Article 87 – ‘Plant husbandry 5’

Hi welcome to Taiga Bonzai, in this article the last in the series we attempt to answer some of the questions that continue to perplex the most learned concerning the demise of flora. In many cases the answer is given in a reasonably short time frame, but there are instances where no definitive explanation can be agreed upon.

Introduction – with the planet constantly evolving evidence exists of events that have resulted, some have been of minor consequence whilst others have caused complete devastation. In 1815 Mount Tambora on the island of Sumbawa in Indonesia erupted, the largest volcanic eruption in history. In 1954, a swarm of locusts invaded Kenya covering an area of 200km2, the estimated density was 50 million individuals per km2 a total number of 10 billion locusts in that swarm. A 15 metre tsunami hit Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011 causing a major catastrophe.

Life expectancy – nothing on this planet lasts forever, all flora, fauna including humanoids have a life expectancy and nothing can change this phenomenon. Even planet Earth has a life expectancy, a subject for another time as the implications associated would make this article far too long, but for those of a inquisitive nature we point you to the NEW ATLAS and their scientific author Michael Irving who wrote an article on this subject in March 01 2021. Link below.

Humanoids and fauna – it can be argued that a debate on these two species would make for interesting discussion and much has been written by notable academics including, Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Robert Darwin works include, The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871), The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872). But, at Taiga Bonzai for the moment we are only concerned with flora and the problems associated.

Flora – all humans especially government officials are responsible for the planet’s well being concerning plant life regardless of the scale. Pests and disease transmitted by our actions either knowingly or not have been in existence for thousands of years, we have written articles on this topic ‘Unseen enemies’ 62 to 66 and 56 ‘Bug apocalypse!’ In the previous article ‘Plant husbandry’ 4 we mentioned the deadly disease Xylella fastidiosa first discovered by plant pathologist Newton Pierce in 1892, a disease that is an aerobic, Gram-negative bacterium of the monotypic genus Xylella. This plant pathogen is transmitted exclusively by xylem fluid-feeding sap insects. 

There is no chemical control for Xylella fastidiosa as is the case for many pests and disease, infected plants are destroyed to prevent the disease spreading further. A downturn in crop production costing vast sums of revenue to the tune of billions. Although many countries are deeply concerned, they just cannot find common ground to find a solution to the problem. Yet they whine, moan and sabre rattle on unimportant trivial items, hence it is difficult to comprehend their logic and justification for such.

The enemy – most common plant pathogens are fungi, bacteria, mollicutes, parasitic higher plants, parasitic green algae, nematodes, protozoa, viruses, and viroids. We will give a brief description on these and their functionality should you encounter them.

Fungi – many people believe fungi are plants, this a misnomer they are neither plants nor animals but organisms that form their own kingdom of life. The way they feed themselves is different from other organisms: they do not photosynthesize like plants nor do they ingest their food like animals. Fungi can be deadly poisonous as in the ‘Death cap’ Amanita phalloides variety and is the world’s most toxic mushroom. It contains alpha-amanitin which is responsible for causing liver and kidney failure.

Death cap fungi

Bacteria – there are both beneficial and pathogenic, beneficial bacteria are involved in such diverse processes as digestion in animals, nitrogen fixation in the roots of certain legumes, the decomposition of animal and plant remains and sewage disposal systems. Pathogenic bacteria called fastidious vascular bacteria grow in either the xylem or phloem tissues and interfere with the transport of water and nutrients in the plant vectored by sucking insects such as leafhoppers, planthoppers and psyllids.

Mollicutes – are parasite in the class of bacteria distinguished by the absence of a cell wall. The word ‘Mollicutes’ is derived from the Latin mollis and cutis. Individuals are very small, typically only 0.2–0.3 μm in size and have a very small genome size. The best-known genus in the Mollicutes is Mycoplasma colonies which show the typical ‘fried-egg’ appearance.

Mycoplasma image courtesy of

Parasitic higher plants and Green algae – Hemiparasites often referred to as water parasites, do injure their host plants, absorbing water and mineral nutrients from them. They possess chlorophyll and can manufacture their own carbohydrates by photosynthesis. Green algae are a foliar disease most commonly seen in warmer climates or in greenhouses. The main organism is Cephaleuros virescens, a green parasitic alga whose usual hosts are plants with leathery leaves such as litchi, magnolias, hollies, rhododendrons and viburnums.

Parasitic green algae on guava Image courtesy of Scot Nelson

Nematodes – often called ’roundworms’ are the most numerous multicellular animals on earth. A handful of soil can contain thousands of the microscopic worms many of them parasites of insects, plants or animals. Free-living species are abundant, including nematodes that feed on bacteria fungi and other nematodes. There are nearly 20,000 described species classified in the phylum Nemata many of which are associated with disease.  


Protozoa – are a group of single-celled eukaryotes either free-living or parasitic that feed on organic matter such as other microorganisms or organic tissues and debris. They come in many different shapes and sizes ranging from an Amoeba which can change its shape to Paramecium with its fixed shape and complex structure. Some are parasitic meaning they live in other plants and animals including humans where they cause disease. 

Protozoa Image courtesy of Frank Fox Microbiology Society 

Viruses, and viroids – a virus is a submicroscopic infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of an organism. Viruses infect all life forms from animals, plants and other microorganisms, including bacteria and archaea. Viroids are small single-stranded, circular RNAs that are infectious pathogens. Unlike viruses, they have no protein coating. All known viroids are inhabitants of angiosperms (flowering plants) and most cause disease.

Cowpea mosaic virus Image courtesy of Thomas Splettstoesser ( 

The hidden menace – in part 4 of this series we stated that “the problem with disease is that it cannot in reality be detected until there is visible evidence, either insect damage or that of fungi and canker.” Here is an example of our meaning, approximately 4 years ago we obtained a 3 year old Sea buckthorn plant Hippophae in the family Elaeagnaceae.

Sea buckthorn Hippophae

The aim was to train it into a Bunjin-gi literati style, in the first winter we did some work to the trunk and foliage right hand image. We decided to take our time with the design and make gradual changes so as not to stress out the tree and the cuttings were planted in different containers. All was progressing according to plan until beginning of summer 2022, when we discovered the trunk was coated in a white fungus, leaf drop had begun and remaining leaves showed signs of chlorosis. We knew the end was nigh for this plant hence it was destroyed.

Naturally our readers will want answers as to the tree’s demise so we will answer them here:

Q. what disease killed the tree – A. Verticillium wilt sp. was the culprit for which there is no effective treatment

Q. did the problems come from the soil medium, incorrect watering and bad position – A. when the plant was purchased the original soil was removed and the plant washed, it was re-planted in the same soil medium we use for all our deciduous species and we have no problems with it. Watering was twice daily in the summer and less in the winter; the tree had a good sunny position with plenty of light and air movement

Q. are any of your other trees showing signs of infection and what about the cuttings you took, A. no they are thriving very well and the cuttings were taken from the original plant after it had been repotted nevertheless, we will keep a watchful eye on them

Q. if there were no problems at your end how did the disease get there A. Verticillium wilt can lie dormant until the conditions are such that is activated, it can spread rapidly killing sea buckthorn varieties in two years with the variety Clara being the most infected; we are of a conviction that this was the case in this instance – it was already there when we obtained it.

Sea buckthorn is a plant that has few diseases. Among the diseases that can occur in sea buckthorn plantation we mention: verticillium wilt (Verticillium albo-atrum, Verticillium dahliae), Fusariosis (Fusarium sp.) and decay caused by fungi from the genera Phytium, Alternaria and Botrytis. Verticillium wilt can occur quite often in sea buckthorn plantations, the pathogen Verticillium sp. being so dangerous is able to kill the shrubs very quickly.

This series ‘Plant husbandry’ (1 to 5) has been a discussion on plant care and also on plant pathology and we trust that you have found the content useful. This website Taiga Bonzai has many more articles on various topics relating to bonsai and horticulture in general, feel free to browse at your leisure; until next time, BW, Nik.

Article 86 – ‘Plant husbandry 4’

Hi, welcome to Taiga Bonzai in this article we discuss some of the many reasons why plants give the appearance of health and vitality one moment then suddenly show signs of decline the next; a problem scientists and horticulturists have been trying to solve for eons.

Introduction – there are countless reasons why plants die and to attempt to explain the cause and effect would result in volumes of the written word therefore, we look at some of the most common and those uncommon. These include the seed or plant, soil medium, water table, pests and disease most of which can be found in our articles and we will point them out as we proceed with this discussion.

Seeds – in nature plants have various ways of dispersing their seeds on the wind, by animals and birds that consume and dispense them through their digestive system. Such seeds released from the parent plant are in what is termed as a dormancy stage and dormancy is a natural state of being in many plants, its function is to ensure that the seed will germinate at an appropriate time. However, seeds can remain in a dormant state and fail to germinate although conditions, temperature, water and light are in ample supply.

Why this phenomena occurs can be attributed to a seed’s morphological and physiological requirements, because seed dormancy is able to originate in different parts of the seed for example, within the embryo or its coating – the shell or husk. Dormancy is deemed not as a constant, but as a variable because it is a common phenomenon encountered in a large variety of trees. However, it should be noted that not all seeds have embryos hence they will never germinate.

It can be argued that seeds are delicate in their form and their is evidence to support this theory for example, in (commercially grown) vegetables and various fruit species, because their ‘shelf life’ is short. However in the main seeds collected from the wild are robust and quite hardy able to withstand high and low temperatures and can be stored in the right conditions for long periods of time; providing they have not been attacked by pests and disease. See article 60 ‘Germination! – no guarantee’

Soil mediums – are prepared to suit the plant beit ericaceous (coniferous) or organic (deciduous) and should be a composition with good drainage allowing the roots especially feeders to travel in search of nutrients and moisture; compacted soil mediums are detrimental to the plants well being. See articles 27 and 28 ‘The pH factor’ which discusses various soil compositions. A question often asked is “does the soil have to changed on a regular basis” in short the answer is no, because a teaspoon of soil is estimated to contain up to a billion bacteria cells that work to maintain the soil condition. Adding a small amount of fertilizer occasionally helps and the plant can survive for years in the same medium.

However, much depends on the type of plant regardless of the species, if growing from seed then the plant will require a soil medium to help the initial growth stage for example, John Innes no. 1 or similar brand. When the plant has developed sufficiently i.e. a few pairs of leaves it is re-planted in a soil medium that is more appropriate, this is done to slow the growth rate otherwise the plants becomes ‘spindly’ tall, or thin and will take some considerable time to gain girth. Plants in this condition are easily stressed and susceptible to attack because it’s defences are weakened, the first signs are chlorosis (yellowing of the leaves) and leaf drop.

Water table – in the main most trees dislike their roots soaking wet nonetheless, there are exceptions to this consensus for example, the following permanently reside in wet conditions. Pumpkin Ash, Fraxinus profunda Sweetbay Magnolia, Magnolia virginiana Willow, Salix Mangrove, Rhizophora mangle Bald Cypress, Taxodium distichum Water Tupelo, Nyssa aquatica River Birch Betula nigra and Pin Oak Quercus palustris. The water pH ranges from acidic to saline and plants living in such conditions are able to thrive quite well, but the majority of others species cannot tolerate these extremes.

If you have the ability to harvest and store rainwater this is preferable, alternatively if you rely on the household tap, the water condition will depend on the supplier and the chemicals used to treat it for example. Fluoride (F) banned in many countries is a neurotoxin and endocrine disruptor, able to damage the thyroid gland and interfere with bone formation. Chlorine (CI) a strong disinfectant added to drinking water as a purification technique. Other chemicals can include Mercury (Hg), Arsenic (As) used in a multitude of industrial processes, Lead (Pb) a major toxin that still exists due to corroded piping systems. To read the problems with tap water and how to treat it see articles 35 and 36 ‘A teaspoon of vinegar’.

