Thursday, 18 April 2013

How time flies

Since my last post a lot has happened, some things memorable and some things I would rather forget.
Several of you have contacted me to point out I have not been active on my blog and updating it regularly. Well guys and girls several people have also made a point of telling me my blog was very negative recently and so I thought I would take a break and try to be positive with my next entry, after all, you are probably fed up with hearing about me having trees stolen, my daughter being ill, my Mom fighting cancer etc. But unfortunately, that's life or to be more specific, that's my life. I'm sorry if it doesn't read like a Mills and Boon novel.

But if I am perfectly honest, time can be at a premium sometimes and I just don't get the time to sit and write a blog. And sometimes I am just not in the mood and I must admit recently I have been on a downer and not in blogger mode as I think you can appreciate!
Here's me last week. My friend was trying really hard to cheer me up!

You can see from the expression on my face, bonsai is not on my mind and I feel sorry for myself.

But not for long!


For those of you who made it to Failand, Bristol for the Shohin show that was organised by Mark and Ritta Cooper and Bob Bailey, you are probably aware that I did not make it. So unfortunately I was not able to demonstrate on the Sabina Juniper that I put on my last entry.
From the feedback I received from friends who attended, the show was a great success attracting the biggest turnout to a Failand bonsai event ever. Fortunately Mark Cooper sent me some great images of the show, and I would like to share some of them here with you.

BSA Best shohin Award
Acer palmatum - Andy Jordan

BSA Best Chuhin Award
Trident Maple - Reg Bolton

Best Tree and Pot combination
Boston Ivy / Koyo Pot - Duncan Hield

BSA Best Mame
Lonicera nitida - Bill Gordon

Shohin UK Award
Best Chuhin display
Martin Shepherd

From the credited images that I received from Mark Cooper, it seems that there were awards given by FOBBS, BSA, BCI and Shohin UK on the day, so awards a plenty.
Please go to the SHOHIN UK website for full coverage of the event and many more images of the trees.
A big thanks to Mark Cooper for supplying me with the images and for letting me use them here.

Hopefully due to the success of this event, Mark, Ritta and Bob will be staging another event in the future. And judging from the attendance figures, they are going to need a bigger venue. 
Circumstances permitting I will get to the next one. This time the weather, by that I mean heavy snowfall, conspired to stop me getting to the event, in fact I could not get out of the village. With all good intentions I loaded the car the night before and tried to make it out of the village at 6.00am on the Sunday morning, but instead I ended up stuck in the lane not far from home. I had to leave my car in the lane nearly all day and things got worse as several trees came down over the drive and a huge oak tree took out the electric and phone line to the house.
Having no phone and therefore email, it was difficult to contact anyone to let them know of my predicament. Living where I do mobile phone reception is limited at the best of times, but it was my only hope of letting people know I could not make it. As I did not have phone numbers for Mark and Ritta, I took a chance and tried calling Mo Fagan who I knew would be attending the event, but I could not get a signal. So instead I typed out an SMS message, put my phone in the bedroom window upstairs and put the message to 'resend' if it failed. Of course I had to hope that Mo could decipher my message as he is only used to carrier pigeon and smoke signals for communication. Luckily my message got through and I was very relieved as at least people knew I would not be attending. It is only the second time I have not made it to a demo.

The phone line was down for 6 days which was a real pain as it makes checking emails difficult. Good old British Telecom, and they even had the nerve to send me a questionnaire to fill in commenting on their service. It was something on the lines of; Were you happy with the service you received from us. - NO. Would you recommend us to your friends and family. - NO. How can we improve our service. HOW LONG HAVE YOU GOT.    I'm sure you get the gist.

Fortunately the electric got reconnected a little quicker than the phone line despite the heavy snow. Funny how Western Power could get here and yet BT took 5 days longer. As much as I loved the chance to improvise due to our circumstances, the novelty of cooking and making drinks on a camping stove on the kitchen table soon wore off. However I was really glad of the old log burner in the inglenook in the living room, otherwise we would have froze. Kathy and I burnt a few calories splitting and carrying logs.
And of course the weather not only stopped me getting out, it stopped people visiting too.
After the first night of heavy snow, there were a few casualties to, with several trees ending up on the floor due to the weight of the snow. I even had two branches on trees ripped off by the weight of snow which I have never experienced before. These were branches growing at acute angles to the trunk and the snow had literally ripped them away at the base. But things could have been much worse, I have had benches break and shade areas collapse in the past. But this time damage was to a minimum, although at the time I was feeling a little deflated to say the least.
What puts things into perspective is when someone sends you a text message saying; ' Been trying to ring you, phone dead. Are you in. Any new trees?'. When you have to go upstairs and hang out the bedroom window to get a signal to reply and say sorry were have no phone line and we are cut off due to snow. You get a surprised, ' We only had a couple of inches here'. So much for living in the sticks.
Once we had the electric restored and the TV back on,  you could see on various news programs what the farmers up north were having to contend with. Stark images of them digging out sheep and dead lambs makes you realise you got off lightly.

Due to the never ending cold here I have put plastic over several trees to generate warmth to stimulate root growth and it's doing the trick. I have used this technique for many years but never in April.

It is a particularly good technique for junipers which need warmth for the roots to grow.
The tree on the right in this image was one of the rootless trees that you will remember from an earlier post. The buds are moving on it all over with no areas of weakness so far. Whether it is from residual energy time will tell. But at this moment I am optimistic. A little digging around with a chop stick has revealed new roots emerging and so I think the warmth around the pot generated by the plastic sheet plus the root stimulator I am using sporadically is doing the trick. At least I am giving the tree a fighting chance which is more than the collector did.

I would just like to take this opportunity to thank Dan Barton for his offer of having a break away from all the turmoil of recent times down at 'The Acers'. I know you still care!!

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