Nothing to do with Bonsai

The only real peace and quiet I get around here is when I am not “around here”. Working from home is to live at work, work begins at the bottom of our stairs. Fortunately I only live half a mile from absolute peace and tranquility. Last weekend I was out with my two hooligan dogs as the sun rose over the river Waveney……

G.

More New Bonsai Stock Arrived

Vito’s (R.I.P) replacement started work this week and his first job was a run out to collect some new stock. Here are the trees just as they arrived, weeds and all. An old collection of trees that needs a bit of TLC. Over the coming months we will be preparing these for sale and restoring them to their former glory. Most are not for sale at this time but a few will be appearing on the site later in the summer once we know how they are responding. If there is something you like please drop me an email.

G.

New Bonsai & Yamadori Stock 2017

If I say it’s been a busy few months around here I will begin to sound like a broken record, but what else can I say. Everyone is bugging me for new trees right now as spring is pretty much under way. Already this year we have had over 400 trees come in and there is a lot more to come yet. Getting all this lot cleaned potted and tidied up ready for sale is a simply staggering task not to mention the thousand to fifteen hundred plants we already had. Photographing, editing and posting plants onto the web site takes for ever in my fumbling hands and so I am about a decade behind where I need to be at this time of year. So just in case you thought we had lost interest here are a few random snaps taken around the garden this morning. All of these trees and a GREAT many more will be listed this summer……hopefully.

G.

Kaizen Bonsai’s Unsung Hero

We have suffered a sad loss recently here at KB. Ever since day one Vito has been the absolute backbone of what we have been doing. Without Vito, Kaizen Bonsai would simply not be here. Working tirelessly day or night and seven days a week Vito has been working hard doing all the grunt work and heavy lifting. Without thanks, praise or a second thought for his well being our great friend has suffered under the burden of brutal manual work for very little in reward. However this work load has taken it’s toll and now we have had to make some hard choices. As is the case with most staunch and faithful manual workers, who undergird our privileged modern lifestyles, Vito started to become a bit of a liability. Old, slow, smelly, breathless and with a bad skin condition and occasional incontinence we had to face the crushing truth that Vito needed to be retired. However rather than meeting the increasing cost of his healthcare and ongoing upkeep we simply decided to have him killed.

You will no doubt have guessed that Vito was not a far removed Italian cousin but my staunch Germanic van. I bought this twelve years ago for half what it was worth at the time because it was a bit rough. I spent many of our earlier years together driving the length and breadth of the country, at all hours of the day and night, seven days a week in all weathers. I could care less about modern vehicles, as a petrol head my appreciation of motors stopped somewhere in the early 70s. However, as I drove Vito for the last time yesterday I was close to tears. We have spent close to 150,000 miles together and every one of those were hard miles on both of us (unless I am on two wheels I hate driving). If I had the time, the stories I could tell of our adventures like the time Vito got stuck deep in the woods and had to make an escape across a plowed field.

Here are a few pictures of Vito hard at work with a single days load of soil and other supplies coming back from our warehouse. I am heart broken but have had to face the fact that this day would come. I always said I would keep Vito until the wheels fell off. Then one day the wheel did fall of, literally, so I bolted it back on and with a little surgery all was good again. However, largely due to my neglect Vito’s number has come up. For the last ten years he has be subsisting on just an annual oil change and a wash on Christmas eve every year (which he missed this year) and so now he’s being passed over by a new kid and once we have pilfered a few parts he’s off to the knackers yard, his travelling days are at an end.

Farewell Vito my faithful, flatulent old friend, you will be sorely missed and never forgotten 🙁

G.

 

Another Busy Day @ KB World Headquarters

I know I bang on a lot about being busy, it’s not a subtle ruse to drum up more business. Subtlety is NOT a characteristic I possess. Just to prove my point I thought you would like to see some of yesterdays orders going out. This is 6.30pm and our carrier is about to turn up. There is three quarters of a ton of soil products and fifty boxes. After this Catherine still has to process another 30 or 40 Royal mail small parcels. Today we have to do it all again, next week we are covering for staff holidays and just to spice up the mix I have four hundred new trees arriving, four tons of soil and two tons of Green Dream which will quickly be followed by an entire lorry load of yamadori tree stock.