Pests and disease – the most common of pests and disease derive from insects including: Aphids Aphidoidea, Scale Coccoidea, Mealybug Pseudococcidae, Sawfly Septentrionalis and Red spider mite Tetranychus urticae. The latter difficult to see with the naked eye as it resides in the soil, the only immediate way of detection is via the very fine webs they weave. Plants infected with red spider mite often fail to survive yet they can be saved. Remove the plant from its container and discard all traces of soil, the whole plant is sprayed with horticultural soap; re pot the plant, water, isolate and keep a watchful eye out so the problem does not reoccur.

Unfortunately the predators that usually protect our plants are disappearing at breakneck speed due to loss of habitat caused by the idiosyncratic lust for urbanisation. Farmers and land holders are being paid not to produce crops but to turn their fields into wildlife havens to encourage the return of the predators. This is akin to ‘shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted’ a ludicrous policy considering the present world crisis.

(a) During World War II (1939 – 1945) many governments mandated that more produce be grown to feed those at the front line, those unable to enlist for whatever reason were forced to endure rationing which lasted until 1954. Meadows and wildlife havens were turned into arable land and although the effects of this were not apparent at the time; it was the beginning of the end for the bug world. Evidence of this can be substantiated in article 56 ‘Bug apocalypse’

(b) On March 25th, 1957 France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg signed a treaty in Rome establishing the European Economic Community (EEC), also known as the Common Market. As the years rolled by other countries also signed up and soon there was an abundance of food including butter mountains, milk and wine lakes, gluts of potatoes, apples and other fruits. Did they give it away to the poor or countries facing drought and famine – NO – what could not be poured away was disposed of in disused mine shafts

(c) The green and pleasant lands are now a bygone era, forests have and are being cut down, an area the size of Wales 20,779 km² (a country in southwest UK) is being removed on a daily basis in the Amazon. The meadows that existed are now under housing estates, rivers are polluted and the air quality is deteriorating. The friendly bugs have gone and it is doubtful they will return and the crop harvests GMO or organic will devastated by marauding invaders many whom are immune to pest control see article 20 ‘Pests and diseases’

(d) Remember covid 19 where 6.3 million needlessly lost their lives, the world’s governments could not solve that problem and the disease is still apparent; what are they doing now, placing sanctions that are a reaction of mass childish hysteria; which has backfired. In the immortal words of ‘Ja Ja Binks’ the Gungan outcast in ‘Star Wars’ (plated by actor Ahmed Best) “Weesa in deep do do” and the level is rising. Is it not high time the bungling cretins of the EU and others be held accountable for their stupid mismanagement and decision making. We leave you with this thought; “The folly of the mindless maketh the intelligent weep.”

The problem with disease is that it cannot in reality be detected until there is visible evidence, either insect damage or that of fungi and canker. Science has told us that microorganisms can exist in a single-cell form or a colony like bacteria and fungi and although they are often associated with dirt and disease, most microbes are beneficial. But as we are aware there exist those microbes, fungi and pathogens that have lethal potential here a few examples.

Armillaria mellea is a parasitic fungus doing immense damage to forests, it attacks both coniferous and broadleaf trees. By the time the fruit bodies are in evidence, the damage done internally is usually so great that the tree is doomed. It is widespread in northern temperate zones including North America, Europe and Northern Asia also in South Africa. Trees that are attacked become parasitized. The foliage becomes sparse and discoloured, twig growth slows down and branches may die back. There are no known fungicides or management practices that will kill Armillaria mellea after infection without damaging the infected plant.

Armillaria mellea

A plant canker is a small area of dead tissue, which grows slowly, some of these are of only minor consequence, but others are ultimately lethal and therefore, can have major economic implications for agriculture and horticulture. They are caused by a wide range of organisms including fungi, bacteria, mycoplasmas and viruses. The majority of canker-causing organisms are bound to a unique host species or genus, but a few will attack other plants. Fungicides or bactericides can treat some cankers, often the only available treatment is to destroy the infected plant to contain the disease. The Butternut canker (shown below) is a lethal disease affecting Butternut trees for which there is no cure.

Image courtesy of wikipedia

Borers are perhaps the most harmful to trees, The Asian Longhorned beetle Anoplophora glabripennis native to eastern China, and Korea has been introduced into the United States, where it was first discovered in 1996, and in Canada and several countries in Europe including, Austria, France, Germany, Italy and UK. This beetle is believed to have been spread from Asia in solid wood packaging material. A. glabripennis primarily infest maple, poplar, willow, and elm trees. In the United States it has attacked birch, katsura, ash, planes and Sorbus; In Canada on maple, birch, poplar and willow and in Europe on maple, alder, birch, hornbeam, beech, ash, planes, poplar, Prunus, willow and Sorbus.

The Bronze Birch borer Agrilus anxius is a wood-boring Buprestid beetle native to North America numerous in warmer parts of the continent where it thrives. It is a serious pest on birch trees Betula frequently killing them and if this insect came to Europe there would be no hope for Birch forests as the trees have no resistance against this species of insect; hence the effect on Scandinavia’s Birch industry would be devastating.

Sirex woodwasp Sirex noctilio a species of horntail native to Europe, Asia and North Africa is an invasive species in other realms including Australia, New Zealand, North and South America and South Africa where it has become a significant economic pest of pine trees especially Pinus radiata. The wasp can attack a wide variety of pine species, although some species seem to be more susceptible than others and stressed trees often are attacked. It is believed that this insect was introduced on unprocessed pine logs imported from Europe. 

Sirex woodwasp Sirex noctilio

There are many other pests and disease to contend with several of which we have discussed in the articles 62 to 66 ‘Unseen enemies’, but one that is now devastating the horticulture industry is Xylella fastidiosa. This is a deadly bacteria that attacks economically important crops such as olive, citrus, plum trees and grapevines. Since 2015, it’s been rapidly spreading from the Americas to Europe and Asia. Once the disease infiltrates a plant, it is there to stay, it starves the plant of water until the plant dies or becomes too weak to grow fruit. 

X. fastidiosa costs $104 million per year in wine losses in California and in Italy the bacteria has led to the decline of 180,000 hectares of olive groves destroying many centuries-old trees; a loss of €390 million over three years. X. fastidiosa constitutes a threat not only to Italy but to all the Mediterranean region’s economy.

Image courtesy Wikipedia

X. fastidiosa is not known to be in the UK however, there have been outbreaks of the disease in mainland Europe in France, Italy and Spain. Portugal confirmed its first case in 2019 on lavender hence, the UK Government is concerned about how to prevent the disease being accidentally brought into the country on imported plants. In 2020 Lord Framlingham a Conservative peer asked the Government what the UK’s regulations are regarding X. fastidiosa.

UK regulations were to introduce measures to strengthen the protection of plants from certain pests and diseases, including Xylella. They were made under article 52 of the EU Plant Health Regulation allowing the UK to take additional temporary national measures if they inform the European Commission and put forward a technical case to request EU measures against a specific pest, but those measures have not or will not be introduced in time to mitigate the risk concerned.

Moreover, the UK Government has argued that current EU emergency measures on Xylella do not address risks highlighted in the UK’s pest risk analysis on the disease. In particular, it is not clear if or when the EU emergency measures will be reviewed to address these risks and ensure a greater degree of assurance of disease freedom, in relation to plants of those species being moved in the EU and introduced from third countries. As such, there remains an unacceptable level of pest risk and this instrument introduces national measures under article 52, in the absence of EU requirements.

It would appear from the above debate that various governments cannot not find common ground to solve the problems of pest and disease control, they are only concerned with their own interests instead of working for the good of all. The problems are out there and they need to be addressed as science has told us, failure to do so will result in dire consequences for all. In the last part of this series ‘plant husbandry’ 5 we conclude this topic with some unanswered questions, until next time, BW, Nik.

Article 85 – ‘Plant husbandry 3’

Hi, welcome to Taiga Bonzai in this article we look at the question of health and vitality regarding trees/plants in our care, many of our followers have asked us to give a deeper understanding of the importance of plant care and maintenance.

Introduction – plants regardless of their origin be it from a nursery, the wild, cuttings, seed and grafting etc destined for bonsai are susceptible to loss of health and vitality if not afforded care and attention. Although there are a number of factors why this happens, the main five to consider are – 1. plant research 2. soil medium 3. water 4. position or location. 5. pests and disease will be discussed in the next article ‘Plant husbandry 4’ because of its intended length.

Research – today due to trade agreements we are able to obtain a variety of plants from other realms that can be found at various outlets. Many displayed give the impression of pristine health and vitality however, if purchased the plant/s will be transported to an environment far removed from that of origin. These new conditions are completely alien, because of environmental changes in heating, lighting, air circulation and water especially if the plant is from a temperate zone. Hence conditions must be adapted to suit their needs not the other way round.

When looking for potential plants from a vendor the first action is a thorough examination, if possible remove the plant from its container and examine the root ball for signs of healthy growth and/or damage. It is a good idea to have a ‘pocket sized’ test kit with you to ascertain the soil pH. Inspect the trunk, branches and foliage, look for signs of damage, discolouration of leaves and check for unwanted pests; it is more likely than not that some will exist usually the ones not visible to the naked eye.

Next read the label (that is if there is one) it will tell you it’s common name and possibly its family and species in latin, but that is usually about all. Consult the vendor ask where the plant in question originated, if the answer given is acceptable, move on to the next stage which is transportation and isolation/quarantine failure to do the latter can result in some unwanted nasty surprises for example, cross contamination, infection and demise. We have all had experience of this at some point or another.

If collecting from the wild the examination process is much the same, but with a little more thought. The first question is does the plant have any possible potential bonsai characteristics for example, from the classic design list Chokkan, (formal upright) Moyogi, (informal upright) Sokan, (twin trunk) Bunjin-gi, (literati) Kengai (cascade) and Shakan (slanted) etc. Check the distance between the branches if they are too far apart then the proposed specimen in reality has no potential and even hard pruning will not necessary force the plant to produce new growth to fill the voids although much depends on the species; if in doubt walk away.

The following bonsai class includes Komono 15 – 26cm, Katade Mochi 25 – 46cm, Chumono Chui 40 – 90cm, which are common sizes when collecting from the wild and the root spread will vary considerably depending on a particular species, age and rate of growth. The general rule of thumb when assessing the area of root spread (although it is not accurate) is to imagine the tree in a horizontal position left or right. Visually mark this position noting where the tree’s apex would be and place a coloured marker, then measure the distance from the apex to the centre of the trunk this is the radius.

Whatever the measurement is, will be doubled which will give an idea of the root spread area it applies to all points north, south, east and west mark these points with a stick or flag; this gives an indication of the area to be excavated. Therefore, if you were trying to harvest a potential Omono Dai 76 – 122 cm specimen for example, the work involved would be tremendous because you need as much of the root ball as possible, otherwise the plant may not recover from its ordeal. Do not cut corners, the roots are vital to the plants survival especially the feeder roots.

Moreover, not only do you need permission to harvest the tree, you have to put the land back as you found it. If you have little experience in tree harvesting get a professional collector to undertake the work and yes it will cost money for this service; the tree’s health and welfare are more important than your desires; think before you act – if in doubt walk away.

However, far too often greedy people try to cut corners and undertake tree harvesting themselves on private and public land including parks and other protected areas without permission. Because they are aware of the fact that without experience they cannot be granted a licence. The consequences of this despicable selfish behaviour is that not only will the tree suffer and die, it deprives the public of natures beauty. Below is an image of a scots pine devastated by a collector whose non professional actions have caused the demise of this potential Yamadori bonsai.

