Saturday 19th April

A regular monthly workshop next Saturday.

A relaxed yet informative day in which to improve your [ and our ] bonsai knowledge and experience. Still places available, call us on 01434681217 or e-mail and book your spot.

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” Beside the lake, beneath the trees ”

Well, a bit of poetic license used here in the title,

The pond [ lake ] just about visible fifty or so metres away, and the trees are not much bigger than the daffodils but………….

nevertheless it is a nice show of the yellow flowers in the woodland garden at Willowbog Farm

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Yesterdays Spring ”Chat”

Beginning with a familiar refrain……………sorry for the lack of photographic evidence ! Although there are a few-

The Proprietor was behind the camera for this one showing that her assistant does sometimes do some work ! De-wiring some of the newly acquired stock. A bit blurry but that’s always the best way to see an image of the author.

All the usual suspect turned up yesterday for what turned out to be a productive day for most , almost like a free workshop in fact !

Sorry for catching you unawares Keith ! The Lodgepole pine, Pinus contorta, in the background was the first sale from our new stock of raw material, thanks Tony.

Ray correctly identified this garden shrub that David C brought in, as a member of the Podocarpus family. Not bad for a freebie !

Still in the middle of the re-potting season of course, someone’s nice Tsuga heterophylla, Western hemlock, got the treatment.

Thanks to Mr. Gilbert for getting a lot of useful work done on some of the new stock of raw material pines. Antony spent his time starting the clean up of the natural deadwood on his new purchased, Spanish origin, European yew, a delicate job !

I put this Japanese mountain maple from The Willowbog Collection in the tokonoma yesterday.

High class Japanese bonsai ! One of my favourite trees.  I know……the pots a bit weedy ! sorry.

In the side section I placed this ex Caroline Steward, better known by all Willowboggers as Caz, Japanese larch, Larix Kaempferi, semi-cascade bonsai, on the benches at a very reasonable price !!

Lots of folk didn’t make it on to camera, we even had some ” proper ” customers as well yesterday,  a good bonsai day at Willowbog Bonsai.


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Valuable additions

A long-standing Willowbogger contacted us recently to explain that due to a period of poor health he wanted to reduce his extensive collection and were we interested in making some purchases. We were. He had selected and marked everything that he wanted to keep and we would buy everything else. We got a range a very useful trees, lots of interesting raw material amongst them.





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Pinus parviflora

It has been a while since I added anything at all to the Willowbog Bonsai on-line shop. Very remiss of me given that I keep repeating that we should have all our tree stock visible on-line. I can only plead being fully engaged with other things such as workshops and shows [ well one show ! ]







Only one tree to add just now, this Japanese white pine, Pinus parviflora. Please check out the details.

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Busy bird day at Willowbog

A bit of activity on the main pond today with a brief visit from a pair of Goosanders, presumably stopping off en route back to breeding ground in the north of Scotland. A photo borrowed from the internet shows this attractive species that is an occasional visitor to us.

We had all our usual pond  breeding birds, a single Mute sawn arrived only to be harassed by the pair of Canada geese who, by their agitation must be thinking about getting down to nesting soon. Little grebe and moorhen completed the water birds.

Another internet picture show our first summer visitor arrival of the new year, Willow warbler, I know that this species increasingly over winters in the UK. but not round here they don’t !! Seven members of the finch family today, Chaffinch,Greenfinch,Goldfinch,Brambling,Siskin,Redpoll and Bullfinch. The ‘creaking door’ call of Common snipe was apparent as were singing Skylarks, oh, and Curlews flying over , in must be spring !!!


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Out and about.

The Proprietor and myself have been out doing mainly bonsai things today . Delivering a couple of big trees for a Willowbogger [ I suppose Malcolm A. has to qualify , just about ! ] Looking at a major collection reduction for another Willowbogger who has unfortunately suffered more than his fair share of ill-health in the past year, good that he is not giving up completely though ! We have also checked out our bonsai that are for sale at Douglas Brothers Koi Carp dealers, in Sunniside near Gateshead.

The real reason for this post though is that we had three good sightings of the bird in the above photograph [ borrowed from the internet ] Alright, the area west of Tyneside where we were, is noted for Red Kite, but we have been in that area many times without getting a glimpse. Today’s first view was from the enthusiasts back garden in Prudhoe, lucky blighter !! , the best sighting though, was as we headed west from Sunniside, seeing a bird swoop low over a field right beside the road. Lastly a bird flew over the A68 as we headed down toward Corbridge. It is the species that I reckon to be the favourite to be the next bird added to our Willowbog Farm’s all time list, fingers crossed !!

