Been a very busy few weeks down at Monkey Mountain HQ. That week of sitting in front of a computer did not materialise and my odometer has another extra few miles on it. Still, it’s all been fun and plenty of good work has been achieved. I have had to schedule time for some of my own trees as well, most of it done early in the morning or late at night, but I am up to date and nothing has suffered yet.
One of the things I had to do was to repot my infamous Rosemary, known as “the tick tock tree”, apparently because it was due to die sometime in the summer of 2007. I have written a history on this tree which was due to be published by an Italian publication but they don’t seem to have gotten around to it, so it will go up on here. Needless to say the tree is still health and alive despite the fact it has now spent close to four and a half years growing in the UK. I was told, very politely, by many of the established members of the Bonsai community that it would be dead in six months.
It spent the winter in a plastic box because I was ordered to return the pot it had been growing in for several years, the one it was displayed in at both the Best of British and the BCI event in St. Vincent 2008. Despite the fact I had bought the pot outright, the Chief had already made an arrangement with a Chinese buyer to take the pot when I had returned with it and so I was in a bit of a pickle. The pot had to make it back safely, and so, on Christmas Eve, in the Yorkshire snow, I took the tree out of the pot and put it into a plastic box where it sat, surrounded by soil until the winter. It was in a heated and lighted greenhouse as per usual but it did look a sorry state and for that I apologised.
It over wintered very well and at the start of March it had already woken up and was beginning to grow. Root tips were beginning to move and she was off again. I had hoped to pick up a pot of exactly the same dimensions so I could just slip the well established root ball back into the pot without any disturbance. Unfortunately that didn’t happen and I had to settle for a nice Tokoname pot I had on hand. I chose this as it reflects well the maritime nature of the Rosemary and it also gives it a slightly new look. It went in relatively easily, I had to wash the soil out and mould the roots into the pot, but minimal disturbance was caused and I am confident of no major problems. The new soil mix is roughly equal parts of Akadama, pumice and perlite all of which are small particle size. I have been using this for the last year. Seems ok. Apologies for the picture. I dont have a studio.
I also got around to potting up this little Juniper I have had for years. One of the problems with travelling around so much is missing out on working on trees at the right time. This has suffered from that. It should have been on display by now but it is lagging behind. It was something I picked up from Toju-en, Hamano’s garden where Kimura and Suzuki both studied. The current generation have a stand near us at the Green Club and they press-ganged me into buying it several years ago. He still remembers it and asks every year. Next year I will take a picture of it! It is in a Stone Monkey pot, one of a few that I have of his superb work. The original pictures of the tree can be found here
Another tree I have recently come across is one I bought from the first gentleman of UK Bonsai, Ken Leaver. I was at his a week or so ago and came across this azalea and thought I should buy it. It has incredible mochi-komi and had been growing in that tight pot for ever.
A repot and a quick prune later and we are in business. Assuming it can get over the severe repot into such a small pot, again a beautiful Stone Monkey creation with a bamboo style lip, then it will be all stations go. A literati style Azalea with great natural movement and a superbly flared nebari. Obviously there is alot of work to be done up top but it is not bad for £19.
More articles and that to follow. Trips to Spain and Italy coming up over the next week along with a debate on the topic, Eastern Tradition vs. Bonsai as Art. I will let you guess which side they asked me to defend.