Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Lambing time

A brand new YouTube video, just for you x

Hi there!

This week on YouTube I'm celebrating the real arrival of Spring with a video all about lambs...lots and lots of cuddly, bouncy lambs - prepare for cuteness overload!

If you haven't already subscribed to my YouTube channel please do, and remember to click the little 🔔 (bell) icon to get notifications every time I upload 😉

Rebecca xx


Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Sowing Seeds for Square Foot Gardening

In this week's YouTube video, we're beginning to look at seed sowing for the veggie garden, and looking at the first principles of Square Foot Gardening. As the season progresses there'll be more posts and videos on the SFG, but here's a great place to start :)

Rebecca x

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Meet the Hamsters - it's cleaning out day

This week's YouTube video is live, and although I know you've already met my hamsters in this blog, here's a little video of them, taken while I was cleaning them out :)

Prepare for epic cuteness overload!

Rebecca xx

Monday, 5 March 2018

Bonsai and a crisis of conscience - Tree #2 Zelkova serrata

Where do you Start, Pre-Bonsai, Developed Bonsai or Somewhere in between?

The greatest sum paid for a Bonsai was an ancient pine at 1.3 million dollars. Some trees are priceless heirlooms which have been tended by the same family for centuries. Obviously, these trees are WAY out of my reach financially, and I'm aware that I don't stand any chance of creating such an artwork in my lifetime. Slightly more attainable refined trees can sell for £1000 to £2000 and some Bonsai professionals advocate buying refined trees, so that you can get experience of handling a well grown, ramified tree with significant age, good nebari (the area where roots flare away from the trunk), beautiful bark, and maybe some jin or shari (dead wood) too...

But I'm a beginner, what if I invest in a tree nearing refinement and I wreck it, or worse kill it!? Not only will I have lost the tree and the money I spent on it, but also the work and dedication of the generations that developed and tended it. I feel the weight of that responsibility and I find it crippling.

I'm torn between two thought processes on how my Bonsai collection should take shape.

1) Developed Bonsai
My cynical side tells me that Bonsai professionals have nurseries full of trees that they want to sell, so of course they are going to tell you you need refined trees. And while it's true that a Bonsai is never finished, it does feel that a ramified tree would offer little creativity beyond changes to apex or tweaks here and there, because the main structure is set and has been for 30/40/50 years.

2) Young trees, seeds or seedlings
You can buy tree seeds, though for me that's never held much appeal - too much waiting! Or you can buy (or dig up (with permission)) young 'starter' trees, usually around 3-4 years old, they will be slender saplings, with few branches. They are a blank canvas, but they require patience (yes I know that's what Bonsai is all about), and they don't offer much opportunity to practice your skills in the early stages.

Or you can buy something in between...

Enter Tree #2 Zelkova serrata (Japanese Elm)

Amazon listing Zelkova serrata Japanese Elm Bonsai
Zelkova serrata (Japanese Elm) approx 8 years old
Amazon Listing details:
    • measurements inclusive of pot 46cm(h)x 26cm(w) x 21cm(d) and trunk diameter of 11mm at compost level
    • the pot is a traditional 16cm plastic bonsai pot
    • supplied with full instructions and to your door within 7 working days
    • outdoor bonsai tree - tree pictured is the tree you will receive

Searching for supplies on Amazon recently, I spotted this tree and I liked what I saw. It was only £30 plus delivery. There was something about the shape that really interested me, and I've seen slightly bigger Zelkova, with less development sell for twice this price. It had been pot grown from seed for 8 years, giving it quite a natural deciduous shape, good internode lengths, and good division (bifurcation) of branches from 1 to 2, 2 to 4 etc.

It had a degree of ramification that I felt I could learn from, but it also had some areas that could be worked on straight away, such as a couple of multiple branches coming from one location, which I thinned to 2. I also cleaned the moss off the trunk as this can cause inverse taper if left on for a long time. Plus there was an old partial break up in the apex, so I pruned that out as well.

I think for me, at the level I'm at now (enthusiastic beginner), this little tree is a good compromise between price and development. It's further advanced than my other trees, but I don't feel 'over-horsed' by it, I'm not afraid to touch it or prune it or style it.

Keep your fingers crossed for us both, and I'll be sure to share updates with you soon.

Do you have any thoughts on this dilemma? Let me know in the comments :)
PB xx