Hosted at The Birmingham Botanical Gardens,Westbourne Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 3TR
Charity No. 1008283

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Working Day, Men at Work

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Every two weeks throughout the growing season a group of about six very experienced members, led by Chairman Barry Walker visit The National Collection to ensure all is in the condition such a valuable collection warrants. They weed trim, thin out, ensure no wire is cutting in, tidy surrounding area, ensuring the feeding regime is adhered to; when necessary, tidying The Japanese Garden entrance (actually the responsibility of The Japanese Garden Society but rarely attended to). No actually repotting or restyling is done at this time. For that, individual trees are taken out and worked on in a secure environment.

The helpers this week were: Barry Walker, Malcolm Hughes, Ken Hewitt and John Stait from SSBS and Peter Fielding and Mike Saddler from Ambion Society.

Work in Progress at The National Bonsai Collection

Earlier this year the team of volunteers from the Midland region who work regularly to keep the National Bonsai Collection in pristine condition decided that the Juniper group, donated many, many years ago to the collection by the late Bill Horan, first secretary to the Federation, had grown too large to be vulnerable to theft – it is now in a tray of over 5 feet in length, so it was time to make it a feature in the outside space.


However it was still unfortunately vulnerable to the fingers of the thousands of schoolchildren in the groups that regularly visit the Collection in the course of the year. Thus The Botanical Gardens requested a protective fence – the volunteers got together, plans were made and a fence built off site. This last week at the end of June the fence was erected.

I hope you join us in thinking that this is a job well done, a first stage in providing protection but allowing visitors closer to the trees.


March 18th 2018 was scheduled for the 2018 ‘Bonsai Boot Sale’, monies raised to go into the Collection maintenance funds. Unfortunately it proved to be the worst Sunday of 2018 so far; the snow had been falling all night, it was still falling and drifting. We were all warned to stay at home and keep warm.

Despite all the warnings a few hardy, or should I say foolhardy, souls ventured out and turned up at the Botanical Gardens as early as 7.00 am. They looked lonely and cold and I do not think great trade was done. Kim Turton, organiser of the event, reduced Boot costs by half to offset reduced customer numbers. At 10.30 when the FOBBS AGM members arrived they were still trading. Congratulations to all the hardy ones.



Tree Transformation on the National Collection Trees

The Chairman and committee members from the Friends of the National Bonsai Collection recently spent a day working on four of the Collection trees. All were trees that had been allowed to extend their growth during the spring and summer and were now requiring varying degrees of restyling and refinement.

One of the trees was the large group of Chinese junipers, one of the first donations to the Collection back in the early 1990’s. This group had been transplanted onto a new slab in March 2015 and it was now time to begin some refinement on a number of the trees in the planting.

Other trees worked on were the two larch groups comprising a mix of Japanese and European larches (Larix leptolepsis and L. decidua) and a formal upright cedar (Cedrus atlantica glauca). The cedar had in recent years developed substantial apical growth so a large part of the work involved thinning out of branches in order to open up the apex. Further refinement is required, but the result is a more refined image.

Both larch groups required thinning out, the triple larch planting in particular having lower branches on the second largest tree removed and others repositioned, resulting in a much neater arrangement.

Further work involving fine wiring will take place in the next few weeks.


The thinning out of the Cedrus atlantica, illustrating ‘before’ ‘intermediate’ and ‘after’ images, including the branches removed which amounted to approximately almost 50% of the foliage mass. Over recent years, this tree has shown vigorous growth, but this was the first time since 2008 that such extensive branch removal had proved necessary. The tree still requires further refinement together with some reduction in length of the lowest branches.

Work carried out by Barry Walker, Chairman of F.N.B.C., on the triple larch planting, illustrating the extent to which the second tree of the planting had been thinned out and lower branches removed.

Andy Dolman (Chairman of the South Staffs Bonsai Society) working on the Chinese juniper planting


Vic Yeomans working on a large larch group. Most of the work in this instance necessitated removal of excess new growth and thinning out on a number of the branches. The next stage will involve thinning out of the apex on the dominant tree.


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