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

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Shohin Off

fun and educational week was had by all who attended the British Shohin Association weekend, well I assume it was, I certainly had fun and learnt the lesson that if you get pulled into an AGM, it is generally a bad sign.

In an attempt to stay fresh and keep the level of Shohin Bonsai increasing in the UK, we organised a mainly workshop weekend rather than simply an exhibition. It was a great chance for the members to get some free expert tuition from people who have experience in the field such as Chairman John Armitage and Marco Invernizzi. I was also present with more hair on my chin than on my head.

It was great to meet up with the real hardcore enthusiasts who made the trip to Willowbog Bonsai in the beautiful wilderness of Northumbria. Despite it being a mainly workshop based event there were a number of displays on show and the most popular by far was the immaculate and superbly presented display by Mark and Ritta Cooper. They are good friends of mine and I am very pleased that they have started to come out and show their trees.

It was also good that they got the opportunity to show people that they are not just displaying "cheque book" Bonsai and that they have put in years of dedicated hard work to get their trees looking so good

This is something which is beginning to show in the trees of many of my regular students and customers...not wishing to blow my own trumpet but their trees have by and large improved since we started working together. It is rewarding to see the fruits of our combined labour now we are coming into the second repotting cycle for some trees and many of the deciduous have ramified well, pines have back budded and Junipers filled out. Patience and diligence is key with any Bonsai and the rewards are just starting to come after three or four years.

What then for the future? For the future of the BSA it is onwards and upwards. During the AGM I was press ganged into become the Vice Chairman, a position I am happy to fill as it gives me a chance to help the tireless work that John Armitage puts in to promote little trees. My first duty was to put down in writing the proposal for the next BSA show, which is here....

BSA show 2012

Following on from the success of the practical workshop based “Shohin Off” event in March 2011, we are excited to announce plans for a new and improved show format for 2012. We are inviting a wide range of participants to take part in our popular and enjoyable show weekend.
As in previous years we would like you to consider displaying, individual trees or a full composition of:
Shohin Mame or Chuhin
(We do ask for a maximum size of 45cm from the top of the pot)
As a new, more inclusive feature to our show and an attempt to help bring the fun of Shohin Bonsai to a wider audience we are also enthusiastically inviting those of you who think that your small trees are not show worthy to bring them along and under the guidance of Marco Invernizzi, Peter Warren and John Armitage they will be prepared for the show and displayed as part of a larger composition or as an individual tree in a special display area.
Knowing full well that it is difficult to put together a full 3,5 or 7 tree composition on an individual basis, we would like to make it clear that we more than welcome group entries and invite Bonsai clubs the length and breadth of the British Isles to put together a club composition featuring the best trees the members possess to form a collaborative effort.
As in previous years awards will be given to the best:
Shohin, Chuhin, Mame, Deciduous, Conifer, Native Species, Composition, Collaborative display, Work in Progress, Pot/tree combination.
Do not worry if you:

  • think your tree is not ready
  • do not have the time to prepare your trees
  • do not have stands, scrolls, accents
  • are not a member of the BSA (only £20)

  • This is an all inclusive event and we are aiming to show you the fun of participating in the BSA show and also help you to improve your trees and displays.
    The show will be held on the 10/11th of March 2012 at Willowbog Bonsai. As part of our continuing efforts to help improve the level of British Shohin Bonsai we will be offering the services of three eading names in the Bonsai world free of charge. Both Marco Invernizzi, Peter Warren and John Armitage will be on hand to help you clean, moss and titivate your tree ready for it to be on put display. We would like those of you who have the time and experience to prepare in advance, it is fun to do it yourself after all; but for those of you who are beginning to reach the level where you would like to display your trees but are not sure of the final steps, we are here to help with advice, moss and more stands than you can shake a stick at!

    So basically we want everyone and anyone to come along to the show and make it even more fun and wide reaching than ever. After all Bonsai is supposed to be fun as well as artistic, deep and meaningful.

    A few more days or repotting in the UK are ahead plus the dilemma of the ever increasing insurance premium to figure out...year on year it has increased by 50% despite my no claims bonus increasing. I may end up cycling to work. I will be visiting Poland for a few days and then to the US, trying to beat the clock in terms of getting trees repotted in the correct time of year.

    I am tired now having been awake for 20 hours today. My bed is calling...

    Tuesday 15 March 2011

    Omachi Ganbatte

    Further to the post earlier regarding the Japanese tsunami which has destroyed Isao Omachi's garden, Marco Invernizzi and Doug Paul are being very active in creating a fund, "Omachi Ganbatte", which will allow Omachi to get back on his feet once things have settled down.

    Details can be found here on Facebook, for those of you do it... http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_161322040589059 the group is called Omachi Ganbatte. For anybody who thinks that this may be a con, then please read the small print on the page. The fund is being managed by various people and there should be no concerns about donating money to the cause.

    For anybody who does not do facebook...including me. details for donation are...

    for US: Please send checks to:
    Omachi Relief Fund
    P.O. Box 22
    Yorklyn, DE 19736

    The checks are NOT tax deductible!

    If someone wants to wiretransfer money to the US account please get in touch with me or Marco .

    Paypal info:


    For Europe:
    Donate to:
    Bank Name:Banca Popolare di Ancona
    Branch n.287, Osimo sede
    Bank Address:Piazza del Comune 4 60027 Osimo Italy
    Acc. holder: Marco Invernizzi
    Swift Code: BPAMIT31
    Bank Code: BLOPIT22

    Although the account is in Marco's name, it is managed by Diego Fortune, a bank manager and upcoming Italian Bonsai artist. Full details can be found on the facebook page.

    Like I said, please do consider giving a donation to him, not only is he a friend of mine, he is a fellow Bonsai artist in need. I will be donating to him in person in the Japanese tradition of Omimai. In times of disaster, solidarity is essential.

    Nature is King

    With the recent events in Japan, it is clear to see that we humans are not as powerful as we think we are and that nature has far more hold over us than we care to think about.

    I returned to the UK a week ago and missed the erthquake by a few days. Some people have told me how lucky I am but I feel the opposite, guilty for not being there to help the people I care about clean up and cope with the aftermath. Power cuts, food shortages and the threat of the unknown. These things put Bonsai into perspective and show how unimportant it is, yet at the same time how very important it is to protect.

    From Bonsai we can learn many things about life and death, the eternal struggle between the two and how relentless it is. I has an email from a Japanese friend who told me how happy she was to see new shoots forming on a tiny maple seedling she recieved from the Chief. Looking at that gave her power and hope. Despite all the death and destruction that has taken place in the North East of Japan, despite the panic and uncertainty of Tokyo, despite her powerlessness...nature still continues regardless.

    Many people have emailed me asking after the Chief and other Bonsai people. As far as I know the worst affected is the young Bonsai artist Isao Omachi, who was from that coast line. He and his family are safe but his life and work have been totally destroyed. Marco Invernizzi who is a close friend of Omachi's is setting up a relief fund, you can find details on facebook. I will post more details here when I speak with Marco. Thank you all for your concern and thoughts. At times like this, friends and genuinely good hearted peopl become apparent.

    Shunkaen and the Chief escaped relatively lightly. The stone laterns fell over, a few bonsai damaged, a few pots broken but nothing of note. Everybody is shaken but unhurt. Morimae is in a similar situation, everyone is ok and there is some superficial damage.

    It will be a long time before the full extent of the damage become aparent and what this means for us humans...however, life goes on relentlessly. This is the nature of the universe. More details as I know them.