March 2018 Meeting

Show intro

Last November John Trott our Club President made a bonsai pilgrimage with his wife Anne and a couple of fellow enthusiasts Mark and Phil to Taiwan for the Bonsai Clubs International Convention  and the Asia- Pacific Bonsai and Viewing Stone Convention and Exhibition JT8and at our March meeting we were lucky enough to see some of Johns splendid photos of just a few of the amazing trees that he saw there.

The Island has an average temperature of  22cwith a warm humid climate which lends itself to the successful growing of bonsai.


JT 1


The trees  grow so rapidly that they can achieve in thirty or forty years what would take far longer elsewhere and they may well leaf prune many times a year to encourage extraordinary ramification as seen in the Hibiscus tilaceous  (above) .

JT3The convention had displays in various venues the main one at Xizhou Park: Where there was the  large bonsai exhibition and demonstrations including Hua Feng, Style Creation, National Bonsai Exhibition, and Taiwan Suiseki Exhibition.JT13

A further exhibition was at the National Museum of Natural Science: Bonsai Demonstration & Exhibition of Pine & Cypress Bonsai as well as Flowers & Fruits Bonsai. 3. Wan-Jing Art Garden: Bonsai Exhibition of Valuable Collections, etc.


Trees came in every size.

As did the pots

It was good to hear that the art of bonsai is evidently followed by young people as well in Taiwan as there are growing concerns in Japan and elsewhere that it is only the older generations that are keeping it going.  Many  of the trees grown in Taiwan are sold to Japan or the wealthy Chinese collectors and the crowds at the events showed how popular bonsai still is.

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John and his band of bonsai pilgrims must have had a wonderful time provided it was not marred by tucking into these platefuls of delicacies they saw one day.

JT20                           As all these tempting dishes are in fact made out of stones

I wouldn’t be surprised if they are not already planning their next expedition
to experience the extraordinary bonsai of Taiwan again.
JT19 John and Anne with Mark, Phil and Ming

Thank you John for showing us such an amazing display of photographs of your journey.



Advanced Class 

FIRST  (by members votes)  – Brian’s White Pine dav




Second Equal
dav   Howard’s White Pine (above)

                                                                 and  Michael C’s  Larch Groupdav



  Third Jon’s Juniperdav








Novices Class


Sara’s Scots Pine


Dave Gl ‘s White Pine







Third Equal

Dave Gr’s  and  Richard M’s  Scots Pines


The detailed Critiques of the trees may be seen at the following link. Jon joined Ade in the task this month by casting his professional  forester’s  eye over the Novices Class.
 ToTM Critique sheet Mar 2018

Once again it is  interesting to notice the difference in the critique ratings of the trees compared with members votes on the night, probably down to the fact that members stroll along the table and make a quick vote whereas our critique judges take a chair and sit down on front of each  tree carefully noting both it’s good points and it’s flaws.


Next Month  April 11th 

An evening with talented young potter Daniel Butler from Wales so don’t forget to bring some money along and treat yourselves to a new pot or two. (Photos from an article in Esprit Bonsai the international bonsai magazine)



Your website compilers further notes.

Every month I struggle to take the photos of the trees as best I can in the circumstances, my most high tech piece of equipment being the folding white board I use to try and mask out the background it is usually held in place for a few minutes by some member press ganged into assist.dav

This month as often before it was Club Treasurer Roger who I lumbered with the task, who can be seen here in hysterics watching me battle with the controls of my new camera phone which was only acquired the day before. Thank you Roger.



Posted in JohnTrott Mendip Bonsai, News Blog | Tagged , , ,

February 2016 meeting

Re-potting workshop


Every spring a young man’s fancy lightly  turns to love and here in Somerset some young and not so young members of our club turn their thoughts to the spring re-potting of their  precious trees.

The view above of our meeting at Taunton is probably very typical of bonsai club nights throughout the country at this time of year as the longer days with their few extra hours re-ignite the flame of enthusiasm and we urge to get on and do something with our bonsai.

IMG_0426             Photo courtesy Bonsai Empire at their Noelanders 2018 demonstration  stand

This year of course we were lucky enough to have amongst us some members who had just returned from the bonsai pilgrimage to Noelanders 2018 in Belgium where they can be seen in this photo above advising Michael Tran what to do next at  his demonstration workshop.

As seen above left to right Michael Tran from  Heidelberg,
Dave, Geoff, Ade, Jon and Sara from Somerset

Not only did that lucky crew come back inspired but they also came back with some splendid purchases and like Dave (Below) brought some of them along to show them off to their IMG_20180214_193441fellow members and seek advice and opinions as to what they should do with their new acquisitions.

Firstly Dave just sat and pondered, contemplating his tree, his plans for it’s future and trying to remember how much he had spent.


