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My week at Kaizen Bonsai – A Good One!

This week has been a good one. Having completed more than THREE THOUSAND orders and about TEN THOUSAND parcels since January this year we finally got it all under control and I came up for air, f***ing cold air mind but that’s another subject.

So, I finally decided that we are no longer importing plants thanks to the governments ludicrous requirements. I just will NOT bend the knee and submit to their ridiculous Gestapo paranoid bullshit. In the future, should they see sense I promise to go and spend a quarter of a million pounds and ya’ll can fill your boots. Otherwise I accept the death of  my thirty year dream and I will be buying old bikes whilst I still can before they F’ that up too and I have to leave altogether.

That was Monday, not a great start. Tuesday I started work on buying for Christmas 2021 and that is the earliest mention of the C word you are likely to get. With the world of international shipping in utter chaos and having lost tens of thousands last Christmas thanks to the governments mis-handling of ports and incoming containers this year i’m taking no chances. Some goods are already on the water.

Wednesday I bought about a million carving tools, some old and some new before embarking on something new for us. The herculean task of buying a container of rather special quality pots. I already have RSI calculator finger and fear I will need new glasses before I get done poring over catalogues. In everything we do now there is no choice but to cut out all the middle men and go to the source otherwise we just cannot survive. Another UK government issue I would rather not recount because I will end up resorting to the bottle and it’s sun up on Saturday morning so way too early for getting shit-faced.

Thursday was a big day. I got to bunk off and go see my mentor and bonsai inspiration. Mr Willson has had a bunch of our trees for a while now and having finished the lot I was excited to go pick them up. A very wonderful day and evening was had and I came home late and smiling.

Friday was bonkers with two of my besties visiting to do some work. It’s been the better part of two years since I did a workshop but with these two fellas It’s always a joy. We did a bunch of re-pots and made a big old kurama pot for a very special tree Kevin has completed for my buddy. Something I have never done before but we were all pretty impressed with the group effort so far. More later.

Saturday looks like being a good one too.

So here’s the all important piccies’.

Graham.

Sabina juniper Bonsai belonging to my buddy post Kevin Willson.

Spruce Bonsai Tree

A spruce that has a checkered history finally back to health and good shape. Possibly available for sale down the road.

Sabina juniper Bonsai

I tried to sell this at a couple hundred quid for ages but no takers. Now ex Kevin it’s sold in 12 hours for a much more respectable sum.

Yew tree Bonsai

Another non seller at under £200. Taxus by the yew-master. Sorry now not available.

Yew tree bonsai.

Collected by me in 2001 and belonging to one of the guys. From a bare stump Kevin did justice to all our patient work as always.

Scots pine bonsai

Previously styled by Kevin a stunning scotty in for a pot.

Yamadori oak bonsai.

Yamadori oak in for it’s first pot. A serious challenge with it’s awful big roots.

Scots pine bonsai

This one was a doddle.

Yamadori oak bonsai

This one not so much but it will live and we will improve it.

My work for Saturday.

The Irony of My Life.

The irony of my life just now is the fact that my bonsai business prevents me from actually doing bonsai. The less bonsai I do the more ya’ll can do because you have the stuff you need. That is unless you buy it of somebody else in which case stop reading at once!

Bonsai as a hobby is in for a major shaking very soon as global forces and political bullshit conspire to drown us in their effluent. I doubt anyone really understands the extent to which we are dependant upon imports. Virtually NOTHING we use is made here in Blighty, even the bark we use in our soil mixes comes from abroad now.

A little point that has not been reported on by the media is the fact that a container, shipped from China to the UK has gone up from about £1600 last summer to about £6000 today, some have been quoted up to £10,000. Also on the spot market yesterday shippers were charging £1000 extra to drop a container in Felixstowe as opposed to Rotterdam, just the other side of the channel. Somebody needs to ask Boris what the hell he thinks he is doing.

That is just one of a dozen simply incredible circumstances that is about to change life in the UK forever. Take Akadama, there is simply not enough to satisfy the world and lead times can be literally months on end, the price is rising and the shipping has increased by up to 500%. For the first time in history our price is over £20 and when new stocks arrive it could reach £30 or more.

