Leicestershire Bonsai Club – 5 June 2018 Meeting

With apologies to regular readers for lateness of this report.  I ask, Where does the time go?

That could also be said of our last meeting as the time flew with a very full programme delivered by our guest speaker Graham Walker who made it to Leicestershire from his home in Yorkshire and his first visit to the Club.  Graham has been involved with bonsai for over 20 years and now specialises in Mame and Kifu size bonsai but over the years has worked with most sizes.  He has won prizes at UK shows and has visited big shows in Japan where thousands of people attend a four-day event.

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Graham Walker with selection of small tress from his collection

His presentation was on Mame and Shohin size bonsai and the displaying of.  He brought along a selection of his own trees and started by explaining the sizing of bonsai.  As a general rule, for Mame and Shohin, both must be able to be held on the palm of one hand.  They are measured from the soil level to the apex tip of the tree for classification.  Classification can vary in different places but in UK a Mame is usually up to 15cms (6″) high and Shohin up to 25cms (10″).  These two sizes are about middle of the range in sizing but the same aim for all is to develop and produce a miniature tree that can portray its much larger counterpart living naturally and depict age and shape.  The variety of plant material that can be used to produce small bonsai was identified by Graham with his trees.

After development of a tree comes the selection of a suitable pot to plant it in for displaying in a show.  The right pot will enhance a tree’s overall effect and due consideration should be made to achieve this.  In the UK we have a number of excellent potteries  We were wowed that Graham was able to name the manufacturers of all the pots his trees were in (back to pots again for LBC)! including their styles, and an explanation on the use of glazed and unglazed pots.

A demonstration on displaying and presentation followed.  We were reminded not to forget the importance of accent enhancement with our trees.  Examples of materials that can be used range from planted pots and dishes to rocks, ceramics, figurines as well as wood, glass, fabric and plastic items.  The creative opportunities are unending.  Whether its for texture, shape or colour, it must be meaningful and complement the tree in its pot and provide flow to the visual scene.  The same applies to scrolls, tokonoma (rooms), stands and tables used in displays.  The seasons of the year can also play an important part in display design.

Mame and smaller Shohin tend to be displayed using multi-tiered stands.  Using different styles of tiered stands, Graham placed his trees in the apertures and we were advised how to interpret symmetry, balance, flow and understand the elements influence.  Whether its two or nine trees in the group, there are certain avoidances to be considered like putting pots together of same style or colour, or trees being all same species, size or shape.  We were advised to imagine a stand as a mountain and put a mountain growing tree at the top.  Graham also asked, does it matter which way the trees point, left or right?  And then explains the reasoning.  Tables can be used to bring trees to same height at same level and adds another interest.  Graham prefers to see all smaller trees mossed for display – although birds can be a nuisance with moss on top of soil, and larger Shohin to be dressed with akadama.

It was explained how to ‘read’ a display.  Using a five-tier stand, he moved trees around juggling the shapes and styles with different positioning.  What way is that tree pointing? he would ask.  Is it flowing with others or not?  Flow is the guiding factor to achieve balance.  Also don’t forget about the elements in the composition.  For example, five trees + a scroll + an accent  =  seven elements.  Members at the meeting were invited to put together their own displays using all the material available and Graham would give his opinion  and change them, giving the reasoning and his invaluable experience.

Following a break, Graham continued with a photographic presentation of his 2008 visit to Japan to see a Shohin and Mame Show, and his 2017 visit to the Japanese World Wide Convention.  It was interesting to note that in Japan they do not use Latin names for species identification.  They have their own taxonomy.

Thank you Graham for visiting Leicestershire Bonsai Club and delivering a very interesting programme to a good attendance of members.  We also had an amazing show of members’ small trees brought to the meeting.  Clearly a popular topic with the Club.


We also extended a warm welcome to Herb and Val from Whitwick visiting us for the first time.  In the given Notices, it was announced that Carol and Alan are running a Members’ Workshop from 10.30am on 16 June in Oadby.  Members were reminded about the up and coming Market Bosworth Show on 1 July and getting trees ready for our annual display and Club Membership Trophy event for the show.  The workshop would be a good opportunity to finalise material for this show.  At next meeting on 3rd July, Club member Peter will be giving a talk on pests and diseases that can affect bonsai in our area and how to deal with them.  Also quarterly subs are due in July.




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