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.

Article 77 – ‘No turning back’ Part I

Hi, welcome to Taiga Bonzai our aim is to discuss bonsai horticulture and relevant associated topics, geopolitics is not our usual mandate, but when blatant stupidity affects us we voice our thoughts to the full. We are now in another crisis, which is causing catastrophic consequences on a global scale.

Introduction – the incessant madness of the bourgeois elite – who impose laws and restrictions on their people without referendum is in reality a totalitarian dictatorship. (a) Centralised control by an autocratic authority, (b) the political concept that the citizen should be totally subject to an absolute state authority. If this is the consensus which it is, then democracy in the true sense of the word does not exist. This is not a new phenomenon it has been in existence for eons, wars and revolutions have been waged with ‘bloody’ results to halt the red mist of totalitarianism. Yet the bourgeois elite still persist in causing havoc, unrest and disruption amongst the people, here is just one of the countless examples.

Wat Tyler & the peasant revolt 1381

Wat Tyler – leader of the peasant revolt in England 1381 led a group of rebels from Canterbury to London to oppose the institution of a poll tax and to demand economic and social reforms. The revolt was not only about money, but increased liberty and other social reforms, in that each labourer be allowed to work for the employer of his choice; the end of serfdom and other rigid social demarcation. The peasant demands were opposed by a significant part of English society including nobility and wealthy religious establishments. Tyler was murdered by officers loyal to King Richard II during negotiations at Smithfield in London.

What does this tell us? – history is our biggest teacher, which we should learn from, but do we – in short the answer is no we continue in the same idiosyncratic vane, making decisions that come back to haunt us. The politicians state that their policies will achieve prosperity for all, but this is complete nonsense because as John Lydgate of Bury (c. 1370 – c. 1451) stated. “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”

Empirical dominance – history has shown that nations can become empires inflicting their superior dominance on others creating social inequality, purloining their assets where they become impoverished societies, but all empires eventually fail resulting in disaster. Libraries and the world wide web are awash with literature written by prominent historians and academics on this subject, the writing is on the wall for all to see yet we fail to acknowledge it.

The cold war – a period of geopolitical tension between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies, Western Bloc and Eastern Bloc, which began following the end World War II in May 1945. It ended on December 26th 1991 when the Soviet Union itself dissolved into its component republics. But the threat of tension did not abate because the political, economic, propaganda ideology between the east and west were worlds apart.

Moreover, the west gave assurances that the North Atlantic Treaties Organisation (NATO) would not expand past the Elbe and written documents to substantiate this fact exist, many state that NATO should have been disbanded at the same time the Soviet Union collapsed. Professor Michael Kimmage argues in his Foreign Affairs article January 17th 2022 “Time for NATO to Close Its Door. The Alliance Is Too Big and Too Provocative for Its Own Good.” But will it, this has yet to be determined. (link below)

The Scandinavian fiasco – goading Sweden and Finland to become members of NATO is not a recent event, it has been going on for years. In Finland the Agreement of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance signed on 6th April 1948 also known as the YYA Treaty was the basis for Finno–Soviet relations from 1948 to 1992. It was the main instrument in implementing the Finnish policy called Paasikivi–Kekkonen doctrine. Under the treaty, the Soviets sought to deter Western or Allied Powers from attacking the Soviet Union through Finnish territory, and the Finns sought to increase their political independence from the Soviet Union; ensuring Finland’s survival as a liberal democracy.

Today’s Finnish government led by Sanna Marin (a woman totally divorced from reality) and her cronies together with weak president Sauli Niinistö pushed through parliament their application to join NATO, which is a gross error of misjudgement. This decision goes against the constitution because there was no referendum, denying the Finns their rightful say in the matter. If the application is successful the government has stated that under no circumstances will there be any NATO troops or bases on Finnish soil. However, due to the government’s disastrous policies it is highly likely that the Marin entourage will be ousted when the next elections in April 2023 are held or earlier if Parliament is dissolved ahead of schedule.

Finland has enjoyed autonomous relations with Russia, Finns reside in Russia and visa versa so why destroy these relations? Finland is not a democratic nation, rather a weak vassal state of Europe told to do what is mandated by the EU, Juha Korhonen senior journalist stated recently that Finland had no voice and publically burnt the NATO flag in the capital Helsinki in protest. Moreover, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan the Turkish president has stated that he opposes Sweden and Finland’s entry to NATO citing the two countries affiliation with terrorism, but Erdoğan is unpredictable can he be trusted to keep his word?

