We had a really busy day here at Willowbog Bonsai for our March, regular monthly workshop last Saturday.


A total of ten participants had signed up for the day.


The majority were regulars but we had a couple of occasional participants as well as three attending their first ever workshop here.


As always there was  plenty of bonsai related things to talk about at the start of the day. Top of the agenda was the potential effects of the recent wintry weather on our trees but we had lots of trees to look at in terms of re-potting, shaping etc.


This time of year is probably the busiest in the bonsai calendar with it being the ideal time to repot, structural prune deciduous species and to start raw material on the bonsai path, to mention just three.


With so many participants and trees I managed to curtail the discussion period somewhat and only mentioned Highland cattle a few times !!


Husband and wife, Simon and Melissa, were not only new to Willowbog Bonsai but also very new to bonsai. Just two indoor subjects between them. Here we see Caz, who as usual was one of my helpers on the day. talking to them about their bonsai and no doubt explaining how she got into bonsai ” proper ” many years ago with an indoor tree.


Taking notes is sometimes a good way to take full advantage of the plethora of tree related information that emerges on these workshop days.


Almost at the other extreme we had Colin starting one of the Western hemlocks that he collects himself, down the bonsai path with it’s repot from wooden box into first bonsai container, in this case a mica drum pot. My other assistant on the day, Scott, helps Colin with the initial root reduction process. The remains of the box can be seen under the table. It is often safer to sacrifice the box by taking it to bits rather than damage roots by prising the tree out.


In this photo Angela and myself examine the roots of one of her trees. Angela is probably our most consistent participant at these regular workshops and she has recently also begun working with Peter Warren. We can see the benefits to all this gathering of knowledge and information in the improvement of her bonsai collection. Sure, she has made mistakes as we all have, and continue to do! but she has learnt from those mistakes and moved on.


Terry, whilst being quite new to bonsai and to Willowbog, has already built up an impressive collection. Here he completes the fine wiring on his very nice Cedar of Lebanon.


In the centre here occasional participant Margaret gets on with some much needed repotting.


Dyed-in-the-wool Willowbogger Antony assesses his nice Scots pine prior to choosing a new pot to accommodate that change in inclination and getting the job done.


Not his first visit to the nursery but certainly his first workshop with us, Jim brought along a handful of nice and quite mature bonsai that it was a pleasure to help him progress with. I sincerely hope that we see more of Jim and his trees at these days.


Scott helps Norma with growing medium preparation for repotting her Taxus raw material. Norma is quite new to the hobby but is fast becoming a true Willowbogger


Even with the help of Scott and Caz it is quite a challenge remembering to get round everybody to ensure that they all feel that they got the most from the day that could be got. Not featuring here because he was behind the camera was Willowbog Peter G and my thanks to him for recording the day. Peter carried out structural assessment and pruning of his Quercus faginae, a species that has lots of potential in European bonsai development.


The tokonoma display for the day.


Scott’s rapidly improving Hawthorn was the main feature.


Planted in a very nice Walsall Ceramic pot. Lots of ramification still needed with the tree but the basics are in place.


This little ceramic wren kept the tree company.


With one of The Proprietor’s ikebana displays in the side alcove.

My thanks again to all the day’s participants, to Caz and Scott for their help and to Peter for the photos, at the end of the long day I was weary,   but pleased. Now I must go and see my cows !!