

davSecond: Richard M’s Beech


Third: Shepton Dave G’s Berberis dav







Tree of the Month Critique

Our thanks to the Club’s professional forester Jon B. for his thoughtful critique this month.
I believe Ade is busy trying to catch  some poor fish in France , he really will have to sort out his priorities, his arboribus or his piscis.

ToTM October 2018


Club President John Trott has done it again and had now won his 88th RHS Gold Medal at The Malvern Autumn Show this time, well done John.
John’s Bonsai courses for next year are heavily booked should anyone want one, don’t delay they make great Christmas presents.

john malvern2

Next Month’s meeting is on Nov 14th is our Annual Auction when John will be wielding the gavel, he will be sending out details about entering lots shortly.


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September 2018 Meeting


We can’t all achieve trees like Roger W’s glorious Acer above straight away, it takes a long time or a deep pocket to get such results but as there are a number of new members within our group now tonight’s talk and demonstration by T & S B C member Adrian Taylor had beginners in mind.  How one might go about acquiring or starting a tree and a few worthwhile tips on the journey that is Bonsai.

Adrian has himself been following the bonsai path for many years and he gave an examples of the  way one might go about growing ones first bonsais.

Note: There is no species of a tree that is a Bonsai, bonsai is the art of cultivating trees of all sorts in pots and controlling and styling their growth to achieve a tree that is pleasing in shape and character.

Growing from Seed
So many people start their first bonsai by growing from seed, the internet has such a large selection of  packets of seed to choose from but  Adrian pointed out  it could be years before one has a tree of any age and character.

Sadly due to the time it takes a lot of people give up then as they were expecting something like the photograph on the website or on the packet within a few years or even less.

To illustrate the patience required  Adrian  brought with him a Black Pine which he grew from seed forty years ago and said that  he is still working on it,  bonsais are never finished they are always a work in progress.
Adrian has let  the upper half of the tree grow on to encourage a thicker trunk below and that he intends to remove later, the only foliage then will be the smaller needles which he has been carefully looking after to encourage denser pads and  smaller needles unlike the long younger ones above.

The next way in order to save a few years is to grow from cuttings. Hardwood cuttings may Acer cuttingsbe taken from the autumn and through the winter whilst soft wood ones from current growth are taken in the spring.

Very often successful cuttings are just taken by planting the growth pruned off ones trees. Good results can be achieved with cuttings taken up to finger thickness, which obviously help get a tree going quicker. The examples  brought along were these  young Acers.

For his growing substrate/soil Adrian uses Cat Litter, now don’t rush out and by any old one there are only a few that are suitable. Tesco’s Low Dust which has a small grain and Pets at Home Sophisticat Pink Lightweight, which has a larger grain .They are both non clumping and are made of molar clay, which retains moisture but at the same time drains freely. Many composts in the past were heavy peat based or solid muddy mixtures which gave the fine fibrous roots no room to do their work. As cat litter is  an inorganic mixture one must of course feed trees planted in it with a fertiliser, Adrian uses a slow release capsule . 

Cat littersCat Litters, Tesco Low Dust (Left)                               Sophisticat Pink ( Right)

The molar clay cat litters do not break down when frozen and thawed , the Tesco one is ideal for smaller trees, they can be mixed, or the larger one can be used as a lower layer above the drainage holes (which should have a plastic netting grid wired in place over them).

Supermarket Plants
Another source of starter trees can usually be found each spring in the plant section of the larger supermarkets. Morrisons and some of the others usually have for instance Supermarket acersGolden Dream Acers. These young plants cost a few pounds, have trunks a bit thinner than a pencil and to their great advantage generally have no ugly graft. One of the best things about these is that they make really good group plantings and a very pleasing display can be seen within a very few years.
The larger tree in this group was the result of planting one of the purchases in the garden and letting it thicken up a bit in order to create a centrepiece for the group.
Note :    Group plantings follow the Japanese principles of artistic  display and are planted in odd numbers from 3 upwards though once you get beyond 11 folk can’t count or get a lot less fussy.

Garden Centre or Nursery Stock

Gardencentre Jap Holly and SpindleFor a wider selection of trees and older or more substantial specimens a hunt round the Garden Centre can prove very worthwhile. Their trees are usually far too large but a great number of well known shrubs make ideal material for bonsai. Adrian showed how you can pry with your fingers around the trunk base and look for the ones with a spread of roots just below the surface as some have all their root growth way down at the bottom of the pot.