200 year old scots pine destroyed

There are other factors to be taken into consideration when harvesting and again much depends on the species, some trees depending on the terrain may appear stunted almost dwarf like. For example, the root system of the dwarf common juniper (Juniperus communis) can travel many metres under rocks, through cracks and crevices and are impossible to excavate. As are the most sought after Yamadori often located in mountainous areas whose roots have to travel long distances through rocky terrain in search of nutrients and minerals due to poor soil conditions. The specimens mentioned here cannot be harvested for good reasons and should be left alone.

However, all is not lost when attempting tree harvesting, it can be done in stages if you have the patience and build up the skills before hand. A good way to learn is if you know of someone a neighbour, friend relative or landscape artist and ask to assist them for a day or two, in return for your labours ask for the shrubs or small trees that will normally be discarded. Be up front and tell the person/s that you are a bonsai student and need the plants to further your knowledge and that you have no intention of selling them.

Once you build your knowledge and expertise the road ahead does not get easier it gets harder especially If you are in difficult terrain. The procedure is always the same thorough examination of the proposed candidate and inspection of the surrounding area be it a bog, roadside ditch, open field or rock strewn landscape and all will present problems that must dealt with accordingly. Make sure you have the correct tools and apparel for the task. Carefully excavate and investigate the root system to ascertain, which roots can be cut and which to leave. See article 83 ‘Plant husbandry 1’

Remember the tree needs its root system for the transportation of moisture and reception of nutrients. In addition, you can remove unwanted foliage to maintain a balance between top growth and roots. When the operation has been carried out, the soil is carefully replaced and the tree is watered and left to recover for another year. On return checks are made for new root growth and if possible, the process is repeated on other inaccessible roots. The collector returns the following year, inspects the root system and if all is well harvests the tree. There are many videos on tree harvesting where you can get some idea of the undertaking, but be warned – not all collectors are professional. Here are two channels that might be of interest that are related to this subject.

Gro Bonsai –

Terry Erasmus –

The final class include Omono Dai 76 – 122 cm and Hachi-Uye known as six handed growing to heights of between 102 – 152cm and Imperial the largest 152 – 203cm and are arguably the most majestic of all Bonsai seen in the Japanese imperial gardens and other prominent arboretums around the globe. When maintenance is due to be carried out heavy cranes and moving equipment is required plus a small army with many hands that work carefully and quickly so as not to give undue stress to the tree.

Research of all plants is crucial, failure to do so only ends in misery, loss of time and money. Most people carry smartphones connected to the world wide web, enter the plant’s name and find the requirements to ensure it’s health and well being for example. Soil medium composition ericaceous or organic, the pH factor, correct watering, position for example, full sun or shade and what pests and disease is the plant susceptible to; this is the basic information required. Alternatively go to this web site where you can find all the information you need, alternatively contact us direct email is in the about tab.

Soil mediums – these range from ericaceous, (acidic soils) neutral to alkaline (soils with a clay/chalk structure) the scale shown here indicates the divisions between the different soil types. Most plant species live in soils from 4.0 through to 9.0 although there are species of plants that thrive outside of these boundaries. A pH chart for most bonsai plants can be found on this site indicating which soil type to use; Article 27 ‘The pH factor’ (Part I.)

It is not only the pH level that is important, soil medium and the components combined within play an important part in the medium’s structure. There are many types of soil compositions ranging from acidic to alkaline including: Peat – Sandy – Clay based – Chalk based – Silt – Loams – All purpose – Organic and Inorganic. We have written articles on this subject and the information you need can be found in article 28 ‘The pH Factor’ (Part II). In addition, another point to consider is that the soil medium must have good drainage – wet soils are detrimental to the plants health.

Water – is a very important factor as its chemical components can either allow the plant to thrive or not, because the differences between rain water predominantly neutral and what comes out of the household tap has an effect on bonsai trees and shrubs. For example, coniferous species require rain water or water that has been treated, we researched this topic, experimented and found that by adding vinegar to tap water neutralises the alkalinity. (1 teaspoon of vinegar to 7 litres water) See articles 35 and 36 ‘A teaspoon of vinegar parts 1 and 2′.

Position or location – all plants need natural light to photosynthesize meaning the production of sugars that are transported to the roots. With plants that require and outdoor location, full sun, part sun and shade or full shade should be positioned where they receive the benefits they require. Indoor or temperate plants should positioned in a south facing area preferably with good light and ventilation, although this is not always possible due to the position of the dwelling.

If the light source is inadequate you need either to find another location or add a suitable lighting fixture. We have researched this topic and experimented with various lighting systems over a three year period to ascertain their longevity and cost, the end result was a preference for the light emitting diode (LED) which NASA is experimenting with for the production of space horticulture. The following article is a comprehensive paper, see article 03 ‘Lighting for bonsai’.

Other factors detrimental to the health and vitality of plants due to stress are: excessive pruning to the root ball and foliage, splitting, channeling, grooving, hollowing, extreme sharimiki/jin application and extravagant bending of branches although much depends on the plant species. At this juncture we can only reiterate that the key word is and remains ‘Research‘ before undertaking any work, until next time, BW, Nik.

Article 84 – ‘Plant husbandry 2’

Hi welcome to Taiga Bonzai, we have discussed what happens below ground with the root system and its functionality, in this article we concentrate on what occurs above ground in the foliage and its production of sugars and starches that feed the root system.

Introduction – photosynthesis is a process used by plants to convert light energy into chemical energy through cellular respiration that can later be released to fuel the plant’s activities. Some of this chemical energy including sugars and starches are synthesized from carbon dioxide and water and stored in carbohydrate molecules. In most cases oxygen is also released as a waste product which stores three times more chemical energy than carbohydrates. 

Photosynthesis process

Light energy – although various species of plant perform photosynthesis in different ways, the process always begins when energy from light is absorbed by proteins in a reaction centre, which contain green chlorophyll and other coloured pigments referred to as chromophores. In plants, these proteins are held inside organelles called chloroplasts, that are most abundant in leaf cells, while in bacteria they are embedded in the plasma membrane.

In these light-dependent reactions, some energy is used to strip electrons from suitable substances including, water and oxygen production. The hydrogen freed via the division of water is used in the creation of two further compounds that serve as short-term stores of energy, allowing its transfer to drive other reactions. These compounds are reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) namely the ‘energy currency’ of cells.

In plants sugars are synthesised by a subsequent sequence of light-independent reactions referred to as the Calvin cycle. It is here that atmospheric carbon dioxide is incorporated into existing organic carbon compounds, such as ribulose bisphosphate. By using the ATP and NADPH produced by the light-dependent reactions, the resulting compounds are then reduced and removed to form further carbohydrates, including glucose.

The light spectrum – in article nos ’03’ ‘Lighting for bonsai’ we discussed our 3 year research program on different forms of lighting that are used in horticulture production. The reason for this was to find a lighting source that could mimic the spectrum. Included were traditional incandescent bulbs – Tungsten (now removed from the market replaced by energy-saving bulbs) CFLs, (Compact fluorescent lamp) Halogen, HID, (High intensity discharge) HPS, (High pressure sodium) and LED, (Light emitting diode) the latter the only one that could come close to mimicking the light spectrum. 

If we look at the light spectrum shown above, we see a band of colour change from ultra 400 nanometers to infra at 800 nanometers. It is argued in some quarters that plants use the whole light spectrum for growth, this maybe the case in some instances, but in reality plants only use ultra to cyan for growth and red to infra for flower and fruit. The area between ultra and infra approximately 525 to 625 nanometers the middle part of the spectrum called white light is not that beneficial to plants, which has shown to be the case in NASA’s experiments for growing plants in space.

Nutrient movement – soil mediums play an important role in how plants receive nutrients, if the structure is compacted it will severely limit the roots ability to move toward nutrients in addition, it also restricts water movement thus preventing root growth. Properly prepared soil mediums allow for root-run, water movement and drainage, for more on this topic see article nos ’09’ ‘Bonsai soils’. As the roots pump water to the foliage the leaves in return send sugars and starches to the roots, this cooperation between root system and foliage ensure growth and vitality.

The xylem showing nutrient (white) and water (blue) movement

Thus far we have discussed the functionality of the root system below ground (article 82) and now what is above ground – the foliage and its purpose – photosynthesis and transportation of sugars and starches and the importance of light. Although these are crucial elements in bonsai and horticulture production, there are other aspects to focus on including heating, ventilation and water.

Plant husbandry – plants including bonsai endemic to particular regions subjected to the elements of the seasons do not require heating. Established plants will adapt their growth cycles as they have for countless eons moreover, ventilation is not a problem as there is always a constant circulation of air. However, plants from temperate zones (often referred to as indoor plants) do require some form of warmth during the cold times in order to survive and this can cause problems.

For decades building designers and heating engineers have tried to conceal heating systems including radiators by positioning them where they are inconspicuous, usually affixed below windows covered by a shelf. People keep plants on these shelves as it is probably the only natural light source available, but this location is detrimental. (a) Because the constant heat evaporates moisture from the soil medium too quickly and (b) constant watering saturates the root system, which can cause problems such as chlorosis affecting the plants health and vitality.

Turning down the thermostat may help in reducing moisture loss but the area is now at a lower temperature, which can have an effect on the plant’s ability to thrive; the average temperature for most temperate indoor plant varieties is 22 to 26° Celsius. If one moves the plant away from the window area then the problems of light loss becomes apparent, which lessens the performance for photosynthesis and healthy growth; is there a solution to this problem? – Yes move the plants away from direct heat.

Returning to the article nos ’03’ ‘Lighting for bonsai’ you can find many references to different lighting fixtures for example, the Hydroponic full Spectrum CFL grow light bulb a 105 Watt 5500K perfect daylight balanced pure white light bulb H105 costing $24.99. Although this may seem a bargain, do not be tempted because the manufacturers claims are incorrect. These cheaper versions of this type of light bulb are not full spectrum, they only emit red light and not the blue light (ultra) needed for growth.

In addition, much depends on the number of plants in your collection, if large or spread out you will probably need more than one bulb because the footprint (the light arc) of one is not wide enough to cover your plant display. Suspending the lights higher to create a larger light arc reduces the power of the lumens, the closer the light source to the plants the more beneficial it becomes. Plus the added fact that you will have to purchase or create some sort of apparatus to suspend the light fixture.

Moreover cheap bulbs may seem an inexpensive solution but many do not have aluminium heat sink plates and get extremely hot, hence fittings to the power source have to be ceramic not plastic for obvious reasons. Therefore, we urge you to research your needs thoroughly before contemplating any purchase, because the cheaper route is not always the best; it may cost more. The image below is one of our LED lighting fixtures purchased in 2016, it is in use from October to May (8 months for 14 hrs per day) and to date (October 2022) there have not been any problems.

Full spectrum LED light setup

Water – it can be agreed that the only water safe for all plant species is rain water due to the fact that it is pure, soft, uncontaminated and sweet to the taste and if collected in containers can be used without repercussions. However, it is not always possible to collect it if one lives in dwellings where rules restrict this practice, the only other option is to use what comes out of the household tap and this is where the problems begin.

Municipal water or domestic water is full of chemicals including Fluoride (F) that was introduced in the 1940’s to assist in reducing tooth decay, Chlorine (CI) a strong disinfectant added to drinking water as a purification technique. Other chemicals found in tap water include, Mercury (Hg) a by product of mining and industrial practises, Arsenic (As), Lead (Pb) and Glyphosate that are major toxins that can do irreparable damage. To find out more on the problems in using domestic water even for human consumption, read the articles nos ’35’ and ’36’ ‘A Teaspoon of Vinegar’ and ‘A Teaspoon of Vinegar’ Part 2.

