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

Sunday 26 May 2013

At last a little sun...

I hope dear reader, that absence has made the heart grow fonder, if this is the case, then I will quit the blog altogether and enjoy England's attempts to regain their recent former glories on the cricket pitch.  I must say there is nothing better than working in the garden, sun on your bald spot listening to Test Match Special.  I have been able to do a little of that recently, and the garden has seen a few newcomers to Saruyama HQ, including this reprobate very welcome visitor. It dawned on me as well, when I was tidying up the garden that I hadn't actually put any pictures up yet, so here is an introduction to the very humble Saruyama HQ.

It started off looking like a bit of wasteland in Feb 2012 when we moved in,  fences had been blown down, it had been neglected but it was just what I had been looking for.  As secure as you will find around London, big for the rent and an empty canvas...

View from the gate

 There was an old shed which was still usable and that was about it. A dead tree covered in ivy, no fences and a load of rubble around the garden.  Fast forward a year and a half and there is now a workshop/shed, polytunnel, benches, bbq area (for her indoors) cum outdoor workspace and benches, lots of (but not enough) benches

View from the gate now

The sunny bench, Gets sun all day long....when we see it.

The covered bench...kept things dry over the winter.

The shady bench...Spruce, taxus, Larch all like it here.

View from the workshop...including BBQ area, complete with some new arrivals from some little garden centre.

The deciduous bench, Gets shaded during the midday sun from the massive tree behind it.  the grass was all resown last year and is there to improve humidity.

The biggest problem with the garden is that we are not connected to the house and so there is no running water or electricity.  Rain water collection worked to a point, but the blue water butts sprang leaks over the winter and so I had to invest in a pair of massive water tanks...

 They were off the shelf tanks and they couldn't have been any better dimensions.
2150 Litres of water...enough for a month of hot weather?

It's all powered by a 80W solar panel and a 12V deep cycle battery, with a pump that gets to a decent pressure.  Where there is a will there is a way, although there have been a few mistakes on the way...and some trees suffered because of it.  

To be honest, it is only a small garden and it is full of trees, not all of them fantastic, but I am happy with it.  Any more and I would be struggling to keep up with it.  I do not have the energy to run an operation as big as International Bonsai Mirai, so there is no point me trying.  It is hard enough fending off the wildlife that surrounds me, including a pesky fox and several cats.  They seemed to be attracted to a fertiliser which I am trialling. Any ideas other than a shotgun are welcome.

So along with the new tanks, which I somehow managed to install myself (I knew that physics degree would come in useful one day), there have been a few new arrivals to the garden. Some great, including this...possibly the holy grail for sabina? Look at the tight Itoigawa like foliage on this.  I will be taking cuttings and hoping that it doesn't flower.  Fingers crossed.

The tree is ok, but I will be looking at this as a donor tree more than anything, or at least as a subject to understand sabina a little more.  The ones I do have all seem to be of a good foliage type and seem to be growing very well, except for the one that is planted in Akadama....so this one is in an akadama free mix.

This is an unusual Juniper, I was told it was a Juniperus repens, I am not sure, but it is definitely a needle juniper with rigidia like foliage.  Roots may be a problem though. We shall see.

Also got this Phoenicia. It is not the greatest tree but it does have a big bulging live vein in a good place, so grafting practice is an option.  Phoenicia will be a difficult tree to get compact in the UK I feel, due to the incredible lack of sunshine we have been experiencing.  This is a test tree as opposed to one which will make a masterpiece.

I have quite a few trees in the poly tunnel to compensate for the poor weather, including these two azaleas, one you may recognise with the black choker on the left, the other is a recently pruned Aozora I have been working on for ages with no joy...just not thickening up, so it has gone in the ground for a while.

Yes that is four bags of Kanuma they are sitting in.
The tree cascading down next to it is being fertilised.  In the sense of it is being...tickled at the moment. 

An oriental bittersweet which is currently flowering and being sprayed with an artificial pollinating spray in order to set some fruit.  Hopefully it will work this year again.  I have high hopes for this tree eventually.  It may not be thick, but it is fruity.

Anyway, there is a bit of a view into what I get up to when I am not on the road. There is plenty still to do and I need some time to work on my trees, but slowly slowly I am getting there.  As a nursery, I am not open to the public, I'm not at home enough to do so at the moment, and so it is by appointment only, and only to people who I know...can't be too careful. Get in touch if you fancy a visit.  Am in the Blackheath area of SE London.

Anyway, England are back at the crease, hopefully we will see another Joe Root century tomorrow...come on Yorkshire! Onwards and Upwards

Saturday 4 May 2013

A little polish fun...

For not the first time and sadly not the last, I find myself waiting for a Ryanair flight back home. Still, I come back having spent three days of bonsai fun and three nights of stress due to leaking water tanks at the almost forgotten Saruyama HQ. Due to the efforts on the home front, disaster should have been averted, so less of the stress, more of the fun...

I have been visiting Ibuki Bonsai for a number of years now and seen it improve and expand. Many of the trees I have worked on have improved and only a couple have died...So I take that as relative success. On my latest trip it was still on the verge of transplanting trees so we had a day of repotting including this white pine which although is not an awesome tree, it is still a pretty little thing worthy of some attention. Apologies for the poor photography. I was there to repot, not to do a photoshoot.

A fairly standard looking literati-esque white pine from over grown material...the branching is poor in places, especially the apex but it just needs to bud back and fill in, which under the excellent horticultural care it is receiving, is doing nicely. So it needed a new pot...I asked Mariusz to go and get me one, and he went for a nanban style pot. Not too dissimilar in size to the existing pot...to which I replied, "Try and be a bit more imaginative...lets create a scene" (As in a vista rather than a domestic in a supermarket). After a little cajoling, he came back with a couple of pots, as did I. Now for those of you who think that you know my taste and style and haven't seen Mariusz's facebook page, you can try and guess which one it went in...answer at the bottom of the page.  The present is...the satisfaction of being right.

 Maybe it was this kokagami or antique mirror shaped pot? A little on the funky side I know. The name certainly is. Size wise ok, unglazed, feminine...not bad. Especially as it was made by Mariusz himself....

Or maybe this? Shallow, long and excessively off centre planting angle? Pot too large? Certainly not too powerful. A well made modern chinese pot.

Or maybe the corner on square approach? Now I love squares at an angle. One foot forward, thin end of the red wedge and all that. It certainly is the right size, creates a different appearance and does not overpower the tree. A definite candidate...and another Ibuki original pot.

Answers in a minute folks...

I did come back from (or is that am coming back) Poland with two fantastic presents...one is a bag full of meat.

My breakfast on day two. I didn't eat meat again for another 48 hours...although it was some delicious local sausage. The other present was this...a little accent plant which will soon get planted up into something more appropriate.

Or maybe I should wire it? It is a Cassiope of unknown origin. I will be getting a few in soon for sale. Lovely little bell flowers on the ends.

So...for the reveal...which pot was it?

Oh yes...the excessively off centre planting position, or as Akiyama calls it Shochiku-en style...referring to the previous owner of the old school garden in Tokyo, Mr. Shinkichi Koide who loved to go classical. Negative space in planting position is essential for creating a scene, so if we wanted to display in a tokonoma or exhibition and want to create a flow in what is essentially a cylindrical up and down tree, then we must push it to one side or the other.

As it happens, we had a tokonoma to put it in...

Isn't she lovely?, isn't she wonderful?...

My flight is boarding soon...until next time...