Sandra Quintal is a bit of an expert when it comes to Shohin bonsai.
When the opportunity arose to go to one of her workshops in Dunedin on the 6th of February it didn't take much persuading. Even though I don't have any shohin it was great to learn about them.
Sandra also has great knowledge about bonsai in general so I didn't worry too much when I rocked up with a largish Hwangshan Pine. (almost everyone else had a shohin or two to work on)
There was a Coprosma that needed a bit of a trim up, but it wasn't the right time to do it, so a small tag was put on the offending branch to be removed later.
That is something that's incredibly hard to do. So often there's a branch that looks like it needs nipped back, but nowadays everyone says to leave it on to strengthen the branch and cut it back late winter/early spring. Sorry, but most of the time the branch will get cut back when I get fed up looking at it! I can only guess that he wished he could cut it off now.
One thing that I felt a little self conscious about was my tools.
Looking around everyone had their nice shiny sharp tools all laid out in their nice leather rolls. Well.... I have 3 tools. Two of them have been left out in the rain and weather and are now a brown earthy rusty colour. I still use them as they are all I have. Unfortunately hubby has stolen back my third tool, a pair of his pliars….they were great for cutting bonsai wire, but I guess they were needed elsewhere.
The only downside of working on your own trees while Sandra is away helping others is that you miss out on tidbits of information as you're sometimes not within reasonable hearing range. Only one thing for it....drop your tools and casually meander on over and listen in.
Sometimes I wonder if its more worthwhile being an "observer". At least you get to hear the advice given to each participant about their bonsai. Sometimes we are so focussed on working on our tree that our brain shuts off from everything around us.....well, it does for me any way.
There were a couple of nice Shohin pines, "Mugo" and "Radiata".
Personally I learned quite a lot during the workshop. It was all frantically written down as soon as I got back. Followed by another frantic morning working on my trees at home. Funny how when you learn something new, you run around applying it to those trees that will benefit.
It was a 5 hour round trip to attend this one day workshop in Dunedin.....absolutely well worth it!