IMG_20180214_193419  Sara, one of his fellow travellers to Belgium was very ready to offer her thoughts, after all it wasn’t her money, was it?

John Trott our Club President fresh back from his own professional display at Noelanders was next to hand with his suggestions.IMG_20180214_194224


And Dave now inundated with advice soon set to work cutting away much of the tree he had so recently spent many of his Bonsai Pounds on.IMG_20180214_193432






Meanwhile the two Richards and Brian plodded on with their re-potting. It was interesting to se the different stages various members Larches were at, from dormant right through to green budding.

A very valuable group of members, valuable to the Club that is, were working away at another table. Andy our hard working  Club Secretary with  Howard , her husband and our worthy Chairman, watched over by Roger our  Club Treasurer who is obviously keeping an eye out for any unnecessary  waste.


At the other side of the room our professional forester member Jon was sharing his years of arboreal knowledge with Adam one of our newer members. Though Jon had been to Noelanders the tree he is actually working on is a Siberian Elm that he snapped up at our club auction in November.

Jon RP 1

Jon’s Siberian Elm had quite a large,  deep and very dense and  solid root area which needed clearing out and reducing to get into a much shallower pot at this re-potting

Jon RP 2Jon RP 3Jon RP 4Jon RP 5 In the end after cutting some very hefty roots well back Jon made some real progress and I know a number of us watching him at work learnt a thing or two at the same time .



Sara worked away at a Juniper Toshio Blue while Ade attended to one of hisIMG_20180214_203721 Noelander purchases.





and IMG_20180214_201809Tony applied himself to a thick trunked Lonicera. That looks very promising Tony.


I hope it came from his own garden and not a neighbour’s hedge.

You may have noticed that many members are wearing name badges, for some of us it is to inform visitors who we are; for others at my age it is to remind ourselves who we are, that is if one remembers to wear them.


RAFFLE PRIZE for 2018, whilst at Noelanders Adrian purchased this JuniperIMG_20180214_193608 on behalf of the Club to be used as our main raffle prize together with a workshop day to start work on styling it.

Club member News.
Sadly Jack who had recently had a new knee fell and smashed it and also broke his arm at the shoulder so will not be able to attend for some while. Best wishes from us all Jack and let’s hope it heals faster than they expect.

New member
We also welcomed Dave a new member on the night,  another new and welcome face.

John Trott’s Noelanders 2018 Tree 

Johns noelanders tree

John’s tree this year at Noelanders was this amazing  Itoigawa Juniper, flying the flag for Mendip Bonsai Studio and we also like to think, for bonsai in Somerset.


Group Plantings

Novices Class

FIRST Dave’s Hornbeam Group                                          SECOND  Richard M’s Alder

Advanced Class

FIRST a runaway winner Tony’s Elm Group

Tony's elm group


SECOND Jon B’s Beech Group                                       THIRD Richard P’s Larch Group

Adrian precise and informative critique can be viewed via this link
 ToTM Critique sheet Feb 2018

Club News

Next meeting
March 14th Club President John Trott’s report on his visit to see 
The Mind Blowing Bonsai of Taiwan 2018.   Tree of the Month – Pines

April11th Talk and or demonstration by talented Welsh potter Daniel Butler.

Photos Copyright Daniel Butler, published in 4 page feature on Daniel’s work in April/May issue of Esprit Bonsai Magazine.
Better start saving some more bonsai pounds for that meeting.

Swindon Winter Image Show Sunday Feb 25th
Details of the biggest bonsai show in the South West
Via this link   Swindon Winter Image

I think that really is all folks, see you next month or at Swindon perhaps.




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Noelanders Trip 2018

Noelanders 2018 a report by club members.
Text by Jon B and Photos by Geoff unless stated otherwise

After many months of meticulous planning five members of the Taunton club set off on a pilgrimage to the Noelanders show in Belgium, hoping to witness some of the very best trees that our European bonsai friends have created. However the meticulous planning was shown thrown when one anonymous person realised that they had forgotten their passport



Michael Tran demonstrating to the  Taunton and Somerset Club contingent
Photo courtesy Bonsai Empire

After a whole day of travel we pulled up to the accommodation, stiff and tired from the journey – this had better be worth it! The anticipation over dinner that night was IMG_3313apalpable. As the weak winter sunlight dawned next morning and we all enjoyed the delight of a traditional Dutch breakfast (I had joking warned my friends that this was likely to consist of a boiled egg and chocolate sprinkles, it was with a wry smile that I realised I was right and was pleasantly surprised to find that a prune yoghurt had centre stage). Anyway, on to the trees…



Our meticulous planning was again to come to the fore when two of the gang found out that they should have printed off their tickets in advance and brought them along with them. A very nervous journey ensued where they thought they may have to pay for their ticket again. However the kind people at the entrance seemed prepared for this sort of thing and soon we were all inside the venue. The first thing that struck everyone was the simple scale of what we had walked into. Brought up on a diet of bonsai shows in Britain that might just be able to fill a village hall, the enormity of this venue was hard to comprehend, three huge halls that each could house a rock concert, all filled with the most amazing trees, pots and trade stands.

