Wow and wow again is the only way to describe the Gardens by the Bay in SIngapore. What an amazing location and site, a botanical dream and inspiration all in one place. The scale, presence, magnificence and beauty is incredible. We were fortunate to visit during Christmas so the gardens were buzzing with people visiting the winter wonderland festive fair, as well as just viewing the amazing floral displays. The lakes within the gardens are full of fish and other wildlife and the real trees are establishing well. It was great to see so many varied species used within the planted areas as well as some excellent examples of Figs and Baobabs.

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Dan Barton holding the Suiban prize to be given to the most innovative bonsai

Get your bonsai designs ready to be in with a chance of winning the prize for the most innovative exhibit at this years Swindon Winter Image Show on the 25th February 2018.

Suiban prize

Dan Barton has kindly sponsored this award and will judge the award on the day of the show. Dan and Cecilia of Esoteric pots are donating a stunning Suiban pot 43cm by 37cms which they have recently made with a value of £200.00 and it will be awarded to the owner of the most innovative exhibit at the show. So good luck and hope to see lots of innovative exhibits this year.

The gardens were established in 1859 by the Agri-Horticultural society, and the Singapore Botanic Garden (SBG) was originally designed by Lawrence Niven. It continues to this day to be a regional centre for plant science, research and conservation in Southeast Asia. Plus is instrumental in the greening and transformation of Singapore into a Garden City which began in around the 1960’s. The Gardens is Singapore’s first nomination as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Bonsai was not hard to find in Singapore as greenery is dominant everywhere, plants adorn walls to create living green spaces, whole gardens are built within hotels and they have numerous plants and trees in pots within their foyers, it is superb. The climate in Singapore aids with this approach to urban greening as well as the investment in creating such stunning green spaces which are available for public enjoyment. During one of our visits to the Singapore Botanic Gardens we saw the bonsai collection which contained a vast array of different tropical bonsai tree species and my favourite, the Ficus.

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Japanese wisteria floribunda macrobotrys

Japanese wisteria, Wisteria floribunda macrobotrys

 

We always enjoy visiting Kew Gardens during the dormant season; they have a fantastic selection of trees and calling in at this time of year allows you to see the structure of the plants better. And no trip to Kew Gardens is complete without popping into the Bonsai House and seeing how the collection is going. 

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Paul Reed has been doing bonsai for around 6-7 years now and joined Swindon Bonsai Club in around 2010. His first ever bonsai was a Chinese Elm that was given to him as a birthday present and since then his interest in the hobby has grown.

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Japanese Black Pine Pinus thunbergii

Pinus thunbergii before needle thinning

Removing needles can be as important as pruning branches, in order to stimulate back-budding and develop branch structure. As with most evergreen conifers the normal approach is to cut back to something green but if there isn’t anything growing lower down a branch, what do you do? A fellow club member asked me to look at his Japanese black pine (Pinus thunbergii) at a recent show as he was concerned about this.

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English Elm

English Elm

8-10 inches English Elm with big hole in trunk. The material has been grown for many years, building up good branch movement and ramification. However it’s not without its faults. The thing about ‘faults’ in bonsai material is that they can be made advantages if you can find a way of using the fault as a feature or rather as a way to tell a story about the tree.

The Elm used has some bad negative taper and empty space just above soil level. One possible way to improve this would have been to air layer above the negative taper part. Grafting on new branches low down would also be a way of eventually correcting the negative taper.

However if your fortunate to have better examples of the species in your collection then an argument could be made for trying something different…

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