Be prepared to cut back considerably to style your purchase and within a couple of years you can have something very presentable.

Adrian can be seen above with a Japanese Holly and Spindle Tree grown from such a source.

Air Layering
This is a method of creating a new plant with an already thickened trunk by taking an air layer off an existing  tree and can be done on quite a thickness of branch. 

IMAG0479Two cuts with a sharp knife are made around the branch,  about one and a half times the diameter of the branch apart. The bark between the cuts it is then scraped down to the wood  leaving nothing to link the bark above and below. Wet sphagnum moss is then wrapped around the gap, rooting compound can be added, and the sealed over with plastic well secured at the top and bottom.  Adrian said one can use clear or black plastic or one over the other so one can remove the outer black to see what root growth is happening within. IMAG0481-1
The after a few months if all has gone well the when it is full of healthy growing roots the whole thing can be sawn off at the bottom, planted up and you have a new tree having by passed the slow, seedling or cutting stages.
The untidy specimen here is one of the editor’s  I am sure Adrian’s would be a lot neater.

Air Layer Laburnam


The tree Adrian brought along as an air layer example was a Laburnum, not often seen as a bonsai and past it’s best after a good display of flowers earlier in the year.




Originally in Japan trees collected from the mountains but now it can also include trees such as an old Hawthorn or Privet rescued when an ancient hedge is grubbed up,  so you get a rooted base but the branch growth may well have been sawn off or cut well back. At first they are usually planted into a large box and left for a year or more to get over the shock and start recovering and establishing a finer root growth within the smaller area of the box.
Hedgerow or purchased  Yamadori
Adrian brought along a Privet that he had purchased at the settled down and ready to start work on stage but  even then Adrian said that he would be taking it slowly and leaving plenty of time between work and letting nature help design the tree as well.

Yamadori Privett
At one time bonsai enthusiasts would only  enhance the dead and bare wood of coniferous trees but now growers are seeing the possibilities in the old dead wood on deciduous trees.
Where a large branch has been cut back, working with the right tools one can get rid of the straight saw cuts and create a weathered and natural looking end disguising what was an ugly stump .
Collecting Yamadori from the wild
Every year ours, and a lot of other clubs, organise trips out into the hills or woods looking for bonsai potential. This can only be done with the land owners permission and preferably with a member that knows his onions when it comes to trees, here at the T & S B.C we are lucky enough to have a member Jon B. who is a professional forester who knows the academic science of trees and has local knowledge of our landscape and the best places to look, usually somewhere on the Blackdown Hills. Sadly for some of us it is a physically demanding day and some of our old bones are not up to the task, Adrian however is still fit enough to go clambering around and then lug his finds back to his distant vehicle and as a result was able to bring along a Beech and a Western Hemlock as two of his finds.

The evening then turned into a demonstration workshop as Adrian set about the Western Hemlock. This progressive sequence of photos shows Adrian selecting the branches he wishes to remove and within a short time the tree hidden within begins to emerge, he has altered it completely and it is ready to rest again for a year or so before refining further.

                                                 1                                                          2

                                                  3                                                        4

                                                 5                                                         6


Adrian also devoted some time at the end to the Spring time care of Beech in order to promote a second growth and some tips on Pines. Personally I would like to see the club ask Adrian to give us a further talk on the slightly more advanced techniques with trees  later in our programme of meetings.

Our Club Chairman Howard thanked Adrian for a very informative session and once again it just shows the benefit of joining a club and that learning from the  ‘old hands’  is  sometimes so much better than books or YouTube. Thank you Adrian.

Tree of the Month Competition
Following his talk Adrian, who organises our monthly competition then did what we have never had the advantage of before of showing us how he went about compiling his critique notes of the competition. These notes are  sometimes  different from the members votes for a winner and we soon learnt how detailed he was in hunting out the flaws and errors our entries.

Adrian marks trees on the following basis-
1.Overall appearance         2. The pot suitability and size       3. Roots        4. Trunk
5. Branches and foliage     6. Health and Vigour                 7. Surface

The following photos show Adrian assessing some of the entries in the advanced section as that is all there was time left for now.

M. C’s Mulberry

MC Mulberry

‘Is this a Mulberry I see before me?’

which attracted one of his most usual comments  ‘Pot too large’.



