Burrs Bonsai workshop 2012 amazing experience

Its two days after the biggest Burrs workshop I have staged, and this being the seventh occasion I wanted to make it extra special. Special for the participants as they had the opportunity to work with some of the best bonsai artists in Europe, and special because I wanted to pay tribute to my dear friend HarleyRider who passed away suddenly earlier this year.

Day 1: Things started early on Thursday Morning at Manchester Airport collecting Hans van Meer who was flying in from Holland, we had a fun day in my garden relaxing, working on trees and preparing for the weekend. Hans has been a close friend for over 15 years and we can work closely as each understands the other. Later in the afternoon I collected Enrico and Rita who were arriving from Italy. That evening was spent along with Terry and his wife Charlotte, Will Baddeley, Simon, and Mikey at a nearby hostelry.

Day 2 Friday: Was focused in the garden working on the large Yew (more about this in another post) a Chuhin White Pine, and catching up with European Bonsai gossip! A few participants from the UK and Pavel Slovak arrived around midday with his group from the Czech and Slovak Republics; they had travelled over 2000km to be at the event. Burrs was coming together nicely, everyone arriving on time and enjoying being in the garden IN THE RAIN!  As day moved into night we all made our way to the workshop venue 3km from my garden… and to the Brown Cow country pub for food and refreshments. All evening long folk arrived and joined the bonsai throng… until we were forty persons strong.

I was very pleased when Erik Križovenský wanted to partake in the Burrs experience and he gave an amazing presentation on exactly how he makes his wonderful  pot ‘creations’ his surprise at the end of the show was to unveil 3 of his pots that were swiftly snatched up by ME! I left the assembled bonsai gathering and returned home to my bed.

Day 3 Saturday part 1: Whilst I looked after Enrico at my house for Breakfast, Bob Brunt was busy cooking up breakfast for over 30 hung over guys and a few not so. Arriving at 9.00am and after brief introductions a day of intensive bonsai was ahead for everyone.  Lots of trees were worked, some styled for the first time, some refined and some starting their journey to being a great bonsai.

Burrs participants range from complete beginners right the way through to artists with years of experience, all come because they want to learn, share, enjoy, laugh and have fun with like minded individuals. What makes Burrs that bit special is they come from across Europe and this year was no exception: Holland, Spain, Italy, Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Israeli, Slovak Republic, and from the UK… Welsh, Geordies, Southern softies and even Yorkshire folk.

Day 3 part 2: Saturday Evening starts with everyone sharing their local/regional/national foods or drinks. I do not think I have seen such a selection of beers and spirits on the long table before. Carolyn along with helpers put together quite a spread. Once the tables were cleared of food the fun really started with the Czech guys singing Kde domov můj? (National Anthem) quickly followed by the Slovaks, the Welsh gave us The Oggy Oggy Oggy chant (NOT the national anthem) followed by Jose Redondo and ME doing the Tachinch (National Anthem) then Rob Atkinson and ME (again) giving a rendition of “Fog on the Tyne” this was later followed by a parade of tattooed men!

Day 4 Sunday: I arrived at 9.00am and was greeted by a few of the guys looking worse for wear, Will and Mikey simply had not gone to bed, choosing to stay up all night working, drinking and chatting. Most had gone to bed at a reasonable time (before 2.00am) and were fresh ’ish and ready for another full day of bonsai. Some new Trees were worked and some of the larger trees completed. Terry worked on a large pine that needed AT least 10 hours of wiring, fortunately this is possible at Burrs as the total time available to work is over 48 hours (if you do not sleep) Ian Stewartson turned up at 11.00 to see what all the fuss was about and was overwhelmed by the scale of the event and the enthusiasm of participants. The event was rounded off with a group photo.

Trees that were created will feature in a post shortly.


My Thanks goes out to:

  • My wife Carolyn who looked after artists, friends and fed 42 hungry participants
  • The artists: Enrico Savini, Hans van Meer, Pavel Slovak, Will Baddeley and Terry Foster for all their hard work and inspiration!
  • My Helpers: Bob Brunt, Mikey, David Barlow, Rob Atkinson
  • All the participants, without them it would not happen

Wire bonsai with a special twist

On a visit to one of the Israeli Bonsai artists I came across these Wire bonsai! I know that there are a few guys who do this but Ami adds a special twist (sorry) to his wire sculptures. They are miniature bonsai ‘scenes’ that include people, animals and other features. Look out for the windswept tree and person… real nice!

European Bonsai tour #8 the finishing line

In arrived in my home at 10.00am on Tuesday after staying the night with Stone Monkey near Tunbridge Wells in the South of England. My European Tour started on 2nd May and finished on 16th May. I visited 7 countries and travelled 5239Km/3256miles.

I met many wonderful people, plus a few crazy ones! Ate really good food, drank in moderation and perhaps talked too much. Thanks for following my epic journey, I have an enormous amount of material for this blog including over 2 hours of video, 1500 photos and lots of great stories that will feature here over the next few weeks.

For now though here are my personal reflections and statistics from the tour:

Best roads: Germany

Worst roads: Slovenia

Best Food: Italy

Worst Food: Germany

Most enthusiastic bonsai Nation: Hungary

Highest point: 1760 mtrs in Austria

Lowest point: Sharing the stage with a Prima Donna

Best Night Out: Ljubljana

Strangest drink: Fruit of Myrtle Spirit (Italian homemade)

Best bonsai personality: Marc Noelanders

Hero: Tomaž Kovšca (organiser of EBA Ljubljana)

Zero: Brussels Ring Road

Best Weather: Italy

Worst Weather: Belgium

Best Audience: Belgium

Worst Coffee: Germany

Best Coffee: Italy

Favourite place: On top of a mountain in Slovenia

Funniest  name: “Gasthof Wanker” in Austria

Best thing of all: staying with friends old and new

European Bonsai Tour #7 The EBA show in Ljubljana, Slovenia

This weekend was the EBA show in Ljubljana. I Exhibited a tree, was a headline demonstrator, I traded my Yamadori and I did a presentation about Hawthorns! The weekend has been full on, but what made this extra special was that I did not have to stay in a hotel, I stayed with Nik Rozman and his wonderful parents Peter and Marina… it truly was home from home.

Staying with Nik was great because having somebody who was ‘local’ and deeply involved with the organising club meant that a lot of the ‘formalities’ (translating, help with my trade stand, drivers) were easily overcome. My thanks goes to them for making my stay so enjoyable.

The majority of exhibition was a very high standard, with 11 countries taking part with over trees on show and 12 traders. Normally the first day is busier, not on this occasion. Saturday was a VERY hot 28c and sunny with the people through the door less than expected. The exact opposite on Sunday VERY cold 4c and overcast. More than three times the amount of people came.

Considering that this is the biggest Bonsai show ever to be staged staged in Slovenia the organising club Slovenski bonsaj klub did a great job.

My demo with Nik was on a beautiful Mugo Pine that he had collected three years before.

Kevin Willson assisted by Richard Chambers worked a massive Olive and Yew, the Italian talked about a mugo pine that had been fully prepared for him by his assistant.

A full gallery of the trees is to follow. Tomorrow I drive to See Walter Pall and continue on with my European Bonsai Tour