Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Oak in heavy frost

This is a tree of which I am very fond, see it in Summer here.

Monday, 29 November 2010

New pot for cotoneaster

This is a visualisation of how the Cotoneaster will look with a much better pot, by German potter Peter Krebs

Winter arrives for my Bonsai

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Mushroom over-collecting makes the news

See an interesting and saddening article by the BBC here. Collecting large quantities as a comercial concern is too damaging in Britain, where our remaining forrests are small... it might be ok in the large forests of Europe. Please folks, just pick a few as an occational treat!

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Bonsai in early autumn

This European Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) is coming along nicely, the canopy will broaden as twig ramification is built over the coming years. I have developed this tree from raw nursery stock for three years.

This Cotoneaster (C.horizontalis) has also been in development for three years and was originally collected from a building site. A better pot is required.

This Privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium) was collected in February of this year, the growth has been cut back twice and I have made a rough branch selection. There's a long way to go with this tree, but good progress in the first year.

Field maple changing colour

Monday, 20 September 2010

Autumn coming soon

Lemon yellow leaves begining to appear on this field maple (Acer campestre), although also a little powdery mildew unfortunately (it won't harm the tree much).
The approach grafted roots on the left of the hollow have almost fused and sacrifice branches have really thickened up the lowest branch, I think the winter shilohete will be greatly improved this year!

Eccentric yew

This English Yew (Taxus bacata) is starting to look like a tree with a future.
This came from a comercial garden store as a clipped pyramid, reduced down to £5 due to poor health... no wonder, vine weevil grubs were eating the roots! The tree was bare rooted, the grubs killed by hand and was planted in a pond basket and very open substrated to encourage vigorous root growth. Less than 2 years on it is inthis gorgeous pot and has been fully styled, now I just need to build ramification of the branch structure.

The same tree one year ago

Monday, 13 September 2010

Genus Amanita: why wild mushrooms are feared

Many wild mushrooms are delicious so why is it that so many people are fearful of them? My Mum still gets anxious about my mushroom collecting (even though my wife insists that I use three sources of identification and that I am 100% certain of my diagnosis before I eat any wild mushroom).

Are these fears unfounded? No!

There is a good reason that every fungus identification book includes a warning about the dangers of poisonous species. Poor or half hearted identification of mushrooms can have disastrous consequences.

There are a number of mushrooms that grow in the UK that are deadly, and the genus Amanita contains several of the most harmful.

Many people know the iconic poisonous mushroom, a red cap with white spots; the Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria), this is indeed poisonous and there has been at least one confirmed fatality from ingestion, but the effects are mild compared to some other members of that genus.

The aptly named Death Cap (Amanita phalloides) contains high levels of amatoxins, to which there is no known antidote antidote. Even with quick diagnosis and excellent treatment in intensive care fatality rates are at least 20%, rising to 90% if left untreated.

I'm not going to tell you how to identify this mushroom (or any for that matter) as there are much better sources; the best online resource is Rogers Mushrooms and here you can read about the horrifying effect of this most deadly of British Mushrooms.

It is not a rare species, here is a specimen that I found in Leigh Woods, Bristol, last week:

...and here are a number of mushrooms that I'm fairly certain are an edible Amanita species, commonly known as The Blusher (Amanita rubrescens), which looks remarkably similar to the very poisonous Panther Cap (Amanita pantherina). There are a number of key differences between the two species and I'm 95% sure I can make that differentiation but the danger of fatal poisoning is not worth a 1:20 chance never mind the post-prandial anxiety!

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Mmmmm... breakfast

Hydnum repandum, AKA Hedgehog Mushroom, AKA Wood Hedgehog, AKA Pied de mouton... AKA breakfast!

Fungus season

Thanks to recent rain and cooler temperatures we are having an excellent early fungus season in the south west.

This Thursday I took the day off work to have my car serviced and while it was in the garage took a walk over to Leigh Woods on the outskirts of Bristol. This is a fragment of the ancient Avon forest, and ancient woodland is fantastic for mushrooms.

I found a huge variety of mushrooms, I may post more later. These are a few I found growing with Scotts Pines (Pinus sylvestris):

Lepiota hystrix is an inedible mushroom, which is relatively rare and can be distingushed from other Lepiota species by its dark pyramidal scales and strong smell, reminicent of Elderflower.

These mushrooms are defintely of the genus Suillus, I think they may be the Sullis collinitus (which is uncommon and Red Listed in some areas).

Russula sanguinaria, AKA the Bloody Brittlegill, was very numerous but saddly not eddible (some Russula species are edible, some are poisonous... take great care and only eat those you are VERY confident in: a spore print is an essential tool for identifying Russula species!)

A few weeks ago I returned to Priddy in the Mendips and collected a few Humpback Brittlegills (Russula caerulea) which I identified but did not collect last year... one positive ID via a spore print later and it was breakfast time (delicious they were too).

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Field maple repotted and in leaf

Acer campestre, developed from feild grown stock scince Autumn 2008.

Goblin Combe

Above Cleeve, half an hours drive south of Bristol, is the beautiful mixed woodland of Goblin Combe.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Bonsai could learn from Ruskin

'There is nothing that I tell you with more earnest desire that you should believe than this - that you will never love art well till you love what she mirror's better'
John Ruskin (1819-1900)

Monday, 5 April 2010

The Tortwort Chestnut

The sweet chestnut, Castanea sativa, south of St. Leonard's at Tortworth (South Gloucestershire), is probably 1000 years old (give or take a few hundred years). All the trunks around the main trunk are layered branches and new growth from the roots. The tree is still thriving and fruits each year. St Leonard's itself (in the background of this comparatively young oak) was built in the latter part of the 15th Century.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Joy of Bonsai?

Three of my favorite trees from the displays at 2010's Joy of Bonsai event in Bath... there were some nice trees there but it was far to busy and cluttered to really appreciate them, shows like this are not really my thing I must admit.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Signs of Spring

Prunus incisa "Kojo-No-Mai"

Larix kaempferi

Acer ginnala

Cornus alba "Sibirica/Westonbirt"

Syringia vulgaris

Cotoneaster horizontalis

Ulmus parvifolia "Nire-Keyaki"