Here’s another example. One of our European tree suppliers was charging us under £200 for a massive pallet up to 8 feet high. Pointless customs documentation and delays has now added exactly £250 to that price and by the time I get it cleared through an agent I expect another £125 this side of the water. Assuming 50 little trees that increases the price per item from £4 to £11.50 which is £13.80 including the VAT you have to pay. That’s actually more than the cost of a lot of little starter trees. Add UK shipping and you are up to £21.45. Add a decent cardboard box at £1, a glue slug at 75p and you reach £23.20. I then have to photograph and list the tree, we have to pack it and label the box and at a paltry £10 an hour that adds another £10.80 which brings us to £34 and so far there is not a single penny in there for the plant, it’s all just processing costs and with overheads running at around 40% of sales value………………… F**k i’d give an Asprin a headache.

So gird your loins folks and pucker up there are fun times coming. It’s time to be appreciative of just how much we have and just how lucky we are. It’s time to stop constantly looking for more, more, more. It’s time to look hard at our ‘consumtion’ and it’s time to be very grateful for what we have. Our great grandparents were very happy just to have a roof over their heads and food on the table. May God grant us all the grace to do the same.

Having less plants on the nursery (we dropped our stock by over 1200 plants in the last quarter) has given me chance to spend time on those special little bits and bobs I have been holding back over the last few years. Seeing as it’s spring it’s time for the obligatory flower pictures. So, here are a couple of recently potted trees.

First up is a crab apple, we sold a massive number of these but this one had to stay. It’s only three years out of the ground and will take at least another ten years to turn into bonsai but if you squint at it through a drunken haze it looks pretty good.

Secondly is my mahaleb. Collected in southern Italy just 3/4 years ago I offered this for sale at around £500 before thinking better of it. Work has been focused on creating substantial primary branching in keeping with the trunk proportions. I didn’t do the carving, that needs work. This is it’s first pot, it’s vital NOT to put trees into bonsai pots too early in their development but now IS the time for this one and it’s a nice Tokoname signature pot I had cluttering the place up.

G.

The Irony of My Life.Crab apple bonsai

Crab apple in it’s first bonsai pot. An old Chinese pot I have had for 30 years.

The Irony of My Life. Cherry bonsai tree yamadori.

From southern Italy and just 4 years in development from a bare stump. Early days but happy so far.

The Irony of My Life.

Not my carving work but the branches are. Another 10 years and this will be good.

The Irony of My Life.

Compulsory spring flower picture. Prunus mahaleb.

It’s Like The Whole World Has Gone Gardening

I was speaking to one of the countries largest manufacturers of commercial compost products just last week who told me they were busy, busy, busy, he had never known anything like it. “It’s like the whole world has gone gardening!”. I would concur, since January 1st we have processed nearly 2500 orders and unusually they are big orders too, especially considering we are coming to the end of selling trees.

Saying that, I sound like a broken record I know but the logistics of shipping a hundred parcels and three quarters of a ton of product daily with only two folk packing boxes, hauling goods, mixing soils and the million other frustrating little jobs involved is no laughing matter. My staff don’t take lunch breaks and work late most days and we even work Saturdays too. Catherine and I do 6am to 8pm every day and have resorted to asking her brother to come and cook for us just to get a decent meal once a week, he is a chef though 😉

I doubt anyone will really appreciate what it takes to do this unless they are running a small business just now. Just finding enough cardboard boxes is exhausting (and expensive). No washing gets done, no cleaning, no gardening, no house maintenance (i live in an old house). Cars don’t get washed, bikes don’t get ridden, dogs don’t get walked and I sleep 5 hours a night. There is CERTAINLY no time to do bonsai.

With the government busting their hump to destroy commerce in the UK and with the EU determined to try and make an example out of us for leaving their club not to mention Covid and the VERY serious situation regarding global shipping and looming oil price increases this time next year is going to look very different indeed both for the bonsai community and the country as a whole. There are some very dark storm clouds on the horizon for us all, life is NOT going back to ‘normal’, trust me. I can’t believe the ‘media’ are not covering these stories…..but then perhaps I can. I’ll explain more later.

