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.

thumbnail (3)

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.


Posted in Club Meeting, NEWS | Tagged , ,

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

Posted in Annual Show, NEWS | Tagged

May 2018 Meeting


Sadly it was not a very well attended meeting this month though as you can see there were enough folk there to offer David a number of opinions on what to do with his tree.

Studied concentration was in the air as Tony and Jon contemplated the specimens that they had brought along to work on.

It was good to see Tony looking happier as he progressed with his little Lilac later

Happy bonsaier

If everyone thought bonsai could make you this happy we would have people queuing up to join.

A welcome addition to our club this month was a new member, Jack, who comes from Weston and who seems very keen and anxious to learn more about bonsai and who was soon hanging on every possible word of wisdom from both Jon and Tony.



Not a new member but taking  it just as seriously was Dave who had a real think tank session with professional forester member Jon over what was the best thing to do with his tree. I couldn’t hear what the suggestions were but it seemed to get very animated at times before settling down to a tea or coffee..


Meanwhile Sara was mulling over the future of her elegant variegated Acer and Andy was busy creating some Accent plantings for our show

Andy accent making

Howard seemed to be looking on with some concern at  what ever advice Ade was giving David.

Ade advises

The evening was supposed to be preparation for our annual show at the end of the month but obviously many members must be preparing their exhibits at home in their own gardens and workshops.

NOTICE —     LABELS for trees at the show

This year trees at the show will be labelled as to what they are and what variety if possible.   As muggins here is writing out all the labels I would be very grateful if members could let me know in advance what their exhibits will be in order that I may get some of the labels done prior to the day we put the display up.

I live at the further end of our area from the show, I will be there on Friday evening and will be doing some then as we put the display up but  with family health problems I can’t go there on Saturday morning just to do a few labels.  It will be great help if I can get most done before though, thanking you in advance.

Howard is making stands for the labels so please don’t let us be wasting our time. 

Michael Cooper   coopersstudio@btinternet.com

TREE of the Month Competition

So few this month I hope we can get back up to the level of entries we have had recently again soon.

Advanced Class ( By members vote)

Tony’s Hawthorn Tonys Hawthorn

Brian’s Chinese Elm Brians Elm

NO Novices Class this month




Adrian brought along an Azalea that he has been nursing for some time from dire straights to this splendid specimen



Judges Show of the Month Critique notes, ToTM Critique sheet May 2018 always well worth reading.


Our own Annual Show at Willowbrook Bonsai show poster.2018.mark3








Exmouth  1st July where we will have a display (Brian ,Sara and Jon)
June 10th

Exeter Bonsai SocietyShow flyer2018A4.jpg Exmouth








Salisbury  1st July where we will also have a display ( Ade)

Sailisbury Bonsai Show
Salisbury show













Bonsai in the Park We we will have a further display ( Roger)
South Devon Bonsai SocietyDevon bonsai





Next Meeting

JUNE  13th
Critique- Roger and Adrian to advise on your trees
T of the M – Shohin Trees under 8″

JULY 11th
Our big night out- Evening meet and meal (members only)
at The White Horse Bradford on Tone



Just hear that Club President Johns Trott – Mendip Bonsai Studio has just won his 85th RHS Gold Medal at the Malvern RHS Show. Congratulations again John



That’s all for now folks, got to go and water my trees


Posted in Club Meeting, NEWS, Tree of the Month | Tagged ,

April 2018 Meeting


You know when you start to take your bonsai seriously, it’s when you start to worry about the pot as well as the tree.
At our Club meeting in April we were fortunate enough to have an up and coming young bonsai pot maker Dan Butler, make the journey from Wales to  Taunton  to explain the basic methods and principles of pot making and show us what is involved in creating apot to compliment our precious trees.

Dan photo


Dan  has his pottery at Penlan  near Swansea and started his career studying a Fine Art Ceramics course at the University of Wales and after much initial encouragement from Chris Thomas and the members at Dragon Bonsai  is now making quite a reputation for himself.

Dan’s visit to our club in Somerset he said was the first time he had addressed a group of enthusiasts to tell them how he goes about his work and it proved to be a very interesting evening for us all.


Dan told us about the different basic methods of producing a pot and managed to demonstrate each, only having to resort to a couple of examples that he had made or half made ‘before the programme started’ as they used to say.