Geoff O Larch




Geoff O’s Windswept Larch


and  Geoff H’s Pyracantha dav







The winner in both members votes and Adrian’s Critique was Roger W’s magnificent Acer. Adrian’ s only suggestion here was one we have never heard from him before
‘It could do with a bigger pot’


Advance Class Result
By member’s votes
FIRST Roger W’s Acer                     SECOND    Geoff H’s Pyracantha    both shown above

Three trees tied for Third place.

Novices Class
FIRST Adam’s Chinese ElmAdams Elm

SECOND  Richard M’s Cotoneaster                                                           THIRD Audrey’s Privet


Adrian’s Critique notes for the September meeting at full of useful tips

ToTM Critique sheet Sept 2018.docx

Howard also thanked four members,  Roger, Brian, Sara and Adrian who drove down to Lupton House in Devon to put on a display for our Club at the Bonsai in the Park Show organised by the South Devon Bonsai Society.
I am very grateful once again to Andrew Storey of the Exeter Bonsai Society for allowing us to use some of his photographs of our member’s display.


That’s it for this month folks, don’t forget our next meeting

10th October- A workshop evening- Do your own thing 
Tree of the Month Competition- Autumn Colour



Posted in NEWS

August 2018. Meeting

The President’s Challenge

After the success of last years competition John came up with another challenge for us this year, to create a bonsai related scheme in a miniature supermarket shopping basket.
adrian shopping trip

The Shopping Trip

The outright winner came from Adrian, one of our most strict and bonsai rule  observing members, with his take on a shopping trip. Ade  was obviously planning a day on  the beach in all this sunny weather we have had and a picnic including  a pile of Marmite sandwiches, I can see you have a gourmet’s taste then Ade with the herbs to hand as well, an odd mixture but each to his own they say. Think I will stick to cheese and pickle and ham sandwiches and some pork pie.

Many members were away themselves this month or laid low so the number of entries were down this year but included the following.

Di’s Ficus composition was a first time entry from one of our newer members ( Right)Dis



There was a delightful Juniper basket from Tony 
which  was accompanied with a
narrative supplied by Tony himself.
An oration which from memory I think
tonys taleincluded references to Mosside, Rocks
and a complete saga based on the two
minute figures in the basketscape, which
turned a short story into a very long one but was also
entertaining but way beyond my powers
of recall at present.



Howard entered a Hosta basket, which on closer inspection also contained a snake in the grass. I think Howard may have been aided by Andy who when they were challenged over the Howards Hostafact that Howard had removed the red plastic and wired the handles up she had a ready answer.
Andy informed us that in flower arranging circles basket displays must be able to be picked up still by the handle, so we bowed to her greater knowledge on that subject.

Geof had acquired some clinker which he said came from beside the railway line near his Geofff cotoneasterhome onto which he had grown a Cotoneaster ‘Root over Clinker’. I hope Geoff has now stopped playing by the railway lines as it can be a dangerous game young man and how long is it since the steam trains Geoff in your part of the world? I am sure diesels don’t create clinker.

Last month Adam, another newish member, had travelled from the very West of our area to help Adrian represent our Club at the Salisbury Bonsai Society Show where they came home with a Silver trophy for the Best in the Show display an achievement much the Salisbury Cupappreciated by the club.

On his return Adam had obviously put some thought into his wire basket entry and came up with his oriental Blue Man composition which like Tony’s should have had a recorded story reading to go with it and to explain the symbolism of his design. Even without an accompanying  handbook however it was a very pleasing little display.


Adam island


One of our long standing members Jack W. sadly has severe health problems and is unable to attend to his trees as well as he would like to so Jack has very kindly given them to the Club to be auctioned and any sums given to our Club funds .
Club President John Trott , the man with the gavel, was in charge and soon worked his way through a collection of pots, trays and stands, with eagle eyed treasurer Roger keeping an tally on the sales.


Then it was on to the trees which included this large oak group planting, which though Jack had been unable to deal with it lately will make an impressive group given some work over the next year or so.john oak group

A group of Larches on a slab was next followed by another large group, of Hornbeams this time, if only we  knew where the auctioneer had disappeared to.


When we found John there was a little while left during which time he showed us how davhe would tidy up one of the trees that he uses at the shows where he has been doing so well adding to his collection of RHS Gold Medals.
It was a Pepper Tree, in a handsome Dan Barton pot, that John had given a years resting time to restore vigour and we soon saw him snipping it back into shape.

We had a number of new members and visitors at the meeting  so the auction, in particular the pots, gave these newcomers a good opportunity to get some bits and pieces to start their new interest off with and at the same time the Club funds benefited to the tune of a very welcome  £520 .

