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Memory Lane – Cotoneaster…great garden plant…..exceptional bonsai!

Looking back….we can tell a tree’s story…..admire an image…..capture a moment…..remember a special event… inspired – to create a memory for tomorrow. 

I hope you enjoy this regular peep into some of John’s bonsai history.

Memory Lane – Cotoneaster…great garden plant…..exceptional bonsai!
Some time around the mid 1990’s in my other life as a Chartered Surveyor I was instructed to carry out a probate valuation on a small terrace house near Barnsley.
As you can imagine I was always alert for potential bonsai material. At first glance the Cotoneaster which covered a six foot section of fencing in the rear garden did not excite or fall into the “wow” category. On closer inspection the bottom section of the trunk was thicker than expected and had a strong natural scar……my interest was aroused!
The solicitors gave me permission to remove the shrub and this was carried out almost immediately. My only regret was that I did not take any pictures of this process. The first picture below is the earliest I have, probably taken in the late 1990’s after an initial pruning and potting into a bonsai pot. The second picture was taken in September 2000 whilst the third was taken in July 2003. The reduction in height and restyling has totally transformed the tree.
DSCN1019 July 03 DSCN1164 Sept 03 My cotoneaster
September 2003 and the tree appeared in the fourth Ginkgo Bonsai Award in Belgium. A few months later and a full page photograph of the tree appeared in the Bonsai Europe magazine…..fame at last for a humble garden plant from Barnsley, South Yorkshire.
April 2005 Picture 368 Summer 05
The three pictures above show the tree making good progress in 2005.
April and May 2010 001 IMG_1371p IMG_1653p
The first two pictures above show the tree as it appeared in our second Newstead Bonsai Extravaganza in September 2006. The final picture was taken in April 2010.
After some deliberation it was decided at this time to alter the style again and remove the hanging branch to make a much more compact canopy. The first two pictures below show the result whilst the final picture shows the tree as it appeared in our fourth Newstead event in September 2010.
April and May 2010 002 April and May 2010 003 Newstead 4 our pictures 187
The first picture below was also taken at the Newstead 4 event. The final pictures show the tree in 2012 really developing well with the trunk and new canopy in much greater harmony.
Newstead 4 Sept 2010 039 IMG_0790 IMG_0482
Towards the end of 2012 a customer asks if he could see my Cotoneaster again….he had seen it before on a previous visit to the nursery. The tree was not for sale and was not on public show. However I was pleased with his interest and happy for him to see the tree…. …….but then out of the blue came an offer for the tree which proved too hard to turn down. It took a lot of deliberation before I decided to let the tree grow and even now I still miss his presence in the garden.
I had come a long way with this tree for more than 15 years and really appreciated just how good a species it is. A delightful shrub in many forms that brings welcome foliage, flowers and berries to any garden….but as a bonsai, with small leaves, a rapid response to regular pruning, autumn colour, flowers and berries this tree is capable of scaling exceptional heights…….make sure you have one in your collection!