If domestic water is all that is available it can still be used but it has to be treated, you will need two plastic containers enough to hold 7 litres of water each. Mark one container ‘alkaline’ for deciduous varieties and the other ‘acid’ for coniferous. The ‘alkaline’ container can be filled from the house tap, but must be left to stand for at least 2 days before use. In the ‘acid’ container add a teaspoon of vinegar (the type does not matter) then fill with water from the same tap, this also has to stand for 2 days before use. The vinegar in the water reacts with the alkaline particles creating black streaks these are not harmful, but it is not advisable to consume it.

Black algae in vinegar treated tap water

Your untreated ‘alkaline’ water is for temperate plants varieties only, never coniferous or any other acid loving species including Magnolia, Azaleas and Rhododendron, use the treated ‘acid’ water for these. In addition, you can use the ‘acid’ solution on temperate and other deciduous plants occasionally, if in doubt read the article nos ’27’ ‘The pH factor’ part I or contact us direct, email address is in the about section under our name and logo. Until next time, BW, Nik.

Article 83 – ‘Plant husbandry 1’

Hi, welcome to Taiga Bonzai, we receive many questions on ‘Plant husbandry’ for example, ” If we plant a seed it will probably germinate, but it would be good to know a little more science on the subject for better understanding.” Okay, we will discuss these issues in the next 4 articles, but as extensive research has already been written (and we will point out the appropriate articles) the discussions will be in brief.

Introduction – germination is defined into two categories Epigeal (above ground) and Hypogeal (below ground) as a seed germinates the first structure to emerge from most seeds is a root from the embryonic called a radicle, this primary root is referred to as a taproot. Smaller lateral roots (secondary roots) arise from the taproot which in turn produce even smaller lateral roots (tertiary roots) these serve to increase the surface area for water and mineral absorption.

Epigeal germination
Hypogeal germination

The above images show the stages of germination from the radicle to the first true set of leaves and needles respectfully. Cotyledons are the first leaves produced by plants, but they are not considered true leaves and are sometimes referred to as ‘seed leaves’, because they are actually part of the seed or embryo of the plant. These seed leaves serve to access the stored nutrients in the seed feeding it until the true leaves develop and begin photosynthesizing.

Root growth – roots grow in length from their ends only, the very tip of the root is covered by a thimble-shaped root cap called the calyptra, which protects the growing tip as it makes its way through the soil. Behind the root cap lies the apical meristem here cells are produced, some are added to the root cap, but the majority are added to the region of elongation, which lies just above the meristematic region. Above this lies the region of maturation where the primary tissues of the root mature, completing the process of cell differentiation that actually begins in the upper portion of the meristematic region. (shown below)

Aerial roots – some roots called adventitious roots arise from an organ other than the root, for example from a stem or leaf. These adventitious roots often referred to as aerial roots can hang long distances before coming into contact with the soil or remain dangling in the air. Some of these including the Screw pine and banyan do assist in supporting the plant in the soil, aerial roots are the primary means of attachment to non-soil surfaces such as buildings, rocks and other plants for example. The Ficus watkinsiana family Moraceae (strangler fig) named for their pattern of growth upon host trees, which often results in the host’s death.

Image courtesy of By Poyt448 Peter Woodard
Ficus watkinsiana on Syzygium hemilampra, Australia

A number of other specialized roots exist among vascular plants for example. Pneumatophores an aerial root specialising in gaseous exchange are commonly found in mangrove species that grow in saline mud flats. These are lateral roots that grow upward out of the mud and water to function as the site of oxygen intake for the submerged primary root system.

Other root systems – the roots of certain parasitic plants are highly modified into haustoria, a rootlike structure that grows into or around another structure to absorb water or nutrients, mistletoe and members of the broomrape family are good examples of this. Many plant roots also form intricate associations with mycorrhizal soil fungi, a number of non-photosynthetic mycoheterotrophic plants including the Indian pipe rely exclusively on these fungi for nutrition.

Root functionality – the primary tissues of the root are from outermost to innermost, the epidermis, cortex and vascular cylinder, the epidermis is composed of thin-walled cells and is normally only one cell layer in thickness. The absorption of water and dissolved minerals occurs through the epidermis, a process enhanced in most land plants via the presence of root hairs – slender tubular extensions of the epidermal cell wall that are found only in the region of maturation.

The absorption of water is achieved via osmosis, which occurs because (a) water is present in higher concentrations in the soil than within the epidermal cells, where salts, sugars and other dissolved organic products are contained. (b) The membrane of the epidermal cells is permeable to water but not to many of the substances dissolved in the internal fluid. These conditions create an osmotic gradient, whereby water flows into the epidermal cells, this flow exerts a force called root pressure, that helps drive the water through the roots.

The cortex conducts water and dissolved minerals across the root from the epidermis to the vascular cylinder, then transported to the rest of the plant. The cortex also stores food transported downward from the leaves through the vascular tissues, the innermost layer of the cortex consists of a tightly packed layer of cells called the endodermis, which regulates the flow of materials between the cortex and the vascular tissues.

Why no tap root? – In bonsai many practitioners remove the ‘tap root’, but the ‘tap root’ enables stability and water absorption so why remove it? The following deciduous species have rather large tap roots Oak Quercus, Black Walnut Juglans nigra, Silver Fir Abies alba and White Mulberry Morus alba. Coniferous species contrary to popular belief do not have long tap roots, their lateral roots and tertiary roots spread outward and grow downward which gives stability however, there are some exceptions including the Long Leaf pine Pinus palustris that have large tap roots.

In order for these and many other species of tree to become bonsai the roots have to be pruned and the more vigorous the root growth the more pruning is required. In Japan and China young trees are planted in deep pots to encourage root growth and after a few seasons they have their tap roots removed to allow the lateral and tertiary roots to develop and thicken; these roots if near the base of the trunk are the potential nebari.

Root damage – many plants will survive and recover from root damage providing the damage does not exceed 1/4 of the total root zone. Most of the important feeder roots of trees or shrubs are within the upper six inches of the soil and if damaged, uptake of water and nutrients is restricted reducing growth. In addition, root damage may take months or even years to progress, and it is during this period where problems begin which can cause symptoms of decline or death depending on the situation and how much damage occurred.

One of the biggest problems when root pruning bonsai is the lack of care taken, we have witnessed countless instances where the root ball is attacked with 2, 3, and 4 pronged instruments. The roots are basically ripped apart causing irreparable damage and as stated if more than 1/4 of the total root ball is damaged chances are that the tree’s health will diminish for some considerable time and this is where it is susceptible to attack from pests and disease.

Root pruning is an important factor in bonsai horticulture and should not be attempted half heartedly. At T.B. we have some large bonsai (Omani dai class) and these do take considerable time to re-pot. When teasing out the root ball a blunt single root hook is used that does not cause any damage. After which the roots hanging down and separated can be pruned accordingly with sharp shears nonetheless, others will use instruments that they prefer.

This brief discussion on germination and in particular the functionality of a plant’s root system may lead to a better understanding of its importance, more on root pruning can be found in articles 08 ‘Styling, wiring and pruning’ and 54 ‘Summer pruning’. Until next time, BW, Nik.

Article 82 – ‘Organic versus chemical’

Hi, welcome to Taiga Bonzai in this article we discuss the never ending problem of pest control that occurs on an annual basis that if not kept in check, will increase to unprecedented levels. In eradicating the unwanted two schools of thought are given, the ‘organic or chemical’ approach.

Introduction – there are countless species insects of which 10 million exist throughout the globe however, some entomologists say the number could be higher. Not all are a major problem, in fact many are predators helping to eradicate those whom cause devastation to plant life, these include Ladybugs Coccinellidae, Green Lacewings Chrysopidae, Honey Bees genus Apis, Praying Mantis family Mantidae, Spiders family Arachnida, Ground Beetles family Carabidae, Soldier Beetles family Cantharidae, Assassin Bugs family Reduviidae and Robber Flies Asilidae.

Eradicating the unwanted – arguably it is the most common of pests that are the problem, but much depends in what part of the world one resides as there will pest species endemic to your region. Here in the northern hemisphere pests include: Red spider mite Tetranychus urticae, Mealybugs Pseudococcidae, Aphid Aphidoidea, Scale Coccoidea and Sawfly Craesus septentrionalis all of which destroy plant tissue causing major problems and even death. Of course there are many other species to contend with some of which are immune to control, recent published articles ‘unseen enemies’ parts 1 to 4 gives more in depth information on this subject.

Finding a solution – according to the National Pesticide Information Centre (NPIC) there are different methods to eradicate pests and disease, “Fungicides are pesticides that kill or prevent the growth of fungi and their spores. They can be used to control fungi that damage plants, including rusts, mildews and blights.” “Fungicides work in a variety of ways, but most of them damage fungal cell membranes or interfere with energy production within fungal cells.”

Chemical approach– insecticides for eradicating pests are normally purchased in liquid form used in various spraying apparatus, they are poisons and can be classified in several ways on the basis of their chemistry, their toxicological action, or their mode of penetration. These chemicals not only kill the intended victims, but also other non-insect pests that are beneficial. The 4 categories are; Organic insecticides – Synthetic insecticides – Inorganic insecticides – Miscellaneous compounds.

The chemical Malathion

Banning the poisons – these chemicals regardless of category are detrimental to other plant life, to animals and human health. For example, Malathion manufactured by Dow Chemical is linked to developmental disorders in children and has been found by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be probably carcinogenic to humans. Conservation and public health groups sued the Trump administration and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt, for failing to protect endangered wildlife and the environment from the dangerous pesticide.

Thus far the total ban on insecticides is 12 world-wide with another 27 under investigation, according to Nathan Donley in his ‘Environmental Health’ volume 18 Article number: 44 (2019) “The USA lags behind other nations in banning Paraquat, one of the most acutely lethal pesticides still in use today.” Not a ‘gold medal’ winning performance by any standard – so what is the problem, why are nations so indecisive in taking action against chemical usage?

Arguably it is attributed to 4 criteria. (a) Not all insecticides are effective because much depends on the species and many we know of are immune. (b) Nations are concerned with their own pest problems and will avoid using chemicals that have not been tried and tested. (c) Import/export using insecticides on crops is dangerous to human health, hence people are reluctant to purchase food if they are unsure of its origin. (d) The financial aspect – according to the GlobaL Insecticide Market it was valued at USD 12.11 million in 2020 and is projected to increase to USD 17.70 million by 2026. This market has high employment numbers that will be jeopardised if profits are diminished.

Organic approach – a solution called insecticidal soap which has been in use for eons is believed to cause damage to an insect’s cellular structure, the soap is sprayed on to an infected crop and the pest is coated and eradicated forthwith. It is contended that the effectiveness of insecticidal soap involve a physical effect on the insect for example. Damaged membranes, dissolving the insect’s wax coating leading to death by dehydration, disruption of the insect’s hormones, interference with the insect’s ability to breath and negative effect on the insect’s metabolism.

Horticultural soap

Insecticidal soaps are made from potassium salts of fatty acids (potassium laurate) which have a devastating effect on the insects, but not the plants on which the insects are devouring. Insecticidal soaps are most effective on soft-bodied insects including aphids, greenfly, whitefly, blackfly, mealybugs and scale insects. They can be effective against larger insects such as sawfly and other caterpillars. Predator insects such as ladybugs, honey bees, praying mantis, beetles, assassin bugs and wasps are not usually affected by insecticidal soaps and this makes them useful especially in confined spaces, greenhouses and polytunnels where said insects are welcomed.

Nonetheless, some plant species are adversely affected by spraying insecticidal soap, hence it is prudent to do a test before attempting a full-scale application. Insecticidal soap is permitted under most organic regimes, it is safe where children, birds and domestic animals are concerned. Insecticidal soap is a relatively simple product that works on contact and acts on the physiology of insects to eradicate them. Insecticidal soaps have several advantages over pesticides, they are non-toxic, leave no unwanted residue and are less expensive than chemical insecticide solutions. Insecticidal soaps can be purchased from appropriate outlets or made at home, here is a simple recipe example.

