The Rondevlei Bird Hide in the Garden Route


The Rondevlei bird hide is a popular bird viewing site, situated on the northern shore of Rondevlei Lake, near the coastal village of Sedgefield, in the Garden Route. The lake is one of the five lake systems that constitute the Wilderness Lakes area, part of the Wilderness section of the South African National Park’s Wilderness National Park. It is located roughly five kilometers from the center of Sedgefield village (South Africa’s first ‘Slow Town’), GPS co-ordinates: -33.988149, 22.716218.

African Purple Swamp hen

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Trees in Pots


New hobby, new blog. Goes together like tea and biscuits, and Japan and bonsai. I’ve been collecting a few bonsai and driven myself to the leafy surrounds of Surry to do a few workshops at Herons Bonsai, under the guiding hand of bonsai master, Peter Chan.

At today’s count, I have four Scots Pine, a Chinese Juniper, a Sabina Juniper, a Hawthorn, a Chinese Elm, and a couple of Japanese maples in training. Today I received one of those Scots Pine’s, which was classed as Bonsai material, though it had been styled by Peter Warren, the author of a very good DK Bonsai book recently published. It has a wonderful thick, craggy trunk. Excellent potential – let’s hope I don’t kill that potential!


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Getting Decisive with a Juniper

Robert Nocher Shohin Bonsai

This is another tree that we worked on yesterday, when I visited my friend Gerry. It’s an Itoigawa Juniper. Gerry has had this tree for some time but has been struggling to find the direction to take it forward. We spent about an hour studying the material and considering it’s pros and cons. At the start of our deliberations there was foliage on the lowest jinned branch in the first picture but we quickly agreed that because it was so low on the trunk, it’s contribution to any potential design solution for the tree would be limited.

Any good design for a juniper should include an impressive area of shari and jins and the remaining foliage should be arranged to display these features at their best.

With this in mind we then discussed the contribution that each of the remaining branches would make. The remaining unnecessary foliage was then removed.

The first…

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Playing around with accessories

Scratch Bonsai

Two days to go until The Bonsai Experience here in Northern Ireland and I finally received some online purchases for my trees being exhibited.  It’s always going to be difficult getting the right sizes online but I’m reasonably happy with these boards.  Spent a while tonight mixing and matching trees, boards and possible accents.

edited Satsuki Azalea and Japanese Maple cutting

DSC_0132 Different board for the accent. Possibly not as good a match for the rectangular pot.


DSC_0133 Sedum accent

DSC_0127 Chinese Elm on bamboo mat with unknown flowering accent on ji ta

DSC_0129 Shohin/mame Cotoneaster

DSC_0128 Chuhin Japanese Larch on bamboo mat with flowering Satsuki Azalea cutting on ji ta

It’s a lot of work trying to put display ideas together and get trees presentable for a show but definitely worth it as I have learned a few things in the process.  For example, looking at the photos above, I’m just not convinced about the…

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