The Federation of British Bonsai Societies have won a gold medal at the prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Well done Reg and congratulations


Setup photos courtesy of Andy Jordan

Chelsea 2014 Gold medal winning bonsai trees on display from the Federation of British Bonsai Societies in the United Kingdom. This year was another glorious flower show, with stunning floral displays as far as the eye could see in the main pavilion and the show gardens were exceptional yet again.

The bonsai trees on the Federation of British Bonsai Societies display proved to be a captivating display for all to see who and very positive comments were past onto those manning the FOBBS stand. The public asked a range of questions and were very interested in how to start off a bonsai tree as well as how to maintain it and how old the ones on the display were in addition to how much they cost as well as where they could buy one. The tress on the display are all trees owned by amateur bonsai hobbyists and have been privately owned and maintained by their respective owners for around twenty to thirty years or more but the majority of these trees are less than sixty years of age. Some of the bonsai trees were grown from seed, others were developed from cuttings or yamadori while some where developed on from starter bonsai material or imported bonsai trees originally many years ago.

Maintenance of bonsai trees varying with age and species as well as the style and some are easier to maintain than others so if you are looking to buy or start a bonsai choose your species wisely. The main thing to remember is that the bonsai tree is kept in a pot and therefore has no access to water unless it is watered either naturally by the rain or by the owner. So this would require a check daily to see if the tree needs watering as the first point to maintenance and beyond that the fun begins with how you then choose to maintain your bonsai. If you are looking to maintain an exhibition level bonsai tree this will require technical skill, knowledge and time however if you want to own a high quality bonsai tree but are unsure how to maintain it many bonsai professionals are available to aid you with keeping your bonsai and offer bonsai maintenance services.

Here is an overview of the five basic maintenance requirements;

  1. Daily watering especially crucial in warmer months when this may increase to two or more times in a day and this includes a quick health check for pests and diseases
  2. Feeding of nutrients during growing season either by liquid feed in water, slow release in soil or on soil or foliar application
  3. Pruning during growing season
  4. Styling during growing season or during dormant season as required to start, develop or maintain style
  5. Repotting which can be annually, biannually, or as per the species requirements, health of the tree and or maturity of the bonsai tree

Another frequently asked question was are the trees on the display kept inside or outside? All the bonsai on display are trees that are kept outdoors all year round with the exception of perhaps providing winter protection from frosts for some of the smaller trees, depending on the species – in a cold green house or under the shelter of a bench. The majority of trees kept as bonsai should be kept outside but some species of tropical trees require warmer all year round conditions and would need to be kept indoors or in a warmer environment for them to survive.

The all important question of how much do they cost? Well for the majority of individual owners of bonsai trees they consider their trees to be priceless as they have spent many years developing, maintaining and caring for their trees for innumerable hours and are not looking to sell their trees generally, however, there are many places to buy bonsai trees and if you are looking to purchase  then have a look at the Good Bonsai Nursery Guide. You can pay significant sums for a high quality bonsai tree, but if you are looking for a tree of that nature than seek expert advice to help you in this to ensure you get the right bonsai tree for the right price. As a whole starter bonsai trees can be bought for anywhere between £5 to £100 and you can start one off yourself by collecting a sapling or growing one from seed if you want, but as mentioned before choose your species wisely as some lend themselves to being kept as bonsai more than other tree species.

If you want help and advice there are many bonsai clubs and societies where you can attend workshops, meetings as well as check out the bonsai events where you can go to see bonsai at shows and buy bonsai trees and sundries from the attending bonsai traders.

So hope you enjoyed the FOBBS display at bonsai and are now inspired to have a go yourself…