But first BOBB.
The Best of British Bonsai 2013 is now history and I guess everyone is looking forward to other Bonsai events on the horizon.
Over the last few days, while taking a break with my family, I have had time to reflect on what has not been an easy BOBB, when compared with the previous two that were held at the Botanical Gardens, Birmingham.
However what this BOBB has shown, is that despite all the doubts in many peoples minds, the will it won't it go ahead whispers, the bad mouthing on the internet through FACEBOOK and various bonsai forums, and the personal puerile emails sent to myself, people can come together to put on a wonderful display of trees for themselves and for others to enjoy. It has also proven that the dedication of some people has no boundaries as many have stepped up to be counted when we have been struggling to put on the event. This coming together and sharing the passion of bonsai and wanting the event to succeed is surely what the spirit of bonsai is all about.
'Friendship through Bonsai' is the term coined by the late John Naka and through BOBB we have experienced that. The fact that the RHS gave the stand a RHS GOLD Medal is proof enough that every ones efforts were recognised and I thank you all.
A big thank you to Kath and Malcolm Hughes for again putting on a superb show. Who else in the UK has a CV like theirs when it comes to putting on big events.
For Dan Barton, a special thank you for doing the judging at short notice and at a time when your health is not at its best. And thanks for being my 'Buddy'!
At this point I would normally thank Kath's 'Red Army' for all their help stewarding, putting up the displays, answering questions from the public etc. But this year we had Kath's 'Rainbow Army' as everyone sported their own club/society tee shirts. You all did a sterling job yet again.
To give you some idea of a little of what was involved this is the hall on set up day.
And as things progressed;
With the screens now in place it is starting to look something like it. The table tops and green hessian were provided by the organisers. The top dressing and screens were provided by ourselves.
As the owners bring the trees to the NEC on the Monday, I can start to set up the exhibition.
This year, as we did not have a photographer recording the trees, it was possible for me to put the trees in their designated places fairly quickly and I must say that things went smoothly.
And we are up and running!
As the doors opened at 9.00am, the crowds flocked in.
This is a view from the demonstration area looking down the first aisle.
A special thanks must go to Mike Sadler for his dedication to watering all the exhibits for the duration of the event. Having someone like Mike on the team to water every ones trees to perfection without ruining the display area was a bonus. I really appreciated the many hours that he spent everyday ensuring every thing was tip top. It is a big responsibility to take on, but one that he did admirably. ( Mike's watering sessions took nearly three and a half hours every morning, with some accent plantings and trees needing more attention again later in the day). Thank you Mike.
Due to the climate controlled conditions in the venue the trees and accent plantings grew well, in fact some accents were very much out of shape having grown so well. Privets were flowering and many deciduous trees really needed pruning to control their profiles, as growth extensions were protruding on maples, Elms etc. and by Sunday some trees were definitely in need of a 'hair cut'.
This year the demonstrators put on a diverse selection of demo's for the bonsai attendees and the public alike. A big thank you to Chrissie Leigh-Walker, Ramon Hammers, Corin Tomlinson, Marcus Watts and Alex Evelyn for entertaining the visitors. And thank you all for giving up your time and for sharing your expertise.
Here Alex Evelyn putting the final touches to his Scots Pine demonstration tree. A nice elegant image was achieved.
On Sunday I must have wasted about three hours going around various stall holders trying to get a cap like the one worn by Alex. But I had to concede defeat as all the ones for sale had the peak on the 'front'!
And last but not least, a big thank you to everyone who provided their bonsai for the exhibition and a special thanks to those who went the extra mile when things got tight!. Without you guys, there would be no BOBB.
********************************************************This year for the winners of the three categories I gave a bronze Ten Pei (Ten Kei).
The owners of the Best Shohin, Chuhin and Large tree each received this bronze Kingfisher on a Bull Rush.
It is a limited edition sculpture of 150.
I hope that after winning these Ten Pei that the owners will be encouraged now to experiment more when displaying their trees and not to simply rely on an accent planting.
For the 'Best in show' winning tree, I also gave a bronze Ten Pei.
Again this is a limited edition piece and therefore collectible. Both bronzes will only appreciate over time.
