Members X-Mas Social 2016

We have now booked the X-mas social skittles night at the Horse and Trumpet Pub in Wigston for Tuesday, 13 December 2016. 

Please note that this replaces the monthly club meeting so we will NOT meet at the rugby club in December!

 The Club will stand the cost for the skittles alley and the meal, so you just need to come along and bring a bit of money for your drinks and a good arm to knock over some pegs.

The food is basic traditional pub grub ( Cottage Pie, Sausages, Faggots, Mushy Peas, Chips), but they will provide a vegetarian option if pre-ordered.

The room is booked from 7:00 pm with food being served at 8:00 pm.

Please contact Mike ( or Alan ( ) know as soon as possible if you are going to attend (… and please feel free to bring along your spouse or partner, the more, the merrier), so we can let the Pub know how many to cater for.


Hope to see you there.



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Heathrow Bonsai Show 2016

It is some months ago now that we as a club decided to up our game a little and put on a display at a dedicated bonsai event, rather than just at local horticultural shows.  We put in a bit of work on preparing for this with a workshop lead by Malcolm Hughes and some research of our own.

We were aiming to make the Bonsai Traders show at Coventry in 2017 our first foray into setting up a display, but having received an invitation from Mark and Ming Moreland to put up a club display at the Heathrow Bonsai Show, we decided we may as well take the plunge and go for it.

So myself, Olly and Trevor set off on Saturday morning and after a leisurely drive to London we arrived around lunchtime and volunteered to help with the setup of the display area in the sports hall.



I have to say that the organisation and logistics behind was quite complex, but Mark and Ming and the motley crew of volunteers handled the task superbly.  The hall was set by 4:30 pm, ready for the trees to arrive early on Sunday.  We even managed to get our trees on the display area before we left, giving us a bit of extra time in the morning to tinker with the layout.


Then it was off to the Scout hut where Mark had offered to put us up for the night, saving us a costly night in a hotel.


A quick trip to the pub for a few pints with Will Baddley and Simon Jones and then back to the Scout hut for a BBQ and more Beer.  Great bonsai banter around the bonfire until about 1:30 am with a crowd of people, whose names were sadly erased by  a beer induced amnesia (sorry guys, all I can recall is that there was a Chris and an Andrew and that most came over from Wales) Apologies also for the lack of pictures of the evening.  Aparently the photos were so bad they could not be used. It is still unclear if that was due to the bad lighting or the amount of ESB and hobgoblin consumed by Olly who was in charge of the camera.

Sunday started with loads of coffee and by 8:00 am we arrived back at the exhibition hall to finalise our display.  The hall was a hive of activity for the next 2 hours with 34 bonsai clubs and societies setting up their displays and traders setting up their stands.  More than 400 bonsai were set out on the day.


The show opened at 10:00 am and it was finally time to relax and take it all in.  Some superb displays were on show showing the diversity of club level bonsai here in the UK.


Below is just a small sample of the trees on show, no doubt you will see many more on the various club websites and facebook posts by people who attended the show.










Just a few final words.

I am glad that we chose to display at the Heathrow Bonsai Show as our first proper Bonsai event.  The organisation was spot on and the atmosphere was friendly and conducive and the welcome and hospitality offered to us by Mark and Ming Moreland (on what must have been a very stressful day for them) was humbling .

Needless to say, we booked our place for next years show.


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Club Meeting Report 4 October 2016

Members’ Trees

1.  Peter gave an extended history on his 38yr old Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris). It was originally collected from a Surrey peat bog in 1978 by Dan Barton, the internationally known bonsai grower and writer born 1938 in Hong Kong and lives in England.  This tree has providence, as is recorded in a book [1] written by Dan Barton who still had the tree in 1986.img_2345
After Dan sold it, it passed through a couple of further owners ending up in Leeds and went on Ebay with a price tag of £1600.  After haggling and agreeing to self collect, it was purchased by Peter, it’s current owner.
After 14yrs of cultivation, it succumbed to pineapple gall- an infestation that swells and distorts young pine needles into a sac that contains emerging insects similar to aphids that are sap sucking and damage the branches.  If not promptly dealt with can kill the tree.  If allowed to develop they grow wings, fly, and
 create further galls in which eggs are laid and repeat the process.  Unfortunately, the recommended eradicator, Bifenthrin, had been discontinued in UK. However, through research, Peter discovered this used to be an ingredient in the insecticide Roseclear and, by good fortune, an old batch came to light at a garden centre and stock was duly bought up.  The pine was treated but it took three years and a lot of patience to restore the tree back to good health.
The tree continues to display the literati style it has always sported.  It does not back bud which has been a problem.  It has a reminiscence aurea of trees depicted in old Chinese paintings, and the era of the great John Y Naka (1914-2004) comes to mind – a period back in time.  To this day it continues to be in the ‘shallow purple-black pot’ originally planted by Dan Barton.  [1] Barton, D (1989) The Bonsai Book: The definitive illustrated guide. London: Ebury Press. pp.46, 112.
2.  Dave introduced his Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia) which he has had 12-14 years and originally purchased from a non-bonsai show.  It’s a bit of a beast and extremely heavy to transport about now.  It’s a tree that doesn’t stop growing and produces leaves non-stop.  It does not lose its leaves in Winter and is kept outdoors all the time.