Pinch Pots

Pinch pot

Photo ©Dan Butler

The most basic way of all where the potter takes a piece of clay and working it in his or her hands shapes and hollows it in to a bowl, this method being most suitable for accent pots.Dans Mark






Dan’s potter Chop Mark
Photo © Dan Butler




Slab Built Pots

Slab Built Pots
A simple method requiring little in the way of equipment where the clay is rolled out on a board then cut and assembled. The example Dan made was a rectangular pot where he joined the sides to each other and the base at a mitred angle rather than a butt joint to give a stronger construction.

Coil Built Pots
This method uses long sausages of clay built up upon each other a few layers at a time, allowing time for the lower layers to dry before further height is  added. The clay is usually extruded in a press to achieve even diameter at a chosen  size.

(Above) Dan building up a coiled pot and then blending the coils. On the board beneath the turntable one can see the flat sheet of rolled out clay that had been used for the Slab process.

A coil is added to the ones below building up a wall of clay and when ready can be smoothed into each other taking care to exclude any air between coils and the shaping can be refined by the use of a small scrapper cut to desired shape giving perhaps a slight curve, rim or foot ledge. Over a period of time these pots can reach quite a size provided the structure has dried enough to support the higher coils as they are added.

Slip Casting Porcelain

Dan also showed us a most delicate little porcelain bowl that was made by running a very liquid slip of clay into a previously made mould which can be used many times. I doubt that it would be suitable for a tree but it was a delightful little item.



All the above methods are the most simple requiring little equipment at this stage, once made the items must be dried to a degree which will depend  on the ambient temperature and humidity before they can be fired.

The bonsai pots are stone ware rather than earthenware as it can be fired to a temperature of around 1270C degrees which makes them frost proof.


The Potters Wheel.dav

Now this is what many of our older members remember, the Interlude scene on the telly in the old days, before Dan was even born I should think.

I tried it at school myself years ago and the clay had a life of it’s own and took ages to centre even whereas Dan just plonked it down and within moments was transforming it into something which was definitely a cascade pot, where did I go wrong?




Wheel workpg

At this stage I was going to impress members by inserting a video live action clip of Dan at work until I found WordPress our hosting service would require a premium subscription fee upgrade for the site, so you will just have to use your imagination folks.

Of course one advantage of dealing directly with the potter is that the continual debate of how many feet you want on a pot can easily be decided.

         ‘Ok what do you want three or four or even more?’

Altogether it was a must successful evening with thousands of years of one of the worlds oldest crafts being explained to us in a couple of hours, an evening I can thoroughly recommend to any other club wanting to learn more about the pots we put our trees in.


Dan brought with him a selection of finished pots which demonstrated the various techniques and glazes etc that he uses to achieve these impressive results .

The following two photos are  © Dan Butler and are taken from a feature on Dan in a recent Esprit Bonsai magazine as are a few of the others in this report which are credited to Dan.

Thank you Dan for a very interesting evening and I am sure that members will now have a greater appreciation of what goes into creating a good bonsai pot.

Dan Butler Contact details       Email: danielbutler@mail.com
Facebook Page : Daniel Butler Facebook



Advanced Class

Tony’s Crab Apple
FIRST ( by members votes)



Brian’s  Katsura Maple dav

Third Equal
Richards P’s Acer Disectum 
Michael C’s  Lonicera Pileata


Novice’s Class

Dave G’s Cypressdav

Sara’s Larch Groupdav













Adam’s Acer Deshojo







The usual searching judges critiques notes on all the evenings entries can be found via this link, which even if you did not enter a tree yourself are well worth reading for the constructive advice therein.    ToTM Critique Apr 2018 sheet.


Ades forsythia

Though unable to enter Ade our judge brought along a touch of spring colour himself with a Forsythia and a Blackthorn which he brought along to consult with Dan about regarding a new pot.


The sad tale of this tree is, that after Adrian’s recent move he looked out one day to see his Blackthorn in it’s John Pitt pot lying damaged under the weight of a large umbrella which had evidently blown over the fence  into his garden from a neighbour’s and smashed the pot which is here shown with the assistance of a tube of Araldite. As next door  denies any responsibility we wondered if Dan might make some little clay effigy which with the help of some sharp pins might help Ade exact some revenge.


Next months meeting is on May the 9th when we will have an evening preparing trees for our Annual Show at Willowbrook. Tree of the Month will be for one of those trees.

Posted in Club Meeting, NEWS | Tagged , ,

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 | 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.




Posted in Club Meeting, NEWS, Tree of the Month | Tagged , , ,