Step 1. – fill a 1 gallon (3.785 L) container with either rain water or distilled, not tap water as it contains alkaline properties making it hard thus reducing the effectiveness, make sure to leave room a gap at the neck of the container for other ingredients.

Step 2. – add 2-½ tablespoons of mild unscented liquid soap and 2-½ tablespoons of oil either vegetable, peanut, coconut or olive it matters not which. Both the liquid soap and the oil act as surfactants to prevent the solution from quickly running off the plant’s leaves when sprayed. The longer the solution remains on the plant’s foliage, the better the chance of dispatching the insects. Do not increase the ratio of soap or oil, it must be a very mild solution in order to protect the plants.

Step 3. – replace the container cap or lid and shake the solution to disperse the ingredients evenly, then pour the required amount into a spray bottle shake again then begin spraying the infected plant. It is advisable to re-shake the container prior to re-filling the spray bottle as this remixes the solution. The above horticultural soap recipe is one approach, there are many others using additional ingredients including vinegar for example, hence it might be prudent to research the subject further for piece of mind.

Although insecticidal soaps are safe for many plants, vegetables and fruit trees, a few are sensitive to the solution resulting in leaf damage, these include sweet pea, begonia, impatiens, azalea and rhododendron. If unsure whether it is safe to use insecticidal soap err on the side of caution and do a sensitivity test first on 2 to 3 leaves of the plant. If there are no ill effects after 24 hours and treated leaves look as healthy as before then it is safe to continue spraying, if the results are the opposite do not treat the plant further.

The fight continues – we wrote this article in September 2021 with the intention of posting it, but it was withheld due to Covid 19 and the restrictions imposed, although certain mandatory commitments still required our attention. In addition, there were reports of bans on various products including food and increases in different government’s legislation further exacerbating the problems at the time.

As scientific researchers we wanted to find out the reason behind this phenomenon, hence we wrote a series of articles called ‘unseen enemies’ 62 to 66 that gave rise to a lengthy discussion on how pest and disease was spreading throughout the globe. A huge problem caused by mankind’s idiosyncratic actions over the eons. Pests and disease that were once endemic to particular regions have spread world-wide destroying forestry and horticulture on an unprecedented scale. This article ‘organic versus chemical’ is a way of dealing with common pest and disease problems that we know of, but it is not an effective solution on all invading species. Until next time, BW, Nik.

Article 81 – ‘Covert versus Overt’

Hi, welcome to Taiga Bonzai in this post we discuss the art of deception – what is real and what is not.

Introduction‘Deception is an act or statement which misleads or promotes a belief, concept, or idea that is not true.’ According to U.S. naval intelligence officer Barton Whaley deception is comprised of two parts, dissimulation covert, hiding what is real and simulation overt, showing the false. Deception is not a modern trait, it has been in existence for thousands of years in for example, religion, politics, finance, art and journalism; now the finger is pointing towards bonsai horticulture.

The art of bonsai – began in China in the 6th century known as Penjing, (also called penzai) it is the ancient Chinese art of depicting artistically formed trees, plants, and landscapes in miniature. Diplomats and emissaries from Japan and Vietnam who visited China were amazed by what they saw and purchased many specimens subsequently returning home where most of their plants died, due to the lack of required horticulture knowledge. Why these diplomats and emissaries did not receive instruction on plant husbandry is unknown.

As a result during the same period Chinese Chan Buddhist monks visited Japan to teach in the monasteries, activities included introducing Leaders-of-the-day to the various arts of miniature landscapes as accomplishments befitting men of taste and learning. Hence the knowledge handed down was a closely guarded secret and remained thus – even the Chinese and Japanese immigrants to America in the mid 19th century brought their knowledge of miniature tree cultivation but, were reluctant to share their technical skills, their perception was that westerners were not permitted the extensive knowledge and instruction regarding horticulture development.

From what has been said here thus far, we note that the Penjing masters (Chan Buddhist monks) were the elite of society and their technical horticultural knowledge was not for the peasant class. Even the Japanese elite adopted this perspective – were they protective of the skills and technical knowledge or simply being tergiversate, from the Latin root word tergiversari’ meaning ‘to turn one’s back” or more figuratively ‘to be evasive’ hiding the truth.

In more modern times the 1960’s onwards if one wanted to gain the technical knowledge Japan was the destination and centre of learning and many students and citizens from various countries worldwide went to there to study in the nurseries; with many becoming apprentices. The Japanese bonsai masters soon realised that such knowledge was much desired and travelled to other continents, bringing the knowledge to those desiring to learn.

Is age important the general perception among many is that for a tree to become a bonsai it has to be ‘old’, which is a misnomer; admittedly there are bonsai that are old for example. Bonsai specimens from the seventeenth century do still exist and one of the oldest-known living bonsai trees thought to be at least 400 years old, is one of the national treasures of Japan housed in the Tokyo Imperial Palace collection. The tree a 5 needle pine Pinus pentaphylla v. Negishi known as ‘Sandai-Shogun-No Matsu’ was first trained as a bonsai in the year 1610 by the shogun Tokugawa Lemitsu a Hachi-No-Ki enthusiast.

‘Sandai-Shogun-No Matsu’ by shogun Tokugawa Lemitsu

Other bonsai that depict signs of age are ‘Yamadori’ – the definition of Yamadori in short is ‘collecting plants from the mountains’, the collected specimen is then carefully and skilfully trained into a work of art and is the most coveted type of Bonsai because of its unique characteristics. But, not all Yamadori are old some are as young as 20 years of age whilst others can be 5 times this and more.

As stated a tree does not have to be old to become a bonsai, a young tree if planted from a seed can in the right hands be skilfully turned into a bonsai in approximately 5 years thus giving the impression of age. (Although much depends on the species) Some of the best bonsai artists include Qingquan Zhao, Kunio Kobayashi, Ryan Neil, Peter Chan and Graham Potter whose demonstrations on design can be witnessed on their ‘youtube’ channels.

Covert or overt – the question is are we deceiving the populace in our attempts to change a tree’s structure from a mundane appearance into a work of art by the many methods that are often implemented; there are those whom would argue that we are, because we are taking it out of context and not leaving it in its natural state as nature intended. But in the wild, nature itself has created many tree specimens into various shapes and forms.

The first fictional work regarding bonsai The Tale of the Hollow Tree, by Utsubo Monogatari originating in the year 970 states “A tree that is left growing in its natural state is a crude thing. It is only when it is kept close to human beings who fashion it with loving care that its shape and style acquire the ability to move one.”

Thus came the perception that nature could only become beautiful if shaped according to human ideal; no doubt this topic will be debated further, but for the moment we will leave you with this thought: is bonsai horticulture covert or overt? Until next time, BW, Nik.

World’s oldest bonsai a 1000 y.o. FICUS at Crespi – Italy

Article 80 – ‘A question of size’

Hi, welcome to Taiga Bonzai in this article we discuss the size issue for those new to bonsai horticulture or others looking to vary their collections in any shape or form.

Introduction – all bonsai are classified into two different categories, ‘style’ and ‘size’, styles include the classics, Chokkan, Literati, Shakan, Sokan and Kengai etc. Size includes the smallest Kenshitsubo 2.5 cm to 8 cm, Shito 5 cm to 10 cm, Shohin 5 cm to 15 cm, Mame 10 cm to 20 cm, Komono 15 cm to 26 cm Katade-Mochi 25 cm to 46 cm. Chumono-Chiu 40 cm to 90 cm, Omono-Dai 76 cm to 122 cm, Hachi-Uye 102 cm to 152 cm and Imperial the largest of all Bonsai 152 cm and 203 cm. This is according to the guidelines written by the old bonsai masters however, there are bonsai that are smaller than the Kenshitsubo class and those that exceed the Imperial category as we see momentarily.

The smallest – according to Hanima Anand of Trending World the “dwarf willow or Salix herbacea (shown below) is currently the tiniest tree in the world. It only grows to 1-6 cm in height with 0.3-2 cm leaves.” Care and maintenance for this plant is relatively straightforward and would not require too much time to undertake however, due to its small size monitoring its welfare is needed on a regular basis.

Salix herbacea – credit Nellie Nilsen BBC Earth

Medium size bonsai Katade-Mochi 25 cm to 46 cm – the bonsai (shown below) called Sandai Shogun no Matsu was first cultivated by shogun Tokugawa Lemitsu a Hachi-No-Ki enthusiast in 1610. In looking at the tree it would appear that cleaning, root pruning, wiring and repotting in a fresh soil medium depending on one’s skill level would take approximately one hour as it can be accomplished by one person; foliage pruning if required will take more time.

Image credit –

Large trees – Tokugawa Lemitsu’s (red pine) bonsai Sandai Shogun no Matsu still survives today over 400 hundred years since it was first cultivated, it resides in the Akao Herb & Rose Garden in the Tokyo Imperial Palace collection. This tree is not only one of the oldest bonsai trees, it is believed to be the largest bonsai in the world. Measurements are (4.8 m) in height and over (9.1 m) wide it is atypical for a bonsai, but it still qualifies as one because it is contained in what can technically be considered a pot.

Sandai Shogun no Matsu credit – Wikipedia. Nursery Live

These two examples the dwarf willow and red pine can be considered as going from the sublime to the ridiculous, because one can be held by thumb and forefinger easily moved, whilst the other would require a small army plus machinery to move it. Both specimens require maintenance – the dwarf willow on a regular basis using a spray bottle to give a gentle misting of moisture, whilst the red pine periodically using hose pipes capable of delivering the required amount of water which would be considerable. As for repotting these two examples, the dwarf willow would be straightforward carried out by one person (approximately 15 mins), the red pine probably days with many hands involved.

A second point to consider is the cost of the container, drainage and soil medium. High grade miniature pots can be purchased from as little 20€ upwards depending on the detail incorporated and the maker or potter in question (one person) the soil composition is minimal a dessert spoon full. The red pine’s pot knowing the tree’s measurements (4.8 m) by (9.1 m) the amount of persons needed in its construction would be many and the cost would easily be a four figure sum and the soil medium a truck load.

Another consideration is how the red pine’s pot was formed, possibly by hand a long and lengthy process, as to the firing sequence a minimum of two is another question. Large kilns used in ceramic production have been existence for centuries, the world’s largest wood fired ceramic kiln with an 18 metre long furnace and a volume of 260 cubic metres was built in the first year of Emperor Qianlong 1736 in the Qing Dynasty. The Jingdezhen Zhen Kiln is located in Jingdezhen city, Jiangxi province, China and establishments like this one could easily accommodate a pot of this magnitude.

Individual choice – if one is an established bonsai practitioner you will know of the size range which is suitable to your needs beit small, medium or large. If a novice then careful planning is required so that you refrain from ‘swimming-out-of-your-depth’ or ‘comfort zone’, because the bigger you go the greater the workload which may lead to frustration and disenchantment. Small bonsai for example; Shito 5 cm to 10 cm, Shohin 5 cm to 15 cm and Mame 10 cm to 20 cm can be root pruned and repotted in a relatively short space of time 20/45 mins depending on one’s ability and skill level.

The higher one goes up the scale chart cleaning, repotting and general pruning will take considerable time, special equipment may be required and many hands to do the task, this next image makes a statement, imagine the tools and man power it would need just to remove the tree from it’s pot root prune, clean, add a new soil medium, rewire and repot it.

1000 year old Ficus retusa Crespi Italy credit – The Economic Times

This is but a short discussion on selecting a tree/plant for your collection, so where does one begin? It all depends on you, growing from seed is one option – this is an important step in gaining horticultural knowledge as you watch the plant/s develop. Moreover, the more research undertaken the greater the knowledge in maintaining a healthy plant. But having said this not all want to use this directive, due to the time for the specimen to reach a certain amount of maturity to become a bonsai potential approximately 5 years for deciduous and 7 to 10 years for coniferous however, there are many other routes to take.

