Looks like it will be an exciting year!

I received my the calander from my club this month, and was extremely excited to see that we have Robert Steven heading down our way for a couple of workshops, demonstrations and critiques in April. Robert is an artist I particularly like, especially his work with Casurina’s and also his beautiful windswept styling.

Now, I have the minor problem of having nothing to take into the workshops! Everything I have currently is either too young to work (my native’s for 10years away) or has already been worked recently. Granted, I don’t have a whole lot of Bonsai as yet, but I wanted to avoid biting off more then I can chew…. which doesn’t seem to be working, as it turns out I can chew a lot!

So now I am on the hunt for stock, and who doesn’t like looking for new stock!? So my hopes, which are limited by availability, is to get my hands on a tree that I can transform into a windswept style with Robert, which I’ve always found quite an appealing style. Unfortunately, its not easy to find good stock where I am, as Bonsai Nurseries aren’t in great supply. I also would really like to get my hands on some native stock, which I am finding next to impossible to find any decent material in store. My passion is 100% natives, however I find I’m buying Juniper after Juniper as I’m not able to find anything else that is suitable. It should be noted that Juniper’s are my ‘go to’ if I cannot find any natives, I’m still a beginner, so tend to stick with what I know whilst I’m still in my early stages.

So far I’ve been to a couple of nurseries already, but have either been too poor (am in the middle of an expensive dental procedure) or they have just not had what I’ve wanted… or they do have what I want, but not at a price that I think is reasonable. So I’m going to try a few of the smaller bonsai nurseries that are scattered around, and see what I can come up with. In all honestly, I think I’ll end up paying for the pricey ones, as there really isn’t too much out there for me to choose from.

Whilst writing this story though, I’ve had the idea of utilising my club for assistance in finding stock. The Bonsai Society of Western Australia has some truely awesome members, and I think if I ask nicely enough, one of the members may just have what I am looking for. Alas, probably not native though.

So, my hunt for natives continues! I’m sure that if I had my license (long story) I would definately not be in this predicement, as it would open up the world of yamadori’s to me, but hopefully that will be sorted this year.

Not really a whole lot happening this month, I’ve done some minor work on my bonsai, removing the wire from a few done last year and potting up a couple of tubestock natives (Mel. Preissiana, Mel. Incana, and another Mel that I can’t think of). Next month should be a bit more exciting, as I will be recording my efforts in doing a ground layer on a nasty ficus I have. I potted it up into a large pot on the weekend, so once the roots take hold I will attempt the layer. The nebari of the tree is a mess, with a lot of twisted and rotting roots, so I plan to do the layer just above that, so that I can keep a bit of the taper. I also have my Bill Valavanis workshop cascade to pot up to a bonsai pot. Stay tuned for those progressions!

Another valuable lesson

So today I went to a workshop held by my club (Bonsai Society of Western Australia) at which I learnt a valuable lesson, a pretty basic one really, but sometimes the obvious ones are the easiest to miss.

It started at a local hardware/nursery store that I would visit quite regularly in my early months of bonsai, thinking it a good place to look for stock. While you can find good stock at these places, it’s few and far between, and not always the best value for money. I picked up a Juniper that I thought was a cracker, nice movement, and a good selection of braches, plus, its was on special. Sold. So, without even knowing the type of Juniper I had picked up, I had bought a new plant, and was stoked.


Months went by with me never doing anything with it, I was at that stage in my bonsai development where I bought more plants then I knew what to do with. Luckily, I got over that quite quickly, but I also joined a club which was able to help me do something with these plants that I had acquired. There was a workshop on today, and I decided to take this one along with me, still thinking it a decent tree, but was quickly corrected. It turns out the Juniper I have (I still do not know the name) is not a very suitable species for bonsai. I was told that the problem with it, is that it shows two types of foliage, both spiked, and scale. Not like juvenile and adult foliage, but simply it had both. Something I had not heard of unfortunately.

A little deflated, I wasn’t too sure what to do, I wandered around for a while watching other people workshop their tree’s, and listening to the advice given to them. Which was not a bad thing at all, I learnt quite a lot about pines, despite them not being a favourite of mine as yet. A point came where my fingers became itchy and I had to do something, who can watch people work bonsai and not want to do it themselves? So I decided to work my tree anyway, despite the advice not to bother. Practice is practice after all, and I enjoy it either way.

So, with the encouragement of some fellow members, I got stuck into my Juniper. I had an initial plan of making a semi cascade, as it was leading that way anyway, however in the process of creation, I ended up on going with a windswept as it just seemed to flow into that style. I trimmed it all down to the essentials, and wired up what I had left. I placed the branches into position, trying to follow the flow of tree, keeping in mind the style I had envisioned. Here is what I came out with:


A very basic effort, but this is now going to be my training tree, for me to experiment with some drastic ideas. The branch on the left will be grown, and Jinned into a nice shape, and I will try and create a Shari line down the trunk. Not for a while though, as it obviously needs to grow out first. I can practice on this, before I try anything on one of my special trees, like Shari lines for example. What have I got to lose? Maybe one day I can even turn this, despite it ‘not being suitable for bonsai’, into something really special. Only time will tell.

Always check what you are buying, and if you don’t know whether it is suitable for bonsai, then put it back down. Its not worth the effort, and you money would be better spent at your local bonsai nursery, where you’ll find much better stock, for a much more reasonable price. If you do find yourself with something like this though, don’t let someone tell you that you can’t do anything with it, give it a crack and see what you can make. Any learning experience, especially for a beginner, is a good thing.

(If you know the species of this bonsai please let me know in the comments)