Still, lucky for me we are on the back nine and nearly done. Of late I have managed to largely clear my garden of stock leaving, by and large, just my own collection of trees and I feel good about that, the stress has lifted off me and it feels wonderful. I have not done any bonsai since Christmas and my last video so Sunday night I got to pot up something nice.

This hornbeam came in about 18 months ago. The variety grows incredibly slowly and unusually a big pot does not speed that up so a bonsai pot at this stage is entirely appropriate. I found the unusual pot lurking under a bench covered in years of crap and spiders web, I kind of like it but at this stage it maters little what it looks like.

This hornbeam has had no styling work, just a few unnecessary branches removed. I would guess it’s been 2/3 years since collecting. In my book that makes it good yamadori and once I put ten years on top it will be a great and unique bonsai tree.

Now, off to pack boxes……

G.

It's like the whole world has gone gardening

Hornbeam yamadori in it’s first bonsai pot.

It's like the whole world has gone gardening

No work here just the magic of nature.

Magical Winter Appearance.

I don’t get out much, I just work. These days it’s even hard to get out into the garden during daylight hours. Once you know bonsai well winter is largely THE best time of year. All is quiet with the trees resting and displaying their magical winter appearance.

One of my favourite trees this time of year is Chinese elm that usually finish dropping their leaves in February. The biting east wind of last week certainly did it for this lovely old elm.

I featured this tree on my blog previously –

44,000 Hours Well Spent – Growing Bonsai Trees

So now without leaves it’s easy to appreciate the time spent on it’s development. It still has a lot of potential for further development but at this point i’m happy.

G.

Magical Winter Appearance. Chinese elm.

Chinese elm branch structure

Chinese elm, mature craggy bark

Magical winter appearance. Leaves just spoil this beautiful old tree

Graham Potter Does a Bit of Bonsai Work – New Video

So my Christmas holiday was a bit of a busman’s. Spent four days up to my knackers in sawdust and wire and then three days sitting in front of a screen editing this new video. Now, as a reward I have over 250 orders to get out so 15 hour days until end of January. I am beginning to think this holiday nonsense just aint worth the squeeze.

So enjoy the video, it might be some time before I can do another.

Happy new year all and if you have an order with us please hang in there, we’re on it.

Graham.

 

I Usually Got a Thick Ear

As a kid I was what might today politely be referred to as socially inept. I was in fact a socially retarded little twat with a penchant for getting in trouble and scant regard for anyone else. The truth is I have never understood other people, I just don’t get it. I simply do not understand human interaction no matter how hard I try, i’m a bull in a china shop, as those of you that know me well, know well,  subtlety is entirely lost on me. I think a couple of my school teachers got it because after a stern word was ignored I usually got a thick ear which typically did the trick and amused everyone else to boot.

Apart from a tiny handful of mates I have largely spent my life within a tiny circle of family with little outside influence. I like it that way and 2020 was the year for me, the year my lifestyle finally came into vogue. As a youngster my dear mother was always trying to help me be more outgoing and socially adventurous. At a very tender age I was sent to ballroom dancing classes (don’t laugh it won’t help) having been told I would love it, I didn’t. After that, every activity presented to me was rejected with a pouting lip and a gruff retort of “Don’t like that”. Inevitably I was asked “How do you know you never tried it”.

Experience has revealed to me I am actually a pretty good judge of what I will and won’t like. I never got my danglies waxed but I am pretty sure I would NOT like it. On the other hand some things are difficult to judge and so need to be given a chance. I once got so inebriated whilst camping at a car show that my mates put me in a strangers car where I woke up to a tirade of abuse from the cars owner and a banging headache the next morning. It was fun whilst it lasted but I didn’t do it again. So, my advice is if you are unsure give it a go. Obviously don’t apply this rule across the board, use a little nous.

