Losing trees: Tosho

Nebari Bonsai

Well, it has been a while since I lost a tree. Unfortunately, this was an imported, collected needle juniper. They’re uncommon. I have owned it for 4 years, and it’s always been healthy. It was repotted last in 2018, and doing fine until this spring.

January 1, winter color, nothing unusual.

End of February, still seems ok.

End of May, clearly dead.

What happened? Unpotting it revealed some rotting roots on one side: under the thickest of the moss, and very broken down soil underneath, with some earthworms present as well:

So what’s the verdict? Could be root rot, could be the late frost we had in April, could have been ready for a repot sooner, could have been too wet. Regardless, here’s a sad parting shot.

But I’ll end the post with one of my favorite photos of the tree. Club show, May 2018. On a David Knittle table…

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Aggressive JBP repotting

Nebari Bonsai

Sometimes the roots are in bad enough shape that sharp intervention is required. This tree was growing in organic soil, and I didn’t do a good job of removing it in early repottings. This led to weak roots under the trunk, and rotting roots coming off the trunk itself (potential nebari).

The outside of the root ball shows plenty of microrrizae:

But under the trunk, I was finding lots of black, rotten roots and dense black field soil. So using big concave cutters, I started to clean up the underside of the trunk, back to only what was alive and not rotting:

It was a gamble, but I was convinced the tree would continue to decline if I didn’t get aggressive. In the end, I removed more than I would like on a Japanese Maple, let alone what I’d want to remove from a JBP.

However, I had left a…

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Winter Bonsai – It All Depends.


I find myself these days starting answers to Bonsai related questions mostly with “it depends”. This topic will be the same. Your local climate and setup will largely determine what you do with your Bonsai trees during Winter. As most of the Blog readers will rightfully ask about the purpose of this topic this time of the year, the simple answer is that most of the readers are in the USA and I am in New Zealand / Aotearoa. It is Winter here now.

This could be a good example of how local climate can differ. Parts of the South Island and inland North Island, will have snow on the mountains with below freezing temperatures at times. The same will be true for Northern Hemisphere countries during that Winter. It all depends!

The main things to look out for are:

  • Watering
  • Protection
  • Light needs
  • Hygiene


As most trees will…

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July 2nd- mute swan, ringlet and swift diary

Jonathan Pomroy

We had a walk along to the Ampleforth lower lake at noon. It was still drizzling at the time but very still and quite atmospheric. As we arrived a very large flock of siskins flew up from the ground beneath some birch trees. I estimated 400 birds, making it the largest flock of siskins I have ever seen. There have been large numbers arriving on the east coast in recent days. Along with crossbills they seem to be irrupting into the UK in large numbers.

On the lake we saw a pair of mute swans with five well grown cygnets, It occurred to me that I hardly ever paint mute swans anymore, so I set about painting a watercolour of a cob. What a great subject in watercolour. A chance to observe the very subtle colours in its white plumage, which of course isn’t really white! A few swifts and…

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