Welcome to the Saruyama Blog, intermittent and generally off topic. Occasionally you might see some trees...and weird ones at that.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

UBI, Panic on the streets of Europe and the Lurgy

I had been asked to go to the UBI show in San Marino last weekend as a judge and demonstrator...and seeing as I was going anyway, it seemed only logical that I go and trade as well, seeing as the Italians were renowned for buying things Bonsai related.

The monkey mobile was packed up to the rafters with most of my stock and we set out Tuesday afternoon, meeting up with the intrepid and experienced European campaigner John Pitt (and his good lady wife) at Maidstone services before heading off to the Continent together. John is a good friend/colleague and it seemed only natural to travel down and stick together, and it worked out well for us as we got the best trading spot and joined forces to create a corner of a foreign field that was forever England...well at least for three dayMe and  Johns it was. My thanks and appreciation go out to the Pitts for making it a much more enjoyable experience.

The drive down was fine, except when I found out that I was paying 30% more on the French toll roads than Mr. Pitt because my van is only slightly taller than his...I felt persecuted and thought about taking it up with the authorities before realising my GCSE level french would fall apart and I would end up getting directions to the beach and talking about what I did at the weekend....J'ai écouté des disques et j'ai mangé du fromage

The event was good, despite the rain, location was fabulous and I met a lot of people, especially my friends from Sardinia who came over and helped with the wiring. For some reason I am drawn to people from different countries who are down to earth, stubborn and do not suffer fools...yet have a reputation which precedes them. Texas, Sardinia...Yorkshire. I will have pictures of the demonstration tree when I can get them.

The sales area can be seen in this video here....I took out all the big guns, hoping to sell at least one of them...needless to say I came back with a truck just as full as I went out with. Despite heavily reduced prices on the final day, I simply couldnt give the trees away. What was pleasantly suprising is that I managed to sell many of the antique Chinese pots to some very discerning customers. I also got invites to several gigs this year and next. I will be coming to Poland, Turin and some blokes back yard sometime in the near future.

The demonstration and judging went well as far as I could tell, there was no fireworks after the decision was made so it was all good. Some of the pictures can be seen here

Marco and Carlos Van der Vaart were the two other demonstrators and it was impressive to see Marco at work, it was the first time I had ever actually seen him working and there is something different about the way he works. Although I only got a few minutes to watch, I actually learnt quite a lot from him. I also had a good look at the Ichiban in action and more on that later. Carlos was good value as well, he helped finish the wiring on my tree. A great bloke but he kept worrying about the chaos on the roads due to the Volcano no fly fiasco. He put the fear of god into Mr. Pitt and myself so the plan was to hot-foot it back to Blightly asap. The drive home took around 28 hours, stopping every now and again for a coffee or 40 winks. I also started to feel sick and feverish as we were leaving San Marino which deteriorated quickly the more I pushed on to get home. The result was this last week was spent in bed. Hot lemon and honey combined with reading trashy novels and watching even trashier TV. I regret ever starting to watch 24 season 7.

Was it worth it? Very much so...it has marked the end of a year based entirely in England and has given me plenty to think on with regards to how I go ahead in the future.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Busy busy on Monkey Mountain

Been a very busy few weeks down at Monkey Mountain HQ. That week of sitting in front of a computer did not materialise and my odometer has another extra few miles on it. Still, it’s all been fun and plenty of good work has been achieved. I have had to schedule time for some of my own trees as well, most of it done early in the morning or late at night, but I am up to date and nothing has suffered yet.

One of the things I had to do was to repot my infamous Rosemary, known as "the tick tock tree", apparently because it was due to die sometime in the summer of 2007. I have written a history on this tree which was due to be published by an Italian publication but they don’t seem to have gotten around to it, so it will go up on here. Needless to say the tree is still health and alive despite the fact it has now spent close to four and a half years growing in the UK. I was told, very politely, by many of the established members of the Bonsai community that it would be dead in six months.

It spent the winter in a plastic box because I was ordered to return the pot it had been growing in for several years, the one it was displayed in at both the Best of British and the BCI event in St. Vincent 2008. Despite the fact I had bought the pot outright, the Chief had already made an arrangement with a Chinese buyer to take the pot when I had returned with it and so I was in a bit of a pickle. The pot had to make it back safely, and so, on Christmas Eve, in the Yorkshire snow, I took the tree out of the pot and put it into a plastic box where it sat, surrounded by soil until the winter. It was in a heated and lighted greenhouse as per usual but it did look a sorry state and for that I apologised.

It over wintered very well and at the start of March it had already woken up and was beginning to grow. Root tips were beginning to move and she was off again. I had hoped to pick up a pot of exactly the same dimensions so I could just slip the well established root ball back into the pot without any disturbance. Unfortunately that didn’t happen and I had to settle for a nice Tokoname pot I had on hand. I chose this as it reflects well the maritime nature of the Rosemary and it also gives it a slightly new look. It went in relatively easily, I had to wash the soil out and mould the roots into the pot, but minimal disturbance was caused and I am confident of no major problems. The new soil mix is roughly equal parts of Akadama, pumice and perlite all of which are small particle size. I have been using this for the last year. Seems ok. Apologies for the picture. I dont have a studio.

I also got around to potting up this little Juniper I have had for years. One of the problems with travelling around so much is missing out on working on trees at the right time. This has suffered from that. It should have been on display by now but it is lagging behind. It was something I picked up from Toju-en, Hamano’s garden where Kimura and Suzuki both studied. The current generation have a stand near us at the Green Club and they press-ganged me into buying it several years ago. He still remembers it and asks every year. Next year I will take a picture of it! It is in a Stone Monkey pot, one of a few that I have of his superb work. The original pictures of the tree can be found here

Another tree I have recently come across is one I bought from the first gentleman of UK Bonsai, Ken Leaver. I was at his a week or so ago and came across this azalea and thought I should buy it. It has incredible mochi-komi and had been growing in that tight pot for ever.

A repot and a quick prune later and we are in business. Assuming it can get over the severe repot into such a small pot, again a beautiful Stone Monkey creation with a bamboo style lip, then it will be all stations go. A literati style Azalea with great natural movement and a superbly flared nebari. Obviously there is alot of work to be done up top but it is not bad for £19.

More articles and that to follow. Trips to Spain and Italy coming up over the next week along with a debate on the topic, Eastern Tradition vs. Bonsai as Art. I will let you guess which side they asked me to defend.