This tree has great character and is a survivor!   The above is the reverse side and the front displays a
hollowed out main trunk.  Dave explained originally it started with a decaying knuckle which was ugly and he drilled it out and opened up  the inside.  It then suffered an intentional fire – this is a former member of the fire brigade becoming an arsonist and setting light to his tree – Ouch.  He wanted to create the authentic look of a lightening strike.  Walnut wood stain was applied to darken the inside.  Finally the roots were exposed to complete its characteristic look.  Dave ended by saying it may not be the traditional way of doing things, but its his tree.  He has created what we see today and is pleased with how it has developed so far.   He likes the rugged look, and that this tree has a story to tell.


3.  Carol produced her small-leaved lime (Tilia cordata), also known as Linden tree.  No history or story here.  It was purchased as raw material from a bonsai nursery four years ago as she has a bit of a penchant for native trees.  About the same time Mike was giving instruction at a club meeting about developing thickness in trees by planting in the ground, allowing to grow out and cutting back for a few years.  There is not a lot of ground space in Carol’s garden, so was taken out of its nursery pot and put into a larger terracotta pot, and allowed to grow.  It’s currently taking on its yellow Autumn colour.


It has certainly grown from a stick and perhaps glad did not put into the ground as suspect it would be twice this size by now.  She wanted to know how much longer it should be allowed to grow on, and commented that for a small-leaved variety, the leaves did not appear to be small.  Members gave their thoughts.  Mike advised soil in pot was very solid and probably root bound.  To plant into a large bonsai container  next Spring and expose roots for nebari.   As a deciduous tree, branches can be pruned end of dormant period before they start to swell next Spring.  It was noted that there was a prolific appearance of new buds already formed, so would be even bigger next year.  They are thirsty trees in the growing season.  A framework can be started with wiring and a first leaf pruning will produce a second crop with smaller leaves in the Summer.  Not to over-feed as that encourages larger leaves.


General notices were given out and members asked to note that next year on 22-23 Oct, it is being envisaged that the Club will be participating at the Heathrow Show – this would be our first formal bonsai show with other bonsai enthusiasts.  Trevor will also be putting his handcrafted pots on sale.
December Social:  Members were asked to give their choices for skittles or ten-pin bowling with a supper at next meeting.  People are looking into these possibilities and will have further details for next month.
Next Meeting:  In the past it has been usual to plan our next year’s programme after the AGM previously held in November.  The AGM has now been moved to January 2017.  This will allow us to have much more time to have a full planning session for next year’s programme and members are asked to bring to the meeting their ideas and suggestions for topics and speakers for new programme.  Also, please bring more trees for informal display.
Afterthought:  Not done this before, new idea – grab the opportunity to bring in seeds to share at next meeting.  Whether spare bought seeds or freely gathered from garden and hedgerow, can members research growing needs of seeds they bring in and pass the information on at meeting.  Remember to remove flesh/pulp off seeds.  About time Mike had a rest from tutoring.  It’s rather a nice activity to go seed gathering on a nice day.  Or bring in grown seedlings in excess of your needs  Looking forward to seeing your supplies.  Thank you.
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Backtracking – 18 Sep 2016 Workshop

Our Hon President, Frank Mepham, kindly hosted the Cascade Workshop for members.  The weather was good, enabling the event to be held outdoors in the img_1698large, mature garden which has some huge fruit trees.  Frank is well-known in bonsai circles||.  Largely self-taught, he had the opportunity to experiment over the years when a family member, working on a local estate, was able to supply him with plenty of raw material.   He has been a member of Hinckley and Wigston bonsai clubs and his trees have won prizes at many shows over a long period of time.  Frank is coping with poor health now.  A very special  Thank You goes to Frank for his hospitality on this occasion.