We had settled on a strategy that we would spend the first morning round the trade stands in the hope of picking up a bargain before the vast crowds stripped the best stalls clean. At 1pm the demonstrations were due to start which would give us a chance to have a sit down and recover. The morning of the second day would be devoted to the show trees themselves, followed by a second afternoon of demonstrations.



We had a strict limit set by the height of the cars that we could only acquire trees a maximum of three feet tall but had not set ourselves any limit on size – lessen learnt for any future trip as the regular trips back to the car to offload seeing it slowly filling up, and then double stacked and nervous jokes about ‘oh well, I can leave my luggage here and just take the trees home’. In the end our spending money ran out just in time with a very full car.

Demonstrators from Bonsai Empire including
Konio Kobeyashi, Milan Karpisek and Bjorn Bjorholm

The demonstrations were great with some of the world’s leading artists sharing their knowledge. By 5pm we were all pretty exhausted and decided to call it a day

Over dinner we were all very pleased with our purchases and were so inspired started work on them.


Well to be honest, we all started work on Dave’s maple. I was so keen to try out my new very large knob cutter that we might have got slightly carried away. However after the accumulated opinions of four trusted colleagues and Dave’s natural enthusiasm there was not much left of his tree by the end of the night – but the bit that was left will clearly be a spectacular tree (when it has regrown!). I think it must have been the beers that we drank but I am sure the conversation whilst working on the tree descended to a level hovering near the crude with comments such as Dave’s “I need a slightly larger blade to get deeper penetration” to which Sara responded “if you are not careful you will come out the back end”. I am too young and innocent to truly understand, but simply record this as a matter of fact


The Sunday morning crowds were very much reduced and the whole exhibition was much quieter. This provided a very nice atmosphere to view the show trees without any hustle & bustle. The sheer quality of the material on display was breath-taking, and whilst we have all seen plenty of photos of exhibition trees, seeing them in their 3D glory just does not compare. There was a clear ‘no photographs’ policy at the show, but they didn’t really seem to mind a few illicit snaps, as long as you didn’t interfere with other spectators.



We worked methodically up and down the rows of trees discussing the merits of the trees as we went, and after 2 hours were just approaching half way and had all clearly raised our standards as we found ourselves critiquing quite harshly what on any other circumstance would have been stunning trees.

We were saved a bit of time when we came to the suiseki display by Adrian “they are just IMG_3297astones we don’t need to look at them” (although a couple of us did sneak back later and take a quick look!). Dave returned to the trade stands with the parting comment “I hear the Euro’s whispering to me, they are saying ‘spend us’”

So after two very full days we retired to the accommodation for a good night’s sleep before the day long journey home. This was meant to be a simple drive, home in time for tea, but the warning signs started when we had to bump start the car, but we put this down to the cold frosty weather. All seemed to go well until we arrived at the tunnel. We were a bit early and got offered an earlier train which we opted for, however something seemed to be amiss in the second car. When they eventually got through they were a bit perplexed, until they realised that they had booked a ticket for the previous day. Things got more sinister as we met with the border control. The normally relaxed French staff suddenly seemed to get quite excited when they saw Geoff and Dave, and his van packed to the rafters with trees. The last we saw of them the guards were putting on a pair of latex gloves!! They had obviously agreed that ‘what happens in customs, stays in customs’ as they were not very forthcoming with details. Once we passed through the tunnel Geoff and Dave raced off and we next heard from them to say they had arrived home safely.

It was now time for the shoe to firmly change feet. Whilst we had made it uneventfully across several countries, as we left the M3 and onto the A303 for the final leg home the car decided it had had enough and all the electrics went to bed one system at a time. After waiting for four hours the breakdown finally arrived to take us home, and found us huddled together for warmth. I finally got home after midnight.

All in all, the eventful journey home did very little to take the shine off what we all agreed had been a brilliant weekend. We are already beginning the planning for next year, and this time it will be meticulous.


The Bonsai Empire You Tube report is available at Noelanders 2018



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January 2018 Meeting


A Winter Workshop Evening


Tony contemplating his Crab Apple 

Tony is a dedicated member of our band of bonsai brothers who travels a fair  distance to attend our meetings and I think this photo illustrates the pleasure and satisfaction we derive from tending our little trees.

