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Presidents Page

Well hello there, and thank you for visiting the Presidents page. My name is Marina and I took up bonsai back in 2018 and have worked to develope my knowledge and skills since then, and now in 2022 I have taken up the role of President.  My vision is to promote the art of bonsai by encouraging new membership and providing a diverse range of activities for all to take part in and enjoy.

This page is where I can let you know about interesting topics, up and coming events or just general chit-chat. I'd like to hear your ideas on how you could help me grow this vision. So please do get in touch.

If you would like to comment, ask a question or put forward an idea you can reach me at

I look forward to hearing from you :-)


28 May 2024

First time for a good few years that the Scottish Bonsai Associations National Exhibition has been in a new location, and what a success this was. 

The event had the usual club stands, all of which were well presented with our member’s bonsai trees. Our Open Section displayed bonsai trees from our online members and non-members alike. There were two displays from Maurice Maidment, one being a Mame/Shohin display and the other Shohin/Kifu. There were many stunning trees to be seen throughout the Exhibition.

A programme of activity for the day included four talks from members on Suiseki, Mame and Shohin Trees, Care for Bonsai and Wiring Bonsai as well as a live demonstration throughout the day from Ian Downie on Styling a Bonsai Tree.

We had a members favourite and a publics favourite vote. Both of these votes were awarded to an exceptional Hawthorn bonsai tree displayed in the open section by Kenneth Mitchell.

We were honoured with a visit from the Consul General of Japan who visited each of the stands admiring trees and asking questions. After which we invited him to choose his favourite tree and a rosette was presented for a Juniper owned by Ian Downie.

The art of bonsai is the growing of miniature trees in miniature containers and this year our exhibition was complimented by a guest appearance from Wilson and Flicker, two miniature Shetland Ponies from Therapy Ponies Scotland. They were admired by many, very patient with us and didn’t eat any of the trees.

The Committee would like to say a huge THANK YOU to;

- The members who supported our exhibition by participating as part of the set-up team, providing trees for display, and joining in with activities to help with the smooth running of the event. 

- Other enthusiasts who contributed a tree to the display.

- Our member traders who provided a selection of ‘Things Bonsai’ for sale.

- Members who donated home baking and, Marion, Ina and Agnes who managed a very busy refreshment area.

- All who visited on the day.

Looking forward to next years exhibition already :)


27 April 2024

Our National Exhibition is just one month away and it's in a new location at the Strathbrock in Broxburn (EH52 5LH) this year. 

On the day there will be

  • Area group stands displaying members bonsai trees
  • National Bonsai Collection display
  • Open section
  • Trade stands
  • Demonstrations
  • Talks
  • Raffle
  • Refreshments

The Consul General of Japan will honour us with a visit on the day and select his personal favourite Bonsai Tree.  Scottish Bonsai Association Members and Members of the public also get a chance to select their favourite Bonsai Tree within the following categories.

  • Consul's Choice
  • Member’s Choice
  • Public’s Choice

Convenors are already working with their group members to design their group stands.

If you would like to display a tree in the open section please get in touch before the 12 May. 

Our bonsai trees are a fascinating art form that involves growing miniature trees in small containers. In keeping with this miniature theme, this year we are proud to announce there will be a guest appearance from Wilson and Flicker, two miniature Shetland Ponies from Therapy Ponies Scotland.

Please promote this event as widely as you can.  Hope to see you on the day.  


7 April 2024

Ayrshire Bonsai Club are having an Open Exhibition in Troon Concert Hall, South Beach, Troon, Ayrshire.  KA10 6EF, on Saturday 12 May 24

To enter a tree or for more details Contact: Jeff Banning 07799.477895 or


13 March 2024

I'm excited about our new venture, Let me tell you a little bit about it.

We are developing a programme of speaker sessions which will be delivered using Zoom. This programme will provide all our members with an additional opportunity to engage with the extended association and benefit from the knowledge within the wider community.

Our first speaker session will be on 20 March 2024 at 7pm till 9pm. 

This session will be delivered by Mark Moreland and his talk will be on Propagation and Miniature Bonsai.

Members will receive an email invite to the session which they will need to register for, If any members does not receive the invite email (check spam/junk folder) please contact your group convenor or myself for details.


4 February 2024

I’ve not posted anything here for a few months but it has been a busy time. There has been a lot of research happening in the background to find a more central location for our National Exhibition and today I would like to make the results of this work known to you all.

On Sunday 26 May the Strathbrock Centre In Broxburn, West Lothian will host our 2024 National Exhibition.  This will be a one day event to promote the art of bonsai through a display of members trees. 

Pop the date in your diary for now, and as details of this event are agreed they will be availabe from you group convenor, posted on this page and on our social media channels.


8 September 2023

Our Septemebrt event is

Corin Tomlinson @ The Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum, FK8 2RQ
23 September 2023, 10:00-16:00

Corin Tomlinson has been studying Bonsai for over 30 years, working alongside some of the worlds most respected Bonsai masters. The Scottish Bonsai Association are delighted to be able to welcome Corin to join us for a day of Bonsai Activity. The morning session will consist of a demonstration from Corin and in the afternoon a critique.

All bonsai enthusiasts are welcome to attend and bring a tree if they wish. Corin will select some of the trees for the afternoon critique session.

Places for this event are limited by the venue’s capacity. To ensure we do not have to turn anyone away please book your place in advance by contacting me on or your convenor. This will allow us to monitor bookings and stay within the venue limits.

This is a pay at the door event, cash only please.
Cost are £10 for Scottish Bonsai Association members and £20 for non-members.

Tea, coffee and biscuits will be available all day, but attendees should bring their own packed lunch, or they could use the Smith Café or local shops.


25 June 2023

The Japanes Garden at Cowden On the 19 August we are returning to The Japanese Garden at Cowden to provide a display of bonsai trees. The event will be open to the public from 10:30 until 17:00.

This is a day for bonsai enthusiasts to come along and display their trees, talk with other enthusiasts, and promote the art of bonsai the public.

It is hoped that like last year the event will include members from independent groups across Scotland as well as Scottish Bonsai Association members. 

If you would like to be part of this event please let me know at or via your group convenor. We will need an idea of how many people will come along to ensure that we have enough table space on the day.

This will be a ticketed event however entrance for those displaying trees will be free. 

I've included address details below and a link to the ticket page for anyone wishing to attend without exhibiting as our last event there sold out very quickly.

 The Japanese Garden at Cowden, Upper Hillfoot Rd, Dollar FK14 7PL


3 June 2023

Scone Palace Garden Fair was a very successful venture for us. It was a two day ‘show and tell’ event to promote the art and craft of bonsai.

I would like say a huge thank you to club members who gave up their time and helped man the stand over the two days, helping to make the event a huge success.   I really appreciate your commitment.

There were any people visiting our stand, asking lots or questions about bonsai and how to learn to do this. Of course, this was our opportunity to answer their questions and promote the Scottish Bonsai Association and people were given club details.

Our next event will be our Exhibition of Bonsai at Cowdent Japanese Garden in Dollar on 19 August 2023. Information available from convenors or posted here neared the time. 


21 April 2022

Event Calendar 2023

Above is the link to our events calendar for 2023 which provides a note of dates for different events planned this year. Committe meet on 26 April 2023 after which convenors will have more detail to share. 


24 March 2023

It's been a long winter but spring is just around the corner now and there is increased bonsai activity.

I have been putting together an annual programme of activity and would like to let you know about confirmed events for this year so far

Sunday 21 May 2023 -  Scottish Bonsai Association National Exhibition to be held in Troon this year.

Saturday 27 May 2023 - A Japanese Festival at Cowden Gardens, Dollar. This day is a celebration of Japanese Culture and we have been invited to have a small display of some of our trees.

Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd June 2023 - Garden Fair, Scone Palace Perth. We will have a stand available to exhibit a range of our bonsai trees.  This event will provide us with a great opportunity to promote the art of bonsai and our Scottish Bonsai Association. 

Saturday 19 August 2023 - Bonsai Exhibition, Cowden Japanese Gardens, Dollar. This day is for Bonsai enthusiasts to come along and display their trees in the Garden, talk with other enthusiasts and promote the art of bonsai the public.

Still to be confirmed I have made contact with 4 different Bonsai Artists who have agreed to work with me to provide speaker, demonstration or workshop events for our members.  I am now looking at possible venues in a central location with available dates for these events to be scheduled. More information will be available soon. 


4 March 2023

Hi Everyone, Jeff has provided an update on the progress towards the National Exibition and some information on entries. I have pasted this below for your information.  



With just 10 weeks to go to the big day I just wanted to give you a quick update on the progress we are making with this years National Exhibition and to ask you to start to book slots for exhibits.

Club Displays: I have had confirmation that five clubs will be exhibiting a club display and there will be a display by the National Bonsai Collection of Scotland Charitable Trust.

Open section: I would now like to start to receive commitments to enter trees into the Open Section, so please start to select the trees you wish to show and let me have the required information as soon as you can.  (see details below).

Traders: We have eight traders booked this year with the addition of Corin Tomlinson of Greenwood Bonsai. Robert Porch will be selling a range of bonsai supplies and there will be plenty of pots for sale with additional offerings from Barry Somerville, Ian Baillie, Peter Kleboe and Carl Smith.  In addition, Tony Robinson from Carlisle will be selling pots and trees and Rob Atkinson will also have a selection of trees for sale.  So, all in all, plenty of opportunity to add to your collection.

Raffle: Just a quick reminder that, although the area groups will be supplying a raffle prize we are always looking to expand the range of prizes on offer so please keep a look-out for any items you think may be suitable and let me know about them so we can keep track.

Publicity: The show is already advertised on several different social media sites, both local and national, including the British Bonsai Club (17,000 members) and the UK Bonsai Association (2,000 members) as well as our own Facebook page.  It is listed on the Visit Scotland website and will be featured in the local “Going Out” magazines for Troon and Alloway districts. We will also be placing further social media adverts nearer the time and will also be distributing fliers to all clubs, hotels, B&B’s, libraries etc. in the Troon area.  However, we still need members support to get the word out in their local areas so please advertise the event as widely as possible, via, friends, colleagues, social media (share our Facebook advert) etc.

Voting: The voting categories have been reduced and club conveners will be provided with voting slips for their members.  Votes cast by members in previous years have been very low and we are keen to make the result a meaningful one so please make sure that you cast your vote before 13.00 on the day so that awards can be displayed within a reasonable timeframe.

We need all your help to make this a success.  Please support however you can by entering trees for both the club display and the Open Section (see below for details)

As usual Club Conveners have all the details but if anything is unclear you can contact

Event Address:  Municipal Buildings, South Beach, Troon KA10 6EF

Map :,-4.6626668,15z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x53dcd0c0de3481a?ved=2ahUKEwiDwNOvs5DgAhW1RRUIHV6AACoQ_BIwCnoECAYQCA


With 65 meters of display space we want to be able to accommodate as many entries as possible who wish to exhibit in this section.

Shohin size: This year we have decided to display Shohin trees in a dedicated section so exhibitors will need to advise their space requirements for display purposes.

Chuhin size and above:  We want to make sure that adequate space is allowed for each exhibit and so will be increasing the size of the slots on offer to 100 cm. for larger trees and 80 cm. for chuhin size.

Novice exhibits: We are keen to expand the coverage of Novice entries so, if you have been in the hobby for less than 3 years and never won a competition , please consider entering a tree for display.

Exhibitors may arrange their exhibit within the agreed space in any way they choose. 