This last year I capitulated to popular opinion and had a crack at social media. In light of the above there really was only one outcome. Facebook is not for me, I knew that before I started in but so many folk told me I would love it I figured what the hell. Turns out those folk don’t know me at all. Just because you might like something I fail to grasp the logic that everyone else would love it too. Much like ballroom dancing….

I have always applied that logic to bonsai. Evangelical is not my style. I don’t mind sharing what I do with other people but I have never once said to a single soul ‘get a bonsai tree you’ll love it’. It does no harm to be generous in this life and putting your ‘stuff’ out there, particularly if it’s free is a nice thing to do as long as it’s good stuff which, sadly, these days most of it is not. I have come to the conclusion that a lot of the problems in society today flow from one bunch of people trying to change another bunch of people. Our best bet is to work on ourselves and lead by example. Chances are if we get it right folk will come along. If not what’s been lost?

So, social media is not for me. Why? I am a fat bald middle aged white English man who likes a stogie and a Bourbon. I don’t eat five a day, I don’t go to the gym. I have a fanatical devotion to hard work and much like George Carlin I don’t hold with the modern ethos of political correctness. In common with most folk alive today my opinions are best kept to myself. However one post I saw just about summed it up for me.

In wasting a lot of time on FB this year I came across a post which I KNOW will make my regular right minded readers smile. Someone had bought a little bottle of Bonsai Focus fertiliser. They then took the trouble to photograph it and post it on FB with a caption along the lines of ‘Anyone advise me what to do with this?’ After I got past the obvious answer I had to go outside and take a breath, I could not decide wether to shit of go blind, in the end I walked away. The most polite answer I have is ‘read the fucking label’. Did I miss something?

Now I know FULL well we all have to start somewhere, I have written about this many times, however I fear our reliance on technology for all our answers is turning many folk into something akin to a sub class of human incapable of intelligent thought and ill equipped to deal with the necessities of life and survival without recourse to a screen. Too many times I have been speechless. Incredulity is defined as – the state of being unwilling or unable to believe something. Very apt in this case.

At times I have wanted to just pack away all my shit and go be a motorcycle mechanic. I built my first engine around 10 years old and have done that stuff my entire life and seeing as my only acquaintance outside of bonsai owns my local bike shop and my favourite bolt-hole I am in with a good chance of making a go of it. I have always said there is no shame in ignorance but remaining ignorant IS cause for shame. Surely today there is no reason to be ignorant of much, is there?

Talking to my spanner wielding buddy it turns out this new form of stupidity is not limited to our favourite pass-time. The stories I hear from him every week leave us both reaching for the big three litre bottle of Jack. I’m done with social media and mass communication, I really am best out here on my own. The juice just is not worth the squeeze.

So, my point? If you want to learn bonsai as a process the mechanics can be picked up in an afternoon with a top teacher (good luck finding one). A couple of years dedicated practice will develop a proficiency and confidence in those disciplines. However learning the foibles of growing plants is a whole other thing but it’s still basically simple. Just look up your species on the RHS website for a cultural guide to the basics and get outside in the sun. Constantly observe and watch what is going on out there, it’s THE only place you will learn what you need to know. Partly because you will begin to understand plants but also because you will be training yourself to learn how to learn in an environment where it’s not just laid out for you. Much like Marco Invernizzi said years ago the Net Bonsai Wanker prefers to spend their time in front of a screen behind a keyboard rather that outside in the sun where bonsai should be made. An extreme view perhaps but tell me it’s not true?

So, here are a few things I saw today out in the sunshine. It might be the depths of winter with the worst yet to come but life carries on. Here on the east coast it’s not been cold or too wet and that suits me and the trees just fine. However January is NOT spring so don’t go getting silly notions of re-potting! It’s going to be months before that silly season starts of which I have written a great deal.

2020 It Was The Best Of Times…

2020 is a year that will live long in our memories. Not least for us here at KB. If I go into too much detail I will just be adding to the cacophony of noise in the world. I have come to the conclusion that nobody cares what I think, only me. It’s a frustrating world to live in for those with common sense and a vision that allows them to see through the bullshit. Maybe that just makes me another opinionated asshole, you decide.