The January evening was a hive of activity as members started to prepare trees for the coming spring and  re-potting, indeed it as been so mild of late trees are showing signs of life already. Tony was just tidying up his Crab Apple and had marked out the trunk ready to hollow part of it out and was getting rid of some parallel, crowded growth and dead twigs. 

Adam a recently joined member had brought in a Japanese White Pine that he had invested in last year and was looking for some tips from the old hands at the club as to what to do next. _20180110_230046It will be interesting to see this tree in  a couple of years when Adam has put his stamp on it.




Meanwhile Richard P was busy cutting away with deep concentration.


_20180110_225826 Adam then took  time from his Pine  to watch some of the ‘Old Hands’ Howard and Roger offering their opinions on a handsome Hawthorn that Ade has brought in for us all to admire and pass judgement on  whilst Dave peeped over to see what they were all going on about.

A branch off here,  a branch off there, or should we tilt it the other way ? It was now getting really serious as Club President John Trott our proud winner of many Golds at Chelsea RHS, joined in the deliberations.

Is Adrian looking a little nervous?  I know last time he brought in a mature specimen that after John’s input it went home a very differently shaped tree from the one he brought in, after treatment that would have put many a member into deep shock. 
I think by now though we know that the combined knowledge of those two usually will result in something pretty impressive.

Stop Press added after publication 
Having spoken to Adrian to recall that evening he has supplied a recent photo of the tree mentioned, which was his Chantilly Pine, so here are the before and after photos that are the result of that evening’s work.


It was very encouraging to welcome Max, a young visitor to the Club, who seemed to be watching Tony very carefully as he explained what his plans were going to be for his next tree of the evening._20180110_225954

Just for the sake of keeping the Club archives up to date there was a presentation made on the night to the old codger who looks after the website and knocks it together every month. It was a splendid pot for a cascade tree  he has that has always been criticised by our judge as being in the wrong pot every time he sees it. No excuses now, thanks everyone, very touched..



Novices Class 

FIRST   Dave’s Hawthorn 

Second  Richard M’s Azalea


Advance Class

Jon’s Beech

This particular Yamadori was found in the wild by a member who is a professional  qualified forester and nurtured there for some years before being removed and trained more seriously.

Yamadori= Japanese for Tree collected from the wild.



Richard P’s Hornbeam


Third Equal

Tony’s Oak and M.C.’s Hawthorn

 Adrian’s usual highly detailed critique of the trees may be found via this link and even if one did not enter his comments are always full of tips and suggestions that most of us can benefit from     ToTM critique sheet January 2018



April Meeting   11th April
Dan Butler a talented  young potter from Wales is coming to talk to the members,  show us his wares and hopefully demonstrate some of the secrets of his craft, further details to follow. Dan specialises in some very  attractive slab pots so it’s time now to save up for the evening.

Swindon Winter Show  Sunday 25th February details at 
Swindon Winter Image Show

Our own Taunton & Somerset Bonsai Club Show 
May 26/27/28 at Willowbrook Garden Centre nr Wellington

Exmouth Bonsai Show 10th June

Bonsai in the Park Sept 9th at Lupton House Brixham
South Devon Bonsai Society

Should you be new to bonsai as some readers of this website are here is a warning of something to avoid.

On E  Bay and some other sites you may come across offers of seeds for  trees such as a ‘Blue Japanese Maple Bonsai Tree’ with leaves of the most extraordinary colour of blue.
NO SUCH TREES EXIST it is a scam achieved with Photoshop trickery 

Firstly  ‘Bonsai Seeds’ there is no such thing, we grow our bonsai with love and care from natural tree varieties, there is no Bonsai Tree as such.

Secondly You can see that the photos above are actually the same tree altered to different colours by computer photo software.  I  know who owned that tree in real life it was a reddish leaved tree but never pink or bright blue and all the time he owned it-and  it NEVER HAD SEEDS.

It seems cruel to me to market such a fraud, it has been reported by various enthusiasts to Ebay and trading Standards but little seems to have been done to prevent it continuing. What really annoys me is that these seeds, which are sold in great numbers, are probably purchased by people just starting out to discover bonsai and in many cases for young children as a starter and introduction to a hobby. The pathway to bonsai should be a straight and honest one not a crooked one.                       Editors opinion.


Next Meeting February 14th Re-potting Workshop 
Tree of the Month – Group Planting













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December 2017 Meeting AGM

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Our Annual General Meeting started with the Chairman’s report from Howard who thanked the Club Committee and Officers who had helped throughout the year. In particular his wife Andy who as Secretary  keeps us all in order, runs the raffle and organises our annual dinner. Thank you Howard and Andy.