All participants wishing to enter trees should provide the following information via their club convener or directly to

  1. Exhibitor name
  2. How many slots of each size are required (e.g. 1 x 100cm and 2 x 80 cm slots)
  3. The tree type(s) to be displayed (e.g. Arakawa Maple, European Larch etc.)
  4. Indicate if they are to be entered as shohin.
  5. The name of the pot maker (e.g. Chinese, Japanese, Ian Baillie, Unknown etc). 
  6. Indicate if you wish to exhibit in the “Novice” section (less than 3 years in the hobby and never won a competition)
  7. If you have any special requirements please also let us know.


  1. This information should be submitted BEFORE Saturday 6th May 2023 (the earlier the better – please don’t leave until the last minute) after which the requests will be checked against the available space and positions allocated in the display.
  1. Each tree will then be given a number which will identify its position in the display and this will be communicated to the exhibitor prior to the 21st May.
  2. A card with the exhibit number and details will be prepared in advance and, on the day, placed in the allocated space so the exhibitor knows where to position their trees.
  3. At 10.30 am on the day exhibitors should start to position their trees in the allocated spaces. (The time before 10.30 am will be required to erect the stands.)

Under no circumstances should pots be placed directly on cloths even during set-up (we lost two lengths of cloth in 2022 due to tar staining).  All exhibits (including accents) should be displayed on stands/mats in order to protect the stand material and any scrolls, accents should be free standing as they cannot be hung from the backdrop frame.

Given the limited set-up time for this event it is critical that everybody understands and sticks to the process outlined – especially the cut-off dates for slot bookings. 

If anything is unclear please check with your convener or contact Jeff Banning.  Again, I would emphasise that we need your support by entering trees if this exhibition is to be successful so please make every effort to make an entry. 



17 January 2023

Sad news with the passing of Jim McCurrach yesterday at the age of 92.  Jim was one of the early pioneers of the hobby in Scotland having learned under John Naka during a short period living in the USA over 50 years ago.  There are those in the hobby who will have fond memories of Jim’s contribution at workshops and seminars across the UK and there are others who have come more recently to the hobby who only know of Jim by reputation (and what a reputation it is) as well as from the reservoir of Jim McCurrach trees still in the collections of hobbyists in Scotland.

Jim was an influential member of the bonsai community known especially for his tree collecting and nurturing expertise as well as his gentle and humorous teaching approach. He was a leader who was instrumental in the development of both the SBA and the Scottish Bonsai National Collection.  The SBA Community send its commiserations and best wishes to Jim’s family and our sincere thanks to Jim for his legacy.


21 October 2022

Hi Everyone, the 9th of October was the display of Bonsai trees at Cowden Japanese Garden which was arranged by Tony Tickle.  I've included the link to the garden.  If you have not already visited then this will give you a feel for how it looks.  Japanese Garden at Cowden – Cowden Garden  It's such a beautiful, peaceful place. 

Anyway as Piglet said to Owl it was a very blustery day, but that didn’t deter those of us who had agreed to display.  All in all there were around 100 trees on show.  Tony brough 5 beautiful trees and Robert Porch had a display, as did Caledonian Bonsai Society, Fife Bonsai Society and of course Scottish Bonsai Association. 

Tony asked if going forward SBA would take over the organisation of this.  Tony and I met with the events manager to confirm the hand over.  Thankfully we were all in agreement that next year's event would be earlier in the year to give us a chance of better weather for an outside event.  More detail of this in the new year as things progress.



6 October 2022

I did say I would tell you about my escapade on my return. The Bonsai Live Show 2022 was amazing. The exhibition trees were astonishing, it was great to see such a collection of bonsai trees on display.

At the Penicuik club meeting in September, two members brought along their crab apple trees to work on. I was so taken with them and the tiny little apples that they displayed I’d made up my mind that my next tree purchase would be a crab apple tree, and yes, you guessed it, the traders stands had a range of trees available for purchase and I got my crab apple tree and a nice new pot which I was looking for to re-pot a yew.

There were talks/demonstrations on throughout both days. I particularly like Tony Tickles story of George (his yew tree) which he collected and has been developing over the years, and Yoshi gave a nice demonstration on moss and how to arrange it in a terrarium.

Catching up with former and new enthusiasts was good and I’m looking forward to the next Bonsai Live event in two years time : )

But in just a few days we have the bonsai event on Sunday 9 October at The Japanese Garden in Cowden. Maybe I’ll see some of you there?



29 September 2022

It's the Bonsai Show Live 2022 at Telford this weekend and I'm really looking forward to it. There are a number of demonstrations and talks but I've not made up my mind which I want to attend yet. Guess I'll make my mind up on the day.   

I wonder if I'll see any of you there, anyway, I'll tell you all about my escapade when I get back. 



23 September 2022

Well hello there, and thank you for visiting the Presidents page. My name is Marina and I took up bonsai back in 2018 and have worked to develope my knowledge and skills since then, and now in 2022 I have taken up the role of President.  My vision is to promote the art of bonsai by encouraging new membership and providing a diverse range of activities for all to take part in and enjoy.

This page is where I can let you know about interesting topics, up and coming events or just general chit-chat. I'd like to hear your ideas on how you could help me grow this vision. So please do get in touch.

If you would lik to comment, ask a question or put forward an idea you can reach me at

I look forward to hearing from you :-)


13 May 2022

First of all I just want to say thank you to every member who supported the National Exhibition either by attending or participating.  This is the Associations big showpiece event of the year and it is important that we do everything we can individually and as a group to make the show a success.

This year was better than ever with more trees on show, more members of the public participating and the smallest financial loss yet.  (If you want to know more detail about the exhibtions performance your Convener has details that he can share with you).  Also, the use of social media to raise the profile of the hobby seems to be having a positive effect and we need to capitalise on this if we are to generate new interest and new club membership and an even better show next year.

Also, I would like to pay tribute to the members of the Ayrshire Groups “show committee”. Without their commitment and hard work I would have had an even bigger mental breakdown than I actually had (all self-inflicted of course!).  That is Tony Collins, John Goldsmith, Mary Goodall, Sarah Burkinshaw and Ian McDougall.

Lastly however, I would like all members to think about their experience while it is still fresh in your minds and jot down in an email any issues/thoughts/ideas that you may have about the show.  If you have ideas about improvements, fine, but even if you just have criticisms I would like to hear them as well so that we can incorporate improvements for next years show.  Please send any contributions you may have to . I will publish the results widely so you know what the general reaction is..

Planning starts here. Just so you know, the date of next years show is Sunday 21 May (so don’t book any holidays then!)  This is two weeks later than previous years and as such will allow us a little more time for our trees to develop  in the Scottish climate.  We already have commitments to attend from practitioners, big and small names alike, who could not attend this year because of a clash with the Expo event down south.  The goal is to maximise the opportunity to grow the hobby with an improved show next year.  Please give us all the support you can.


08 May 2022


This year’s National Exhibition will take place on Sunday 8th May and will, again, be at Troon Walker and Concert Halls.

We continue to make every effort to improve the exhibition this year which will include :

-          Club Displays by regional clubs

-          Display by the National Bonsai Collection of Scotland Charitable Trust

-          An Open exhibition section with 65 meters of exhibition space

-          A novices section

-          Traders selling bonsai trees and supplies

-          A  raffle

-          Refreshments available on site

In the absence of other major horticultural shows this will be our only opportunity to highlight the hobby to potential members and the general public.  We need members to support us in the following ways :

  • advertise the event as widely as possible, via, friends, colleagues, social media (share our Facebook advert) etc.
  • work with your local group to design a club display
  • enter individual trees in the Open Section

 We need all your help to make this a success.  Please support however you can by entering trees for both the club display and the Open Section (see below for details)

As usual Club Conveners have all the details but if anything is unclear just contact me at :


02 February 2022


After we had to cancel the Winter Image Show in January the Ayrshire Group decided to roll forward the pot sale into Ayrshire’s  normal February meeting.

Robert Porch, Barry Somerville and Peter Kleboe will all be bringing bonsai pots for sale. This is an opportunity not to be missed for 3 reasons :

  1. It’s a rare opportunity to see and touch pots first-hand before buying and not have to rely on pictures from the internet.
  2. It’s also the ideal time to be selecting any pots you need for the upcoming potting season.
  3. You can also bring the tree along that you want to match with pots or seek face to face advice on best pot fit

All members are welcome to come along at 13.30 to Alloway Village Hall, 36a Alloway, Ayr KA7 4PY and take advantage of this opportunity.

Remember; if we want to keep this tremendous advantage of having so many pot suppliers locally available then it’s worth supporting events like this.

In all other respects this will be a normal club meeting with coffee/tea and biscuits. Normal subs apply: £3.

I hope we see you there.  


24 January 2022

The next Ayrshire Group meeting scheduled for 13 February at 13.30 will incorporate a pot sale carried over from January. Pots will be available from  Robert Porch, Peter Kleboe and Barry Somerville.

Normal subs apply (£3) and refreshments available.

8 January 2022

After the disappointment of having to cancel our Bonsai Winter Image Event in Scotland this year we resolved to replicate it as best we could in virtual on-line form

For pictures go to :



9 January 2022

Ayrshire Bonsai Group Winter Image Event

After a two year hiatus we are pleased to announce that the Winter Image Event will again be staged in Alloway Village Hall, Ayr. KA7 4PY between 11.00 and 15.00.  SBA members are welcome to bring along a tree to exhibit in its winter garb and the public are welcome to view (for free !)

Any questions or issues please contact :

26 September 2021


After a two year gap the Scottish Bonsai Association (SBA) will again be staging the Scottish National Bonsai Exhibition. This will take place on Sunday 8th May and will, again, be at Troon Walker and Concert Halls.  This will be a one day show open to the public from 11.00 to 16.00.

This is the only national event in Scotland dedicated solely to bonsai and, as such, is a landmark occasion for the hobby in which the Association has invested significantly.  This is doubly important as Gardening Scotland will no longer be around to allow us to showcase the hobby.

So this is an early heads-up that we will again be inviting entries for trees in the Open Section in addition to club display stands.   There is some way to go but please start to think about your club displays and start to plan for which trees you would like to exhibit.

Further updates will be provided as we go along and full details of how to book individual slots in the Open Section will be circulated nearer the time but please now take this early opportunity to plan ahead to ensure that we continue to present the hobby in the best possible light.

Any early questions you have can be addressed to your club convener or .


18 September 2021

ProBio Carbon/Danu Products

There seems to have been a bit of a buzz in the bonsai world around these new soil improvement and enhanced fertilizer products developed in conjunction with the bonsai community.  Now available direct from the developer at :

They are not cheap but are receiving very favourable reviews.  Just in case you are interested, here is the descriptioin from Harry Harringtons website.


ProBio Carbon products are developed in Ireland by Dr Karen O'Hanlon, a micro-biologist specializing in Agriculture.
Dr O'Hanlon has isolated bacteria that when applied to our trees, help our bonsai fight disease and encourages strong bushy growth. These naturally-occurring 'good' bacteria are preferable to the use of chemicals and are entirely harmless.

ProBio Carbon Products are available to the EU; products sold by are distributed into the EU from Ireland.

The principal product is Danu; it is mixed with water and sprayed onto the surface of the soil in Spring. The positive bacteria within the Danu then populates the soil structure and provides the rootball of our bonsai with the best possible environment within which to grow. The results we have seen so far include very even balanced growth throughout each tree, noticeable improved backbudding and ramification, and general plant health. For more details please see the Danu listing.
Note that Danu liquid is a live culture and has a relatively short shelf-life so will be released on 3 dates in Spring 2022.

Maru is a foliar version of Danu and is sprayed onto the leaves or needles of our bonsai where it is very effective in tackling 'bad' bacteria and fungal attack such as Elm Gall, Olive Knot, Mildew and Rusts, it also seems to reduce Needle Cast in Pines. A very useful natural product for providing disease resistance in our bonsai, without using chemicals that will strip all bacteria (good and bad) from the leaves. During the growing season, Maru is best sprayed fortnightly on problematic trees.