Sadly because I have a need to put food on the table and support my family I am forced to have to get involved. However it’s good for everyone if I just mind my own business. I figure the only real difference we can make in the world is to do our very best to be good at what WE do and leave the rest to others. For those wonderful folk that have spent a portion of their lives reading my particular brand of bullshit this year I salute you. I hope the reading was as cathartic as the writing. Beats the shit out of ‘wild swimming’ or keeping fit lumpin’ bags of produce around the television.

All I have to say is a great big thank you to everyone who participated in making 2020 our biggest year ever. Few businesses ever get to see growth close to three percentage figures but you all did it for us or near as dammit. Catherine, Sarah, Richard and I offer you a most humble bow of reverence. THANK YOU is really insufficient but it’s largely all I have in this format.

My salutations go out to Richard and Sarah who became parents at the very peak of our first ‘lock down’. I know Sarah was heartbroken over the way things went but as Eminem wrote “all’s well that ends ok”. Trust me it could have been worse, I know from personal experience.

As for 2021 all bets are off. Between the virus, Brexit and our own government I doubt many of us will be left standing by this time next year. Take a leaf out of the book of the late Mr Richard Overton…

But, before then I need to point out that Kaizen Bonsai will be CLOSED until 11 JANUARY. To put no finer point on the matter we are all totally fXXXed and need a break. 14 hours seven days a week has taken it’s toll and besides Richard needs to see his family. This is the most consecutive days I have had off work since I started at thirteen. We ask you to respect our personal need that has to come first for once. Last time I ignored the call I ended up in hospital with only a couple of days to live. You are all welcome to place orders in the meantime but please don’t expect delivery until well into January. I know it sucks but we all have to be thankful for what we can get at the moment.

Again I offer our sincerest and heartfelt thanks for your support in this difficult year and I leave the last word to a man I consider Britain’s premier literary master (forget that clown from Stratford….)

Graham, Catherine, Richard and Sarah.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” ― Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

https://youtu.be/BXyfCGDnuWs

Life Can Hit Us All Pretty Hard Sometimes

Bonsai is not easy! For many just keeping a little tree alive seems to be impossibly hard. It might be because they are over-complicating things, who am I to say. I am of an age where I likely have a longer past than future. I have been involved in bonsai for more years than not, thirty odd as I recall.

There are two very important things you will need in order to succeed in bonsai. Patience being the primary one. Trees move at a pace inconsistent with the ‘modern’ world. The other is perspective. I remember telling somebody that he needed to prune new shoots back to a couple of leaves. His reply? “What’s a shoot?” Being new to the keeping of bonsai trees the poor lad had no idea what that meant.

Having more than thirty seasons under my belt gives one a great perspective. I know what’s going to happen, all things being equal. I know how what I do today will affect my plants in the future and largely how they will respond and develop. Before I had that all I could see was what was in front of me. As I worked trees I found it all very disappointing. No matter how hard I tried, even today, newly worked trees leave me cold.

For sure, over the years I did a few clever things that folk seem to like. However for me the real magic comes as my clumsy fumblings disappear. The magic of bonsai comes from the trees response to our work. At best we can point a tree in a certain direction and hope it goes with us. Early in our journey this is more likely to end in failure than not but with time, practice and perspective it’s possible our empathy and understanding will result in better outcomes.

Personally I have always preferred to work with a tree, giving it the time and space to become beautiful. I find that better than foisting my ideas upon my subject and brutally hammering it into submission. This may well take longer but bonsai is NOT something for folk who are in a hurry. Years in the saddle have taught me to care less about what other folk might think, bonsai is not about making US look good it’s about making little trees look good and in that respect playing the ‘long game’ is the only option.

I have been very lucky (or was it hard work) to become the steward of some very beautiful old trees, some are bonsai, some will be bonsai but they do all have an inherent magic of their own. As a rule the harder the life of a collected tree the greater the magic it portrays. It’s all about triumph over adversity, it’s inspiring. Folk in bonsai tend to get very excited about deadwood but the focus should always be on the live bit. Bonsai and hope are all about the future and making the best of what we have. Life can hit us all pretty hard sometimes and those hits can leave scars. There’s not much we can do about that but we do have control over what we do after. Often those that took the greatest hits in life go on the do the most inspiring things.