Garden centres or nurseries have extensive collections of coniferous and deciduous varieties that are imported, they are packed into containers and are prone to infestation and we have written articles on this issue, hence it is prudent to do a ‘hands-on’ inspection of a potential plant. If a plant is purchased it has to be isolated (quarantined) to prevent any possible spread of infection to others. The most destructive pests include, Red spider mite Tetranychus urticae, scale Coccoidea and Sawfly Craesus septentrionalis.

There are other avenues to search for potential bonsai plants for example ‘air-layering’ and grafting see the articles ‘Selecting material for bonsai parts I, II and III’ . Waste sites and derelict buildings can be a good source for material, some of our specimens were collected from such places. Collecting from the wild is another, but permission from the landowner is a requirement if one wants to venture on to these areas to search for plants. Furthermore, it is wise to do some research of the plant species prior to digging them up; which often becomes a major workout. Whatever avenue you take is ultimately your decision, but do not be impulsive think before you act, until next time, BW, Nik.

Article 79 – ‘No turning back’ Part III

Hi, welcome to Taiga Bonzai, here is more information from our news sources starting with an update on the Siemens turbine problem, which is causing a rift between Germany, Canada and Ukraine.

Update – in the previous article we said that gas to Germany going through ‘Nord stream 1’ has been reduced by 40%, this is because turbine maintenance has to be carried out, as it is each year. But the idiotic ‘muppet’ Trudeau refused to return the turbine/s back to Germany citing a breach in sanctions, thus Germany’s ‘green’ minister the moron Harbeck is panicking because the pipeline will have to be shut down for approximately 2 weeks for repair if and when the turbine/s is/are returned, hence no gas.

According to Reuters news (10th July) “Canada will return a repaired turbine to Germany, its minister of natural resources said.” This U-turn has enraged the Zelensky regime, because the German government is violating sanctions against Moscow to restore the supply of Russian gas through the ‘Nord Stream 1’ pipelines. Germany needs gas for it’s well being, hence it will do whatever is necessary to get it and not sacrifice it’s industrial prowess or the people’s welfare to pander to the whims of a corrupt Ukrainian clown or the EU’s dictat if it wants to survive. As of 21st July the turbine was returned to Russia, but documents verifying the repair procedure is missing, hence gas will only flow at 40% for safety reasons.

Introduction – 11th of July, Ukraine Business News (UBN) stated that “for more than a month Germany has been blocking the provision of a €9B aid package, which should be the primary form of EU support for Ukraine,” reported Corriere Della Sera. Germany is the biggest guarantor of this aid package; however, “finance minister Christian Lindner does not like the fact that Brussels is again resorting to pan-European debt in the Ukrainian crisis after utilising it during the pandemic.” Scholtz is Germany’s chancellor, he needs to step up to the plate not and ‘flip flop’ around like a cretin, failure to do so will mean his downfall.

A mountain of aid from the west – according to “Ukraine has received from January 24 to July 1, 2022 the following: the US provided nearly 43 billion euros in bilateral financial, humanitarian and military aid. The second-highest value of commitments was recorded from the European Union (EU) institutions, such as the Commission and the EU Council at approximately 15.7 billion euros.” (Link below) The UK has given £1.3bn in military support with a further 1bn promised, ironic is not that the UK government can give this kind of aid to a corrupt country rather than care for the homeless and needy.

What has Ukraine done with it all? We know the fate of the weaponry because the US has admitted that they have no idea where it is because it cannot be traced, a large proportion of it ends up on the black market and is purchased by radical separatist movements. The remainder either destroyed, or left on the battleground for the Russian forces to find and use, due to the fact that the Ukrainian military do not know how to operate it. Yet Zelensky sends his wife to the white house to beg for more.

As to the question of money this, disappeared as soon as it arrived, where it went, your guess is as good as ours, but somebody is getting rich. Now Zelensky is demanding more finance up from $5bn to $9bn a month. But, it is unlikely this demand will be accommodated due to the economic crisis in Europe, individual countries need their resources to combat the problems they are now facing and will not follow the EU’s mandate because of the potential backlash from their citizens.

The Africa problem – for hundreds of years Europe and the US have treated the African continent as a bordello raping its mineral wealth causing hardship and subservience to the peoples, whom are considered a third race. We do not need to expand on the atrocities committed by the west through the years, history is awash with despicable acts and the people have long memories, ‘tembo hasahau kamwe’ Swahili for the ‘elephant never forgets’. Yet Europe is demanding that African nations supply them with the resources they need, will they (Africa) comply, that is their decision. What is of more concern is the famine spreading throughout the continent.

According to James Peron of the Foundation for Economic Education “Hundreds of billions of dollars have been given to African governments. More billions were lent to these same governments. Countless tons of food have inundated the continent and swarms of consultants, experts and administrators have descended to solve Africa’s problems. Yet the state of development in Africa is no better today than it was when all this started. Per capita income, for most of Africa is either stagnant or declining.” (link below) The question here is who is to blame for the failing growth and development of African countries is it the African leaders or the collective west or both?

More aid was supposed to be sent in 2022 but this has been diverted to Ukraine, Africa has now severe drought and very little crops to harvest, countries including Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya are facing famine. Journalist Eyder Peralta of states that “More than 23 million people are experiencing extreme hunger according to a new report by Oxfam and Save the Children, that is up from over 10 million last year to 17 million in 2022.” He also added that “The region’s worst drought in 40 years is being exacerbated by conflict, the pandemic and the war in Ukraine has sent food prices soaring to record levels.” (Link below)

Let us analyse what Peralta is saying here, that Africa is suffering from severe drought which is true, he is also saying that the pandemic (covid 19) has a lot to do with the problem and this is also true. Russia had found a vaccine ‘Sputinik V’ but the world powers told nations not to accept it, ask yourself the question why. In addition, the reason why grain cannot be shipped from Black sea ports is due to the embargo placed on Russia and the fact that Ukraine has mined the waters in and around Odessa, hence a halt in transportation. Russia has cleared mines to the east but it is a time consuming process. This aside the collective west and those idiots who constantly bleat about the African problem do not really care.

The Ukrainian agriculture minister Mykola Solskyi stated that “the grain in Odessa (30 to 40 million tons approximately 1% of world production that has no impact on food security) will have to be exported from the country and that Baltic ports could offer logistic opportunities for exports.” Due to Russia’s occupation of ‘Snake Island’ however, Russia has recently vacated the Island (which is basically a rock less than a kilometer in size with no strategic military value) as a ‘goodwill’ gesture allowing Ukraine to send grain from the Black sea port of Odessa. But Ukraine cannot accomplish this until it removes the mines it laid. According to journalist and author Thomas Roper, “Ukraine will not send grain until they get the weapons they want from the west.” Who then is aggravating the grain shortage problem – it is not Russia.

Freedom for the ‘Dark Continent’ – as we have previously stated for hundreds of years Europe and the US have treated the African continent as a bordello, raping its mineral wealth and it still continues to do so by installing puppet regimes with false promises. The African continent will never be free until the collective west is pushed out completely, but this puts African nations in jeopardy, they are demanding that their previous colonial masters give them the support they need to rebuild. But the collective west is saying we cannot help because we need what resources we have to support ourselves; yet they can send financial and military assistance to Ukraine to the tune of billions; which is hypocrisy at the highest level.

The South African unrest – also known as the Zuma riots, (Zuma was imprisoned for contempt of court) It was a wave of civil unrest that occurred in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces from 9th to 18th of July 2021. The unrest triggered wider rioting and looting, much of it said to be undertaken by people not in support of Zuma but fuelled by job layoffs and economic inequality worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic policies. The riots were violent and ‘bloody’ with 354 losing their lives, people had no work hence no money to buy food to survive. Other African nations are experiencing the same economic inequality, some are lucky if they can get one meal a day, for many death by malnutrition is inevitable.

The Sri Lanka problem – for over 4 months thousands of people have been protesting at the government’s handling of the economy, high inflation, lack of food and fuel for mobility. Factors responsible for the problem include, (a) the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) austerity measures imposed on the 16 loans Sri Lanka received. (b) The restrictions imposed during the covid pandemic meaning no income from tourism. (c) The government has mismanaged its finances and has no means of paying other countries that supply the resources needed. The riots have forced the president Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his wife to flee to Singapore for fear of reprisal, (as per usual it is the rats who are first to flee a sinking ship) the prime minister and now president Ranil Wickremesinghe is attempting to calm the situation, but the people have had enough they want him and his entourage gone.

The Dutch problem – according to POLITICO ‘s news report on 10th July 2022 “Dutch police fired shots on Dutch farmers protesting environment rules”. Journalist Camille Gijs takes up the story. “Dutch police fired shots at tractor-riding farmers who were protesting against plans to cut nitrogen emissions on Tuesday evening in northern Netherlands.” She added that “Police said they were responding to a ‘threatening situation’ when the farmers, who were attempting to push past a blockade to get onto a highway in the province of Friesland, started to drive their tractors into officers and their vehicles”.

According to the Friesland police, their shots hit a tractor, but no one was injured and three suspects were arrested. The Rijksrecherche, the Dutch government’s internal investigator, said it would look into the events given police had discharged their weapons. A spokesperson for the Friesland police did not respond to inquiries, but said a statement would be released later on Wednesday 13th of July. Dutch farmers have this week been protesting government plans that could require farmers to use less fertilizer and reduce their livestock numbers, which could force some farms to shut.

Camille Gijs stated that “the Dutch government wants to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide and ammonia, which are produced by livestock, by 2030. Cuts could reach 70 percent in some areas, under the plans”. In response, Dutch farmers have blocked supermarkets, distributions centres and roads in protests this week. Wednesday morning, (13th of July) they are expected to demonstrate at the Groningen Airport, according to Dutch media. MP Caroline van der Plas called for an ’emergency debate’ with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the minister of justice and security, Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius, about the escalating protests. on Sunday 10th of July 2022 posted this headline,“Farmers protests on nitrogen continue with a blockade at Woerden.” Journalist Senay Boztas sends this report. “Farmers have once more blockaded a Jumbo food distribution centre in Woerden, rolling in with around 30 tractors at 3am, a sofa, and coffee table reports the AD. The protest is the latest in a week of action that some farmers threatened would bring the country ‘to a standstill’ and which food retailers’ group CBL has warned will cost supermarkets tens of millions of euros.”

Scores of farmers have been arrested, and an investigation is ongoing into why police shot at 16-year-old farmer’s son Jouke Hospes from Akkrum at a protest in Heerenveen on Tuesday. He was arrested after a policeman suggested he was driving his tractor towards police threateningly, however a case against him was dropped. His family has said he has considered making a formal protest against police.

According to Natura 2000, the farmers are protesting at government aims to reduce nitrogen compound emissions by 50% by 2030, and by 75% in protected nature reserves known as Natura 2000 areas. The latest demonstrations were sparked by a government announcement suggesting some farm closures were inevitable this year and a detailed map suggesting which areas needed reductions from 12% to 95%.

Nature minister Christianne van der Wal has given provinces a year to come up with detailed plans aiming at halving emissions of ammonia and nitrogen oxide by 2030. The government has proposed Johan Remkes as a mediator, but farming organisation LTO has refused to negotiate with the veteran politician. Remkes chaired a commission that said some farmers would have to quit to meet government targets, if necessary through compulsory buyouts.