Mara is a high-quality seaweed enhanced with live bacteria that can be applied to the soil or used as a foliar feed. The positive benefits of the use of seaweed as a fertilizer are well-documented and it is an essential part of any feeding regime.

Biochar is an activated charcoal that continually 'cleans' the soil-mass and locks up potentially poisonous levels of chemicals, keeping the soil 'sweet' and healthy. Activated Charcoal aids the build-up of mycelium in the rootmass. Additionally, BioChar has been enhanced with ProBio bacteria.

Iasc A new product developed in autumn 2021. Probio Iasc Enhanced Fish Emulsion Fertilizer is a fish extract based fertiliser containing 3.5% nitrogen (0.5% insoluble), available phosphate 2% and soluble potash 1.5%. Also contains biochar extract to increase the organic matter, cationic exchange capacity and microbial activity in the soil. A quick fertilizing nutrient fix for hungry trees.

Dry Danu (UK, EU and United States) This product contains dried Danu in a form that ensures a long shelf life and allows its export outside of the UK and the EU.

ProBio Carbon Buckets; these contain a range of products including Danu, Maru, Mara and activated charcoal. Released in the Spring and intended to give full enhancement and protection of your bonsai for the entire growing season.


09 September 2021

Message to all UK Bonsai Association members :

The voting  for the UKBA Virtual Bonsai Show closes this Sunday the 12th December. 

Included in the entries were some from Scotland so please show your support by casting your vote.

All entries can be seen on the website...

Please email your top favourite three trees and pots in each category in the following format to:


Chuhin Trees

1st=BT???. 2nd=BT???. 3rd=BT???.

Shohin Trees

1st=BT???. 2nd=BT???. 3rd=BT???. 

Mame Trees

1st=BT???. 2nd=BT???. 3rd=BT???.

Chuhin Pots

1st=BP???. 2nd=BP???. 3rd=BP???.

Shohin Pots

1st=BP???. 2nd=BP???. 3rd=BP???.

Mame Pots

1st=BP???. 2nd=BP???. 3rd=BP???.

It will take just a few minutes of your time so why not have a go and see how close you get to forecasting the most popular entries. And if you are not a member then why not join up. It's free and a great source of UK-wide bonsai info.


01 August 2021

UK Bonsai Association Bulletin

Click here to access the latest Bonsai Bulletin from the UK Bonsai Association.

And while you are there why not join the Association. It's free to join and you will automatically be kept abreast of bonsai activity/events UK wide.  


 08 January 2021

Scottish Bonsai Winter Images 2021

The 10th of January would normally have been the first meeting of the year for The Ayrshire Bonsai Group which has traditionally hosted an “open house” for Ayrshire members and guests from other groups belonging to the Scottish Bonsai Association to exhibit trees in their winter garb in an informal setting.

As we cannot do that this year I have invited members to send me photos instead so that we can at least show some examples of our endeavours over the previous year.

The format is informal, includes all experience levels, and takes no account of the fact that we are not all great photographers. So here they are – some winter images for your interest.

PS : Thanks to all who contributed and And a Happy New Year to all in the hope of better times in 2021.


Here is the link :



29 September 2020

In these difficult times it is good to see that someone is organising an on-line event.

If you are a member of the uK Bonsai Association you can vote and if you want to join (It's FREE) then you can join and vote straight away .

Virtual UK Bonsai Show 2020
Welcome to the first Virtual UK Bonsai Show organised by the UK Bonsai Association, this years show contains entries from members between the 1Jan19 and 20Sep20,  all trees are listed below.

Members Favourite Tree Vote
​Over the next days leading up to the 10Oct20 we would invite all members of the association to participate by choosing their favourite  top five trees.

All you need do is send us an email with your favourite trees in order of preference as follows:
example 1st=A034. 2nd=A014. 3rd=A067. 4th=A087. 5th=A022.
On the 11Oct20 we will email you confirmation that we have received your respective vote

The results of the shows favourite trees will be available on 1Nov20.

Please click on photos to enlarge​ the tree images :



01 August 2020


Dear member, in recognition that our normal range of activities has had to be postponed as a result of the current pandemic, the management committee have decided to extend the membership period for 2019-20 until the 30th September 2021 , at no extra cost.  

To save administration and cost, no new membership card will be issued for year 2020-21.

Any membership fees paid in respect of the period, 1st October 2020 to 30th September 2021, by current members shall be retained on account and treated as an early payment of the membership fees due on the 1st October 2021, for year 2021-22.

Anyone wishing to join the SBA, as a new member, between the 1st August 2020 and the 28th February 2021 shall pay the membership fees agreed at the AGM in November 2019 and as shown on the SBA web site for membership until 30th September 2021. New members joining after 1st March 2021 will pay the same level of fee but benefit from up to 17 months membership.

Any questions on this, please email :

09 November

Dates for your diary in 2020

Sunday January 10th : Winter Image Event, Alloway Village Hall, Ayr

Saturday March 14th : Harry Harrington seminar. Smith Art Gallery & Museum, Stirling

Sunday March 15th : Harry Harrington workshop. Venue to be decided.

Sunday May 10th : National Exhibition. Troon Concert Hall, Troon

Saturday September 19th : Corin Tomlinson seminar. Smith Art Gallery & Museum, Stirling

Sunday September 20th : Corin Tomlinson workshop. Venue to be decided.


03 November

SBA AGM & Bonsai Boot Sale

Sunday was the day of the Scottish Bonsai Association's combined AGM and Boot Sale. This is one of the main non-competition days where all members can get together to buy, sell, socialise and also elect new officers and provide members of the committee with views and suggestions for further development of the Association's services. The day was really well attended - possibly encouraged by the magnificent catering provided by the Forth Valley ladies !  A lot of successful trading took place as well as an active discussion on future direction and, not least, the election of a new President and a Content Manager for the SBA website. 

Robbie Johnston stepped forward to take on the role of President after Jeff Banning stepped down following four years in the role.  Also Jim Ferguson volunteered to take on the role of Content Manager for the web site replacing Norma Black.  Thanks to both the previous post holders and congratulations to the two new appointees.  Transitioning of the roles starts now !

10 September

A message for those who may be interested in a bonsai tour of Japan  from Japan Journeys Ltd. :



Dear All,

We are delighted to say we have finalised our Japan Bonsai Tour 2020, and we are sending you details of this as we think this could be of interest to you and your Bonsai Association/Club.

Our company, Japan Journeys, has been in business for more than 15 years and we have arranged Bonsai-themed tours to Japan for many years.

Please find full details of this tour here:

As you will see, we will start in Tokyo and attend the first part of Kokufu Bonsai-ten, the largest and most prestigious bonsai event held in Japan. We will then visit Omiya Bonsai Village in Saitama, temple gardens in Kyoto, Kinashi Bonsai Village on Shikoku, Korakuen Garden in Okayama and much more before returning to Tokyo by Bullet Train. Here you can explore more of this buzzling capital city, and you will have the chance to experience the second part of the Kokufu Bonsai-ten as well.

We would appreciate it if you could please share this information with your fellow Bonsai friends, and we are happy to offer a discount if you can gather together a group of people.

I hope that you will be able to join us on this amazing trip, and you can download a Reservation Form on our site.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Many thanks.

Kind regards,

James Greenfield

Japan Journeys Ltd

Cameo House

11 Bear Street





Tel:  +44 20 7766 5267

Fax: +44 20 7766 5268


30 August

Tony Tickle will be back with us in October to conduct an inter-active session on the development of European trees from collection through to exhibition .  This will take place at the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum on Saturday 12th of October, starting at 10.30.  Price is £15 for members which includes a soup&sandwich lunch. 

He will also incorprate a tree critique session for those who bring trees along.

Your conveners have tickets so please see them for further details.  Any questions to president@scottish


June 13

Dr. Stephen Pack of the University of Hertfordshire is conducting some research into potential heaslth benefits of participating in bonsai.  These are the conditions around the project.  The on-line survey link will be sent to all SBA members to participate if they so wish.

Any questions - let me know.






1             Title of study

Bonsai: Tales of growing and growth.

2          Introduction

 You are being invited to take part in a study. Before you decide whether to do so, it is important that you understand the study that is being undertaken and what your involvement will include.  Please take the time to read the following information carefully and discuss it with others if you wish.  Do not hesitate to ask us anything that is not clear or for any further information you would like to help you make your decision. Please do take your time to decide whether or not you wish to take part. The University’s regulations governing the conduct of studies involving human participants can be accessed via this link:


Thank you for reading this.


3          What is the purpose of this study?

  • To explore how and why people began growing and developing bonsai trees.
  • To explore personal gains from growing bonsai trees.
  • To explore whether, and how, growing bonsai trees might be a form of art therapy.


4          Do I have to take part?

It is completely up to you whether or not you decide to take part in this study. If you do decide to take part you will be given this information sheet to keep, and if you proceed to complete the survey it will be assumed by doing so that you have given your consent to participate. Agreeing to join the study does not mean that you have to complete it. You are free to withdraw at any stage without giving a reason. A decision to withdraw at any time, or a decision not to take part at all, will not affect any treatment/care that you may receive (should this be relevant).


5          Are there any age or other restrictions that may prevent me from participating?

 Participants must be a member of a registered bonsai club and aged over 18 years.


6          How long will my part in the study take?

 You may take as little or as much time as you wish to complete the survey but it is not anticipated that the survey will take you longer than 30 minutes to complete. If you decide to take part in this study, you will be involved in it until all data has been collected. Upon completion of the study you have the option to request feedback on the results (you will be required to provide contact details). You may also be contacted in the future in connection with this or another study if you give permission for this.


7          What will happen to me if I take part?

You will be provided with a link to an online survey. Simply click on the link to open the survey, read the consent information, and then proceed to complete the survey. Your responses will be captured automatically by the survey.


8          What are the possible disadvantages, risks or side effects of taking part?

 It is unlikely that you will experience any disadvantages, risks or side effects by taking part. The survey contains a question regarding bonsai as a form of therapy – therefore answering this question might cause you to recall possibly uncomfortable circumstances. You may choose not to answer any this question, or indeed you may choose not to proceed any further.


9          What are the possible benefits of taking part?

  There is currently very little published research regarding people’s experiences of growing / maintaining bonsai trees. Therefore, your participation would be progressing understanding (e.g. what people gain personally from growing bonsai), and your participation may also contribute to further research in this area. It is anticipated that such research would provide a platform for subsequent therapy programmes in various contexts.


10        How will my taking part in this study be kept confidential?

Completion of the survey is anonymous, and any data that you provide will be stored in password-protected files on a password-protected computer.


11        What will happen to the data collected within this study?

  • The data collected will be stored electronically, in a password-protected environment, for up to two years, after which time it will be destroyed under secure conditions.


  • It is intended that this study will be published in a peer-reviewed research journal.


13        Who has reviewed this study?

This study has been reviewed by:

  • The University of Hertfordshire Health, Science, Engineering and Technology Ethics Committee with Delegated Authority
  • The UH protocol number is: LMS/SF/UH/03786  


15        Factors that might put others at risk

 Please note that if, during the study, any medical conditions or non-medical circumstances such as unlawful activity become apparent that might or had put others at risk, the University may refer the matter to the appropriate authorities.


16        Who can I contact if I have any questions?

 If you would like further information or would like to discuss any details personally, please get in touch with me by email: Dr Stephen Pack;

 Although we hope it is not the case, if you have any complaints or concerns about any aspect of the way you have been approached or treated during the course of this study, please write to the University’s Secretary and Registrar at the following address:


Secretary and Registrar

University of Hertfordshire

College Lane



AL10  9AB


Thank you very much for reading this information and giving consideration to taking part in this study.