Howard went on to thank all those who so enthusiastically entered our President’s Shoebox Challenge and the members who did so much hard work putting on our annual show at Willowbrook and the shows elsewhere such as Exmouth, much of that work being down to a few doing such a lot.

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Club Treasurer Roger then reported that we are financially sound, that the auction brought in some welcome funds and that we can consider spending perhaps on some speaker’s fees. Thank you Roger for looking after our books, the pennies and the pounds.

Club President’s AddressIMG_3895
Club President John Trott, has as Howard pointed out, added to his collection of Gold Medals at The RHS Chelsea and other shows this year. John thanked the team that helped run the club and congratulated us all on having such a friendly atmosphere at Taunton. John also urged us to continue taking part in shows elsewhere flying the flag for bonsai in Somerset and to consider showing at the larger Heathrow Show in 2018. John expressed his great pleasure in seeing how enthusiastically so many members had taken part in his Shoe Box challenge with  such imaginative entries as Ray M’s display capturing the links between the area and the long gone Somerset and Dorset Railway.
Rays John then threw down the gauntlet with the  Shopping Basket Challenge
Members will have to use a small replica shopping basket supplied, as their container or incorporate it into a planting as a feature. The member’s rose to this fresh challenge, they approved the purchase of the little baskets and  the  August meeting was set for the next tournament.

Election of Officers

All club officers and the committee were re-elected with the addition of Michael Cooper to the committee this year.

Programme of Meeting
We reviewed the forthcoming meetings for the next six months and considered further ideas. Details of which are always available on the website Link to 2018 programme

In addition to our own annual show Adrian said we had been invited to show at Exmouth again,  Bonsai in the Park nr Brixham and a new invitation from Sailsbury Club. Heathrow would also be considered if possible and enough helpers were available.

Collecting Trips
Jon is organising another tree collecting day on March 24th  either on the Blackdowns or nearer Honiton.

Roger and Adrian are running another whole day bonsai workshop on April 14th, there are only a couple of places left on it they are so popular. Much of the success of those days is also down to the hospitality of Andy and Howard who host them at their  place and provide such a tasty lunch. Homemade soup with Howard’s homemade bread.

Presidents Presentation
John made his Presentation this year to Jon B. for organising such successful tree collecting days.

The agenda for the AGM having been dealt with members then went to vote for the December tree of the Month Competition before tucking into the selection of plate, packets and platters of Christmas nibbles members had brought in.  I thought that Roger must have been on commission the number  of times he recommended his local butchers Scotch Eggs until I had one and realised how good they were.

At this point Andy ran the raffle and we had so many prizes brought in that she threatened dire punishments for anyone brave enough to return another  lucky number again into the draw rather than go home with too many prizes.

December Tree of the Month Competition
Result decided by members votes

Novices Class

FIRSTRichard P Scotts Pine


Richard P’s Scots Pine






Advanced Class

                                   Tony’s Mugo Pine.and Michael C’s White Pine
Tony always presents trees so well with a suitable stand or some other added attraction whilst Michael’s wife is still wondering where that ethnic table runner has disappeared to!

Jon’s fine Beech in a fine John Pitt pot 

Jon B Beech

Was it my imagination but I am sure that I heard no mention on the night that the pots were too big but then I am a little mutt and jeff.
Adrian’s detailed critique of this months entries may be accessed here
ToTM Critique sheet Dec 2017                          

Many thanks to Adrian for organising the competition which now ensures that there is always a number of trees on show at any one meeting for visitors to see and for his critiques which teach us all a thing or two about our trees. 
It does seem a shame though that a number of the long standing members don’t bring a few more trees along for these competitions I know they have some splendid specimens and we would all love to see them.

Tree of the Month   THE YEAR’S RESULT
Based on members votes

Both Classes were extremely close fought indeed in the Advance Class there was only one point in it after a year of competitions.

Novices Class
In THIRD Place : Sara,     In SECOND Place : Richard M.
and in FIRST PLACE : Richard P who was presented with his trophy by Adrian on the night.Ricard P Novices award

Advanced Class
Result for the year   THIRD place : Geoff. SECOND place  Michael C. and in

FIRST place
Jon B. who was also presented with is trophy


As I look back over this report to check that I have included everything I can only think what a good crowd we are and what a good evening it was.

If only I hadn’t inadvertently hit the wrong key
at the last moment and lost the whole bloomin’ lot.

So on this Mark 2 version all that remains is to wish all our members and visitors to our site a very Happy Christmas and a Healthy New Year

Snow everywhere except Somerset when you want it!






