Broken Pots , all may not be lost

During recent strong winds I lost a rather nice pot when it crashed to the ground.

Remembering an article I had once read I thought I might try my hand at the ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi.
Many years ago a Shogun, Ashikaga Yoshimasa, sent a cracked chawan—or tea bowl—back to China for repair on it’s return he found that it had been done with unsightly metal rivets so he ordered his own craftsmen to do something better and Kintsugi the art of Golden Repair was created. It is all part of  wabi-sabi, the Japanese philosophy celebrating imperfection, impermanence and incompleteness.

                                    The materials I used were Gorilla Epoxy Glue
in a twin tube dispenser and 100 gm Gold Mica Powder via Amazon a jar of which should last me out unless I defy natural  science to an extraordinary extent.


I practised first on a small Erin accent pot which I broke deliberately for the exercise.

The broken surfaces must be absolutely clean and dry, I squeezed out some glue on to some waste card to which I added some of the Mica powder with a wooden stirrer and mixed thoroughly.
It sets very fast so you need enough to do the part of the repair you have decided upon in one go.
The most important part is to spread it along one side of the break thick enough to cover and to allow some to squeeze out when the two surfaces are brought together.
One video on Kintsugi on it suggested that you glue the smaller bits to the larger bits first then add those together when set.
They set fast enough to just hold them in place once joined but one could masking tape them if need be.

So there you have it the ancient art of Kintsugi handed down from generation to generation from father to son and the world according to Google, Ebay and Amazon.

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Mainly Bonsai on a Budget


Since  my last report showed some of  the more dramatic improvements in of my young trees  I have been looking at the log book of the rest of my trees.
The Acer above and the group below are the result of a Morrison’s Supermarket purchase in 2014 for only a few pounds, they give a fine display of colours throughout the seasons.
This last summer I have been very careful to let them have only a limited amount of sunshine, situated in shade or semi shade most of the time and even now in October there is no sign of leaf burn by sun or wind. Leaf burn is actually caused by an interruption to the upward water supply in the tree causing an air lock like situation so water,water.water is the best way to prevent it in Acers during a fine hot and or windy summer.


Another  penny pinching pensioner’s purchase from Morrison’s  was this little Cotoneaster in July 2014. First placed in a larger flower pot for some time in 2016 and then gradually lowering the level of the compost before  wrapping the roots with cling film around  a couple of local rocks from our garden. Now it’s looking very promising with the little topnot twig being the start of a new canopy of foliage above.

Aug 2019

The Disappointing Crab Apple

This tree was given to me by a fellow artist who had some space on my stand at the Bath and West Show in 1990 and it performed so badly that it was eventually chopped about in despair and was relegated to the odds and ends section with nothing ever to be expected from it.

Crab Apple march14

March 2014

Crab Apple Oct15BLOG

Oct 2015







There was only one visitor to the garden that really appreciated it.

Blackbird pic

It has however had some slight revival but is not one of my favourite trees.

Sept 2019


Despite a friend frequently saying ‘I think I can see some flower buds Mike’ it has never bloomed and with my Hawthorn has  joined the trees in my special selection of never blooming flowering bonsai.


This nice little Hawthorn was taken from my daughter and partner’s garden in Wiltshire in late summer 2014. It was virtually just a whip of a tree about three or four feet high, growing  amongst the flowers, which we took back to Somerset potted up and in cut off about 8″ from the ground. 

Hawthorn march 16

March 2016

Hawthorn JUly 31st15

July 2015


Aug 2019

As this Hawthorn is relatively young there is hope about blossom one day unlike my other windswept one which I have had since a seedling in 1987 and I am still waiting.


Oct 2019


Just to prove that I do have some trees that do flowers successfully these two well justify their place on the wall out side the kitchen window for us to enjoy their splendid spring time display and reassure my dear Wife that the twigs in pots can sometimes progress to greater things.
I hasten to add that these trees  were on my penny pinching list, the Wisteria was purchased from a fellow club member who had just returned with purchases from an auction and felt he had to part with something to ease his mind and the Crab Apple was another anniversary present from my Sue, I think I should perhaps get her a long service medal for marital endurance and bonsa
i tolerance. 

Wisteria April 2017

Crab Apple April 2017

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Progress Reports

Tree progress reports  Oct 2019

Juniper Project from Feb 2017 to Oct 2019

I know it’s ages since I added any news of my trees, for the last year or so though I was bogged down with health issues as they say  and much of my get up and go had just got up and gone.


However everything seems a lot better now and it is time to show the progress of some of my trees that seem to have altered  most in the relatively recent years.

The Juniper project started in 2017 was now beginning to  show some promise much of the improvement thanks to the assistance of 
 Adrian Taylor fellow member of the Taunton and Somerset Bonsai Club, cheers Ade

Blue Atlas Cedars.