Mike led the instruction and the material used was pre-bonsai Juniperus chinensis ‘Blaauw’.  It was the right time in the year to work with junipers.   The thinking behind this exercise was to enable a group of members to work with the same material and over time comparisons can be made on the trees and their development by the different owners.  Trimming and first stage wiring for shape took up most of the time.  This enabled beginners in the group to understand the process and encourage their confidence.  The trees will remain in their training pots until next year so participants will have plenty of time to look around for suitable ceramic pots for their project.  If members had existing cascades, they could bring them to the work- shop, discuss and progressed further if time allowed.  Thanks also to Mike for his tuition.  The following is a gallery of the event.


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Club Meeting – Tuesday 4th October – Members’ Tree Talk

Hi All
This Tuesday’s meeting is an opportunity for members to bring along a tree to show to the club and share a few words about it: it’s history; challenges; developments; future plans etc.
Whilst we have a few experienced members who have volunteered to talk to us about one of their trees, the less experienced of us are encouraged to pluck up the courage to have go. The aim is to generate conversation, advice and guidance. Being a relative beginner myself, I’ll even bring along one of my sticks in pots and have a stab at it 🙂
Also don’t forget to bring something along for the display table, which has been a successful addition to club nights.
There are a couple of good events happening this month:
– 16th Oct – Bonsai Traders Assosciation show at Elsecar, Barnsley.
– 23rd Oct – Heathrow bonsai show.
The Heathrow show is a fantastic event, with over 30 clubs exhibiting, over 20 traders, and a demonstration by native tree expert Will Baddely. I highly recommend this one.
See you all Tuesday
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Cascade Workshop 18 Sept (Members Only)

Hi All
Hope you’ve been doing some research and studying your material ! 🙂
This Sunday is the “Cascade workshop”, 10.30 am – 3.00/4.00 pm.
To be hosted by Honorary President, Frank Mepham.
For those who don’t know Frank, he has been a long standing member of the club, a speaker on the club circuit, and has been doing bonsai for nearly as many years as I’ve been alive!
Unfortunately he has had to miss most of this years meetings due to heath issues and his trees have suffered quite badly too.
If the weather is against us there should be plenty of room to work, as we will be able to use Frank’s conservatory and three greenhouses too. If the weather is fine, if you have one, bring along a worktable.
Along with your material, tools etc. bring along a packed lunch and drinks. No need to worry about a pot as the trees will need some time to recover from the serious bending before re-potting.
This will be a good one! See you there.
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Greenwoods Bonsai Bash 10th & 11th September

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Club Meeting Report 2 August 2016