June 01

This week-end the SBA and the National Collection Trust mounted what was arguably the best display yet at Gardening Scotland.  The new open layout measuring 30 meters of display space comprised of 3 display stands and 106 trees in the competition section and was a big success judging by the crowds that attended.

The three show stands all won gold medals generating valauble funds for both organisations.  Some pictures are included below but if you wish to see a full set go to the SBA Facebook page at : - Copy.jpg" rel=prettyPhoto" rel=prettyPhoto" rel=prettyPhoto

Also a picture of the two happy winners of Best in Show (Jeff Banning) and People's Choice (Ian Downie)." rel=prettyPhoto 

Finally a big thank you to everyone who supported the show in the set-up, the stewarding and in contributing trees.  Without the help and support of dedicated members the show whould not have been such a big success for us.



May 6th

Sunday 5th May was a landmark day for the SBA which mounted the biggest exhibition solely dedicated to bonsai that Scotland had ever seen. Taking over two large halls in Troon the displays featured both club exhibits and individual displays made up of more than 150 trees in total.

Most exhibits came from Scottish members but some came from fellow hobbyists in both the North West and the North East of England and in fact it was Ray Coulomb from Carlsile and Rob Atkinson from Seaham Harbour who carried off the prizes in the Open Section.

There were talks by Adshley Strachan (Japan Visit) , Jim Conlin (Japanese Scrolls) and Rob Atkinson (tree development) which were well attended and there was ongoing bonsai work work being carried out by various SBA members for members of the public to get an appreciation of the sort of bonsai work that hobbyists undertake every day.

All in all it was a very enoyable and hugely successful day justifying the major efforts made by the members of Ayrshire Bonsai Group who hosted the event and also some friends of the group (thanks Marbeth for sewing the backcloths !).
The event was also attended by Mr. Takeshi Sasaki from the Japanese Conulate in Edinburgh who graciously selected his favourite tree from each of the Club and Open sections.

Unfortunately I spent the day racing around like a lunatic and this meant that I was very remiss on the photo front but I have uploaded some pics to our Facebook page

and hope that other members will let me have their pics of for later publication. My apologies to those who I have missed out.

March 11

Ayrshire Bonsai Group Getting Ready for Spring

It’s early March so things are beginning to move on the bonsai front.  At the Ayrshire Group meeting on Sunday, we had the privilege of welcoming Peter Snart to the club to talk about key aspects of bonsai design, focussing especially on deadwood and how to incorporate this into realistic design.

As many will know, Peter is the owner of Willowbog Bonsai Nursery near Hexham in England and had battled his way through some pretty bad weather conditions to provide us with the benefit of his nearly 40 years’ experience in the hobby.  Peter’s nursery has played host to workshops and seminars by some of the biggest names in Europe (and in some cases the world!) so has gleaned a vast wealth of knowledge over the years which the club members were only too eager to share.

The session was well worth the wait with Peter’s enthusiasm and expertise shining through and generating a lot of interested response.  After the presentation Peter also took the time to discuss several of the member’s trees with them individually providing helpful input on the next steps in their development.  In the meantime, there was plenty of other discussion and activity going on with several re-potting exercises taking place.  Also, a retired ex-club member had donated some trees and pots which were eagerly snapped up by some of the members to expand their collections.

All in all it was a great day with about 25 members taking part, including some new ones resulting from the recent Winter Image and Dobbies events.  Our thanks to Peter for making the effort to come and help us. 

More photos are available on the SBA Facebook page at :" rel=prettyPhoto

March 07

The Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society honours Roy Smith

The Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society (known as “The Caley”) was established in 1809 to encourage improvement in all aspects of horticultural activity.  At their AGM this week Roy Smith received the award of their Certificate of Merit for his long, varied and outstanding contribution to, and promotion of, bonsai in Scotland.

As a member of Forth Valley Bonsai Club, former, long-serving secretary of the Scottish Bonsai Association and Trustee of The Scottish Bonsai Collection Trust, Roy is so well-known and well-respected  throughout the Bonsai scene in Scotland where many fellow bonsaists have benefitted from his help and advice over the years.

Congratulations to Roy on this very appropriate recognition. See the picture of Roy receiving his award from George Anderson, Honorary President of The Caley. Awards 2019 Roy Smith (002).jpg" rel=prettyPhoto


February 9


This year’s National Exhibition returns to Troon Walker and Concert Halls on Sunday 5th May.

A big effort has been made to improve the exhibition this year which in, addition to the usual Club displays and a display by the National Bonsai Collection of Scotland Charitable Trust, will include :

-          An expanded open exhibition stands with 50% more display space than last year

-          Seven bonsai traders selling all manner of bonsai supplies

-          Talks/demonstrations

-          A re-introduced raffle (overlooked last year – my fault !)

We very much want to make this event a landmark occasion for the hobby in Scotland and have invested significantly to make it a successWe are also advertising the event widely and hope to bring in members of the general public in significant numbers.  All it needs now is the support of members to come along, exhibit their trees both on the club stands and as individuals in the open section, and join in this one and only national event in Scotland dedicated solely to bonsai.

As usual Club Conveners have all the details but if anything is unclear just contact me at :

Event AddressMunicipal Buildings, South Beach, Troon KA10 6EF

Map :,-4.6626668,15z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x53dcd0c0de3481a?ved=2ahUKEwiDwNOvs5DgAhW1RRUIHV6AACoQ_BIwCnoECAYQCA



This year, given the level of demand we experienced in its inaugural year last year, the SBA has invested in new stands to extend the open competition section by 50%. We want to be able to accommodate as many entries as possible so in order to be able to manage the expected number of entries the following process will be adopted :

The display “slots” will be available in two standard widths – 80 cms. and 60 cms. Exhibitors may arrange their trees within the agreed space in any way they choose.  For example two slots could be booked and populated by 3 trees or by a single large shohin display.

All participants wishing to enter trees need to provide the following information to  (or via their club convener) :

  1. Exhibitor name
  2. How many slots of each size are required (e.g. 1 x 80cm and 2 x 60 cm slots)
  3. The tree type(s) to be displayed (e.g. Arakawa Maple, European Larch etc.) and also indicate if they are to be entered as shohin.
  4. The name of the pot maker (e.g. Chinese, Japanese, John Pitt, Unknown etc). 
  1. This information should be submitted before 14th April 2019 (the earlier the better) after which the requests will be checked against the available space and positions allocated in the display.
  2. Each tree will then be given a number which will identify its position in the display and this will be communicated to the exhibitor by April 30.
  3. A card with the exhibit number and details will be prepared in advance and, on the day, placed in the allocated space so the exhibitor knows where to position their trees.
  4. At 10.00 a.m. on the day exhibitors should start to position their trees in the allocated spaces. (The time before 10.00 a.m. will be required to erect the stands.)

All exhibits (including accents) should be displayed on stands/mats in order to protect the stand material and any scrolls, accents should be free standing as they cannot be hung from the backcloth).

Given the limited set-up time for this event it is critical that everybody understands and sticks to the process outlined – especially the cut-off dates for slot bookings. 

If anything is unclear please check with your convener or contact Jeff Banning via or direct on 07799477895.


February 8

By now I hope that you are all aware of the Corin Tomlinson event on Saturday 30th March at the Smith Museum & Art Gallery in Stirling and are busy buying tickets from your respective conveners.  It's really imporatnt that we continue to provide different perspectives that experts from outside Scotland can bring so I trust that members will take advantage of the opportunity to participate in what will be an informative and entertaining day.

Corin will focus on a styling demo, a session on group planting design and some tree critiques as time allows. Price is £15 and details are on the tickets but just in case here is a peek : Tomlinson Tickets.pdf


December 22

Recently I fell in love …………  with the bark of the Portuguese Oak (Quercus Faginea) and decided that I had to have one.  But I needed to move quickly as their importation has recently been banned by the government.  So I approached the only dealer I knew who might still have some in stock – Kaizen Bonsai.  Graham Potter was really exceptionally helpful explaining that, in order to obtain medium sized trees with old bark, this often meant an air layer. So much of what he had in stock were the remaining stumps of such operations.

Graham sent me pictures of several  such “stumps” along with a picture of the one “non-stump” in my size range, which I eventually bought (after much soul searching about the price !).

However, my interest obviously awakened something in Graham who, it seems, set to to develop one of the stumps I had rejected in the way only he can – and I thought that members may be interested in the transformation.  It’s a real work of art in my view – see what you think. 


November 7

Thanks to the 32 members who attended the recent AGM meeting at Denny.  It appeared that some mebers just attended for teh boot sale and left before the AGM so actual overall attendees were somewhat higher - although we have npo record.

Particular thanks to Peter Thorne and Lex Kennedy who volunteered to take up the positions of Treasurer and Secretary respectively.  Without these volunteers the organisation would not be viable and the benefits derived would disappear so, again, many thanks to them.

Thanks also to teh outgoing Secretary (Dave Waddington) and Tresurer (Dave Hynd) who have done a sterling job during their term.

The concurrent boot sale produced a good array of bonsai items for sale and activity was pretty brisk.  I hope all purchasers are happy with their buys and derive much enjoyment from them. 

The next event in the bonsai vcalendar will be the Winter Image Event staged by teh Ayrshire Group on Sunday 13th January. So please keep a note in your diary and take along a tree in its winter garb.

October 19

President’s Report 2017-18

This year, I am continuing the convention, of circulating the President’s Report in advance so that members have time to digest the content and come up with any resulting questions or issues that they wish to raise at the AGM.

Throughout my 3 year term my objectives have been to support the constitutional goals of the Association, while at the same time striving  “to support the members of the Association in enhancing their knowledge, skills and experiences in and of the hobby using the resources of the Association in a direct and meaningful way to achieve this”.

In line with this we initiated many changes in the first two years while this last year has been more one of consolidation and trying to build on the improvements we had already made. Some of the highlights have been :

  • The 2018 National Exhibition (hosted by the Ayrshire Group) took on a new dimension with the addition of a traditional bonsai display format in addition to the usual club displays.  It was disappointing that two of the clubs were unable to mount club displays this year but the new format allowed members to display individual trees in addition to the option of contributing to the club stand.  This added substance to the show and appeared to be well received by both members and visitors alike. The show will be held in Troon again next year and we will be looking to develop the format further.
  • The Association again sponsored a seminar/workshop visit this time by Corin Tomlinson of Greenwood Bonsai.  Member feedback has been very positive about this but nevertheless there was insufficient demand to support more than one workshop compared to the two workshops last year.  The Committee is seeking the views of members about a format next year and in the meantime is investigating the availability of potential guest speakers.
  • The SBA again put in an outstanding performance at Gardening Scotland winning two gold medals, alongside the gold for the SBCT stand. However, it may be that more discussion with the public is generated by the SBA competition stands.  The Committee is already holding initial discussions on how to improve next year but there will be a need for more stewarding help from individual members as this was one area where we struggled this year. A big thank you is due to all those who helped with set-up and stewarding this year.
  • The SBA supported members from several groups attending the prestigious Bonsai Europa show in Bury last October. Some had trees accepted for display at the show, whilst one member was also invited to join the judging panel.
  • The Ayrshire group once again hosted a winter image show in January, and particularly welcomed any SBA member with a tree for display, as well as those who came to view. The event will take place again in 2019 on Sunday the 13th of January.
  • The Forth Valley group ran their regular May weekend open workshop, with Ian McDougall, which has contributed to the development of many SBA members from several groups over the years.