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November 2017 Club Auction Night

Table of lots

Once again it is auction night, a Wednesday or so later than our usual meeting day as Club President and  auctioneer John Trott was away on our usual day. His excuse was that he was in Taiwan at the Bonsai Clubs International Convention

I suppose that is a pretty good reason, we must ask them to avoid clashing dates in future. 🙂

Considering this was our third year running of auctions there was a little concern as to whether members would bring along enough entries, well there was no disappointment on the night  as we saw the trees brought in and numbered ready to go under the hammer.

Ades lucky dipAuctioneer’s assistant Adrian drew the lot numbers at random from the bucket and aided by Dave they kept up a ready supply of items for Johns to deal with.Whats next John






And keeping a tight eye on the money matters was Club Treasurer Roger as this is an important fund raising evening for the ClubIMG_20171122_202549

A most varied selection of lots followed, a number of which I managed to focus on whilst bearing in mind what I might buy myself .


‘Now what have we got here?’



‘Is that a bid or are you just scratching you nose?’


‘Do I hear £25?









Every year John has charmed, or sometimes squeezed ,every last penny out of us and it is a good night to acquire some seedlings, starters or some well established trees like the windswept Hawthorn which came up next, a really nice tree. I only wished my bonsai pocket was a bit deeper when I saw this.


‘Now here’s a real beauty’



There were a number of lots of pots, these larger ones usually being particularly hard to find at a reasonable price. Tools, wire, books and display stands, the evening provided a useful selection for both beginners and the old hands alike.

Large pots

There were small trees and larger trees and with one of the country’s leading bonsai professionals as auctioneer there were also some handy tips on what to do with ones purchases if need be.

Nice lttle one

‘Any advance on £22?’


Nice larch

John looking serious over a seriously good Larch

just do this to it

‘Now what you should do with this is..’










‘Here’s an elegant looking little Juniper, start me at £30 then’


A good solid trunk and a sturdy tree as well.

Club Chairman Howard thanked members for bringing in their trees to sell and  John for his auctioneering skills which had made it  a most successful evening, the Club’s bank balance helped along a bit and many satisfied members taking their purchases home  to add to their collections.





Ade reminded members that the December meeting on the 13th which is the AGM is also the last Tree of the Month Competition of the year which as both classes are running neck and neck should decided the winners in each for the awards for the year.



December Tree of the Month Competition will be judged on ‘ A Pine’

On the auction evening Tree of the Month judge Adrian said that the December competition  would be on the theme of ‘Winter Image’ forgetting that it had been listed for six months in our programme as   ‘A Pine’ When reminded later of this Ade decided that it should stay  as advertised.  



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October 2017 meeting.

Planting by the Moon

A talk by Club Member Tony Moore

Lunar zodiac

I must admit that having lived for years in Glastonbury surrounded by magic crystal shops and tarot card readers etc. I wondered what Tony had in store for us for our October meeting. Well it seems that there is a lot more to this than I expected, thousands of years of knowledge and the practical experience of our forefathers combined to make a case for planting, pruning , seeding and all things relating to the culture of trees and plants according to the phases of the moon.

Tony himself is a great believer in an ecological way of life even to the extent of having a 7000 litre water holding tank under the garden so he speaks with the enthusiasm of someone who practices what he preaches…

The phases of the moon have for years influenced the work of many occupations, Surgeons and Vets, Horse Breeders, Tomato growers, Salmon and Trout breeders, Vineyards, Timber Growers, Fishermen and Sleep researchers to name but a few, as they say.
This is of course in addition to the things that we all know so well already such as the Tony lessonmoons pull on the oceans creating the tides. Tony illustrated the elliptical orbit of the moon with it’s Apogee and Perigee when then moon is further way and then  nearer to the earth and exerting a lesser and then greater power.

Tony explained that he was following the work of Nick Kollerstrom author of

Gardening and Planting by the Moon a yearly almanac for this system of horticulture. 

Without the book one can also refer to a Lunar Callendar or consult website such as
Ancient Moon Gardening

Thank you Tony  for a most enlightening evening.

I suppose that the proof of the the pudding is in the eating and if Tony’s own trees are any thing to go by then obviously the system works.


Theme Autumn Colour

FIRST by member’s votes 

M.C.’s  PyracanthaMC Pyracantha







Tony’s Larch Group Planting
If you looked very closely there was a fox
in the undergrowth.

Tonys larches


Brian’s  Arakawa Maple
I heard that Brian actually got this one as a freebie from a nursery, lucky B…rian

Brians acer


FIRST Richard P’s Pieris

Richard paires


SECOND Richard M’s Cotoneaster                                         THIRD Andy’s Trident Maple


A word then about Ade our critique judge and organiser of the Tree of the Month Competition. He just casually mentioned that he had done a 10Km run earlier in the day, I have a job just going to the village shop for my paper. The Judge
Of course I am not practicing for the The Great South Run as Adrian is, I believe he is aiming to do 10 miles in 1hour 25minutes all in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society on Oct 22nd. 

