This being our last meeting at Suntrap could have been a sad occasion but the talk on the art of Bonsai by the evening speaker Alistair Simpson, President of the Scottish National Collection of Bonsai did not leave time to be downhearted. In fact it held out a lot of hope that there will be a life after Suntrap. When the announcement came that Suntrap and Millbuies were being sold off the National Bonsai Collection Committee were truly dismayed by the news. The staff who lived on site were moving away and there would be no one to look to the security of the collection which lived at Suntrap. Billy Carruthers of Binny Plants at Eccesmachen offered a home at his Garden Centre which has a large full time staff as well as people living on site. The Committee were building a glass enclosure at Suntrap when the news broke and the Japanese ambassador had agreed to perform the opening ceremony. That went ahead and the following year he was delighted to attend and open their new facility at Binny Plants.

Because Bonsai Plants live best outdoors it is prudent to take precautions against unwanted visitors which might eat the roots.  This method can be employed on any pot planted up and left outside. A piece of wire is threaded through the hole in the base of the pot and secured as shown below.


 The Chinese and Japanese both love Bonsai plants. The Japanese also display other items like this Siuseki (plant arrangement) alongside their miniature trees.

They also display narural rocks mounted on a base called a Diaza. . This one has an added attraction in the beautiful wooden frame which sets off the rock collected in the Highlands.   

TThere are many styles and shapes like those below

sometimes more than one tree is used to recreate a miniature landscape.

It was wonderful to see this miniature larch tree which is many times less in size than if grown in the field but note the larch cones are about half the normal size.

or how about this self sown Cotoneaster seedling with its tiny leaves but near normal sized berries.

Alistair explained that the art of cutting is a personal choice but he did suggest that deciding on the finished style was best made after looking at the tree while sitting down. At or near eye level it reveals what it would like to be. The pruning is also done when sitting down.

He invited us to make suggestions on the shape and pruning to use on the specimen above. I think we were all pleased with the end result.

A discussion on what to buy or what to collect from self sown seedlings followed.
To explain how plants can be kept quite small by putting them in small pots we were shown this one which is approximately five years old living in a one inch pot.  

Although not a keen show person Alistair did explain how plants are classified for shows. The one below was growing in this way over a rockery and has had its natural shape retained. I cr the rule but this one is a specific type which when placed on a table overhangs the edge. 

After so much talk it was our turn to have a go and to get up close and ask more questions. A young member took a master class on pruning under the watchful eye of Margaret, Alistairs wife. She had made a grand contribution to the evening and showed us how to tie the stems with wire to make them grow in to the desired shape if they are not quite where we would want them.
It was a happy group who left Suntrap for the last time. 

Suntrap Gardening Club meet at 7.15pm in the Common Room at  

Ravelrig Riding for the Disabled 21 Ravelrig Gait Balerno Edinburgh EH14 7NH

Details on getting there are on

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