A major boost was being able to resurrect the SBA Newsletter (in electronic form), thanks to Keith Winning volunteering to give it a go.  There have been three issues so far and the format is developing well.  However, there is a real need for inputs from members in the form of pictures, items, questions etc. Contact him at

  • The Facebook page is attracting attention wider than our current membership with 184 “followers” so far.  Again, there has been little in the way of contributions to the content by members either to it or website. Believe it or not, other members are interested in other members experiences such as : before and after pictures, issues faced and resolutions found, bonsai display layouts, questions and answers about bonsai – so please make a contribution via the President’s Page on the website or direct to the President at
  • Further investment was made in stands and backdrops to enable the extended display format at the National Exhibition and this equipment is available to all of the member clubs if they wish to use for local events or displays.
  • A new data protection policy has been published to all members ensuring that they know what information about them is retained by the organisation and how it is used.  This should make us compliant with recent legislation on the subject. Particular thanks to Alan Coupar for his meticulous work on this aspect.

All these things have been achieved without inflicting significant damage to SBA funds. Despite the Committee’s best efforts in providing club grants, supporting events financially and investing in equipment we are not eating into the financial reserves of the Association.  Further suggestions are needed from individual members on how they would like to see SBA funds used to support SBA goals either nationally or at individual group level.

All of those who contributed to and supported these efforts are to be commended.  A lot of work goes on behind the scenes in terms of planning and organising and those involved devote a lot of their own time to making sure the efforts are successful. I would like to thank all those who donated blood, sweat and tears to make them a success. I would also like to express my thanks to the other Committee members who have provided much needed, and valued, guidance and support throughout the year. 

It seems possible that some of these efforts are paying off to some degree as membership, which has been static at about 140 for a couple of years appears to have increased to 156. So, I would like to take the opportunity to welcome all individual members who have joined the Association in 2017/18. We welcome you and the input that you bring. 

However, membership improvement appears not to be across the board which suggests that we may need to focus some activity a bit more where membership is not so strong.

Finally, you will be aware that both the Secretary and Treasurer have decided to stand down this year.  I would like to recognise and thank them for the additional effort and commitment that these roles require. I would propose, in the interests of continuity, to continue a further year as President (if approved by the members) but it will be critical that these two positions are filled if the SBA IS to continue as a functioning organisation. I hope that all members will seriously consider this before the AGM since, if we cannot fill these positions., we will return to the position we were in three years ago where the future of the organisation is in jeopardy.

In summary the organisation is in a strong position with substantial and stable finances and increased membership.  However, we cannot rest on our laurels or take this position for granted.  As a member focussed organisation the challenge for us as individuals is to make whatever contribution we can to ensure the Association in meets members aspirations. We need members ideas and support as to how the Associations resources may be best used for the benefit of all.

2019 marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Scottish Bonsai Association.  I hope that, with your help, we can make further progress to mark this important milestone.


October 11

A bit of a time gap but just a quick update on my recent trip to the European Bonsai-san Show in Saulieu (France) last week-end). This was two day show and the biggest I have been to so far - a realk treat with dealers of all things bonsai from both Europe and Japan. Just to prove I was there. - Copy.jpg" rel=prettyPhoto

Photos available on the SBA Facebook page - hopefully worth a look.  I wish I had taken more but two days just wan't enough !:


June 12

Last weekend I took a trip over to Northern Ireland for a family wedding but no trip would be complete without incorporating a bonsai visit and I was in luck because Ian Young alias the “Bonsai Eejit” happened to be home and he invited me around to take a look at his collection and to talk bonsai.

Ian is a well known blogger ( who is rapidly developing an extensive reputation across the whole of Ireland as a motivating force for many clubs and also as an provider of both group and 1:1 tuition.  He also delivers presentations and the Ayrshire Club had him over in March last year when he led a very interesting discussion about bonsai styling.  Ian also has a keen interest and expertise in accent plants, of which he has a wide selection.

It was a real pleasure to look around Ian’s garden which he is in the middle of re-modelling to accommodate all his trees.  I managed to take a few photos but, as usual, my expertise with the camera is pretty low level.  They hopefully provide an indication of the extent and quality of the trees in Ian’s collection even though they do not really do them justice. Unfortunately I can only upload a couple here but more are available on the SBA Facebook page (" rel=prettyPhoto" rel=prettyPhoto 



Ian’s enthusiasm for the hobby is infectious and it’s no surprise that he has been instrumental in generating so much interest in the hobby in Ireland.  He is also a keen student of the hobby and has spent time at both Saruyama Bonsai (with Peter Warren) and at Bonsai Mirai (with Ryan Neil).  His blog is a great source of bonsai contacts, articles and videos and is well worth a visit.

The time flew by as we discussed many aspects of the hobby and many of the stories behind Ian’s trees.  However, I reluctantly had to respond to the stream of texts starting to arrive from my wife enquiring if I had got lost and leave Ian to make the arrangements for his latest seven-day tuition trip around the island. A most enjoyable few hours of interesting chat and warm Irish hospitality. Thanks Ian.

June 04

Gardening SCotland is over for another year and as all the volunteers who supported the show collapse in a state of mental and pjhysical exhaustion I just wanted to post a few photos of the key prize-winners. 

This one shows from left to right : Consul's choice (John Morris), Best in Show (Dave Waddington) and Reserve Best in Show (Ian Downie).  Well done all." rel=prettyPhoto 

This one shows Gordon and Anne Adam with the People's Choice winner :" rel=prettyPhoto

And this one is of a very happy Dave Waddington with his award winning tree :" rel=prettyPhoto

Hopefully more and better quality pictures will arrive, courtesy of teh more skilled members.  Please send to

Also we hope to publish pictures of all those placed in each of teh competitive sections - watch this space.


May 31

Gardening Scotland starts tomorrow and members have been hard at work setting up the display stands  and co-ordinating competition entries.  Thanks to everyone involved (too numerous to mention - and, if I did, then I would be bound to miss someone out !).  Thanks also to all those who contributed trees for the displays and also all those members who primped and prepped their trees and brought them along for the competitive section 

Here are some initial snaps taken during the calm before the storm - hopefully some good photos will follow - I am relying on members to contribute !" rel=prettyPhoto" rel=prettyPhoto" rel=prettyPhoto" rel=prettyPhoto" rel=prettyPhoto



May 17

Just a quick update to let you know the results of teh members voting at the National Exhibition.  These can be viewed in the attached file.

Congratulations to :

Fiona Wallace : Best deciduous in the Open Section

Jim Conlin : Best evergreen in the Open Section

Robert Nocher : Best shohin in the Open Section and overall Best In Show in this section


Alex Harrison : Best deciduous in the Club Display

Ian McDougall : Best evergreen in the club display

Maurice Maidement : Best shohin in the Club Display and overall Best in Show in this section


WE had approximatly 125 members of the public visit the show during the day (significantly higher than previous shows)  and by their vote  Ian McDougall was successful in the Open Section and Alex Harrison on the Club Display. CLUB COMP 2018 (3).xlsx

May 06

On Sunday May 6th the Scottish Bonsai Association held its annual National Exhibition in the Walker and Concert Halls in Troon. A big effort had been made this year to expand both the content and the interest of the general public. We certainly succeeeded in the former to the extent that we could justify our claim that this represented the biggest exhibition dedicated soley to bonsai yet seen in Scotland. Public attendance was also very good although the numbers on that are still being crunched as we speak.
Unfortunately, my photo selection is limited to general views of the show but I will add more as I receive them from members. These can be seen on our facebook page at :
My thanks to all who came, to those who exhibited trees (esecially our long-distance guests Ray Coulomb and Mike Box from Carlisle) and to our traders . Last, but far from least, thanks to Ernie's merry band of caterers who provided us with great sustenace throught the day.
Watch this space for an update.

May 01

Trip to Japan 2018

Just back from a very interesting trip to Japan and have shared some of my photos on Facebook page in case anyone is interested.

The purpose of the visit was not solely to view bonsai but I did manage to incorporate a few viewings during my stay.

First was a visit to Omiya Bonsai Village near Tokyo.  This is the home of the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum housing many impressive examples of bonsai and also is the location for several bonsai nurseries.  The route from the station to the museum is indicated by ceramic inlays in the pavement which is what you will see in one of the phots. The nurseries do request no photographs  and the museum only allows photographing in a restricted section so the examples that I have posted are relatively few – and not necessarily the best examples – but they do give an idea of the standard.

In the middle I visited the Koju-En bonsai nursery in Kyoto.  This specialises in shohin trees and is owned and run by Tomohiro Masumi who also happens to be Chairman of the All Japan Shohin Bonsai Association.  He very kindly let me browse his trees for a couple of hours and also to take a few phots (you will see a shot of him and I in the photo selection).  He was extremely friendly and his English was pretty good so he was able to help me with the many questions I had. 

And lastly – on our last day in Japan – Helen and I visited the Botanic Gardens in Kyoto where they have a display of bonsai all out on benches – with no security !

Throughout our stay we visited several Japanese gardens around temples and former palaces and what struck me most was the architectural nature of the trees in the grounds.  These tended to be full size trees, in the ground, but styled like bonsai.  You will see a few examples in the pictures and even some where the local gardeners where de-candling some over-size pines.

Overall a very enjoyable visit (if you forget about the food !) and to be recommended.  Just seeing the trees is an educational as well as an enjoyable experience.

PS : I have thrown in a few “tourist shots” just to prove that I am not bonsai obsessed !

April 26

Ayrshire Bonsai on the road

In what is rapidly turning into an annual event the Alloway based Ayrshire Bonsai Club took to the road in April for a week-end display at McLarens Nursery in Uplawmoor.

The Ayrshire club is committed to promoting the hobby wherever it can and this visit was intended to demonstrate how ordinary, nursery-bought trees can be transformed and styled as bonsai in a relatively short time.  Also, the club is always on the look-out for new members so this is a good way of making the hobby more visible and perhaps sparking some permanent interest.

The display attracted a lot of attention and many visitors stopped to chat and find out more about the hobby  from one of the ten club members who turned up to show and discuss their trees and also to pass on some of their extensive knowledge.

Of course bonsai enthusiast like nothing better than to “talk bonsai” and the level of interest from the general public is always surprisingly high.  However, when it comes to taking up the interest as a hobby many people are wary of the time, patience and expertise required, so it was good to engage with people and let them know that these fears are ill-founded. 

The members will get another chance to promote the hobby at the Scottish Bonsai Associations National Exhibition in Troon in early May - looking forward to it !

A coiuple of snapshots of the event." rel=prettyPhoto" rel=prettyPhoto



February 14

If you, like me, have often wondered about the design process for raw material and you haven't seen this video by Ryan Neil , then you just have to watch it.  In it he shows how to take a basic nursery specimen and create the initial styling talking through all the stages and explaining each one very clearly and in detail.  Along the way there are all sorts of little gems of  explanation and guidance.  As usual from Ryan Neil it's an excellent guide filled with quality information and seething with his infectious enthusiuasm.  It's a longish watch - about 90 minutes, but well, well worth it.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


February 10

Following on from my previous note I am pleased to let members know that the Finnis Scott Foundation has agreed to provide a grant towards the cost of staging the SBA National Exhibition on May 6th.  This is particularly welcome as the SBA is making a real attempt to expand the scope of the exhibition and to attract more interest from the general public.  

The Finnis Scott Foundation was established under the will of Lady Montague Douglas Scott in 2006.  The trustees are able to make grants for any charitable purpose, but their present policy is to focus grant-making in the areas of horticulture and plant sciences, as well as fine art and art history.  

In providing a grant in support of bonsai development in Scotland the trust recognises the unique horticultural and artistic combination that the hobby brings to the table and we thank them for their support.

Even more reason to make a special effort to ensure that the show refelcts the best that Scotland has to offer in the way of bonsai trees!

January 19

As members probably know, the Scottish National Bonsai Exhibition is scheduled to be held on Sunday 6th May in Troon and, as we have started to discuss the arrangements I thought that it would be a good idea to issue regular updates so that members can plan ahead as much as possible.

This year we need member’s support more than ever as we have taken the decision to expand the number of exhibits that we can accommodate and to do this within a slightly different structure.