Sponsors for this very worthy cause can visit his webpage for the event and help Ade on his way to his target.


Adrian’s Critique for this months trees differs again from the member’s votes for the order in which he placed the trees , his eagle eye and concentration on our entries really spots the errors and flaws and helps members refine their trees in the future

October Tree of the Month Critique       ToTM Critique sheet Oct 2017

DON’T FORGET NOVEMBER MEETING our ANNUAL AUCTION is NOT ON OUR USUAL DAY – Make sure you have it correct on your calendar NOVEMBER 22nd.



A quick photo graphic P.S. just to show Ade that I did remember the name of the tree that he brought along to show us, which of course as judge could not enter himself into the T.O.T.Month. at least that gives the rest of us a chance.

Ades tree

Enkianthus a lime hating shrub or tree originally found in large areas of Asia growing in places similar to rhododendrons which has clusters of bell shaped flowers in the spring.


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September 2017 Meeting


‘ Now what can one do with this?’

Almost every month Adrian judges our Tree of the Month Competition and we all sit around and await  his verdict on our trees and his suggestions as to how we might improve our treasured bonsai.

So we were all rather pleased to hear that Adrian himself asks others to critique his own trees and in this case the subject is his Scots Pine, Chantilly Blue, and it was to Welsh Ades beforebonsai guru Chris Thomas that he turned to for an opinion.
We heard that at first Chris had said little but when pressed he uttered those drastic words. ‘Well I should cut that long lower branch on the left off (gulp) and while you are at it this one here on the right as well.

After some months pondering these words of advice Ade brought the tree along to our September meeting to share with us the drama of removing such a large part of the tree. 

(It helps to have some moral support when undertaking these large styling decisions)

Before the chop
Using the old dodge of covering the threatened branches with a sheet of plastic we were all able to envisage what the outcome might be, various nods and hmms  were seen and heard as we all considered this option .
(We didn’t have to do it.)

Then just as we all concurred with Ades decision to go ahead Club President Chelsea Medal winner John Trott stepped forward to say ‘And while you are at it Ade why don’t you cut off this branch here as well. ( Further gulps)

Further debate on this new suggestion followed and then Ade bit the bullet ,stepped up to the mark and took his saw in his hands and appeared to start work.
Little did Adrian  know that we all noticed that every time the sharp saw teeth rested on the bough ready to amputate the aged limb he managed to hesitate for a few more moments and have a quick few words with some of us. After a number of these false starts, enough  that would have ade and saweliminated him in an Olympic event he actually started to saw away at it.






So the deed was done and we all agreed it was a great improvement and I have heard that Adrian himself was very pleased with the result so counselling will not be required.


The workshop evening continued with members all around the room busying away at their trees. The two Richards just show what a friendly lot we are in our club as they titivated their trees.

Good evening for all

Jon spent some time on his Western Hemlock showing new members to the club a little of the art of bonsai.

But somehow after the emotional drain of his evening Adrian did manage to pop down to Jon’s end of the room to offer some suggestion or other.Jon 1

Brian, Michael W. and Simon were all hard at it. 

Geoff meanwhile was pondering over his Scots Pine seen here, front and back views in his own garden.

Perhaps inspired by Adrian’s bravery earlier Geoff thought for a while and  then set to restyling his own tree in a major way.

Tree of the Month Competition

This month’s competition was on the theme of the suitability of the tree and the pot combination. Sadly there were not many entries this month, members should remember that the competition comes to an end for this year next month and the runners are very close together at the moment.


M.C.s  pair of young Larches set on a homemade concrete and peat mixture pot with moss and Blue Lias stone featured.
MC Twin larches

                                 SECOND                                                                    THIRD
                     Geoff’s Trident Maple                                                Jon B’s Scots Pine



                            FIRST                                                                                 SECOND 
                  Richard P’s Larch                                                            Richard M’s Hawthorn  

These results are determined by members votes on the night but the trees are also subjected to a very thorough critique by Adrian which marks trees on a number of different criteria.  His critique  judgements often differ from the members votes and is well worth studying for his instructive comments which can be applied to most of our trees.     Accessed  via this link   ToTM Critique sheet Sept 2017.

The members send their best wishes to Andy our secretary who suffered a nasty mishap recently and hope she is soon feeling a lot better.

PLEASE NOTE the November meeting on 22nd is on a different day of the month from usual.






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August 2017 Meeting

AndysThe Shoebox Competition

A bit of a change for us this month as members responded to our Club President John Trott’s challenge to create a bonsai based display in a shoebox. I don’t know if this was inspired by John’s pre bonsai life at Clarks or having seen what two other clubs could do with this challenge, John wanted to see what we could do here in Somerset

A winning influence from the East

Eleven members entered and we each had to explain the reasoning behind our little efforts, then listen to John’s constructive criticism and tips.   The eventual winner definitely had an influence from the East. 