Throughout the evening though we were also well aware of the years that Jack had put into his trees and when he had been a regular face at our meeting, so thank you Jack and best wishes from all the members.

What’s next?

After our success at the Salisbury Society Show the Club will be having a display at Bonsai in parkBonsai in the Park where Brian, Roger and Ade will be putting on a show for us. I am told that it is a lovely venue and that it’s a good show with a number of traders there as well, so if you can make it could be well worthwhile.
Contact the show team if you have a tree you wish to exhibit, Roger is
taking his van and no doubt the new screens that Howard and Ade made will be put to good use.

Next meeting
September 12th
Tree of the Month Competition
A Deciduous Tree

When Adrian will be giving a demonstration which should 
be of special interest to our new members and those in the earlier stages of their bonsai journey.

Though of course bonsai is a way of life where we are always learning however long we have been at it.




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July 2018 – Cup Winners! Our Annual Night Out and club news

I had almost finished this monthly report of our activities, a few words about our Annual Outing and news about a couple of shows. I was almost ready to press publish when the following photo arrived in my mailbox courtesy of one of our member’s Geoff,  wearing his Salisbury Bonsai Club hat.

the Salisbury Cup

Adam and Adrian  being presented with the cup for Taunton and Somerset Bonsai Club’s stand winning Best in the Show at Salisbury Bonsai Club 30th Anniversary Show. July 1st. 2018 by Salisbury Club President Ken Hayward.

Read on further for news of this great success at Salisbury

(Thanks guys, well done, now I can get back to rearranging the rest of this report)




Every year we have an evening out away from our trees and sample the hospitality of some inn or other in Somerset instead, this year our numbers were a somewhat less than usual as it seems that some inconsiderate  body called FIFA had rather thoughtlessly arranged a football match the same evening.

Regardless of that a number of us still repaired to the White Horse at Bradford on Tone where we  enjoyed a splendid meal accompanied by the shouts, cheering and jeers of the local football enthusiasts in the bar next door. The meal turned out to be a greater success however than our brave footballers efforts in the semi finals of the World Cup in Russia. 

Thanks again to Andy for organising our raffles which go towards this festive evening and arranging the evening.
Andy has asked me to mention that a pair of spectacles where found , are they yours?



This year the Club had a stand again at Exmouth where Brian, Sara and Jon  did us proud with a display at the Bonsai South West Show organised by the Exeter Society,  I wonder how many new trees they brought back with them?  I know Sara seems to have done  very well   with her acquisitions down there at Exmouth in the past.


Photos kindly supplied by Andy from the Exeter Bonsai Society

Our next show was the Salisbury Bonsai Club 30th Anniversary Show on  July 1st.

Adrian who has recently moved East towards that part of the world took on the responsibility for our display there and was assisted by a newish member Adam who lives to the far West of our catchment area, who travelled a fair way  and whose help was invaluable. The show also saw the debut of our new screens which Howard, helped by Ade, had put together to make our displays look their best.


Photos supplied by Amelia from the Swindon and District Bonsai Club, thank you Amelia you put my monthly photos to shame.

For Swindon’s full report on the show see  Swindon Clubs -Salisbury report.     


Salisbury Club report can be seen their website . Salisbury Bonsai Society

All the hard work was well rewarded when Taunton and Somerset Bonsai Club were awarded Best in the Show by none other than Peter Chan one of the country’s leading bonsai authors and experts, well done everybody.

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Club Chairman Howard and his Wife, Club Secretary, Andy attended the show and Howard would like to congratulate Ade and Adam for doing so well and the team at the Exmouth show for all their hard work. Thanks also to the Salisbury Club for organising such a successful event.
These shows are really putting our Club on the Bonsai map now.

The next event for T & S B C will be at South Devon Bonsai Society, Bonsai in the Park Show at Lupton House Brixham where Roger W will be assisted by Brian and Ade on Sept  9th.


While we are reporting such successes I must add that Club President John Trott has added yet more RHS Gold Medals to his collection with his Mendip Bonsai Studio displays.

 After his Gold at Chelsea RHS making his RHS tally 86 medals John has now won the Platinum Award and the Geoff Hamilton Award for best in the show for stands in the Floral Marquee at the BBC Gardeners World Live Show at the NEC. Another brilliant display of flowering bonsai.

John has since added another Gold at the Hampton Palace Show

John Hampton Palace 2018


NEXT MEETING August 8th Club President’s Challenge the Miniature Shopping Basket Competition it also being the tree of the Month event.