In addition to the normal club displays, which will remain as they have traditionally been, we will be making provision for people to exhibit an individual tree (or trees) in a tokanoma style format.  This means that we will have 4 rows of 6 trestle tables, each separated by backdrops, to accommodate individual trees or compositions. That means that we can accommodate something between 25 and 40 trees depending on their size.

We recognise that many members are happy with the normal club display approach and that not everyone will want to contribute to a single tree display.  However, we also recognise that some members may have trees that they want to show but which would not necessarily make the club display because of space restrictions.  It is an experiment for us and one which we think is worth a try.

This is where we will need your help.  Because we need to plan out the tokanoma spaces we will need to know people’s requirements in advance.  Which means that we will need to know how many individual trees people will want to display and their approximate sizes.

We will advise when that information is required but for now I wanted to give everyone a heads-up on what we plan so that they can start to think about what they would like to show and to prepare their trees accordingly.  I understand that there will always be concerns about knowing in advance what tree will be showable but other shows wrestle with the same problems and still seem to be able to make it work, so hopefully we can give this a good try.

This is a bit of a risk for us and a significant investment for the SBA, so it would be embarrassing if we end up with very a large amount of empty display space.  We do need your support this year to test the idea and identify how we can improve the exhibition next year and beyond.

So, please think about what you might wish to do,  discuss it with your Convener and be prepared submit details when we ask for them (probably in week 1 April).    

I will issue further updates as we go along but if you have questions or concerns in the meantime please send them to me at


January 14

Yesterday was the annual Winter Image event hosted by the Ayrshire Club. This was a great opportunity to show off the real work that has been done over the years on branch structure and ramification before foliage starts to provide a new image in the spring. Many thanks to all those who attended from as far away as Carlisle, Edinburgh, Inverurie and North Lanark and who were happy to share their knowledge and expertise - in return for a slap-up feed ! We really appreciate your support.  The next big event will be the SBA National Exhibition in Troon on Sunday May 6th. Mark it in your calendar and look out here for further details. In the meantime, some photos are available on our Facebook page.



December 29

I had to share this amazing picture spotted on the Old Lads of Wirral Bonsai Facebook page." rel=prettyPhoto


November 25

The Ayrshire Group will hold its fifth annual Winter Image Display on Sunday 14th of January 2018 at the Alloway Village Hall, Alloway . All S.B.A. group members are invited to attend and display their trees. The hall will be open for set up at nine thirty am. Trees in by ten fifteen a.m., open to the public at eleven a.m. and close the show at three thirty pm. Refreshments will be available throughout the day. There has been some upgrading of the facilities at the hall since the show was last held there, especially as regards the lighting, so even more reason to come along and show off your trees in their winter glory!  Any further information on the display can be obtained by E-mail from:-


September 21

I thought that the attached sequence of photos may be of interest.  It's always interesting to look back to where you started with a tree's development and then see how it turned out.  I think I was lucky with this one after the butchering I gave it at first pruning !  If you have similar pics, why not send them to and I will upload them so others can enjoy


September 20

Just had Peter Warren visit for a week-end of demonstration and workshops - great time was had by all and the feedback has been excellent. Thanks Peter and thanks to all who attended and supported." rel=prettyPhoto" rel=prettyPhoto" rel=prettyPhoto


August 04

The attached is the latest programme of events from the World Bonsai Friendship Federation FYI : 


July 30

PLease don't forget that we have Peter Warren visiting us in September.  On the 16th he will host a seminar/presenmtation at the Smith Art Gallery & Museum in Stirling between 10.30 and 17.00.  Please come with trees to review - problem trees are just as welcome as any other!  A soup and sandwich lunch is included in the ticket price of £15.  See your convener for details. On the 17th Peter will conduct a workshop in Ayr and on Monday he will conduct a workshop in Currie.


June 28

Another successful year at Gardening Scotland with 3 gold medals awarded to the SBA and National Collection stands plus a Premier Gold and "Best in Show" award for the Ayrshire Bonsai stand for the second year running (see the pic ) :" rel=prettyPhoto

There is no doubt that the hobby punches well above its weight at Gardening Scotland with successful displays plus significant competition entries.  Congratulations to all involved and many thanks to the many helpers who turned up to support and steward the event.


May 20

Today a small group (just 3 actually) of myself, Maurice Maidment and Jim Conlin staged a 2 table display of bonsai trees at the 200th anniversary of the Glasgow Botanic Gardens.  As this was staged in a public space with no entry fees it was extremely busy and the odd shower meant that we had regular surges of inquisitive visitors to the stand.  This turned out to be a very useful event with many people stopping to admire the trees and ask lots of questions about the hobby.  There are no prizes for guessing the most frequent question (how old etc. etc) or the most frequent confession (I had a bonsai once but ... etc etc.).

However there was enough interest to strengthen my view that Glasgow could support a bonsai club at the right venue and with the right central SBA support.  I collected several email addresses of people who would like to be kept informed and I also spoke to Ewan Donaldson (general manager) who was supportive about a venue.  I think that this is worth following up but it will need initial financial support from the centre and it will need support from members to get any new group off the ground.

I will report back to the Committee at our meeting next Wednesday and we will see how we go from there. Please, let me know your views - or , even better, how you could help with an initiative like this.

In the meantime many thanks to Maurice and Jim for setting aside the day to evangalise the hobby.


April 20

Bonsai Display and Demonstration Saturday the 29th April (updated)

Members of the Ayrshire Bonsai group will be staging a public display and demonstration of the art and craft of Bonsai at Mclarens Nurseries, near Barrhead, between 10and 4pm on Saturday the 29th April.

The event is aimed at informing the general public and encouraging participation in our hobby, but all members of the SBA are welcome to come along.   Mclarens is one of Scotland largest retail and wholesale nurseries in Scotland  specialising in trees and shrubs, many of which are suitable for development into bonsai.  McLaren's Nurseries Ltd, are based at Lochlibo Road, Uplawmoor, Barrhead, Glasgow, G78 4DN and directions can be found on their web site:

As a bonus to SBA members, the Ayrshire group have managed to negotiate a 10% discount on the retail price of any plant material purchased on the day.  To benefit from the discounted price, SBA members are simply required to exhibit a current SBA membership card at the time of purchase.  Please  find the time to support the event and join us on the day.

 For those who have not been to McLarens it is a huge commercial nursery with lots of trees suitable for development as bonsai at reasonable prices - so why not go along and take a look.

March 28

Getting ready for Gardening Scotland ?  - if you want a spare entry form you can just download here. Entry form_2017_02121.pdf 

Assistance needed for Gardening Scotland

Volunteers are needed at Gardening Scotland for preparing, arranging and supervising stands. 

Tuesday May 30th From 2pm onwards to help our experts as needed and to dress supplied SBA competition stands. We cover them with rolls of paper and plastic. Not heavy work, but slow if not enough folk, new volunteers welcome. The 3 main “show” stands are also done. Come for a spell in the afternoon, or into the evening if you have the time.

Wednesday May 31st Please bring trees to help fill stands for the competition classes from 10am-7.30pm. Trees, and members, at all stages of development are welcome. There may be work on stands unfinished on Tuesday, and also to help with receiving trees, and provisionally laying them out later in the day.

Friday June 1st - Sunday June 3rd Supervising stands, which involves talking to members of the public and answering their questions (can be fun!). Usually work in 2-3 hour shifts between 10am and 5pm. Members helping to supervise will get a free day ticket for Gardening Scotland.

Please let Dave know if you will be available to help, indicating which day & time suits you best.

Dave Waddington, 3 Park Crescent, Edinburgh EH16 6JD

Tel: 0131 258 1936, email


March 10

I have been musing about original bonsai displays and came across this crowdfunding request for floating bonsai ! Only works for very small trees though - still, an interesting idea.


March 03

See the latest list of UK and worldwide bonsai events.  I see no mention of any Scottish events so will send the info to see if they will include.


February 27

Given that "exhibition season" is rapidly approaching I thought that some of you may be interested in this hour long video of Ryan Neil carrying out a critique of trees in the Michigan All State Bonsai Show.  Some of the trees are US specific but nevertheless I found that there were plenty of ideas and pointers that I learned from - hoopefully you will too !  Of course you always have the ability to respond or comment on the post - which would be great.


February 22

So - Robert Nocher is off the mark with his re-potting this year !  See the attached post on his website for some encouragement for those who need it !!

February 14

Following on from the 7th FEbruary post about re-potting, you may want to take a look at this article by Peter Warren on potting mediums (if you haven't already seen it) .


February 12

Here is the latest bonsai calendar of events for UK and worldwide.  The one you may wish to note is the Bonsai Traders Fair in Coventry on April 23rd.


February 7

Spring is getting closer and the more impatient amongst you will be champing at the bit to get started on your re-potting.  But before you do, why not read this item by Graham Potter of Kaisan Bonsai ?  It was first posted in 2014 but has recently been re-posted which is not surprising as it is the best article I have seen on the subject - a must read!


February 3

I spent a very interesting and informative evening last night with the West Lothian group who had invited Ian Bailiie to come along with some of his pots and give us some insight into the pot-making and the pot choosing process.  Ian as a founder member of the SBA was able to interlace all that information with interesting snippets from the history of the Association which somehow gave me a better appreciation of the past efforts to establish and develop the organisation.

Ian also brought along some of his trees to illustarate the principles behind matching trees to pots in terms of size, shape, colour and the masculine/feminine nature of the tree in question.

All in all a good night attended by several members from other clubs.  I am sure that even more members would have been interested if they had known about it - another good reason to keep local club events and programmes up to date on teh web !

Thanks Lee for organizing and thanks to West Lothian for hosting.


January 24

Peter Warren Event :

You should be aware by now that the Peter Warren week-end will take place on September 16/17th this year.  Saturday will be a demo for all and Sunday will be a workshop for just 6 or 7 people.  If you want to be part of the workshop day (cost probably £50) then you need to let your convener know at your upcoming meetings as we will need to organise a suitable venue depending upon where participants are based. 

Any questions - just mail me at the above address.


January 13

Hi All.  I have attached a copy of the Jan/Feb Newsletter for FOBS (Federation of British Bonsai).  Of main interest is the inclusion of the calendar of events for shows/exhibitions etc.  This would normally be included in the SBA Newsletter but until we have a volunteer to edit the newsletter I will endeavour to publish up to date versions here.

If you could be interested in volunteering please let me know - or contact Mike Rossi  for info on what is involved.


January 11

The first post of 2017 – so Happy New Year everyone !

We kicked off the year with the 2017 Winter Image Event hosted by the Ayrshire Group.  This was held in a local hotel this year while remedial work was being carried out on our normal venue at Alloway Village Hall.  That didn’t stop a record turnout for the event with more than 50 people attending not just from Scottish clubs but also from further afield (Carlisle) and from local members of the public inquisitive to see what was going on in the public rooms we had hired. 

This is meant to be an informal event to show and discuss trees in their winter garb i.e. no fancy displays, backcloths etc. and, as such, has been very successful and has grown from strength to strength over the four years it has been going.   The hotel management bent over backwards to make sure that we had everything needed to make the event a success and the general view from participants was that it was the best yet.  But we can always improve.  The hotel lighting and backdrops were not ideal, particularly for those wanting to take good quality photos but next year we should be back in a more suitable venue and will be looking to improve those aspects and add a few other improvements.

So, thanks to all those who attended and supported the event and to those who generously made a donation towards the cost of the event.  Without our members support and enthusiasm for the event it would never be so successful.

