Was it worth driving for 21 hours and 1122 miles (1805 km) one way to participate in a bonsai show? The answer on this occasion is a resounding YES as THIS was no ordinary show. Arco Bonsai Club and UBI invited the cream of Italian (and invited guest… ME!) to the XVI° CONGRESSO UBI and XXVII° ARCOBONSAI.

Almost 100 trees were exhibited with sixty selected to be featured in the annual book. There were a few trees familiar to me but most were new trees that I had not seen before. As you would expect the majority of bonsai were Mediterranean species, Olives, Pines, Junipers and Myrtles however in the show were a few oaks, hawthorns (including mine) and beech. The exhibition was made up of many large and VERY large trees. I counted only 10 trees that were Chuhin or smaller. There was only one display of Shohin. The judging of the trees took EIGHT HOURS and was headed up by Enrico Savini, great care was taken as the previous year a lot of controversy surrounded the selection of prizes.

The venue is the Casinò Municipale (it’s NOT a Casino) in Arco, Trentino which is in the far north just south of the Austrian Border… and what a great venue! The exhibition halls are baroque and very ornate the demo rooms (15 Italian artists all working at the same time) were large and well lit. A huge bonus was a café/bar on site (Superb Coffee 1€) that was the meeting and chilling place for the event. When the sun did shine everyone sat out on the veranda.

Over 45 traders selling all things Bonsai filled the outdoor and the entrance to the show. Noticeably there was the very large amount of Yamadori sellers however the stock on sale was surprisingly poor…any real quality was over 2500€. There was a great selection of potters but NONE from the UK (see my opening sentence) Next year the show is in the south of Italy, this will add a further 800 miles to my journey! But when good coffee is only 1€ I’m not complaining.

European Bonsai Tour #1 report Belgium to Italy and Arco Bonsai

I started my European Tour at 6.00am on Wednesday, made it to the Eurotunnel on time after meeting up with Stone Monkey (this is another blog post to follow). The gods were not looking favourably as the weather for driving was terrible and the ring road around Brussels at rush hour is NOT the best at any time! I arrived at the Noelanders’ Club at 7.25pm only 5 minutes before the start.

Bad weather in Belgium

A ‘friendly’ crowd at The Noelanders Club

It was a good turnout of 60 members considering the weather. I stayed the night with Stéphane Van Lind and his family and the next day held a workshop for six guys. Some nice trees were worked! Then it was a six hour drive to my overnight in Stuttgart.

My GOD the Germans drive fast! So I had to join them. My AVERAGE speed being 105mph sometimes driving at 120mph! At 5.15 am I set off for Arco, I had six hours FAST driving ahead of me, through some beautiful countries.

I had no time to soak in the beauty

Italian Police want to what is in my car

Getting into Italy was ‘interesting’ the Border police wanted to know what I had in my car. As you can imagine they were fascinated… they held me up for 25 minutes, and I was already on a tight schedule. I arrived in at 11.00 with one hour to spare to have my tree registered for the event, and it is from here that I am posting.

Outside the venue at Arco Bonsai

Arco is a beautiful town about 2 miles from Lake Garda in Italy. The venue is in the Municipal Casino (it’s not a casino) I will be posting a full report about the event soon.

Juniper on a rock at Arco

Tickle Tour May 2012 Itinerary

I am travelling through France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, Italy and Slovenia over the next couple of weeks. I will be filming, blogging and recording my tour. I f I have time and a good internet connection I will put some content here on this site. I am hoping to add a lot of new Potters to my showcase series and will feature them here also. So if you see me, say ‘Hi’

Wednesday 2nd Set off at 7.30am
Travel to: Noelanders club Demo, Heusden-Zolder, België 7.30 start

Thursday 3rd
All day Workshop with Stéphane Van Lints:
Leave at 6.00pm Travel to Stuttgart Airport hotel overnight

Friday 4th
Travel to: Arco, Italy Ubi event: Arrive approx: 12.00

Saturday 5th
All day at UBI conference in Arco Exhibit Hawthorn

Sunday 6th
All day at UBI conference in Arco
Monday 6th –Friday 10th Stay with friends in Italy and Slovenia
Friday 10th Visit EBA event and set up: Hotel and congress centre Mons, Ljubljana‎, Slovenija

Saturday 11th EBA event with Demo, Exhibit Hawthorn

Sunday 12th EBA event

Monday 14th Leave Lunch with Walter Pall
Overnight Idstein, Germany

Tuesday 15th
Visit to: Christian Przybylsk, Essen

Visit to: Jean Paul Polmas, Belgium.

Travel Calais Euro Tunnel

Travel to and stay Stone Monkeys, Kent, Overnight

Wednesday 16th Arrive Home approx 2.00pm

Total driving time 47.5 hours
Miles: 2697 miles

Repotting and Styling a large Sabina Juniper

I purchased this Sabina Juniper at the Noelanders Trophy in 2009, a year later I repotted the tree into the final planting position I wanted ready for styling. When the tree was collected it ‘appeared’ to lend itself as a semi or full cascade, however I was sure that it would make a very good ‘upright’ tree. The repotting was done exactly 12 months prior to styling. I worked the tree with Enrico Savini as a demo at the Best of British 2011 Bonsai exhibition in Birmingham UK.