Wire basket

After all these reports of prize winning it does seem a shame that we didn’t win the football as well.


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June 2018 Meeting

A Critique Meeting


Every so often we have a Critique Meeting when two of our bonsai elders share their years of experience and offer advice and tips to other members who bring their trees along to be the subjects of their deliberation. At our June meeting we had combined knowledge of Roger and Clifford to help us improve our trees and understand why and when certain things should be done.

Tony brought along an Azalea (above) to be the first tree to be the subject of their inspection. He has had it only a few years but was rather concerned as it was a bit lack lustre compared with some of his other trees which we know are real gems.  Roger and Clifford pointed out that though it was sad in parts there was plenty of new growth showing signs of fresh life and that the remaining blooms could now be remove to conserve the tree’s energy and that thinning the crown a little would encourage energy further down where it was needed.

One of our newer members, Adam, submitted a Chinese Elm for R & C’s pearls of Adaams teewisdom, a really sturdy and healthy tree which he obviously looks after but could do with being in a smaller pot the present one being far too large.





Paul Y  managed to get two trees dealt with at once as they were both in the same pot together, a couple of Junipers which frankly needed sorting out and bravely he was Paul R Yates Junipersconfident enough to join Clifford  with the cutters and get to work. He had obviously not seen Clifford wield his pruning tools on earlier occasions as he is fond of a good chop. Always to the benefit of the tree concerned and it’s owner once they get over the shock.

R & C pointed out a number of improvements that could be made and drew attention to the movement of the two trees one above the other and where foliage should be removed to   good effect.


Dave G’s Japanese White Pine and Richard M’s Oak were next for the panel and both  MIchael PInewere able to go home with some ideas of what to do over the next few months to improve their trees.
Dave was shown where best to cut and reduce the trunk to and how to bring in the growth nearer the trunk to create pads of needles. Richar Oak




Richard received praise for his very healthy little oak which they were most impressed with but suggested that it was time now to get it out of it’s training pot and into a popper bonsai pot, Roger pointed out that the pot colour might do well to pick up the silver grey of the trunk.

One of the really welcome things about the evening was that we welcomed five new members into the Club, faces that we hope to see frequently at our gatherings in the future.

Aime 2

One of these new members was Aimee who turned up with her first bonsai, a flourishingly healthy Carmona, also known as a Fukien Tea from Southern China. R & C showed her where best to trim it now and what steps to take in the spring.

MIchael PIne

Michael brought another  Pine along  which seemed to amuse Roger and Richard P showed us all his group planting of Hornbeams

Richar P hornbeam group






Both members came away with some sound advice to follow over the next year or so.


Audrey another of our new members on the night brought in an anonymous indoor bonsai which she has had for seventeen years ,I think Audreys mysteryshe said, so yes Audrey you can certainly keep trees alive longer than a lot of folk do when the get their first tree.

R & C pointed out the mat of roots underneath and look forward to helping Audrey at re-potting time next year. Let’s hope we know what it is by then folks.

I should think the first correct suggestion should deserve a free drink , from club funds, at our annual night out next month.


Howard brought in a windswept Hawthorn that he had acquired at our club auction in HOward Hawthorn 1November.  Personally I am very fond of Hawthorns and Windswepts and if it wasn’t for the fact that Howard’s pockets are much deeper than mine I would have given him a better run for his money at the auction.

R & C showed where cuts could be made bringing the branches more into the windswept design and varying the lengths as too many were the same.

HOwardf Hawthorn 4

Looking good already and one could also see that it had great potential and I was quite prepared to offer Howard a small loss on his purchase by now.

The next tree was  Andy’s Acer which had suffered badly this last year but was now suddenly leaping back into life sprouting forth vigorously, a bit of tidying up and it was soon looking even better.



The last tree was Jon’s Escallonia an evergreen flowering shrub which he had purchased at the Exmouth Show and which attracted a number of differing opinions, should or should not the dramatic root system be so exposed? What is to be it’s main feature, the trunk textures certainly look worth making something of.Jon Escalonia

There had been a couple more tree during the course of the evening when members brought more than one along but I think the selection shown here gives a good illustration of what such a night achieves and how worth while it is to join a club and benefit from the experience of the ‘old hands’

So thank you to all who brought in their trees to face the  inquisitors and our special thanks to Roger and Clifford for making it such an interesting evening.

My Wife wonders how I remember some of the small items of the evening’s proceedings with so few notes when I can’t remember a shopping list between Sainsburys car park and their store.