My sons gave me Kaizen vouchers for Christmas 2016 and having been thwarted on the website by one speedy purchaser I later spotted a couple of little Blue Atlas Cedar starters.
These it seems are quite rare as I had not seen them on any site before and none since as a modest starter item. So I bought two of the three listed and noticed that the remaining one went very soon after. 

Jan 2017

Still only pretty small but I think one can imagine what they might look like one day





 Oct 2019

Japanese White Pine

Had this tree since 1988 when it must have been about 20 years old then . Sadly during the years of having a business to run and a young family my trees were sorely neglected and it is only in recent years that trees are getting the attention they deserve.




Feb 2014

                   Oct 2019


One of two Hornbeams I have, the other I think is the Korean variety, this one was purchased at our Club Auction in 2016 for £1.50 and is now beginning to pay dividends.









I bought about half a dozen bare rooted Japanese Larch in 2016 from Ireland on the internet and they bunged in a couple of extra little runt ones for free, so as I think I had 8 for £9.34 I really can’t complain

Whilst they spent some time in flower pots I made a couple of concrete rock slabs and they have provided a place for two of them, though this year they have put on such a lot of root growth they are climbing out and need something with more depth I think

Turkey Oak

The last of these October Progress reports is for  a tree  given to me by Simon the Avalon Marshes Nature Reserves manager in Jan 2017 and it took a little time out find out what it was, certainly not what I was given it as, a Mediterranean Oak.
About this time the big Turkey Oak that stood in the centre of our little bit of village green had to be felled due to disease and it’s proximity to the main road so I like to think that I am maintaining the continuity of the variety only just over a hundred yards away albeit ever so slightly smaller.






          Jan 2017                                   Turkey Oak Leaf                                 Sept 2019



The end of the Ashcott Oak 

These notes are mainly for my own record, to compare each tree’s progress and see if there are any improvement that make themselves more obvious as they do sometimes in a photo when one looks at a tree in a different way perhaps.
If anyone else finds this of interest you are very welcome, it’s good to share the brotherhood of bonsai.


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Juniper project cont’d May 2019

It was February 2017 When I discovered this great untidy Juniper at the back of the yard at a nursery, long neglected and left by the previous owner and just waiting to be revived.

The story that followed can be recapped on my blog pages sprinkled throughout my
bonsai achives section

I am now at this stage (below)and wondering what I should have in mind for the futuresdr     May 2019

Not a techy by any means I have managed to play around with the Paint.Net a free software programme and eventually arrived with the following image which might be somehting to aim for .What do you think?sdr





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Red and gold-more autumn colour


Just rushed out between the showers, days of showers at the moment , to get some photos of these trees with the few minutes of sun upon them. On the whole I don’t like autumn, as far as I am concerned it is the harbinger of winter and I really hate winter, but this display of colour is bringing me round a bit for a few days at least.


‘Jacks Acer’ as you can see the ugly root doesn’ t look quite as bad as it did a a few weeks ago when I acquired this at the auction of Jack’s trees at our club. I imagine Jack must have had this some years as single trunk Beech trees take a long time to get to this stage.



Tree on arrival 11th Oct 2018


Our Golden Wedding Anniversary Acer Kashima bought from Lee  Vehorevoort at Swindon Show Feb 2016 has gone through a range of colours this year and there may be just a few more days left looking like this before the gales or frosts denude it. It was leaf pruned at the begining of June by the way.

Pot by Somerset potter Anne Whitlesey  more information avaiable about Anne’s pots on this earlier posting, Bonsai Pots. someindividual pots may not still be available now 


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Autumn Colour


I know I have featured this only a few weeks ago but what a difference now. This photo was taken on Oct 8th and it is still looking radiant today the 15th.
Between these dates it was voted Tree of the Month ( Autumn Colour Theme) by members in our Club’s Advanced section but I hasten to add that there were very few entries, I think the gales had blown most members autumn colours away.

The trees are Acer Purpuream purchased for a few pounds from Morrisions Supermarket three years ago, I think the reason for their brilliant display this year is that throughout the hot summer weather they were well sheltered from any direct mid day sun, in fact most sun during that very hot spell so I lost very little by scorching, three watering a day helped.

The pot is one of my own home made slabs.

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Jack’s Beech.

With bonsai trees of any age one can only ever be the guardian of that tree for some years and try to care for it, refine and improve it whilst it is your privelidge to do so.

Sadly one of our members at Taunton and Somerset Bonsai Club passed away recently and  his wife Pat asked that the last of his trees be auctioned with the proceeds being split between the Club and a charity of her choice.