You can see some pictures of the trees on Robert Nochers blog at :

December 12

Each year the SBA President receives an invitation to a reception celebrating the birthday of the Japanese Emperor.  This year I attended for the first time at the Merchants' Hall in Edinburgh.  The event attracts a mixed crowd of diplomats, artists, musicians and hobbyists like ourselves.  Apart from a couple of formal speeches there was an exhibition of Ikebana and ssome entertainment from a choir.  Although the event provides a chance to maintain and maybe increase the profile of the hobby I cannot claim any great achievement on that front - being the shy, retiring (and some would say undiplomatic !) person  that I am.  However, I did manage a few words with the Consul (Mr. Matsunaga) and his wife, who expressed some enthusiasm about being able to attend our next National Exhibition.  This isn't a definite yet but we hope to be able to confirm their attendance nearer the date.  In the meantime I also managed to catch up with the Cultural Attachee (Ms. Yoko Murata) as you can see in the attached photo - I am the one on the right !" rel=prettyPhoto


December 04

Getting too cold to be outside messing about with trees ?  How about a fireside read of this pot-stirring article sent to me by one of our members ?  Contentious views or scientifically based fact - what do you think?


November 17

A question for members from Dave Waddington :

Autumn brings, amongst other things, a last chance to clean algae off trunks, branches and deadwood before putting bonsai in their winter protection positions. For years I have used a dilute solution of vinegar, roughly at 1:20, and gentle rubbing with an old toothbrush (much more concentrated solutions will kill the foliage). This cleaning is, happily, far easier on less developed trees providing that their twigs or bark are not too delicate. But for deciduous trees with denser twigging, conifers with denser foliage pads (such as junipers), and old trees with flaking bark this method can’t do the complete job without potential damage to the tree.

Tony Tickle, in his talk in Perth last year, said he used a dilute salt solution, but I can’t remember if he suggested spraying or not. Do you have any recommendations for this essential cleaning job?

Reply from Jeff Banning : All the references I have seen to moss/algae removal have been the “teaspoon of vinegar to litre of water" solution (this has come up on Wee Trees and Internet Bonsai sites in the past).  Or the alternative recommendation is Kaizans’ algae removal stuff.  To be honest I have never seen a reference to using salt solution and don’t recall that being discussed with Tony Tickle.  Our club has bought a tree cleaning machine which most who have used it seem to think is quite successful.  They are expensive though (we paid about £130) but, as I am lucky and don’t get much in the way of moss or algae on my trunks or branches, I have never used it. This site gives details of the machine which is not designed specifically for tree cleaning purposes but its' adjustable spray power makes it ideal and several other SBA members do have one.

November 11

Are you someone like me who struggles with the "vision thing" and who has been unable to get bonsai experts to articulate the process of discerning and arriving at an image.  Well this piece by Andy Rutledge may help.  It's been around since 2013 so some of you will probably know it but it's a new discovery for me and I did find that his way of approaching the subject gave a few new insights.  Something to read on these long dark nights!

 PS : I have created a new section in the A to Z covering books and articles that may be of interest.  I don't plan to log every bonsai book in the business but I am looking for recommendations by people who found a particular book interesting or helpful.  All inputs welcome - go on, surprise me !!

November 09

At our Committee meeting last Sunday we agreed to invite Peter Warren to Scotland for 2 days next year.  After an exchange of available dates between us the Committee agreed on September 16th & 17th (Saturday & Sunday) as the best available dates and Peter Warren has confirmed that these dates have been entered into his diary.  At this stage we envisage a Saturday presentation at The Smith Museum and Art Gallery (the same as last year) followed by a workshop on the Sunday for 6 or 7 people. The intention is that the workshop will be held somewhere convenient for those wishing to attend, recognising that we could have attendees from several different areas.

We still have to iron out the details but the workshops are likely to cost £50.

The action now is for you to provide your Convener with expressions of interest in both events, so we can start to plan in a little more detail.

Drop me a mail at if you have any questions or issues. 


November 08

On Sunday 6th at The Broompark Centre in Denny, we held our first SBA Bonsai Boot Sale.  This proved a great success with many trees, pots, stands and other bonsai paraphernalia changing hands at bargain prices. 

It was a busy day as there was a Committee Meeting in the morning and we also held our AGM Meeting midway through the afternoon with Marion and the team once again providing an appetising lunch spread (thanks once again ladies).

Because it was so busy I didn’t manage to take the photos I intended but I did grab a few towards the end of the session just to give an idea of the sort of items that were on sale. See these in our next newsletter.

Thanks to all who brought items to sell and to all those who bought items from the sale – it was you who made this a successful first venture.  We will definitely repeat the exercise next year. 


November 04

At last years AGM it was agreed that preliminary accounts (subject to audit) would be circulated prior to the AGM in order to allow people to have time to review  them before the meeting.  Unfortuntely there have been some problems with the webistes mailing system which have meant that the mail sent out by the Secretary has not got through to everyone.

I have therefore uploaded the accounts file here so that members can access it.  I apologise for the delay in getting this information to you all but we only recently realised that there was mailing issue preventing the communication getting through.

October 28

Just a quick reminder that memberships are due for renewal by the end of October and only members with up to date membership are eligible to vote on motions at our AGM on the 6th November !

In the meantime, as a serially timid stylist I hope that the following before and after pictures will give some encouragement to others who, like me, are reluctant to be brave when re-styling your trees.  The cotoneaster in the picture was purchased at the Coventry Traders Show in in 2011 from Greenwood Bonsai.  Since then I have pruned and tidied the foliage in a rather un-treelike "dome" style, but always felt that there was a better image lurking beneath.  So yesterday I took my heart in my hands and set about a radical (for me) re-style.  I was pleased,and somewhat surprised, with the result although the pictures don't really do the image justice.  Now I just need a smaller pot  ! - that will come next March

If you send me your before and afters I will endeavour to publish them here.  Many members expressed a desire to see more of this sort of thing, so here's your chance.

October 04

I'm back, after a great holiday in Canada and Alaska, with lots of time marvelling at the trees in that region and how many of them seem to grow out of solid rock!  I am now looking forward to the AGM on 6th November and in particular our first Bonsai Boot Sale.  If you want to buy, sell, swap anything bonsai make sure that you come along.  As an added bonus you also get to throw rotten tomatoes (only figuratively !) at the SBA Committee or maybe even shower them with praise (literally) - it's up to you.  I am looking forward to a good turnout so we can continue our efforts to make the SBA as relevant as possible to its members.

August 31

The last post before my hols but I thought that some may be interested to know that the next Traders Show staged by the Bonsai Traders Association takes place on Sunday 16th October at the Elsecar Heritage Centre, Elsecar, Barnsley, S748HJ.  See the attached link for details :

August 19

Please note the changes to arrangements for the Bonsai Boot Sale in November.


Sunday 6th November 2016 between 1pm and 5pm


  • The sale will take place in the main hall of the Broompark Centre, Denny, starting at 1pm and continue till the end of the afternoon (up to 5pm).
  • There will be (some) food available in the small hall from 1pm following the morning’s committee meeting, as usual, for committee members and those who have made a long journey to attend the AGM.
  • There will be a break for the AGM from 2pm to approximately 4pm.
  • All members are invited to buy and sell any bonsai related items: pots, trees, display tables, accent plants, scrolls etc. Tables to display items will be laid out around the hall.
  • Each item should be clearly labelled with the price and the name of the seller.
  • All transactions will be between individual buyers and sellers.

July 30

Our member survey resonses indicated that a lot of people would be interested in a variety of tops emroidered with teh SBA logo (and also the club name if required).  We are now taking orders for anybody who wants an embroidered T hirt (£6) or Polo shirt (£9).  All you have to do is provide the following details to your Convener :

T shirt or Polo shirt

Number required



Club name included Y/N

Cost would be payable on delivery.

Please let your Convener know as soon as possible and we will consolidate the orders at our next Committee Meeting on August 10th

PS : If you want a fleece embroidered then, at teh moment,  this can be done if you want to provide the fleece. The same route applies - i.e. through your Convener.

July 18

As Convener of the Ayrshire Group I would like to invite everyone interested to enter into the bonsai competition at this years’ Ayr Flower Show.

The Ayrshire Bonsai Group will occupy a significant area for both a club display in addition to the extensive competition section. We invite all enthusiasts from Scotland and the North of England to consider entering the competition which is open to all comers – including novices. Up to 5 trees may be entered for a fee of £6 and any number above 6 for £11. Entrants are entitled to a free day pass worth £15.

Also there are small money prizes of between £1 and £5 for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places. The Ayr Flower Show brochure (see P. 39 for Bonsai) and competition entry form can be downloaded at the Event

Entry forms should be submitted by Friday 31st July.

Thanks for your support.


July 01

Some of you may have seen the video of Graham Potter delivering a talk to Eastbourne & Wealdon Bonsai Club.  If you have not then it's well worth an hour of your time on :

 Following the requests made by respondents to our recent member survey, this week's SBA Committee meeting confirmed our intention to hold a Bonsai Boot Sale on Sunday November 6th at the Broompark Community Hall in Denny.  This is the same date and venue at which we will be holding our 2016 AGM.

This will run from 10.00 until approximately 15.00 and all members are invited to present items for sale including trees, pots, display tables, accent plants etc.

The current plan is that each item should be clearly labelled with the name of the seller and the price. The items would be displayed however the seller wishes in Denny Hall but the money would be paid at a central desk where a record of the item sold, the name of the seller and its’  prices will be recorded

A contribution of 10% towards SBA funds would be deducted and the proceeds distributed to sellers.

If you have any questions or views about the arrangements please let your Convener know - or you can contact me on the above address. If you wish to advertise any items that you will be intending to bring you can always upload details onto our For Sale page.

June 22

I have received several enquiries both in the recent member survey and also in face to face conversations, about the possibility of producing a calendar of bonsai activity which shows approximately what tasks need to be performed when for each individual tree type - within the context of a Scottish climate.  So, I have attached a chart that I put together for my own personal use and which others may possibly find helpful.  I would be really keen to hear feedback on the usefulness of this sort of guide but also any suggestions for improvement or new inclusions.  I also hope that people will feel motivated to suggest corrections where they think that something is not quite right.

There were also several inputs to the member survey suggesting that the website could be improved by being developed as a more inter-active forum.  I am trying to use this Prseidents Page for that as a sort of trial. So, any comments, suggestions, questions on this or any other subject can be opened up to members on this page.  I hope you will feel motivated to contribute.


June 21

... and I thought it was just about trying to develope nice trees ! See what says :

The Japanese art of Bonsai was actually a practice originated in China and most of the bonsai trees were grown not to impress aesthetically and create a beautiful overall sight, but to help the owners of bonsai trees in meditation.

Various schools of Buddhism found the art of Bonsai to be one of the most relaxing and stress reducing activity.

The over time effects, that a simple bonsai plant can have in your daily life is amazing ::

  • Growing and caring for bonsai trees is a relaxing and beautiful hobby that will help you forget day by day stress. Take a breath after a hard day work, water your bonsai plant and groom it here and there. I promise you will feel better!
  • Bonsai trees need love too! It sounds silly, but besides trimming, fertilizing, and watering they also need a peaceful environment. You won’t create a peaceful environment only for the bonsai tree, you will create it for your self as well.
  • Working with nature, bonsai trees included, you will work on your patience.
  • Indoor bonsai, and other plants in general, will keep the air purified and fresh.
  • Having a healthy bonsai tree next to your bed can help you get over your cold faster, help with you coughs and sore throat by constantly refreshing the air you breath.

Each day growing a bonsai tree will keep you at peace with yourself, rewarding you with a great sense of accomplishment that will definitely have a positive impact on your health.

Mid June

Re. my previous note on the importance of soil pH I was asked if there is a reference table of required pH levels by tree type.  There is one in the AtoZ if you go to this location  and click on the web link provided.

All members on email should now have received the Members Survey Report.  If you wish to see the actual scores for each question , or to see the individual comments submitted please go to

Comments, queries, suggested actions  are all welcome .