Theme- Shohin Class trees under 8 inches high

Advanced Class
FIRST  (by members votes)

M.C.’s Pyracantha

MC Pyracantha


Second- Jon’s Larch and Third -Tony’s Juniper                                                                                                      



Novices Class
Sara’s Larch
Sara's Larch

SecondAimee’s Carmona and Third – Richard M’s Larch                                                                                        


The in depth and well worth reading judges critique for Tree of the Month can be viewed via this link.
Bonsai score sheet June 2018


Club President John Trott could be seen briefly on TV being interviewed at the Chelsea Flower Show where he came away with his 11th Gold Medal making it a grand total now of 86 RHS medals, congratulations John.


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I also happened to hear him being interviewed on BBC Somerset Sound Radio and if John ever needs another career he has a splendid radio voice.

Our next meeting is our Annual T. & S. B. C .Night Out.

Which this year is to be at
The White Horse Bradford on Tone to mix and mingle from 6pm prior to our evening meal.  Members meals will be paid for out of our special outing fund up to a certain level, members guests will have to be paid for in full.


White Horse Map

See you there folks!




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2018 Our Annual Show


I think this is the fourth or fifth show that I have helped with and every year I think it  gets better. For what I always think of as a small club I reckon we put on a jolly good show and when you also think that we   put it on for a whole three days, perhaps we are not such a small club after all.

As usual a team of keen helpers set to on Friday evening putting up the marquee at The Willowbrook Garden Centre, due to medic appointments I couldn’t get there myself until Saturday morning to do the labels so I asked Ade if there were any particular names that should be mentioned in thanks for all their work. His reply was that there were too many to list and that this report might end up looking like and Oscar presentation acceptance speech. He did however mention of Brian for his lead in organising the show and Roger for the use of his van and collecting the tables . Adrian went on to say that so many members did their bit and that we were never short handed, thank you everyone.

There were some very small exhibits such as the Accent plantings many of which I suspect were the work of our busy Club Secretary Andy who has made this section her own speciality corner though I am sure there my have been some other entrants as well.

From minute specimens in charming little pots one could move along the tables to see the larger entries as well, such as this Japanese White Pine seen here between a pretty little Ace and a Larch.

IMG_20180526_122630 (1)


E Larh and Sutsuki Azalea

Or this handsome pair from opposite sides of the world a European Larch and a Sutsuki Azalea.

A  variety of Acers were there to compare their delicate forms and foliage colours


Howards HawthornNative trees from out own countryside were not neglected with this windswept Hawthorn and  a handsome HornbeamHornbeam







White BeechFrom the Antipodes a White Beech and more trees  originally from the Far East  with oriental ancestors such as this Japanese Larch Jap Larch group and a nice little Japanese White Pine








Chinese Elms of course, which bore little relationship to those mass imported garden centre ‘indoor bonsais’ Though it is easy to make such remarks one must remember that it is often through such purchases that people take their first steps down the pathway that is Bonsai and find an art and hobby to keep them fascinated for years.

In my enthusiasm to get back home and get some of the photos up onto Facebook in order that it might bring in more visitors over the three days it seems that I missed out on some trees, trying to take photos whilst people are viewing and doing the labels at the same time must have brought on another of my senior moments.

Fortunately Andy from the Exeter Bonsai Society had come  to view the show and has allowed me to use a few of the picture he took to add to this selection of exhibits , thanks Andy greatly appreciated.




Having returned to the lap top today to add these photos from Andy I was quite relieved to see them safely added as in the interval Microsoft had undertaken a major update evidently. I wonder if I could get an update with new hardware and software for myself it might be just what I need at the moment.
finishing touches

This report unlike our usual monthly meeting reports does not contain a critique on members trees from Adrian, though his eagle eye for perfection , the right pots and arrangement was still in action and may be seen here as he put the finishing touches to the displays. 

This show is Club Chairman Howard’s last one before he passes on the chain of office and he would like to  thank everyone involved for all the work that was put in to make it such a success and to the family and staff at the Willowbrook Garden Centre for making us feel so welcome.



We will be having a display there and from the reports I heard of last years event it really is well worth going to. Just ask Sara she came home with some amazing bargains.


Show flyer2018A4.jpg Exmouth


June 13th

A Critique evening with Roger and Clifford passing on some of their bonsai knowledge and experience as they cast their eyes over member’s trees.

Tree of the Month Competition – Shohin trees under 8″ high

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