I first saw one of Jack’s trees, an aged oak, at a Club show when I first joined a few years ago and he had captured the natural character of a larger oak so well it was the tree that made the most impression on me. Now as  John Trott our Club President, profesional bonsai grower and winner of nearly one hundred RHS Gold Medals together with  Howard our Chairman set about selling Jacks remaining collection  I saw another tree that caught my fancy, a Beech of quite decent maturity.


Beech bonsai are most often group or forest plantings as it take many years to to get a single trunk specimen with good ramification so this was a good  opportunity to acquire quite a mature tree for my collection.

Jack had been unable I believe to give his trees the care he may have wanted during his ill health so it is now my task to restore it with some TLC to the standard that he would have liked it to be.

The one slightly awkward and unsightly bit of the tree was the nebari.dav

Perhaps at some time or other it had been trained over a rock as one great sturdy root crossed over a large gap and on the other side it was sort of undershot below a swelling of root. Jack had wedged a couple of sharp edged small rocks into some of the space but they looked quite out if place.


For the moment I have filled that empty space with some local stone, Blue Lias a Jurasic rock, from our garden which is full of it, and also used other pieces to surround and hold back the substrate backing it upto the roots in a more natural way which will look even better if some moss gets established as well.


Now I have until the spring to ponder on this problem and then look forward to using the Welsh bonsai wizard Chris Thomas pinching out regime to try and get two complete growths of foliage next year. Since his talk to our Club I used his  method with my little Beech last spring and got a good second growth.It will be a different task on a tree of this size covered in buds, might ask Adrian round for a day to give me some support, check out the Juniper project and pop round to the Ashcott Inn for a quick bite.

The pot by the way is a 15″ pot from Erin Pottery, the father and son team of Glyn and Vic Harris.

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Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness

Crab apple
I have just seen how long it is since I updated my own blog, I’ve been busy doing the Somerset Crafts Facebook and the Taunton and Somerset Bonsai Club website as well as a few health issues,at they say, to deal with. Now at last I have a little while to record the progress of some of my own trees, mainly for my own records but if anyone else likes to look at them you are very welcome.

The root over rock Cotoneaster which originally came from Morrisons plant shelves for a

Cotoneaster root over rock

few pounds in 2015 and shows what can be acheived for a modest outlay. My group planting of Golden Dream Acers from the same source has lost a couple of trees in the last

Acer group 1




couple of years but by taking care to protect it from the strong sun I have at least managed to preserve a quite decent display of foliage this year.

Acer Kashima





At a different investment cost to those supermarket bargains the Acer Kashima that Sue gave me for our golden Wedding Anniversary is still putting on a good show ,adding some trunk thickness this year and improving it’s ramification. I did completely leaf prune it at the begining of June.

A few of my long ago efforts at Bonsai include my Silver Birch from a seedling in 1987 which is starting to turn to it’s autumn golden hue now and the Pyracantha from 1988 which is covered with berries. I know it is rising up out of the pot,that will be dealt with.


And from the same period two Ginkos, which have always been rather boring, so last spring it occured to me to plant them together for a twin planting and it’s certainly made them justify their space of the shelves now.
Another 1988 acquisition was my rather scrawny Scots Pine which was


the most ugly shape at first, totally symetrical looking like an ‘H’ television aerial and now it is well aged and putting on some foliage and looking like some lone blasted tree on a windswept heath.

One of the dissapointments this year has been my Fuji Cherry which always greets the spring with such a display of blossom, a month or more back I was so worried when I saw that all the leaves looked severley burnt black around the edges and some totally. In a fit of panic as I had lost a Pyracantha to Fireblight once I took perhaps over hasy action and cut off all the


branches back to the trunk.
The stage it is at now looks quite hopefull though as it is putting out some very healthy grown and reminds me of Harry Haringtons Fuji progressive article on his website Bonsai4me.There he drastically cut one back by air layering it to style it more from a shrub into a thicker trunked tree, so possibly I did the right thing but I will have to wait and see.
Bonsai4me Fuji progressive

One tree that looked very pleasing this week was my little Mulberry which has a little story to it.. My wife Sue gave it to me as a memory of the days when trying to make a living as an artist was hard going and we had to live and work on a farm, Mulberry Farm. There I used to rise in the early hours and work making Farmhouse Cheddar Cheese untill lunch time before painting in the afternoons.


Sue bought a first Mulberry for me from All Things Bonsai near Sheffield and frankly after a month or so it looked rather sick. I contacted Adam there and assured him that I was not an novice who had sited it indoors, away from the light near a radiator :-).
He gave me some advice as how to revive it and I hoped for the best.Then a few weeks later he contacted me to say that he thought he should have been more helpful and that a replacement tree was on it’s way. Now that is what I call service, all businesses have things go wrong with sales sometimes but it is how they handle a complaint that matters. Well done
All Things Bonsai

Before my more than semi retirement I had a studio gallery in a busy outlet shopping centre, now though I don’t pickup my brushes anymore I do still sell my prints at a gallery situated amid the nature reserves on the Somerset Levels at The Avalon Marshes Centre and they have just put on an exhibition on the theme of An Ode to Autumn inspired by JohnKeat’s lines.
As I was the only member of the group who had no new work I asked if I might take some trees along for the preview and first day which would bring a little bit of natural autumn into the gallery and they leapt at the idea.
Somerset Crafts Gallery
The Avalon Marshes Nature Reserves

Cra in gallery2

star of the show


Foot note:dig

Not a very recent photo but one taken in the summer as a quick update on my Juniper project.

