“Fire” RMJ first styling

Nebari Bonsai

I collected this in South Dakota in 2013.

From this exact spot, very near the line of a fire that burned in the area between my first trip there and second. You can see some of the damage in the hill across:

And potted back in Iowa:

In 2016, I was able to remove the rotted burlap, and the original field soil, and potted it into a Bonsai pot with good, coarse soil to continue growing strong in Birmingham.

The attempted approach graft failed eventually. A few years later, it was full and ready for some work.

Before the workshop, I cleaned up the trunk, and foliage, and played around with some new planting angles. One was this:

And I was curious as to what Bjorn would think. Instead, he asked me “so, what are we doing with this?” So I had to go first. We agreed this was probably…

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Bird’s ID – Black Vulture

H.J. Ruiz - Avian101

Black Vulture


The Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus), also known as the American black vulture, is a bird in the New World vulture family whose range extends from the southeastern United States to Central Chile and Uruguay in South America. Although a common and widespread species, it has a somewhat more restricted distribution than its compatriot, the turkey vulture, which breeds well into Canada and south to Tierra del Fuego. It is the only extant member of the genus Coragyps, which is in the family Cathartidae. Despite the similar name and appearance, this species is unrelated to the Eurasian black vulture, an Old World vulture in the family Accipitridae (which includes eagles, hawks, kites, and harriers). It inhabits relatively open areas which provide scattered forests or shrublands. With a wingspan of 1.5 m (4.9 ft), the black vulture is a large bird though relatively small for a vulture…

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Bird’s ID – Swallow-tailed Kite

H.J. Ruiz - Avian101

Swallow-tailed Kite


The Swallow-tailed Kite (Elanoides forficatus) is a pernine raptor which breeds from the southeastern United States to eastern Peru and northern Argentina. It is the only species in the genus Elanoides. Most North and Central American breeders winter in South America where the species is resident year round. It was formerly named Falco forficatus.

The species is 50 to 68 cm (20 to 27 in) in length, with a wingspan of approximately 1.12–1.36 m (3.7–4.5 ft). Male and female individuals appear similar. The body weight is 310–600 g (11–21 oz). The body is a contrasting deep black and white. The flight feathers, tail, feet, bill are all black. Another characteristic is the elongated, forked tail at 27.5–37 centimetres (10.8–14.6 in) long, hence the name swallow-tailed. The wings are also relatively elongated, as the wing chord measures 39–45 cm (15–18 in). The tarsus is fairly short for the size of the bird…

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Visit: Pearspring plant shop, Dulwich

The Garden Fairy

There’s nothing I like more than discovering a plant shop, and Pearspring in Dulwich is one of my new favourites.

Selling houseplants and botanical treasures, the shop mixes East London charm with the professionalism of a miniature houseplant nursery. There’s a plant for every budget, ranging from fail-safe cacti to bonsai, unusual hydroponics and avocado plants. Luckily, if you don’t know your Latin plant names, each label comes with details and care instructions.

Pots and plant stands aren’t in short supply, with an impressive range of terracotta and retro glazed containers tucked away in the back. Selling handy-sized bags of compost, seeds and miniature watering cans, Pearspring a one-stop shop for houseplant lovers and first time plant parents.

Anyone who visits this shop will fall in love with its botanical delights – I couldn’t resist just one more houseplant…

Check out the Instagram: @pearspring_shop

Visit: 124 Lordship Lane, SE22 8HD

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Mike Kokot in Natal

Hermanus Bird Club

Mike wrote,

“Hi Ron and Lester,

Shirley, Kerrin (our daughter) and I spent a very exciting day birding in the Dlinza Forest, Ongoye Forest and Mtunzini in KZN  on Wednesday 12 June 2019 and I’d like to share some rather poor quality pictures of “specials” we picked up.  We had a wonderful guide, Abednego Dube, whom I would happily recommend. The so-called roads in Ongoye are shocking (almost non-existent in places) but luckily we had the use of a sturdy Toyota Forester Diesel which served us well (Shirley doing all the driving). In spite of June being probably the worst birding month, we were very happy with the results.

“Lifers” for me included Green Barbet, Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon (spotted by Shirley), Black-rumped Buttonquail, Croaking Cisticola, Olive Sunbird, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird and Palm-nut Vulture. We were hoping for Twinspots in Dlinza but no luck this time.

A HBC tour to that part…

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What Is Bonsai?

Nate's Nursery

What Bonsai Is Not

Bonsai is not what is sold in big box stores. These are what the bonsai community refers to as “mall bonsai” or “mallsai.” Some examples of mallsai are as follows.

Bonsai is not meant as an indoor hobby. There are a few plants that can survive (not thrive) inside, namely Jade, Ficus, and Chinese Elm, but plants are meant to be outside. If something is sold as an indoor bonsai and it is not one of these 3 species it is being labeled incorrectly usually in an attempt to sell more bonsai. Even though these 3 species can survive inside, they all prefer to be outside during the growing seasons so they can thrive. I personally never suggest a bonsai come inside. I put my Chinese Elms outside year-round, and only bring my Ficus inside when temperature drop too low for it to survive.

Bonsai is…

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