Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Wash & Brush up - Local show time

It's a week to go until one of our larger local shows - the Bonsai South West show which is a regular annual event hosted by the Exmouth Society. This year we have 6 x 6ft tables to set up so Colin and I are doing 3 each and are planning to take some of our larger trees to show on behalf of the Cornwall Bonsai Society. It needs a fair bit of planning as the hall used is the Exmouth Pavillion so on arrival there is just the tables so backgrounds need sorting out and squeezing in the car along with all the other related stuff. Our tables are back to back, so we are using one central back drop for the entire display which will make set up a bit quicker.

My original plan for the display was to use all different varieties of acer palmatum as within the club there are some really nice ones but a few months back, when the SW show date was confirmed, it clashed with one of our own clubs annual events held with the National Trust. This has split our available trees and members this year and the acers I had my eye on (or their owners) are being used elseware so a bit of a plan change was needed. Last year Colin and I used 5 trees in 16ft but they were a little close together (we use big trees!) so with the 18ft span I'm going to take 5 but maybe only use 4. Just a personal feeling I have is not to take the same trees to the same show if possible - certainly not for 4 or 5 years anyway as it just gets boring to see the same trees wheeled out time and time again. Last year the Hinoki went in its 'young' pre carved style and the old Anne Swinton juniper in its pre tanuki !! style so these two are staying on the benches for 2012.

 The lineup for the show is: the driftwood slanting juniper as the main tree, virtually my first bonsai - a chinese elm as no.2, the red acer is bursting with colour so it will be a nice popular tree for no.3 and to complete the lineup a grafted white pine as tree no.4. These have been chosen as they are exmples of the 4 main bonsai species commonly used, so hopefully many of the visitors will relate to some or all of them.

The trees themselves are quite neat and tidy, any branch wires used go round the back of the trunks as standard so they are not seen, and if a guy wire is still on it is 0.6mm copper, so basically invisible. Today - 6 days before set up is about moss hunting, mossing and top dressing the pots and deciding on each trees' actual display. Now one thing I find with all my bonsai friends---we've got no moss left in our gardens !! especially as it tends to dry up in the summer on the pots and the birds shred the rest looking for grubs. Luckily we have a stream at the end of the garden so I went on a little exploration hunt...........

and found a bucket full !
It is not the little round mounds you get on roofs but still quite nice flat sections with fibres of a  medium length, going onto big pots I think it will be ok. I don't like a solid mass of moss covering the entire pot, but too little looks wrong as well so in between the moss I add some neat akadama to give a colour variation.

Unfortunately I dont have any large stands yet so need to do some adapting !! I have a really old oak coffee table that was my grans that can be turned into a stand for the small pine so out came the jig saw .................

Another quick and easy base has been made this morning wiring bamboo canes together into a mat using 1mm copper wire. This can be a traditional base for spring/early summer and will be used with one of the deciduous trees -  18 canes and some wire was under £3.00 so we haven't broken the bank to come up with a base for one tree.  A couple of the trees will have to go without stands I think until I stumble on some 30"+ ones at affordable prices !

Luckily the accent plants are looking ok so thats one thing off the list.

Once the display is done there will hopefully be time for breakfast as the venue has a great little restaurant, and later in the morning I'll be doing a demo on garden center material. For the last two years there has been a South West Styling challenge with a lovely silver cup to hold for the year  - it is along the lines of the new talent competition. First year I styled a semi cascade juniper and was lucky enough to win, the following year the trees were great big beastly garden junipers and I made a small compact upright tree which was chosen as the winner again. For a change this year I'm doing a pre competition demo on another wild looking garden juniper to see what can be done in a couple of hours on totally untrained material. Here is a preview of the material they have chosen for me !.

Next post will be a show report but here are a couple of the main trees I'll use this year

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