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A Trip to Kaizen Bonsai 2010.

I suppose it started just over a year ago..............

My background is not in horticulture but I have had an avid interest in Bonsai for many many years, and it is fair to say that I have picked up a lot of knowledge along with many hints and tips on horticulture over those years, through word of mouth, books, magazines, seminars and DVD's etc etc etc. It has always seemed to me that the more you pick up the more confusing or contradictory or even subjective it can become.

At this point I must emphasise I mean no disrespect to anyone I have worked with, listened to or read from. It's my entire fault anyway for probably listening or reading from too many sources and causing the problem in the first place. Don't get me wrong all that information has stood me in good stead and I don't believe I have ever been given some really bad advice.

However if I was a betting man I would be willing to bet there are hundreds if not thousands of Bonsai enthusiasts in exactly the same position as I. If they are willing to admit it that is.

What has been playing on my mind for the last year or more is “How does a tree really work? “ My rationale being that if I can begin to understand this better then maybe, just maybe I can develop healthier if not better trees in the future. It's not rocket science but it obviously follows that a healthier tree will stand up better to some of the stresses and strains that we Bonsai enthusiasts occasionally put on them.

At one of the international shows I visited this year I managed to have a long chat with Graham from Kaizen Bonsai about my issue which led to us having a very long chat about the subject. I found what he had to say both enlightening and fascinating. The down side was he was so enthusiastic in sharing his knowledge that I went into information overload mode. But I was buoyed and excited by what he had to say as it made so much common sense and so I made a point of catching up with him once again at the Joy of Bonsai Show for a refresher. In the meantime I was sharing my frustrations with others within our society and found that there were others around who have shared the same frustrations, and some of these have been in to Bonsai a lot longer than I. The net result was a fair bit of support to go out and find out more as they like myself believed that better understanding will lead to better rewards.

I contacted Graham who was only to happy to accommodate our needs and I must say was really enthusiastic and supportive of the idea of running a Surgery for us on the horticultural side of Bonsai. There would also be an added bonus for us as he was inviting us into his nursery and of course we could do a little Bonsai shopping.

Things got organised pretty quickly and we were off for the day on Tuesday July 27 th . There were going to be six of us travelling in a Crew Carrier. You know the type of van with six seats in the front and a lot of carry space in the rear. (just in case ) I picked the van up late on Monday evening and put on board 4 Scot's Pines that Graham agreed to have a chat with me about. Lewis arrived just before midnight and we were off to pick up John and his White Pine. Next it was off to pick up Alan and his Pine and a Yew before we hit the M4 to pick Colin and Bob up at Cardiff . We also put Jane on board just in case we got lost. ( Jane of course being the Sat Nav ) The only good thing about travelling at these unsociable hours is the fact that the roads were really quiet and there were no queues at the Services for coffee. We trudged on along the motorways and eventually arrived about ten miles from our destination at a village called Lodden at around 7.30am .

The trip so far had been really uneventful. I suppose that was to be expected, most of the lads trying to catch forty winks along the way. But it was now 7.30 am and Bob then John piped up that it was time to look for somewhere for the Big English Breakfast. Lodden provided us with a nice cosy little place called “ Rosie Lee's “. The café only accommodated about eight to ten people so when we all marched in the owner's face was a picture. I am not sure whether it was shock or shear delight when we all ordered the full monty. Anyway, Rosie beavered away on here little stove and eventually produced a fantastic breakfast for us all. Bob and John reckoned she looked absolutely shattered at the end and would probably shut up shop for the day when we left. And leave we did guided by Jane we arrived at Graham's place just after nine.

The pictures posted will not really do justice to the Garden but let me assure you it is absolutely stunning and what a venue. Teas and Coffees in hand Graham invited us to have a look around for twenty minutes or so before we started the Surgery under a fabulous Apple tree.

We spent the whole day listening to Graham describing, demonstrating answering our questions on “How a tree works “. I will not attempt to detail everything but try and give you a flavour of the day. We covered such things as growing mediums, roots, watering, feeding, pinching, pruning, environment and much much more and how all these things relate to “ How a tree works “

We did manage to stop for a fantastic lunch that Graham laid on, but such was the enthusiasm that He had whipped up we didn't want to stop for too long.

So we continued into the afternoon with a little more focus on the mysterious Pine. It was a fantastic session. We were able to see at first hand so to speak everything that Graham had been talking about when put into practice and compare this with the Pines we had brought up. What an eye opener that was, however it was great to be able in part to see the problems with our Pines for yourself before Graham had done his analysis. Testimony to what we had heard in the morning is the way I would put it.

The day drew to a close for us with no pressure from Graham, he would have kept going and going but we had a long trip back to make. So we spent some more time around the nursery and did a little shopping before loading the van and heading off home.

I half expected it to be as quiet going home as it was earlier this morning, after all it had been an extremely long day. It turned out to be quite the opposite and the journey home only felt half as long as the one this morning.

None of us profess now to be a horticulturist, but we do all understand “ How a tree works “ much more than we did and this will only be a good thing when you can keep your trees healthier. I do believe it will not be the last time we will be making a trip to Graham at Kaizen Bonsai.

Graham, Thank You to You and Your Family for looking after us so well.

Your Surgery ( as I like to call it ) was enlightening and rewarding, put across in a way that was simple to understand and pragmatic in it's approach and your hospitality was warm and very much appreciated.

Speak to you soon.