Why is too much nitrogen a problem? Court Farming, particularly dairy production, is a major producer of ammonia and nitrous oxide, due to manure and artificial fertilisers used on the land. A Council of State ruling in 2019 ruled that the Netherlands was breaching European nature conservation rules and could not use a special construction to ‘offset’ emissions in the future. The Netherlands is also expected to lose an extra EU allowance for manure. Further cuts are expected to be announced for industries such as aviation, transport, house and road building, which also produce nitrogen oxides (NOx) and nitrous oxide (N20). Too much nitrogen in the environment is considered a threat to biodiversity. So up goes the cost of living for all.

The great reset – protests throughout history have been decisive in changing unjust laws, holding governments to account, they have attracted thousands of people on to the streets that have become turning points in world history. Although many major protests do not always achieve their aims, they leave a mark on society, often inspiring other demonstrations around the globe. The ‘Arab Spring’ of December 18th 2010 a series of anti-government protests, uprisings and armed rebellions that spread across much of the Arab world. It was a response to corruption and economic stagnation that first started in Tunisia. 

France the ‘Mouvement des gilets jaunes’ (Yellow vest movement) weekly protests in France that began on 17th of November 2018. At first the protestors advocated economic justice, later they called for institutional political reforms after an online petition posted in May 2018 had attracted nearly 1 million signatures, mass demonstrations began on 17th of November. The movement was initially motivated by rising crude oil and fuel prices, a high cost of living and economic inequality; it claims that a disproportionate burden of taxation in France was falling on the working and middle classes, especially in rural and peri-urban areas.

Peoples of the world have had enough of totalitarianism, they are now preparing to reset the balance as Wat Tyler attempted in 1381 and those accountable will suffer the consequences. Dissent is increasing we have witnessed it many times, people across the world are now demonstrating livid with their so-called leaders. They want their rights – freedom of choice, free speech, the right to demonstrate without getting shot and tear gassed, employment, housing, food and medicine; not oppression. If you think the French revolution 1789 -1799 (caused by social Inequality) was horrific, it will be considered a mere altercation compared to what is on the horizon. What is done is done there is no turning back’ to a world we once knew.

Liberty Leading the People (1830) by Eugène Delacroix

Our final thoughts – are what is the reason for this current world situation? We have mentioned the various contributing factors throughout our articles on the problem, but to summarise the four basic points are:

1. The west’s incessant dominant imperialistic hegemonic grip on the rest of the world, they cannot accept or will not accept the fact that other nations sovereign in their own right have the freedom of choice to make their own decisions; be they good bad or indifferent according to the Charter of the United Nations.

If one reads Roman history (27 BC – 476 AD) it’s empire was one of the greatest and most influential civilisations in the world lasting for over a 1000 years. Until Germanic leader Odoacer staged a revolt and deposed the emperor Romulus Augustulus, hence no emperor would ever again rule from a post in Italy; a country now impoverished. It can be argued that if we make a comparison between the mindset of some of the leaders of that time to those of today, there are many similarities is this not a warning sign of recurrence?

2. The collective west has slammed the door on Russia banning Athletes, culture, literature, media, education, language etc and placing sanctions in an effort to weaken and destabilise the Russian ruble and the county as a whole. This mindset has not worked and the west knows it, Russia knew that something of this nature was being planned years ago and took the necessary course of action to counter the negative. In addition, the west’s ideology of breaking Russia into smaller countries that can be dominated will never happen, they remain resolute and will not waver; the collective west’s ideology is futile paranoia.

3. Europe is a midden of mindless liars all brain dead with no credibility unable to lead, they are mere baying rabid lap dogs doing the US’s bidding, creating a proxy war which they cannot win. Wake up Europe and change direction – ‘get a grip’, winter is coming and it is going to be one ‘Hell of a winter of discontent’ and if the people are subjected to hardship and misery, the powers that be will be held accountable. Moreover, do not look to the US for aid because you will not get it, they are only concerned with their own well being.

4. The media networks supposedly once credible are purveyors of spin and misinformation their journalists do not portray the true facts for example, US media avoids informing it’s people about what is actually going on in the world, hence the people remain ignorant and isolated. The media and white house continues to fabricate fake news, we have heard this from the ‘muppets’ Blinken, Pelosi, Clinton and also the French cretin Michel. The news paper ‘US Today’ (late June) dismissed reporter Gabriela Miranda for concocting 23 stories all of which were a complete fabrication of lies. According to Steve Gill American radio host and political commentator “Fake news is a major problem in the US, it is a culture not just one rogue reporter.”

The collective west’s media is just peddling complete nonsense, they perpetually say that “according to anonymous sources” – what anonymous sources, who are they, why do you not name them? If the truth be known they do not exist, what you broadcast is just a fabrication of lies. On this site we name our sources and credit them for their work and there are learned people who speak out. US Marine Corps intelligence officer Scott Ritter, pentagon security analyst Michael Maloof, academic and author John Laughland, journalists Luc Rivet, Janus Putkonen and Rachel Marsden. Alexander Mercouris, Alex Christoforou of the Duran, Jacob Dreizin, Dr George Szamuely of the ‘Gaggle’ and many others are waiting to be heard.

If what has been discussed here is enough doom and gloom, there is more to come, covid 19 still remains and there are concerns that a new wave will appear and according to some analysts the infection rate of late June 2022 was 1 in 30 it is now July and the number has changed to 1 in 22. We need to be vigilant and cautious.

Irreversible split – before we end this discussion a final point to consider on the following consensus, a number of analysts have stated, that when this present crisis in Ukraine is eventually resolved the world will be split into two parts. They have said that a large number of countries around the world, in Africa, the middle east, India, Russia, China, Mexico, Latin America and others will be in one block leaving the US, Canada and Europe isolated in another. It is already happening, the Brics nations are stronger now and more countries are wanting to join the coalition, Argentina, Egypt, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia because they see that this will free them from the west’s totalitarian mindset, hence no longer will they be subservient.

If this perception comes to fruition then the US, Canada and Europe will be in dire trouble due to the unavailability of resources they need for manufacture and well being. However, trade may still be possible if sanctions are removed, but on the terms of the exporting countries and payments in whatever currency will be required up front prior to shipment, because the collective west cannot be trusted to keep its word; failure to comply with the terms will mean no trade. The result of this action will leave the first block (Brics and co) in amicable relations, cooperation and development, the other block (US etc) failed economies the result of their own ludicrous hegemonic mindset. Our question is do you want to live in a world of peace and cooperation or one of perpetual animosity, we leave you to ponder on this concept.

We wrote these articles partly because of the collective west’s stupidity which is effecting not just us, but millions around the globe and partly because of Finland’s reckless decision to apply for NATO membership without a referendum. More people need to speak out and make their governments accountable for their actions and refuse to accept the subjugation being implemented – enough is enough. A fourth article on the present situation is in preparation should there be no improvement, in the meantime we will resume our normal discussions on bonsai horticulture. Thank you for your support, until next time, BW, Nik.

Article 78 – ‘No turning back’ Part II

Hi, welcome to Taiga Bonzai, our articles ‘no turning back’ started in February when the conflict in Ukraine began. News comes in at blistering speed therefore, amendments have to be made on a daily basis. Before we begin with the ‘Introduction’ here are three updates, 1. the Finland/NATO situation 2. the EU’s ‘U-turn’ regarding their ‘new green energy’ policy and 3. the bungling buffoon Johnson UK prime minister. The African food problem will be dealt with in the next article ‘No turning back’ part III.

Update 1. – on Tuesday 5th of July 2022, Lappeenranta a city and municipality in the region of South Karelia, approximately 30 kilometres from the Russian border, said that it would ‘welcome a NATO base’, a statement made public by the city’s mayor Kimmo Jarva. However, Russia has already warned Finland against having NATO bases on it’s soil and if it (Finland) does not heed the warning then there will be severe consequences. What is Jarva playing at, does he not realise the stupidity of his statement.

If you provoke your neighbour by crossing the line, then you are going to find yourself in serious trouble. NATO has stated that it will not have a military confrontation with Russia because it knows full well that it cannot succeed. Furthermore, other EU countries will be reluctant to join any altercation because of (a) treaties signed after WWII to which they are bound, (b) their military is weak and even if combined could not withstand the Russian might. (c) The EU’s present economic situation, high inflation and lack of resources would bankrupt many of these EU countries. Moreover, the US will not get involved as they have not the military might or financial capital to wage war on Russia as they have repeatedly stated.

Finland is not yet a NATO member general elections will be held in 2023 and much can happen from now until then. Finland has to think long and hard about it’s policies and the possible consequences of its actions, it has been involved in many conflicts during its history. The people want peace, stability and security, why antagonise Russia, cretins like Jarva need to ensure that brain is engaged before operating mouth.

Update 2. – as of Wednesday 6th of July the EU has made a ‘U-turn’ regarding their ‘new green energy’ policy just by the stroke of a pen. Their ‘new green’ agenda has been reversed, what was to be phased out by the end of the this year (oil, gas and other fossil fuels) will stay. So-called ‘new energy’ consisting of gas be it LNG or shale and nuclear, (which are not new energys) will be added to the list of ‘green energy’.

This decision by the EU has made a laughing stock out of the morons like von der Leyen, Harbeck, Sholtz, Bearbock, Rutte, Kallas and many others whom have pushed for the ‘new green’ agenda. Why this sudden change of heart occurred is probably because the cretins are realising that winter is not far off and if steps are not taken to ensure basic resources including heating, food and diesel/petrol are available, riotous behaviour could ensue. We will discover more idiosyncratic behaviour as proceed with this discussion.

Update 3. – as of today 7th of July the habitual liar Johnson has been forced to resigned as leader of the conservative party due to a large amount of ministers who have tended their resignations, because they see their country in ‘free fall’ from the disastrous policies implemented. Johnson must be replaced by a new leader as soon as possible otherwise there will be a vote of no confidence in the government, which will trigger new elections. The conservative party are ruthless when it comes to idiots, but they always seem to find them and install them as leaders; they rise quickly and fall just as fast – how bizarre. It also seems that Johnson’s (the bungling buffoon) career as a politician may be short lived due to his blatant incompetence.

The bungling buffoon resigns credit-The National

Introduction – it is claimed that NATO has only once used a military force against another country, a statement that is completely false. It has attacked the Army of the Republika Srpska in Bosnia in 1995, Yugoslavia in 1999, Afghanistan and Iraq in 2003, Libya in 2011, Syria in 2018 and the Sahil in 2021, which is now (July 2022) causing great unrest in Nigeria. Every aspect of NATO’s meddling in world affairs causes complete chaos, it claims to be a defence force, but this is also false, it is now looking to the Pacific region for more controversy. Stoltenberg a moronic neocon and puppet of the US is inciting more aggressive rhetoric every time he opens his mouth, he needs to be restrained or better still removed from office.

Ukrainian conflict – to understand the Ukraine/Russian problem we have go back to 2014 to the Revolution of Dignity, also known as the Maidan Revolution, that took place in Ukraine in February 2014 which culminated in deadly clashes between protesters and security forces in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. The result was the ousting of elected president Viktor Yanukovych partly because he refused to join the EU and partly because he was friendly with Russia. The coup was openly supported by US and European imperialism and implemented primarily by far-right shock troops such as the Right Sector and the neo-Nazi Svoboda Party.

According to the World Socialist Web Site ( “It represented the temporary culmination of long-standing efforts by US imperialism to install a puppet regime on the borders of Russia.” Bringing the world closer to a war between the two largest nuclear powers, US and Russia with Ukraine being systematically built up as a launching pad for a NATO war against Russia. “The regime change prompted the outbreak of an ongoing civil war in the east of Ukraine, between Russian-backed separatists and the US-backed Ukrainian army.” A war of eight years claiming the lives of tens of thousands and displacing millions.