A slight improvement on it’s discovery at the
back of an old nursery in February 2017.

Juniper 2 colectedBLOG

That’s it now folks, don’t forget that if you can the best way to learn more about the art of
bonsai is to join you local club and listen to the old hands. Actually I’m the older one here hanging on for the words of advice.

Bonsai fb cover pic

Taunton and Somerset Bonsai Club

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Customer from the past cheers old artist up.

Meare rd

Received this  most cheering email this week from  Nichaolas Earley a voice from the past when I was first selling my work in my first studio up forty odd steps of the stairs at Crispin Hall in Street

I came across this lovely watercolour of yours during a recent house move and wondered if you remember it ?
The painting has been in storage for the past 34 years and sadly has never been framed. It has suffered a little in storage but the colours still appear bright and vibrant.
I purchased it in September 1984 with part of my Student grant for the princely sum of £32.00. 
Your workshop at the time was on the top floor of Crispin Hall in Street and I seem to recall that you had not long been there at the time of my purchase.  In later years I always made a point of looking in to see what you had been painting  when visiting Street , followed by  coffee and a big slab of cake in the cafe .”
And just to remind me of what princly sums my work went for then Nicholas also sent a copyMeare rd receipt.jpg No Address of his receipt for the deposit. To be fair it is a very minimal sketch unlike my later highly detailed work but obviously Nicholas has an eye for quality and and I am greatly flattered to think that he chose to spend his student grant on a work of art rather than drink it away in some Student’s Union bar or other hostelry.  
This is such an early one that though the picture is signed Cooper I still signed the receipt Yates. Yates being my actual name, when I first illustrated and wrote childrens books there was already a Michael Yates in the busines so I chose to work under the name of Cooper, my grandmothers maiden name.
I well remember doing this picture which is taken beside the road to Meare just on the edge of Glastonbury and also remember that one day I was showing some keen would be waterolourists that one does not have to go far to find a subject and that at that spot I could look in three different directions and see a possible picture.
Nicholas has since emailed again to assure me that the picture may now be framed at long last to remind him of his days as a student and cycling round Somerset
“Visiting your studio from time to time was a rare treat for me . I’d often cycle out from South Petherton to Glastonbury to sketch the Abbey and stop in at Crispin Hall on the way back . If I was lucky I’d also find an interesting book or CD downstairs . Your work was very inspirational and I often used watercolour in my Architectural presentations to good effect  .I have made a promise to myself to finally get your painting framed and hung so that I can finally enjoy seeing it after all these years.”
Thank you Nicholas for cheering up an aging artist, an old artist who can recall a painting done 34 years ago but has trouble remembering a shopping list of three items for more than ten  minutes.
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Larch group on the cheap

At the begining of 2016 I invested a few pounds in a bundle of bare rooted Larches of various sizes purchased on the internet from a company that is kind enough to consider very small quantities –Beechwood Nurseries in Co Down N.Ireland. Just what a penny pinching pensioner was pleased to discover.


Three of these little specimens, which cost me £1.34, were desitined to be a group planting and in April 2016 were set aside and most unimaginativley planted, looking as if they may well be pretty boring as little thought was obviously used in this arrangement.



Fortunatly I gave them some further thought when I next planted them in a rather  nice rectangluar pot that I had acquired from a fellow bonsai club member.



After the first initial wiring they soon sprung slightly upward again when it was removed ( July 2017 above left) .
A further much more extensive wiring job was under taken in March 2018 (Right). The small rocks are Blue Lias which is actually found in our garden where for years in the past it was open cast quarried for building the local Somerset cottages and walls.

This grouping had now taken into account  the perspective enhancing guide lines of placing the larger tree to the front. They were planted in Tesco Finest Lightweight Cat Litter with a little pine bark added, I now also mix in  some of the Pink Sophisicat litter from Pets at Home as it has larger granules which are the same basic molar clay.


The wire has been taken off this week in time to prevent any marking of the tree and the branches are springing up a bit already but I think that after further  rewiring later on it now has the making of an attractive group of trees. Not bad for £1.34.

The group was not the only project to emerge from the Irish purchases as I  am also training a twin planting in a home made concrete slab and a single tree from the rest of the Larches. 


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