With apologies for lateness – had a few problems getting this completed.
What a fabulous meeting we had with guest speaker Malcolm Hughes, Chairman of FOBBS, who gve a slide presentation followed by practical demonstrations on how to set up a bonsai display stand to advantage with material brought to the meeting.  It was a very full turnout as all eagerly listened on every word.  Involved with bonsai since 1978, Malcolm said there were few Masters in England then, mentioning Dan Barton, Harry Tomlinson as examples. The interest has grown to such an extent in the West that Japan is now reluctant to export premier grade trees out of the country and at very best we have to accept 2nd grade imports.  However, we now have the expertise here of those who can transform available material into magnificent specimens. Malcolm has been a bonsai judge for many years through FOBBS and with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and shown trees at Chelsea Garden Show and many other events nationally and internationally.
Malcolm covered a lot of ground in his talk.  First consideration is what the intended display is for?  Is it a competition with a view to winning prize money for the club’s coffers; or is it a display to encourage new members to join the club.  The first requires the  best trees and very good pots.  The second requires good trees but not to frighten off prospective members by making them feel they could never achieve anything like the trees on show.  You want to encourage valuable members, not deter them.
IMG_2299This example could be suitable for encouraging club membership as shows varieties of styles, size, age, species, stands and accent plating to give an idea of what can be achieved at different levels.
The perceived overall shape of the display needs to be considered from show material available x size of display surface number of trees.  Is there a dominant top tree that will dictate a triangular shape with others decreasing in size/shape to the sides, or different levels with a dominant mid-centre tree that will be the focus point, or a squared shape with trees all same size/height.  Is the look going to be all green, or will maples or other give splashes of colour.  Will there be a theme like all the same species, or just shohin, or mame, or style like group planting, etc.  Does the appearance of age matter – thick trunks, small leaves, tight ramification, sculpted pads, deadwood, etc?  Is the taper and movement correct for the style.  So much to think about as well as the importance of time and planning well ahead of the event. Fitness has to be taken into consideration as manning a stand for maybe several days can have an effect on the body.  Having a sub-committee working on the event concentrates the focus, involves working to a time frame, budgeting, tree selection plus spares available in case of eventualities. and safe transportation of everything.  Also to bear in mind that trees will change over any period of time from planning to showing. The initial cost of participating in a first big show was highlighted, and how costs can be recuperated over time.  Yes, in answer to a question, judges do become familiar with trees regularly seen at shows.  But they never remain the same as they are continually worked on to achieve and maintain the perfection aimed for.  As a growing medium, bonsai continue to evolve in some way throughout their development.
Equipment and materials need consideration in conjunction with size of the display area, its covering and backdrop, lighting and  what are the trees going to stand on.  Pedestals, individual display stands, pads, mats are all options plus other decoration with  partitions, scrolls or accents.  Is labelling required, and how to promote the club and provision of any handouts.
Some tips:   Trees must be clean with no infestation, damage/spoilage.  They must appear vibrant, healthy and appropriate to season for colour.  Good, even nebari.  Subtle wiring is allowed as trees continue to develop but should not detract the eye.  Use pale/neutral colours for drapery or matt white paper table covering and backdrop to silhouette trees.  Pedestals/display stands to be clean appearance, varying heights are OK, and should compliment the overall display.  Be wary of partitions and scrolls with a takanome theme – they have to be very precise.  Depending on the level of the competition and size of stand, ‘less + quality’ is best.  Do not clutter the area, no tree should obscure another, and compliment with well prepared accents or suiseki if desired.   Match the sides and end trees where possible so there is flow and symmetry with size, shape and colour that gives balance to overall display.  White on black is best for labels and use the correct Latin name and species, using upper and lower case lettering as appropriate.   It can be a big step for any club making its entrance into the bonsai world arena. It is a lot of work but can be very rewarding and gives a club kudos if done well.
In answer to another question concerning rules for pots, unfortunately there was no time to go into more detail on this occasion but as a rule of thumb, unglazed matt containers for evergreens, glazed for deciduous, either for azaleas, but there can be variations, usually if you want to match to a particular season.  Pot and tree need to compliment each other to enhance overall look.  Good pots in perfect condition should be aimed for, and can mean using a bespoke pot which can be expensive.  Perhaps that’s a cue for a  talk subject another time?
After the talk came the practical part when Malcolm selected various trees to set up different displays and asked the audience their opinions before explaining the reasoning behind his actions.
IMG_2293IMG_2288      Some of the material brought to the meeting by members and used for illustrating different display formats.  Trevor, our Secretary, is pondering the outcomes, and Malcolm gets busy moving trees about and explaining the changes.
Examples were too many trees, using dominant trees in different positions, matching as best possible trees of similar size/shape on each side, using pedestals, a splash of colour, and most importantly, overall symmetry.  Adding Shohin, mame and accents.  He covered most of the aspects before asking a selection of club members to put together a display which he then judged.  Thank you Malcolm for a full-on evening which left us all with much to think about.  Thanks to Trevor for arranging Malcolm’s visit. Mike, our Chairman, explained that it’s his hope that we can up our status and put on displays at more prestigious events, starting possibly with Coventry next year.  Malcolm kindly complimented some of the members on their trees and gave further advice on improvements.
There was such a crush to be in the middle of the room as cameras, tablets and mobiles took shots of the demos that this reporter had to take hers off-centre on this occasion as didn’t move fast enough for a good position.  The following is an edited gallery of some of the variations – can you spot the differences?
More was packed into this exciting evening as the Club’s new Members’ Trophy was viewed for the first time.  This annual event is awarded for the most popular tree by public vote at the Bosworth Show in July. Following the change of Club name, a new trophy was very generously donated by club member Alan Taylor.  Ben McNulty is the first receiver of the shield.IMG_2297Alan on right, presents Ben on left, holding his winning Acer, with the trophy and Mike Konig, Club Chairman, is in the middle.
We also welcome Dave and Julie to the Club, who joined at their first meeting.  A new discounted supplies price list for members was distributed at the meeting,  negotiated by Carol with Premier Bonsai of Wigston.  A tray of propagated assorted native 1 and 2yr seedlings and rooted cuttings were made available to members as ‘freebies’ to take home.  Mike also brought to the meeting the pre-bonsai junipers he obtained for the next practical workshop ordered by members.  What a busy evening we had!!
Next meeting is 6 Sept when we will be discussing cascades.  Trevor is trying to organise another guest speaker on the topic.  Otherwise Mike will do a talk and demo to prepare us for the cascade practical workshop on 18 Sept at Frank’s in Carlton.
And finally, just a reminder that Greenwood’s Bonsai Bash at Arnold, Notts, takes place over weekend of 10-11 Sept.  Free entrance, styling demos and bonsai exhibition, discounted trees and second-hand pots at bargain prices, plus food and drink and opportunity to visit the pottery studio.  A good day out in rural surroundings – hope they get the pot holes sorted though for those of us with smaller vehicles.