“In the US, the coup was a catalyser for an ever more aggressive campaign against Russia and a significant shift to the right among layers of the upper middle class.” “US imperialism, NATO and EU have funded the Ukrainian state and far-right forces with billions of dollars.” Even the German ruling class seized upon the coup as a pretext for aggressively stepping up its campaign to remilitarise and justify the crimes of fascist forces. “For the first time since the end of World War II, representatives of a German government were seen on photos with avowed Ukrainian neo-Nazis.”

Enter the despot – on June 7th 2014 corrupt businessman Petro Poroshenko was elected president of Ukraine and during his time in office he made several negative public speeches decrying the Russian speaking residents in the Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine for example, “We will have work and housing – they will not – our children will go to schools – theirs will not.” Poroshenko’s visual speeches are on public record, does this rhetoric not speak of the same ideology that nazi Germany mandated in the second world war with jewish communities – in other words ethnic cleansing? – Poroshenko the despot responsible for the conflict in the Donbass region, was defeated in the election of May 20th 2019 by Volodimir Zelensky.

Send in the clown – Zelensky, a two bit comedian/actor gave assurances that he would resolve the problems in eastern Ukraine by peaceful means, instead he has made the situation worse, this corrupt puppet follows the collective west’s dictats. The Zelensky administration are complete liars, we know this from his own government sources who removed Lyudmila Denisova (commissioner for human rights) from office, because of the rhetoric she spread to the collective west regarding war crimes by the Russian military on Ukrainian civilians. The president of the European Council Charles Michel, H. Clinton, N. Pelosi and the idiot Blinken gave public televised statements about these supposed crimes all of which were debunked, can these brain dead cretins whom are but a laughing stock be taken seriously or trusted again?

More false rhetoric – Ukraine had given assurances to the UN that they had no prohibited weapons under the Ottawa Convention or Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty of 1997, which is a complete lie. According to journalist and war correspondent Murad Gazdiev on the 9th of July 2022 in Lysychansk “hundreds of ‘leaf mines’ (that are banned under the treaty) were discovered after the Ukrainian forces fled the area”. What comes out of the mouths of the Zelensky regime has to be treated with the contempt it deserves moreover, it is proof that they are guilty of war crimes and of breaking treaties signed under international law.

There are also reports that claim Zelensky has wealth to the tune of 800 million and that he has property in the US and in the UK, it is also claimed that the bungling buffoon Johnson (ex UK prime minister) gave him (Zelensky) a British passport. Unfortunately, these reports cannot be verified hence we take them at face value however, if there is some foundation of criminal activity it will be revealed.

Arguably one the many despicable acts committed by the Zelensky regime is the deportation of Ukrainians living in Poland, all men 18 to 60 must be returned to Ukraine for military service and women are now being drafted. This act in itself is one of desperation, but last weekend (beginning of July 2022) saw Zelensky officials going to places of worship to distribute conscription notification on members of the congregation. This angered not only the people, but church officials who stated that this is a house of prayer and not a recruitment centre. It seems that the Zelensky regime will sink to any level in order to get it’s way. For Zelensky time is ebbing away, it is unlikely that he will be in power for much longer as Ukraine’s demise is imminent and the whole world now realises this fact.

The structure of the collective west – is founded on imperialist dictat, the US being the dictator, the UE a subservient rabid lap dog and individual countries being obedient serfs whom are reprimanded if they rebel. Yet these slobbering lap dogs (EU) have no accountability for their mindless activities for example, putting sanctions on Belarus and Russia mandated by the US all of which have boomeranged back with a vengeance. This is partly due to the US’s failing attempt to maintain a unipolar world, a futile ideology, the world is multipolar nations choose their own direction, but the Biden administration cannot accept this reality. They are but spoilt brats throwing tantrums because they cannot get their own way.

The state of Europe – is in deep trouble due to failing economies soaring inflation and high prices for example, the Estonian government’s inflation is now at 22% and on the verge of collapse. The UK’s inflation is approximately 10% and according to the British Chambers of Commerce UK economic growth will “grind to a halt this year before briefly falling into negative territory.” This bleak outlook follows a warning from one of the world’s leading economic authorities that “Britain’s growth next year will be worse than any G20 country.” The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) state that.“There will be no GDP expansion at all in 2023 the UK is threatened by rising interest rates and taxes, as well as the high inflation that is leading surging petrol prices and energy costs.” (Link below)

If we sit and think about our world leaders and the decisions they have made, the effects are devastating. We have endured two years of restrictions due to covid 19 and have seen the death toll rise to 6,31 million, now we have to suffer high inflation, food shortages, lack of fuel for mobility and a choice between heating and eating. These problems are going to escalate when winter arrives in a few months time, yet the leaders fail to find solutions, the only credible EU leader thus far is Viktor Orbán who refuses to bend to EU policies, he is putting his country (Hungary) and it’s people first. Why can’t the rest of Europe follow this example? because Europe is subservient to US dominance.

The US and EU are saying that Russian gas and oil and other rare minerals will not be imported, but how are you going to compensate? Africa, South America, India, the middle East and others will not assist, they have long memories of how they were treated in the past, they now have the upper hand and look to China and Russia for assistance. As for the Russian oil, there will be no embargo as Biden and the EU cretins speak of, oil from Russia will still be transported, ships will traverse the waters with different names, insurers, owners and countries flags. The US and EU may say that we have bought this oil from wherever, but in reality it is still Russian oil albeit at much higher price, how stupid can these idiots be, the world needs oil to function.

The German government is in complete disarray Scholtz, Harbeck, Bearbock and von der Leyen are completely opposed to the use of fossil fuels, they advocate a new ‘green revolution’ where oil, gas and nuclear energy will not be permitted. (See update 2) Then how is Germany going to function in the manufacture of goods and the needs of its people? Scholtz and co state that more wind turbines will be needed with each turbine having a price tag of $2-4 million dollars. Operation and maintenance costs are between $42,000 and $48,000 per year according to research on wind turbine operational cost.

Harbeck and Bearbock claim that more land should made available for solar farms, solar developers pay an installation cost of $3 million per megawatt to build a solar farm, (excluding the cost of land) this amounts to about $500,000 per acre. As with most technologies, solar panels will naturally produce less energy over time, this reduced power output is called the degradation rate. The median solar panel degradation rate is about 0.5%, meaning that a solar panels energy production will decrease at a rate of 0.5% per year. China is the world’s largest solar panel manufacturer with 80% of the global market a factor that worries the west. 

But what happens when there is no wind to drive the turbines and no sun during winter time for solar, how are you going to survive? In Scandinavia for example, many people live in semi darkness for four months of the year where the winter sun barely touches the horizon. Hence the reason why nuclear energy in Finland is a must, with two stations in operation and plans for third. Finland’s nuclear reactors are among the world’s most productive, with an average capacity factor of 95%.

France is now saying that nuclear energy is clean and is considering plans to implement such structures. But France has nuclear power stations that are in a state of decay, these have to be dismantled before replacements are built, Macron is stating that “Électricité de France (EDF) will build them”, but EDF a state owned corporation has no funds it is practically bankrupt – where is the money for this project coming from?

Germany’s population is expected to reach 84.17 Million by the end of 2022, Scholtz, Harbeck and co have not given the energy problem much thought, they need to consult the right people, scientists and engineers before spinning rhetoric on technology they no little about or are qualified to do so. Moreover, Germany is restarting it’s coal fired power stations, (as is Italy and the Netherlands) because the amount of gas going through the pipeline has been reduced considerably. This is due to Siemens’ decision not to return turbines (that are in Canada for repair) back to Russia. Therefore, Scholtz and co’s ‘new green energy policy’ project will not now come to fruition and probably not in the near future due to restarting their coal power plants.

With it’s last black coal mines closed on December 21, 2018, Germany is resorting to the production of brown coal or Lignite as it is officially known. Lignite often mined in huge open-cast surface mines rather than underground, is the lowest grade coal with the least concentration of carbon, it has a low heating value and a high moisture content and is mainly used in electricity generation. Burning Lignite results in dust NOx and SO2 emissions, these combine to create a cocktail of air pollution, which is dangerous to health and exposure to it can increase the risk of lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, and heart disease. When winter comes Scholtz, Harbeck, von der Leyen and Baerbock will have a lot to answer for.

Government failures – leaders are running around like headless chickens unable to solve soaring inflation and the problems they have created, governments are now failing for example. Estonian prime minister Kaja Kallas is in danger of losing her position after the recent coalition collapse. B. Johnson is on his way out due to his disastrous policies and scandal of the partygate affair, (See update 3) Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte and his cabinet stepped down after a report concluded that tax authorities unfairly targeted poor families over child care benefits. Now the Dutch people are demonstrating against policies that will reduce the agriculture sector by 30% due to new ‘green thinking’. More on this story in the next article.

Bulgarian prime minister Kiril Petkov’s government is likely to fall in a no-confidence vote that vowed to clean up the country’s endemic corruption, but has failed miserably. On the 19th of June French leader Macron lost his majority hence his policies will not be implemented; another useless cretin. Other countries neighboring the eurozone have endured financial crises since 2010, most notably Greece, Cyprus, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain and more governments will fall like pins in a bowling alley.

According to the EU Commision “Real GDP growth in both the EU and the euro area is now expected at 2.7% in 2022 and 2.3% in 2023, down from 4.0% and 2.8% (2.7% in the euro area) respectively, in the Winter 2022 interim Forecast. The downgrade for 2022 must be read against the background of the growth momentum gathered by the economy in spring and summer last year, which adds around 2 percentage points to the annual growth rate for this year. Output growth within the year has been reduced from 2.1% to 0.8%.” (Link below)

The EU and its bourgeois elite whom were never elected by the people will find themselves in serious trouble because of their idiotic policies and the reverse effect of sanctions placed on Russia. Individual countries have lost confidence and may probably leave the EU and become sovereign nations again befriending and trading with whom they choose. The EU has outlived its purpose and should be disbanded.

Gone will be the cretins like von der Leyen the EU’s ‘high priestess’ a woman definitely passed her ‘sell by date’ who lives in a world of fantasy and who has had to backtrack on all that she states. The three ‘village idiots’ Michel, Borrell and Draghi whom are utter incompetent fools should removed from office, everyone has the right to be stupid once or twice in their life but the idiots mentioned here just abuse the privilege. There is an old saying ‘one should suffer fools gladly’ but we like many others do not suffer them at all.

More bellicose rhetoric – in the newspaper MAIL Online 20/06/2022 the headlines were ‘Prepare to fight and beat Russia in a third world war’, UK’s new top general and war monger Patrick Sanders warned soldiers “we must prepare the army to fight in Europe once again.” Is this moron really serious? What does a conflict between Russia and Ukraine have to do with the UK, is there an agreement of sorts which states that the UK will come to Ukraine’s aid; we have checked and there is no such agreement unless one has been drafted recently. This antagonistic behaviour reminds us of the monologue ‘Albert and the lion’ by Marriot Edgar (1880 – 1951) the moral of the tale is do not provoke. Link below.

The EU has told Lithuania to stop goods entering Kaliningrad and the Lithuanian government like the weak fools they are have obeyed. This action has annoyed the Russian Duma, but Russia has said it will transport the goods by sea and if the ships are attacked or hampered in any way; then it (Russia) will act accordingly. Not only will Lithuania pay heavily, the EU will also suffer dire consequences, it would be in both Lithuania and the EU’s interest to reverse this hostile course of action. However as of the 27th of June the EU reversed its policy and told Lithuania not to impose sanctions on Russia because it is illegal under international law, but Lithuania has decided otherwise; be it on your own head Lithuania.

The articles we write are discussions varying in length depending on the theme involved, long articles are divided into parts and normally any problems are alleviated as the narrative is controlled. With ‘live’ information events change rapidly and we have to be prepared for this, hence we use our journalistic knowledge to explain the ‘what, why and when’. This article has been segmented due to its length for easier reading, part III will be posted on the 24th of July. Until next time, BW, Nik.