Begining of June

First things first - congratulations to all the members who supported the SBA's displays and competition at Gardening Scotland.  Two gold medals at a flower show is a tremendous achievement.  This is a lot of effort for a lot of people who deserve great credit when it comes together successfully. Now we just have to work out what to do next year. 

Congratulations also to the Ayrshire Club whose display was awarded Best in Show and Best Newcomer awards.  Speaking personally it was a lot of work and a lot of driving to and fro but it proved worth it in the end. Can we repeat it next year ? I don't know - we are all feeling pretty knackered at the moment  and just need some time to recover !

One other point on my gardenia issue.  You may remember that I was struggling with a lot of yellowing and dropping leaves from my shohin sized tree and had tried several things without success.  Well, after talking it through with Sauro Biondi and Ian baillie (to name just a few) I discovered the remedy - acid soil.  Obviously I had the pH level totally wrong so instead of trying to raise it by adding stuff I decided to repot in ericaceous compost and water with a very weak solution of water and white vinegar and hey presto the plant is looking great.  It just goes to show how important pH levels can be, and suffice to say, I will be paying a lot more attention to this aspect in future.

Do you have a problem which you would like to share (bonsai issues only please !!).  Then why not send it to - you never know, somebody out there might have a solution.


End May

The end of May is rushing at us, and with it the Gardening Scotland Event.  The SBA are going all out to organise a good show of trees and as many entries as possibkle for the competitive section - so I hope that all your trees are in order and you are getting ready to enter !

I don't know about you but my pines (both Scots and White) seem to have an inordinate number of flower buds on them this year.  I discussed this with John Goldsmith in the Ayr Group who sought inour from his long time friend and teacher Lee Verhorovoort who advised the following :

Flowering on Pine is not good as it will leave a stalk of bare branch before the needle. If you have one long flower candle and one short then remove the larger, this will keep the foliage tighter. If you only have large flowering candles then tip the end of the candle and leave some needle so it will back bud, then remove the whole candle. Pines flower more if they are pot bound and if you give them high potassium fertiliser.

Thanks John - any other observations or inputs welcome at


Mid May

I have a small gardenia on which the leaves have been going progressively more yellow. I suspect that it is because they like acid soil and when I tested mine it only just registered just about 7.0 i.e. neutral.  So I checked the website on how to improve the acidity of the soil and found this interesting

Our soft water has a ph of about 7.0 i.e. neutral. Gardenias (along with some others like azalea) , tend to do better in slightly acidic soil. So how do I safely add acidity to my plant if our water does not provide the answer ? I believe that there are products at garden centres, but a cheap alternative I heard about is : coffee grounds - mixed into the soil, sprinkled on top, or poured on. You can also make a soil drench by soaking 1 cup of coffee grounds in a 1 gallon of water., leaving for 2 or 3 days then using to water the plant.  For faster action, you may add add a few tablespoons of vinegar to the next watering. Adding sphagnum can also lower the pH of the soil.

I'm trying this myself. Anybody else got any good ideas to help me restore the health of my Gardenia ? Replies to


Early May

Well what a busy couple of weeks it's been.  First a very successful visit by Peter Warren who held everyone's attentionfor several hours at Smith Museum and Art Gallery with a wide ranging discourse on all aspects of bonsai, which included a critique of all the trees brought along by members.  This was followed by two workshops, one for seven people at Ayra nd another for eight at Fankerton.  Everyone who participated seemed really pleased with the sessions and went home a lot wiser - and with some significantly improved trees.

This was followed by our national Exhibition in Stirling.  The event went off very successfully thanks to the expert organisational skills of  John Morris and other members of the Forth Valley Group.  Thank you guys for a great day. This event always takes a lot of preparation by all clubs to put on a good display.  Lanark won the award for best stand but I must confess that my eye was taken by the Perth Groups presentation because, yet again, it was a different display format from previous years.  Many of us tend to exhibit in teh same or similar format every year but Perth always have a different presentation each year - great to see.

End April

Just a quick update regarding the Peter Warren event on Saturday at Smith Museum and Art Gallery in Stirling.

We will kick-off at 10.00 and break for lunch at 13.00.  Ticketholders should present their ticket to obtain lunch.

We will aim for comfort breaks at 11.30 and 15.30.  Tea/coffee will be available from the kitchen adjacent to the lecture hall.

For those of you who have completed and submitted the Survey Form, we will be drawing the prize winner of the £25 Wattston Bonsai Gift Voucher on the day.

We aim to finish by 17.00.


  1. By all means bring a tree along for review or advice.  We cannot guarantee that every tree will be selected but it will be helpful to have a good selection of trees available to use as illustrations if needed.
  2. Make sure you have all your questions ready that you want to ask.  The session is intended to be very inter-active so the more questions the better.
  3. If you want to use a picture to support a question or to make a point then just send to me and I will put it on a memory stick so we can flash up on the screen if needed.

I hope that covers everything – see you all there.


Mid April

It’s almost mid-April already and we have a very busy time ahead of us.  The 3 day visit by Peter Warren takes place from 30th April to 2nd May, during which time he will conduct a presentation/discussion sharing his experience and expertise in the hobby, followed by two one day workshops in Alloway and Fankerton.  This is closely followed by our National Exhibition to be held in The Mayfield Centre near Stirling on Saturday 14th May.  Then following close on its heels is Gardening Scotland on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of June, where the SBA and the National Collection will use a large display area to exhibit some of our best trees.

Also this year the Ayrshire Club has been invited by the organisers of Gardening Scotland to reprise its display at the Ayr Flower Show last year.

So, just at the time when our trees are demanding more of our time and attention we have a stream of very busy events to manage.  This is a key time for us to publicize the hobby in Scotland and is taking up a lot of volunteers time and effort to make a success – so I want to say thanks in advance to all those involved.

I also want to say thanks to all those members who have completed and submitted the questionnaire I circulated at the beginning of April, particularly those who have contributed suggestions for additions and improvements in the activities of the SBA.  However, there are still lots of people who have not yet replied so I wonder if I could ask those to take a few minutes to complete the questionnaire and let us know what we need to do to improve the value of the organisation to its members.  If you believe that you may not have received the form – or are having difficulty editing, just drop me a line and I will help you solve the problem.  We need your views – so please keep them coming

Late March

Well now it’s getting towards the end of the month and I wanted to update you on my trip to Willowbog last Friday to attend a Peter Warren workshop.  One of the things that struck me most is the loyalty to Peter’s workshops shown by the fact that most attendees are regulars.  Of seven attendees on the Friday I was the only one who did not come regularly and several of the group had booked for more than one day.  I was followed on Saturday and Sunday by Dave Waddington (Penicuik) and Janice Edwards (Edinburgh) who, I understand, are already booked for two days with Peter in June and again in September.  And they aren’t the only ones who travel a significant distance to work with Peter.  The format I found to be very helpful as Peter did not try to style my trees, rather his advice was more holistic covering styling, maintenance and development.  He certainly answered several questions about the trees I took and made me much more comfortable that I was going down the right road.

We still have some places available on Peter’s workshop on Monday 2nd May at Fankerton so why not sign-up either via your Convener or direct to myself.   You know you’re worth it !

March 2016

I can’t believe it – we are one third of the way through March already and it looks like Spring is tentatively popping its head above the horizon.  This is a busy time for bonsai but also fraught with danger for the impetuous amongst us, so why not take a look at the Bonsai Calendar page on our website for some useful tips and advice.

The Peter Warren event is approaching fast and it is important that we know who wants to attend which day, so please make sure that your Convener knows your requirements so we can get organised.  I am attending a Peter Warren workshop down at Willowbog on the 18th March so hope to discuss more details with Peter while I am there.  It would be great to have a firm idea of numbers by then.  I hope to give you all a report when I get back.

For those of you who refer to the AtoZ of Bonsai on our web page, you will notice that some entries do not have suitable pictures with them.  If you have some good pictures which would fill in some of the blanks why not send them along to .  This would be a big help , and remember, that this section of our web page, perhaps more than any other, impacts the reputation of the hobby in Scotland.

Hopefully you all saw the 3 page article on bonsai which appeared in the Daily  Telegraph on the 27th February.  It is rare to see bonsai given such a high profile and it would be great if we could leverage something like that in Scotland – ideas anyone ?  For those who didn’t see it, here is the link :

Last, but by no means least the next SBA Committee Meeting is on Wednesday 16th March.  We will be discussing a number of initiatives at the meeting but, as always we are keen to hear from you what you, the members, want the SBA to be doing.  So, please make sure your Convener has your ideas, or send direct to


February 2016

The Peter Warren 3 day event is coming up.  Please make sure you let your convener know which day you want to participate in.  This is being heavily subsidised out of SBA funds and is a big financial commitment on behalf of the members so please support the initiative.  You can see details in the latest Newsletter.

The National Exhibition is also looming over the horizon.  I have been asked if individuals can mount a table display of their own in addition to club displays.  The answer is yes - the only constraint may be the amount of room we have.  Requests for a table should go to

Can it be more than 18 months ago that we set up the AtoZ of Bonsai on our site.  A one stop shop with links to every aspect of bonsai that you can probably think of.  This is meant to be a composite of all our members knowledge so if you see that a subject is missing or that the information is innaccurate or incomplete just write to the editor via the link on teh AtoZ page. Come on - get involved!

We are considering a member "bonsai boot sale" later in the year so discuss it at your club meetings - let your conveners know if you would want to participate and any ideas you have about it.  This would be an ideal opportunity for you to swap, buy, sell any surplus you have.

January 2016

Happy New Year everyone !!

I want to take this opportunity to wish all the members a Happy New Year for 2016 and hope that all of your bonsai wishes come true (just the reasonable, achievable ones anyway !).

If any of you, like me, received very welcome bonsai gifts in your Christmas stocking, I hope that you make good use and derive great enjoyment from them over the next 12 months.  Personally, one of the best presents I received was a book entitled : “Penjing : The Chineses Art of Bonsai by Zhao Qingquan.  Apart from the usual practical content, along with some great pictures, the most interesting element of the book is the focus on the spirit, or essence, of bonsai.

For those of you who, like me, struggle with the “vision thing” when it comes to styling bonsai I found the following extract very interesting and helpful (published with the full permission of the author).  In a section describing penjing aesthetics he talks about the emphasis on huayi (painting flavour) and shiqing (poetic image) where painting flavour refers to the design of penjing resembling the traditional Chinese art of ink painting, the aim of which is to capture the essence and spirit of a natural landscape through abstraction in order to reflect a balance between art and nature.  In this respect he says :

"To achieve this goal, rather than to strive for a photographic reproduction of a natural scene, the artists needs to maintain a balance between dominance and subordination, emptiness (void) and substance, denseness and sparseness, highness and lowness, largeness and smallness, life and death, dynamics and statics, roughness and meticulousness, firmness and gentleness, lightness and darkness, straightness and curviness, verticality and horizontality and lightness and heaviness.  The main task of the artist is to balance varied forces against each other to attain equilibrium."

So, if you thought the design process was a bit tricky before, now you know why !  I don’t know about all you guys out there but I did find this very helpful in helping me to get my head around the design process – especially when Mr. Qingquan expands on each of the above mentioned aspects in his book.  Translating it into action is of course quite a different thing but I hope that it may give you (as it did me) a different and interesting insight into how to view the whole process.

We have an interesting year ahead of us in 2016 with the three day Peter Warren visit adding to our normal curriculum of meetings, shows and events.  I hope that you enjoy them all and feel free offer your own input about what you would like the SBA to deliver for its members in this and subsequent years.



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Ishizuke, Ishitsuki, Ishitzuki
Rock garden style characterised by entire tree planted on a rock but with no soil in the pot. Water or sand ofetn in the base of the pot.

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