Fun with tree critiques

Terry Adams discussing his English Elm (Ulmus procera)

During the evening meeting there was a critique of club members’ trees for anyone who wanted guidance and to share their thoughts on the development of their trees and the first to share their thoughts was Terry Adams as he discussed his new project, a recently purchased English Elm (Ulmus procera). Terry put forward his ideas on how he planned to develop the tree and perhaps remove the top branch that veers to the right as it has a deep undercut. He talked about whether he would air layer it as well as develop the other elements of the tree that formed a natural raft. He also proposed to drill through the cavity and develop a central crown on the main trunk and subsidiary crowns on the side trunks to the right.

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Bonsai Taiwan Fig tree pruning

New shoots showing the stipule at the end of the shoot

For general pruning and to promote back budding on Taiwan figs I tend to prune back to behind new shoots (know as the stipule which is the point at the end of the shoot) and this helps if you want a denser crown with smaller leaves.

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Introduction to Ginkgo’s as bonsai

Trunk of mature Ginkgo tree

Maidenhair trees (Ginkgos) are also popular subjects for growing as penjing and bonsai; they can be kept artificially small and tended over centuries. They are amazing trees in that they are the sole surviving species of a group of Gymnosperms that flourished 65 million years ago, around the time of the dinosaurs.

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Brief history of my Taiwan Fig

Taiwan Fig at first purchase in February 2006 from Lodders in Holland

This is the story so far of my first bonsai tree purchase which was a Taiwan fig and to share possibly common themes with others who are just starting out with a bonsai tree and hopefully to encourage them to along the way. The following explains a stage of events from a healthy tree to an unhealthy tree and its recovery. In February 2006 I purchased a Taiwan Fig from Lodders Bonsai nursery in Holland (  It was kept in my flat on a south facing window sill as an indoor bonsai and was in good health. By February 2007 my Taiwan Fig was fruiting profusely and very healthy but it was still in its original deep blue pot which made it hard to water as it was tightly bound in pot by roots. So in March 2007 I re-potted my Taiwan Fig in shallower Walsall pot and in order to do this I cut off one large root.  I re-potted the fig in Edo bonsai soil mix and carried out no pruning to canopy at time of root pruning and re-potting.

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John Armitage workshop September 2010

Here are some pictures of the September 2010 workshop with John Armitage at Swindon & District bonsai club which was great fun and very informative. For more information about John visit his blog at:

Hinoki cypress workshop

Hinoki cypress bonsai

Japanese cypress or Hinoki Cypress or false cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa ) is a species of cypress that is native to central Japan. It is an important timber tree and is considered sacred by Shintos. It comes from the family of Cupressaceae which is part of the False cypresses. The genus is Chamaecyparis and the species is Obtusa meaning blunt leaves. In June, a club night was devoted to working on Hinoki cypress and a brief video showing work in progress is posted below.

Hinoki cypress workshop video

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John Armitage workshop 2009

John Armitage workshop 2009

Bonsai workshops area a great way to increase your ever growing knowledge of bonsai and a good place to share ideas and discuss your trees with others. In 2009 John Armitage was invited to host a workshop for the Swindon and District Bonsai club which was very well attended and very informative. It was an excellent day and John helped individuals with their trees and gave them ideas on how to develop their trees further. Here is a selection of pictures from the day.

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