“Little Strokes Fell Great Oaks.”

It’s almost impossible to believe it has been nearly thirty years since I bought my first bonsai tree. A great deal has happened since then including Kaizen Bonsai and an inconceivable number of trees have passed through my hands. One thing that happens from time to time is that one of my old bonsai come back to visit. Sometimes they have suffered a bit but more often than not (much like me) they have improved with age. That happened last weekend when I went to visit my long suffering best mate Stu’. There was a bit of wheeling and dealing going on (always) and i was very happy to leave with this little elm, amongst other things.

It seems like just last week we had to move house in order to accommodate ever increasing volumes of bonsai trees. In fact it was just over ten years ago. Some parts of our house are reported to be nearly four hundred years old. When we moved in I would say that’s about how long it had been since anyone had performed any garden maintenance. At the front of the house were about six thirty foot high dead elm trees with massive trunks. I got these knocked down by a couple of very dodgy ‘geezers’ who appeared at the door one day. The resulting huge pile of fire wood was very welcome since we had very little in the way of heating.

These old elms had been retaining a five foot earth bank which needed sorting out so my faithful old Dad volunteered to get the huge stumps out for me. Now most of you would excuse a seventy year old from such a task but then you probably don’t have an old man like mine. Strange as it might sound there is NOTHING my dad loves in this world more than digging big holes, he spent over thirty years replacing huge gas mains under Norfolks roads and that was back in the day when men were real men and deserving of the title. Digging out was largely done by hand and my old fella’ could dig for ten hours straight seven days a week. A few three and four foot tree stumps were hardly going to faze this seasoned old warrior of the shovel. Next day the stumps were on the lawn and the holes filled in good as new and not a bead of sweat to be seen. Dad strolled into the yard and handed me a little ball of dirt and stick “Not sure if you could use this?”.

I have always said it takes at least ten years to build a bonsai from raw material (in the UK). This little elm survived it’s ordeal and was quickly spirited away by by Stu’ who has a slightly worrying affection for little fat trees. There is plenty of room for improvement, that’s always the case with any bonsai tree but, from now on this little elm is staying here where it belongs. Maybe one day when I am to old to do this any more I can return it to the exact spot where it started it’s eventful life 😉


Having done the elms, Dad fancied having a crack at this old plum tree.

“Little strokes fell great oaks.”

Diggers are for wimps!


9 thoughts on ““Little Strokes Fell Great Oaks.”

  1. Great story Graham , just wanted to say my order again arrived on time perfectly.
    as always thanks very much for your superb service & knowledge.

  2. I totally agree, however with the ever increasing lifespan and the terrible afflictions of Alzheimer’s and Dementia, even if they come in, where will they go?
    If only the future were Bonsai.

  3. Love your dad already 😉
    Catherine has a friend who is bugging me for a trip on the back of my Harley, she’s 95. Gotta’ love old folk, they don’t make them like that any more. My dad’s pushing 80 and he’s got more about him even now than many teenagers I have the misfortune to have met. Makes you wonder how this current generation is going to manage once we are all gone. Who is going to tell them to come in out of the rain?

  4. The Kaizen family live and thrive. Sorry to be late to add to the blog but just recovering from manflu. Something I expect, your father has never had!
    My father is from the same stock, I found out from my Mother at the weekend that he’d been up a twenty foot ladder to replace the facia boards in order to “reduce maintenance”.
    He’s 85 on June 25th.

  5. Cant wait for the next demo vid! You’re a great story teller and your videos are awesomely inspirational!

  6. Hi Graham
    Yup have to agree totally with the others brings back so many memories.

    Thanks for posting this up.

    JC (Downunder)

  7. These pictures should be up in all dole dossing centres across the country to shame the young work shy skivers of today!!!!

  8. WOW !! What a wonderful dad , so much energy at his age. As you say , from an era when men were men , and they didn’t mind getting dirty ! Non of this primping and posing that we get these days . My dad was just the same , in our old house , he carted a cast iron bath up two flights of stairs on his back , on his own , it took four men to carry it down when he had a new one put in , say’s it all really . He died 7 years ago , and by god do i miss him , always laughing and joking , and he would be constantly helping friends and relatives to do diy . Never a day goes by without thinking of him, and remembering some of the daft things he did . But oh the good memories i have of a wonderful childhood , spent with him …. : )

  9. dear graham.
    you are very very lucky to have a dad can give you lots of love and help and some day you will take his place for your kids,
    my regards to Mrs Potter — Dad—- and Ramon

    thank you for sharing a lovely story brings tear to my eye ,

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