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Preparing show trees

A big thanks to Ben and co for last Sundays workshop at his house

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Club Meeting Report – 5 July 2016

We were lucky to have the turnout we did with 14 members and 3 guest visitors at our meeting only 2 days after the Bosworth Show!  Members were quite exhausted after a long weekend setting up the display on Saturday, being on duty all day Sunday and then dismantling everything at end of a long day.  Fortunately weather stayed dry and sun appeared at times during  the show which brought in the crowds on a very humid day which can be quite tiring. As any other club knows that does public displays, a lot of work and effort goes into these events.  All in the cause of promoting our passion for bonsai.
At the Show there were more accent plants this year which is a further development and Ben’s vibrant little petunia was real cute and a splash of colour amongst all the greenery.  Two new viewings were available this year.  The ‘work in progress’ corner – showing root over rocks and wiring techniques for different applications created a lot of interest and included Olly’s juniper over rock in training box. Also our new poster banner on a stand was greatly admired by the members and was put on display again at this evening’s meeting.   Huge thanks to Mike for organising this colourful promotional material for our new image.
At the meeting we had a debrief on our display at the Show and given the thumbs up for a very successful result.  The organisers have asked us back for 2017 and we had good comments from other stall holders. We ran out of public voting slips after 453 had been pushed into our ballot box for most popular tree on display.  Becky was determined every slip was going to be marked and deposited, and aided by Joan and Carol, was achieved.   Size, shape, colour or  bonsai ability didn’t matter.  It was only the personal preference of each member of the public that was being asked for.  The look of concentration as people pondered their choice may have appeared a serious matter but actually fun to do and a big talking point for all ages, plus a great opportunity to discuss our club.  The most common question was, ‘Which is the oldest tree’?  We had two aged 60 and one aged 50 years.  A huge thank you to all the members who participated during the weekend.
The top three achieving most votes for the most popular tree by general public was No.5 – Mike Konig’s Juniper with jinning came THIRD with 86 votes;  No.6 – Olly Olson’s Cypress ‘Bulvardi’ (spelling?) in SECOND place with 90 votes; and the WINNER was No.2 – Ben McNulty’s Acer Palmatum.  He is also the first member to receive our new club shield and holds it for a year.  Well done Ben, who only recently joined the club.
With apologies for clarity of pictures.  The sun was very bright through the marquee canvas and I only use a simple camera without filter.  But here are the top three trees in order L > R from the competition.
The rest of the evening was taken up with members talking about their tree histories. Olly had a Mugo Pine and explained it began life as a garden plant and for many years was in a pot on the patio.  In 2008 he took it to a professional bonsai artist for advice on its potential and after styling, it looked a completely different tree.  As a result his former interest in bonsai returned and he joined our predecessor Wigston Bonsai Club.  The tree was eventually taken to a workshop weekend in Hampshire for further development and a hard lesson was learned.  He spent the whole two days just wiring it! No time for anything else.  Best to pre-wire before attending an intensive course with a professional stylist. Since then further guidance has come from Mike Konig and over time has been tweaked and changed. After 18 years working on it, and much debate from others along the way on its current shape, Olly sums up with saying ‘It’s my tree and I like the way it looks’.  Hear, hear from this reporter.  (Pic below left).
Mike gave a brief history on his Juniper from the show.  He’s not sure whether it’s a Sabina or Fisa subspecies but has yellowish tinge to foliage in Spring.  It is one of two he found in a skip from a neighbour’s garden clearance in 2002 and were a lot bigger at the time.  Due to lack of knowledge then, unfortunately a branch was removed from this tree which would have made a good jin enhancement.  It has been attacked by scale insect which turned the foliage brown and took at least 2 years to return to good health.  A discussion followed on this and other infestations that attack bonsai.
Next month on 2 August the club has a guest speaker – Malcolm Hughes, Chairman of FOBBS (Federation of British Bonsai Societies) giving us good advice on how to prepare trees for public display.  He has judged at many shows and has a wealth of experience.  An opportunity not to be missed so please support this knowledgeable speaker.
Hopefully our new club trophy will be available for presentation.
Also, Mike will be bringing along the raw juniper material he has obtained for the 18 Sep cascade practical workshop at Frank’s.  Pine prices were quite prohibitive for a workshop and none were purchased. Unfortunately, the junipers cost more than expected too in spite of researching several suppliers. Members attending next meeting can choose their material but all will be treated on a first come, first served basis.  So arrive early to view availability.  Further info for members will follow in a mailing.


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