This is the order they were presented in. 

See if you can pick the same winner as the members did.



Michael C’s Oriental landscape using Blue Lias stone chippings from his garden ,a Cotoneaster and a soapstone figure with a hand painted mountain scene in the Japanese style behind. Is this the Eastern influenced one that won? Or was it the next one?

No. 2Geoffs

Geoff’s Japanese landscape with a watercolour of Mount Fuji in the background, assorted moss and stone in the foreground. Stones which Geoff assured us had come from Japan at great expense.

No. 3


Ade’s Rock Display. It  was a change  for us all to hear Adrian, our usual judge for our tree of the month competition, having to listen to his work being on the receiving end. I hope Ade did not bring this lump of volcanic rock home from abroad himself as hand luggage or it must have cost more than Geoff’s stones.
The rock has been the home for some years to a Cotoneaster and a Juniper and recently a small Acer has been added at the front


Is Andy’s, which can be seen at the head of this article where a little Cotoneaster is set beside a small bronze of leaping hares and in the background painting by a passed Andysfriend of Andy’s of the three hares chasing round the moon. Eastern legend associated with femininity, fertility and the cycles of the moon.
Has this the influence of the East that won?


Ever clever with his hands Club Chairman Howard had taken a knife to his shoebox and cut out the side and part of the roof. Most effectively letting in a lot more light to show up his Cotoneaster and a lovely little accent flower set on gravel (or was it cat litter?) with a tradition scroll behind. Very Eastern.


Ray claimed that he was desperate for inspiration for his display when suddenly he noticed the plants growing between the sleepers and the gravel at the East Somerset Railway, the railway being  object of this other leisure activities.  A small carriage on rusty lines set on granite chipping surrounded by local plant life makes this a very Somerset exhibit.


Richard’s display was in the first actual Clarks box of the evening. A heath or moorland scene with a Pine which he thinks he grew from seed. In the background a handsome piece of rock one of a number of fine specimens Richard acquired years ago when working in the quarries.



Tony’s display I am afraid was hard to photograph better with my inadequate equipment . It is a Kojo no Mai Cherry on some Bogwood with a traditional scroll and a Bronze Kingfisher. I don’t suppose working that bogwood was easy.



Jon exhibited a tradition Tokonoma alcove with a window on the left solving the way of lighting the inside if the box. Full marks for a different tree this one was a Western Hemlock in a nice pot accompanied by an accent display of a bowl of water and a scroll.



Sara entered a nice little Azalea, with pot on a stand and a colourful scroll in the background. I bet it would look good in bloom.



Brian’s display just shows that if you have the patience you can bonsai an Ash as he has proved with this entry of a potted Ash with an accent plant to complete the display.



Well an influence from the East certainly helped Ray win the evenings competition with his interpretation of a section of The EAST SOMERSET RAILWAY, an appealing display with a very appealing story from it’s maker of all that went into it ,well done RayRays



SECOND  was No. 5 Howard’s cleverly cut about entry  Harolds

THIRD   was No.9 Jon’s traditional tokonoma display.


The evening was then rounded off with a few anecdotes from John about the shows that he has entered and how he has accumulated 83 show medals including now his tenth successive Gold from Chelsea RHS .

Altogether a very successful evening with entries that John suggested were the best that he had seen from any club, so thanks for the idea John and thanks to the members who spent time creating their entries.

NOTES for your diary
The speaker for October will be Tony talking about  ‘Planting by the Moon’

November Auction night is not on our usual second Wednesday- it is on Wednesday 22nd instead.

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Day Workshop July 2017

Having proved so popular the Club held another day long workshop where members could benefit from some words of bonsai wisdom from Roger and Adrian two of the Club’s most experienced members. Our hosts for the day again were Club Chairman Howard and his Wife Andy whose lunch alone is worth going for.

Mikes pine 2It is days like this that can be really useful in for instance changing this Pine of Mike’s (above) into this. Mikes PIneWhat was a tree with a straight trunk and a very dominant handlebar pair of branches can now after some drastic work  be seen to have some movement  and an obvious potential for a very  interesting tree in a few years.

The report on the days work can be accessed via this link .

July 2017 Workshop (1)

Where you can see where a number of members brought their trees along for some help from the club’s ‘old hands’

As well as passing on their knowledge these workshops also raise some money for the club funds so many thanks to Adrian and Roger for giving up their time to help other along the bonsai pathway and thanks also to Howard and Andy for opening up their home to us and providing such hospitality.

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