Set up!

This weekend is the Belfast City Autumn Fair/Flower Show held in Botanic Gardens and every year there is a display of bonsai competing in various classes.  I’ve never attended this show yet but after a bit of cajoling from Bonsaieejit to get NIBS members to enter trees, I decided I may as well gain a bit of experience and enter a tree or two.  I’m not confident that my trees can be recognised ahead of others in such a competition but we were assured that it’s all just a bit of fun and nobody takes it too seriously.  It shall be a valuable learning experience in terms of what it takes to successfully enter a tree but also perhaps some feedback from a/the judge can help me to improve the particular species I’m entering.

Anyway, out of the mostly raw material I have, I decided to enter my kifu/chuhin Chinese Elm in the ‘indoors’ class, my Satsuki Azaelea in the ‘evergreen’ class, my Japanese Larch in the ‘coniferous’ class and my Fuji Cherry in the ‘shohin’ class.  It was a bit hectic trying to prepare the trees at such short notice but I’m satisfied with how they look given the short time frame I gave myself, the level of material and with it being my first time displaying my trees publicly.

Before and after shots:

Satsuki Azaelea – dead leaves removed, moss added.

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Japanese Larch – dead/yellowing needles removed, downward growing foliage also removed to reveal cleaner branch lines.  Moss added. Wire removed but reapplied on the bottom branch which hadn’t held.

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Fuji Cherry – had a bit of a disaster with this one! I was attempting to remove a large knuckle from a branch but got distracted and very clumsily cut too far.  The tree is now minus a primary branch! From the front, I felt it was now a bit of an ugly image with two large prominent wounds and one of them would be very fresh so I decided to show it from the opposite side which didn’t have as much colour in the foliage but was overall a nicer image. Moss added.

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Chinese Elm – didn’t have to do much with this one. Moss already growing on the surface.  Just a light trim of extending shoots and removal of dead twig ends.



I was fortunate to have quite a bit of fine moss growing on other material in the garden so I just scraped off the top soil of the trees above and placed patches of moss together to try and achieve as natural a look as possible.  I think I just about got away with it but it does look a bit coarse/artificial in places.  I was doing this right up until I left for the show so I was almost past caring anyway  🙂

I arrived at the marquee last night to find a couple of other club members placing their trees.  It turns out there were so many entries that another table to needed to extend the display.  I placed my trees in the categories that I felt they would most likely do well in and gave the pots a quick polish with a babywipe.  I had a go at picking my own winners in each class but couldn’t choose. It’ll be tough to judge so many fine trees – glad I’m not doing it! Click on the gallery below to see some shots of classes:

I apologise for the quality of the photos, lighting was poor and I’m an inexperienced photographer! These were shots from last night so the displays have probably been adjusted since entries were allowed up to 10:30am.  I’m sure someone else may take better shots over the weekend.  I hope to visit the fair with my wife and kids today as it appears to be a very child friendly event with rides, music and other activities.


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