The reason I chose these two particular bronzes from the selection I have for sale, was because of the versatility of their size and because they could be reversed when displayed to give a different direction. So although the way you see both the ducks and Kingfisher in these images here is what the artist has deemed as the front. They could be turned to give a different pose and direction which is not often possible with bronze sculptures.
Best Shohin was a Chinese Elm owned by Ian Warhurt from the Wirral.
Best Chuhin was a Zelkova serrata owned by Marcus Watts, and Best Large tree was a Chinese Juniper owned by Des Lloyd.
Chinese Elm from a cutting!
Best Large Tree owned by Des Lloyd.
Zelkova serrata owned by Marcus Watts.
Best Chuhin Bonsai and winner of The Best in Show at Best Of British Bonsai 2013.
Special mention should be made of Chrissie Leigh-Walker's Red Pine Pinus densiflora, which not only received a MERIT AWARD but it also received a BCI AWARD of Excellence.
Here is a proud Chrissie with her Red Pine displaying her two awards, well done Chrissie.
And finally a few trees from the exhibition.
Zuisho White Pine owned by David Jackson which received a Merit Award.
A rather unusual Hinoki Cypress raft owned by Bill Gordon from the Wirral Bonsai Society.
This tree is rather exquisite and no photographs could do it justice.
The first time I saw this tree when I was judging at a Wirral BS show at Gordale Garden Centre I said to Bill that this tree could be superb in the future, I think that Bill thought I was pulling his leg. I critiqued the tree on the day and told Bill how he could start to fine tune the tree. And Bill has done it to the letter so far. It is a tree that is very natural when you are in front of it and I look forward to seeing the evolution of this tree. A new pot may be in order Bill?
A very well known Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Boulevard'
owned by Simon Temblett. This is a tree created over many many years and it is a credit to Simon.
It is not an easy species to work with, certainly not for those who have no patience.
But Simon has persevered to produce a nice image that always makes a statement whenever it is exhibited.
And finally I would like to end with the tale of 'SKIPPY'. A rather unique tree with a very interesting history behind it.
Again it is a tree that I first saw on a visit to the Wirral Club to judge their annual club exhibition.
At this point please read this in the voice of Simon Bates with the "Our Tune" theme playing on the radio.
'Skippy' is an Acer palmatum var. dissectum 'Inaba Shidare' and is approximately 45 years old.
'Skippy started off life in a Garden Centre and was purchased by it's first owner in 1973 and duly planted in a rockery along side a pond that was being landscaped.
In 1985 the owner decided to do away with the rockery and pond and so 'Skippy' was dug up..............and dumped in a rubbish skip. Hence the name!
At this point the tree was rescued from the skip. It was found to be riddled with canker and so after removing all the deceased branches it was planted in a polystyrene fish box to recover.
Now you might think that is the story, but wait! After all we are talking the Wirral here.
Quote "At this time not being fully aware of the fungus causing the canker and having little knowledge of fungicides; I did suffer from “Athletes Foot” so my logic was that if my condition was a fungus I could use the “Athletes Foot Cream” to protect the tree around the areas of the cut branches, which as you can see worked".
Seriously you could not write it for a comedy sketch could you?
In 1987 the first styling started in earnest.
2000 At a NBS workshop overseen by Peter Adams, he gave a critique of the maple and he also did a water colour painting, as was usual with Peter,to show how he visualised it would appear in a few years time. At this time 'Skippy' was still in the poly fish box. It was while attending this workshop, that the first proper pot was bought for 'Skippy' from one of the members.
In 2001 'Skippy' is transplanted into its new pot. And life looks rosy.
In 2011 someone special would become 'Skippy's new owner. Sean Dring AKA 'The Baldy scouse git', became the new custodian after helping with the trees development over the past 5 - 6 years.
In 2013 'Skippy' gets its new definitive pot, and like any good fairy tale there was more.
'Skippy' is selected for BEST OF BRITISH BONSAI 2013.
May I present 'SKIPPY'
Acer palmatum dissectum INABE SHIDARE and a proud Sean Dring.
BOBB Photo's courtesy of Kath Hughes.