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What could be better than a couple of workshop days with the excellent Mr. Peter Warren? Well, three days would be better and that’s exactly what last weekend comprised here at Willowbog Bonsai.

PW’s teaching technique is so well received as to need a schedule of three days at each of his visits to our nursery this year.

Each day began with discussion concerning topically issues and how they relate to the trees brought along by the participants.

Hanging on his every word ! Jane taking notes, even Kev, with his back to us, was listening I am sure :-)

This first part of each day can sometimes go on quite a while but folk like it as they learn such a lot, indeed I learn so much perhaps I ought to pay for the session as well !!

Most of these folk work with Peter now on a regular basis.

I am not going to pretend that I can recall which day any of these photos was taken, it was now two days ago !!

Some of the trees.

More of the trees.

Even more trees, one of the challenges for the teacher at a workshop like this is the sheer variety of the material.

However, because of the season there was a lot of re-potting to do, Peter started this day with a bit of a demonstration with this little semi-cascade pine.

”I’ll hold the tree, you add the growing medium”

We had a real problem at these workshops, five Davids !! this was David W

This is David H/1.

David H/2.

David C with his newly acquired Spanish origin European yew yamadori.

And last, but certainly not least, we see David T  with one of his junipers, he has a few !!

Back to that range of trees, Ian B gets his satsuki re-potted.

Janice with a cotoneaster amongst others.

Aside from the re-potting there was plenty of tree shaping and pruning done.

Martyn D made good progress with this Western hemlock, purchased as raw material from a highly reputable bonsai nursery !

Trident maple pruning.

A joint effort on this Trident ?

Intense concentration required !!

Here also with Antony paying close attention to the work on his juniper.

If they use the workshops well the participants have the chance to learn about trees other than just their own.

Over the weekend there was a wide range of species, all at different stages of development as bonsai, as well as having a range of procedures and techniques carried out on them.

And still Mr. Warren found time to play to the camera , media training my a*** Peter !

Anyway, bonsai is a serious business.

Then again, maybe it’s not !!

So ends yet another weekend of bonsai fun, enlightenment, advancement, confidence building, ?? hopefully all of these things, at Willowbog Bonsai, my grateful thanks to all participants for supporting what we do here and especially to Peter Warren for what was a tiring three days for him but rewarding for all I am sure.



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Let someone else take the strain !

Mr. Peter Warren , hot foot from a stint in the USA, begins three days of workshops here today.

I am sure that he will be in fine form and, although I will be needed to do such important tasks as fetch and carry and make him cups of tea, I am looking forward to a relatively easy weekend.

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The busy month continues !

Willowbog Bonsai held its regular monthly workshop yesterday and a good, busy day it was ! Unsurprisingly I failed to take a single picture, fortunately in between getting on with his own work, The G-man grab my camera at recorded at least a little of what went on, thanks Peter.

This Silver birch with an outstanding trunk came down from the Scottish Borders with owners Lyle and Sally, doing only their second workshop here. Having spent many years in this garden pot full of very heavy soil the objective was to get the tree into a more manageable and bonsai shaped training pot.

The electric hoist got some use again to avoid back breaking strains on myself and Ray, who was helping as usual at the workshop, and no! I was not venting my fury at anyone, least of all Ray, merely trying to dislodge this old pot.

The trees roots had grown into the pot’s ribs and it refused to budge, desperate measures were called for ! out came the chainsaw and we cut the plastic pot in two so that we could remove it !  Me with chainsaw in hand , Ray showing bravery above and beyond the call of duty, has he never seen the film ‘ Chainsaw Massacre ‘ ?

Pot off !

Root ball exposed.

Now lets prune some roots away !!

As would be expected at this time of year most of the participants had re-potting to do. Willowbogger John H brought along his juniper group for that purpose.

Trying to come up with the best placement for the trees.

Not everyone had roots in mind though, Antony got some early season structural pruning done on his maple before all becomes obscured by the leaves.

These regular monthly workshop seem to be a valuable way for folk to advance their knowledge and experience before moving on to work with more accomplished teachers. Speaking of which we have the very wonderful Mr. Peter Warren conducting three days of workshops next weekend with just a couple of spare places at the moment, grab yourself the chance to expand your bonsai wisdom with this highly respected and Japanese trained guy !!

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