On occasions it almost seems like getting a slap down was the best thing that could have happened. I have several examples of that in my own life. In the moment it seems rough but in time positives emerge, perhaps not what we would like or would have planned but, as they say we have to play the cards we are dealt.

So, recently I had to hitch up my sense of perspective when faced with this particularly uninspiring field elm. I bought a whole batch of these a couple of years ago. I would never have chosen this one but when buying large amounts of stock I have to take the rough with the smooth.

It looks a lot like a sledgehammer with a busted handle. A strange inverted T shape with ninety degree angles. Add to that all the best branch structure emerges from one side. The first branch on the left has a poor angle with the ones above it all emerging from a single knuckle. The upright trunk has absolutely no taper but thank fully what branching there is is reasonably well structured. Obviously there is a big cut in the top and another below the little stump on the left of the initial part of the trunk.

It took me a while but eventually I figured out it was time for one of those hard hit’s if this was ever going to be worth taking forward. I would like to think I saved this from being made into a mallet.

G.

Life Can Hit Us All Pretty Hard Sometimes - Field elm bonsai material. What to do?

Life Can Hit Us All Pretty Hard Sometimes – Field elm bonsai material. What to do?

Life Can Hit Us All Pretty Hard Sometimes Field elm bonsai

Life Can Hit Us All Pretty Hard Sometimes – It gets worse before it gets better.

Trust me there is a plan....

Trust me there is a plan….

Trunk Hollowing begins.

Trunk Hollowing begins.

That's a lot of wire.

That’s a lot of wire.

Totally hollowed out trunk.

Totally hollowed out trunk.

some hefty branch bending.

Some hefty branch bending.

In five years this will be quite something.....hopefully.

In five years this will be quite something…..hopefully.

The Reports of my Demise are Greatly Exaggerated.

* The reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated.

I have now been involved in this bonsai lark longer that not. My dad was retired four years when he was my age. Here I am working harder than ever. Whilst I have been around bonsai for the larger portion of my life now I am socially challenged, lubberly, stolid and particularly uncomfortable around other folk. Being a clod-hopper from the wetlands of deepest Norfolk I missed the social graces class at school, too busy pulling beet in the fields don’t you know. As a result I have tended to keep myself to myself. I have few friends (those I have are GOOD friends) and I rarely leave home. Beyond writing this drivel I prefer not exposing myself in public. There are enough big headed personages out there today without me adding to the melee. Nobody needs that. As a result I feel I have had little influence over the progression of bonsai in the world beyond supplying a lot of kit to people (several £ millions to date) and I am absolutely fine with that.

Being the way I am seems to discombobulate a lot of folk. I do do strange things at times, we Norfolk folk are a rum bunch. Sadly due to stereotypes perpetuated by the media and some very funny comedians being “country” has become synonymous with being dumber than a bag of hammers. You’ll have to make up your own mind about that, however one thing I do know and have quoted here often courtesy of Edgar Allan Poe is…

 “Believe nothing you hear, and only one half that you see.”

I have been around the bonsai community long enough now that I rigidly adhere to this axiom. Rumours abound, bad information based on hearsay and conjecture, malicious gossip, one-upmanship, I could go on……. However it was fascinating recently  to hear from a customer that Kaizen Bonsai was shutting up shop. NEWS indeed, especially seeing as it didn’t come from me and I own the whole shebang, lock stock and the whole barrel of monkeys. So, where did this game of Chinese whispers start? What’s going on?

Earlier this year I did put out there that Kaizen Bonsai would be selling less plants and carrying less bonsai tree stock. So, thanks to the rumour mill I now need to clarify. I am reducing our stock of bonsai trees and yamadori. We were carrying up to 3000 trees and for a single old fat bloke that was just too much to look after seeing as we are close to fulfilling 10,000 orders a year now and there are only three of us working here. My holding of trees has gone from just under a million pounds to about a quarter million mostly good quality and exceptional bonsai and yamadori. If that appears to be shutting up shop it’s time to get those bumps felt.

