Well the Noelanders Trophy XIV has been and gone. No doubt many of you will have seen some reports and images from the show already on the many internet bonsai forums and sites so I won't post loads of images of the show.
For me personally, the event was a mixed bag, hence the subtitle 'The Good the Bad and the Ugly'.
But where to start. I suppose with the Bad and the Ugly side and keep the good until last, and always finish on a positive!
But before that let me say a little about the event.
Marc Noelanders and his team of dedicated helpers from the BELGIUM BONSAI ASSOCIATION, once again put on a great event for European bonsai enthusiasts, and again the overall standard of the trees in the exhibition was higher than the year before. People travelled from all over Europe to the event and around 2,000 people attended over the weekend. Marc and his team are to be applauded yet again for their efforts.
As we have come to expect with the Noelanders Trophy, there was a lineup of international demonstrators working on trees over the two days.
Sokosolvisit USA, Robert Steven Indonesia, Luis Vallejo Spain, Enrico
Savini Italy, Werner Busch Germany and Carlos Van der Vaart
For those who braved the freezing cold conditions and the threat of more snow, there were vendors galore selling everything the enthusiast could wish for from a roll of wire to a tree for 34,000 euros! The British contingent as usual had good representation and the potters in particular (Ceramic potters not Harry Potters) did very well.
We had Andy 'Stone Monkey' Pearson, Mark and Dave from Walsall Studio Ceramics, John Pitt, Bryan Albright and Gordon ' The Guvner' Duffet all putting on impressive display/sales tables which to me emphasised the depth of talent of UK potters. It is great to see their talents appreciated by our European neighbours and we are so very lucky to have these talented guys here in this country, it is one area where British Bonsai is rich.
There seemed to be more trees for sale this year with some very high quality material trees both Japanese and European yamadori and some good bonsai for sale. However I am sorry to say that yet again this year there were trees for sale at top prices that had just been collected. Their lack lustre foliage and warm hanging fronds, a dead giveaway to anyone who took the time to look closely rather than be seduced by contorted lines and areas of deadwood. There have already been complaints in the past of people selling recently collected material that is not established. Just because a tree has been tightly fixed into a pot so that it does not move, does not mean it has a good root system. And some trees are collected only a few months before the show. This has got to be stopped and these rogue traders stamped out.
The selling of such freshly collected material is not something only done to cheat the public. Professionals are quite happy to blatantly rip off fellow professionals without a second thought. And this year yet again people have tried to rip me off. When I pointed out to one guy that he was well on the way to ruin his reputation he replied "Yes I know but the moneys good". It seems only drastic measures will stop people like this. For me the whole episode leaves a very bad taste in the mouth and it really rubs salt in the wound to hear people speak of the passion that these people have. If they have no respect for the trees or for their fellow enthusiasts, then I am sorry but they have no passion for bonsai. Only a pseudo passion they masquerade behind! Thank God these people are in the minority, but even so they tarnish bonsai with their selfish and short sighted behaviour.
To think you hire vehicles at great cost, travel hundreds of miles at great cost. Travel by ferry and then drive hundreds of miles. Book hotel accomadation for several days at more cost only to have people insult your intelligence! This is both the Bad and Ugly side of bonsai.