All I ever wanted was a couple of nice looking bonsai to stand on the side of my pond! Be careful what you wish for 😉

G.

A Day At Kaizen Bonsai

Everyone who knows me will confirm I am a glass half empty kind of a fellow. I have found that hoping for the best and preparing for the worst has worked for me. Now that I am getting older the world is increasingly more confusing and seems to have no place for the values with which I was raised. I increasingly feel like an outsider and judged by comments from some of our “special snowflake” customers I think they would like to see a tyre put over me whilst being doused in gasoline and set on fire. When did the world become such a hateful place? We do bonsai because it offers a solace from the maddening world and helps us connect with the eternal rhythms of life. However it appears to me that bonsai is becoming a competitive blood sport.

Thankfully most of the folk we do business with are decent and understanding. Kaizen Bonsai is run from our family home and there are just three of us involved and my parents (well in their 70s) do half days and home work for us. This time of year is exceptionally busy, coupled with a cold I collected in Belgium, yesterday for instance was a typical day……

4.30 am start with two hours of emails and web site updates.

6.30 to 8am outside in freezing temperatures working on a new maple

8.00 to 9.30 down to the warehouse to collect a ton of soil and a quarter ton of pots

9.30 to 10.30 packing parcels and humping soil

10.30 to 11.30 back to the warehouse to receive a delivery of two tons of soil products

11.30 took delivery of a car for my daughter that we bought unseen off Gumtree the previous evening. Her old car detonated and I have no time to go shopping for such things, spent half an hour figuring out how to put gas in the stupid filler neck from a can

12.00 to 12.30 dealing with someone ripping off our web site and attempting to offer our products to customers for 60-80% off. At the same time spent half an hour trying to get a typo corrected by Ryanair (don’t fly with them!)

12.30 to 16.00 Packing parcels, humping soil, web updates, purchasing stock

16.30.17.00 Loaded the days parcels and a half ton of soil into the carriers van

17.00 to 20.30 Packing parcels, preparing goods for sale, assembling carving tools

20.30 First meal of the day washed down with a half jar of moonshine put a smile on my face

21.00 Fell into bed in my clothes

3.30am Up and repeat.

That’s a fairly typical day here and of course that was just me, Catherine did much the same. She also spent the last two weekends working from 10am to 11pm preparing VAT for the last quarter. We really could do with another member of staff or two but there is not anywhere near enough profit in what we sell to do that. So, to that end you will be seeing some changes here at Kaizen Bonsai. We will be reducing our offering and services over the coming months because if we carry on like this there is no future. Expect to see items disappearing from our web site. This year I have also stopped doing demonstrations, there will be no workshops and we are no longer open to visitors. If you are reading this and happen to be a very skilled business consultant or a person in need of some very hard work in exchange for minimum wage or less give me a call 😉

G.

Today’s soil (van is completely full) ready for mixing and packing.

All of this is moved several times before it leaves later in the day. Watch out for Vito’s story coming soon.

 

 

Strange Goings On!

So much for a holiday. This year for Christmas, as I do every year, I got a skip. I spent every waking hour battling the garden and digging a drain (as you do). How many people spent Christmas morning digging a hole? Then once we got back to work we had to deal with a literal avalanche of orders, over two hundred and fifty parcels went out in the first four days back. Finally last friday we got caught up and now we are all behind again after the weekend. Just for good measure we are now getting ready for the upcoming Noelanders exhibition following which I am away on buying trips, it’ll be summer before I get caught up! I need to find another member of staff but more wages means more price rises unless I can find someone who want’s to work for free to support the cause of UK Bonsai. Any volunteers?