On another subject I have heard from multiple sources that the soil products we use in bonsai will be in short supply after Brexit. That’s also a crock! Whilst it may not be as easy or cheap to buy products from mainland European suppliers post exit as it is today there is no reason why aggregate products will not continue to move. For the many products we buy from non EU countries absolutely NOTHING will change.

The whole Covid situation has hampered the movement of goods from all corners. The primary reason being the unprecedented demand took us all by surprise, goods sold out so fast that many existing stocks were exhausted. That meant the root producers could not manufacture goods fast enough and waiting lists grew.

Inbound transport has been severely hampered by excess demand and reduced staffing levels at shippers, cargo handlers, delivery hubs, freight forwarders and the vast army of people that work to get stuff out there into the world. Also international air freight capacity pretty much disappeared overnight and costs trebled in days.

As much as I might look like a dumb country redneck one thing I do know is the bonsai business. Nobody has more interest in keeping it shiny side up than I do. To that end Kaizen Bonsai are currently carrying thirty odd tons of soil products in stock with the same amount again held ready for call off at our suppliers and producers across this country and abroad. I have over two tons of wire, ten tons of ceramic pots, half a ton of plastics and over a ton of bonsai tools. We have seven tons of fertilisers, five tons of cardboard boxes, ten thousand empty bottles and cartons and a hundred grand in carving tools. As long as I draw a gasping breath the British bonsai community will not have to go without.

So, to propagate the mis-quoted words of Mark Twain –

* ‘The reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated.’

Get a grip folks, we are here to stay, please don’t believe the rumours!

Graham, Catherine, Richard and the Kaizen Bonsai team.

The reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated.

The reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated.

The actual quote from Mark Twain in response to a newspaper article….

* “I can understand perfectly how the report of my illness got about, I have even heard on good authority that I was dead. James Ross Clemens, a cousin of mine, was seriously ill two or three weeks ago in London, but is well now. The report of my illness grew out of his illness. The report of my death was an exaggeration.”

Practicing My Bonsai Wiring Skills

It’s getting busy around here. We have new stock arriving every week, at this time of year it’s mostly what we call ‘dry goods’ like pots, tools etc’. Whilst it’s not as exciting as getting a lorry load of beautiful trees it all still has to be dealt with. Last week I spent over 60 hours sitting in front of my Mac listing bonsai pots…. joy. By way of a little relief I was popping outside from time to time and practicing my bonsai wiring skills.

I buy a lot of untrained material. It represents good value and people like it. However sometimes I cock it up and buy something that, whilst I might think is beautiful, fails to find a new home even at half price. In that case I have no option but to whip it into shape. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it. Strangely every time I do this I start getting offers of a sale. However I usually end up keeping the tree because I like what I do, some times.

I bought this very unusual sabina juniper a couple of years ago. It had been kept under automatic watering and thanks to that and too much fertiliser the foliage had become long and floppy. I figured such an amazing tree would sell quickly and so did nothing with it. I was wrong and it’s still here. The foliage is beginning to get back to normal but still needs a couple of years.

In the summer my good friend Albie wanted some work to do so I set him up cleaning the trees extensive shari and deadwood. After a couple of days he began to uncover the trees very beautiful appearance and at that point I knew it meant I would be practicing my wiring skills down the road.

So here it is, a rule breaking juniper. It’s first work so cut us some slack and no it’s not for sale anymore.

G.

Practicing My Bonsai Wiring Skills. Sabina Juniper yamadori.

Practicing My Bonsai Wiring Skills. Summer 2019. Sabina Juniper yamadori.

Beautiful details hidden under a veneer of decay.

Practicing My Bonsai Wiring Skills. Winter 2020

Practicing My Bonsai Wiring Skills. Winter 2020

Practicing My Bonsai Wiring Skills. Winter 2020

Practicing My Bonsai Wiring Skills. Winter 2020. Yamadori ignoring the rules of bonsai.