Anyhow, I did get four hours doing something I really wanted over the holidays. There is something quite unusual growing in my poly tunnel amongst the recently worked trees. My garage is now full and as it turns out a poly tunnel makes a very nice spot for a bit of dirty work 😉 Trouble is I keep getting distracted between wiring and spannering, carving and welding.

G.

More Keepers

A while back I published a post about a juniper I had a particular fancy for. After our biggest year ever selling special trees of all shapes and sizes my head is spinning a bit. As I said before it might seem like a dream job to many, buying bonsai and raw material all the time but, after a while it’s very easy to get a bit blase about it all. It’s just human nature that we take the familiar for granted. After such a busy year I feel a little punch drunk but even through my misty haze I can still spot a good un’. I also think it’s important to have trees that feed your soul and keep the fire burning.

I figured it was about time I treated myself and having a passion for yamadori and raw material this stonking great oak fitted the bill and wallet just right. I am not responsible for the dodgy styling job but am very pleased to have this in the garden.

I also have this nice old scots pine which has been here for over eight years now. When it arrived from Norway it was in a poor state with almost no root and so old and tired I had resigned myself to losing it. However it did survive and has now developed really well proving me entirely wrong in the process. This is only the second time it has been wired (By Ramon this time) and is now beginning to look as good as I hoped it would when I first bought it. If you don’t have any patience don’t do bonsai 😉

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Our New Harley

Underneath this brusque socially inept exterior is a little lad who just want’s to live in a decent world. I believe we reap what we sow and doing good wherever possible will always come back to us one way or another. Now I am older I have swapped out my rose tinted glasses for shades, I don’t want to see a lot of the things that are going on in this increasingly insane world we have created. I have made it my mission in life to try and spread a little understanding and, hopefully, respect for the world around us particularly in relation to trees. Few things generate a love of trees more than bonsai does. Without trees we are all doomed. I always think you can judge the ‘health’ of a nation by how they treat their trees and forests. There are several cases in history where invading forces laid waste to territories by cutting down all the trees prior to their retreat. A country without trees is indeed a desolate wasteland. I am constantly saddened by the almost total loss of trees in our country compared to what was once here and the scant disregard for which ancient survivors of those better times are treated.

I also think you can judge the ‘health’ of a nation by how they treat their animals. Sadly there is a heartbreaking story being written at this exact moment right here in Blighty. Visit any dogs home in the land and you will see row after row of sad neglected and abandoned faces staring out at you. These belong to various types of so called ‘bull breed’ dogs. In particular at the moment the nation has turned it’s face against the Staffordshire bull terrier, commonly known as the staffy’. Personally I adore these dogs. My first, Max, was with me his entire life and in a turbulent time was my rock. My daughter was born prematurely and could be laid in the palm of my hand, Max loved her as much as I do and in all his days was noting but a joy to live with in spite of the hysteria being spread by the ‘views media’ just now. A while back we opened up our home to George who many of you will know. Earlier this year we had a lovely lady visit for the day but she was terrified of dogs and staffies’ in particular. However by the end of the day she was in love with our George.

In the summer we took a good friend of ours to the local dogs home as she wanted to re-home a dog (seems like the place to go). I am a big softie at heart and seeing all those beautiful sad faces choked me up and bought a tear to my eye. The result was a new charge and, whilst not exactly being a Staffy’ he’s suffered the ignominy of being abandoned thanks to the current shit storm of hype around dogs. As if life was not busy enough already!

So, I am please to introduce little Harley. He’s now settled into his new home and taken to his job of door security like an old hand, not a single step is taken on the property that this little fellow does not know about. We have no idea what sort of dog he is but an educated guess is a staffy’ crossed with a bit of whippet and something else. All we know is that he’s the sweetest mannered little boy (10 months old) and smart as a straight razor. HOW could anybody abandon such a beautiful little boy?

There was another Harley turned up this summer of the wheeled variety but that’s not half so interesting.

G.

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Sadly we can’t always have what we want.