Nonetheless, if Finland does join NATO it is highly unlikely the latter will come to Finland’s aid, because it will mean foreign troops and military hardware on Finnish soil and Russia will respond accordingly. Finland will have to face the consequences on their own, defending the 1300 km long border between the two countries, This is unachievable because Finland has no military defence force to speak of, their air force is minimal at best as is their navy and their army is made up of conscripts and geriatric reservists who have no experience of modern warfare. Finns have had enough of war and do not want another conflict, yet the cretin Stoltenberg persists in doing his utmost at the behest of the US neocons to antagonise Russia by moving to up to it’s border; leaving Finland vulnerable – a very dangerous and stupid tactic.

US hegemony – in a recent televised statement Biden (a ‘crash test dummy’) claimed that problems in the US were due to “Putin’s price hike and high taxes” which is a complete nonsense. The US’s problems started when he (Biden) assumed office on January 20th 2021 mandating a host of ludicrous policies including the closure of the Keystone pipeline causing the loss of oil production, disruption and social unrest amongst the US population and rest of the world. He (Biden) said that oil and gas imports would cease, then why has he approached Venezuela, Iran and Saudi Arabia to ask for an increase in production? he also ordered US petrochemical companies to do more; the latter’s response was that they could not. 

Biden made other rash antagonistic remarks including president Putin “Should be removed from power” and if China caused disruption in Taiwan the “US would retaliate” statements that were quickly refuted by his administration. Such rhetoric proves he is not in control of his faculties as evidence shows, he is not a leader but a mere court jester a complete fool out of touch with reality. Biden is the US president in name only and he is not the ‘sharpest knife in the drawer’ – a mere senile cretin devoid of a brain cell incapable of running a country; his time in office will be short lived due to his incompetent senseless behaviour.

The neocons and deep state are the ones in control and they are making a complete mess of the economy with prices soaring out of control, inflation, shortage of food and energy. These morons are aware of this fact, but do they care? apparently not they are only interested in causing hardship on the Russian state by imposing sanctions, which by definition are a ‘hysterical reaction’ that are rebounding back. Look at the state of American economy now, it is almost as bad as the depression that began on September 4th 1929.

Mitchell B. Feierstein a British-American investor, banker and writer stated on the 1st June 2022 that the “US dollar will lose its dominance as the important international reserve currency within the next five years.” and there are signs that this is the case. The American Federal Reserve system, which acts as the nation’s central bank can print money indefinitely, but in reality it worthless because it is not backed by gold or any other precious metal. A gross error of judgement by president R. Nixon when he announced the severing of links between the dollar and gold as part of a broad economic plan on August 15th 1971.

Practice what you preach – revolutionary governments in the colony-states of America and the Second Continental Congress tired of king George III’s tyranny cut ties with Britain one by one and at length, on July 2nd 1776, congress speaking for all America, severed the last one declaring “these United Colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent states.” How ironic and hypocritical this statement is, since their independence 246 years ago the US has been engaged in 102 wars 3 of which are ongoing the intervention in Yemen, Syria and second intervention into Somalia. The US is called the ‘Land of the free’ if this is truly the case then America give one good reason why other nations are refused the same autonomy.

Remembering the first intervention into Somalia that was a complete debacle and a defeat for the US, the commanding general, Thomas Montgomery was dismissed because of his incompetent actions resulting in the loss of lives and equipment. You know of Mark Robert Bowden the American journalist and writer best known for his book Black Hawk Down: A story of modern war about the 1993 US military raid in Mogadishu, Somalia. The film directed by Ridley Scott is a bleak portrayal of the almost flawless and historically accurate telling of the Battle of Mogadishu. Is the second US intervention into Somalia going to be Mogadishu 2.0? – We wait with bated breath.

The US is failing in its attempt to remain the dominant power, other nations see through the US hegemonic mindset and refuse to follow this dictat. Many countries across the globe now go their own way forging amicable relations and trade treaties with each other, whilst the US stagnates. If we compare Biden’s actions to one of Rome’s emperors, Maximinus Thrax comes to mind. Thrax loathed by all brought Rome to near ruin with his exhaustive military campaigns. In reality Biden bears the same attributes as Thrax because he has always been an advocate of conflict during his political career, hence a cretin with no conscience or integrity.

Diplomatic advice – according to Ambrose Evans Pritchard of the ‘Daily Telegraph’, “Veteran US statesman Henry Kissinger has urged the West to stop trying to inflict a crushing defeat on Russian forces in Ukraine, warning that it would have disastrous consequences for the long term stability of Europe.”

The former US secretary of state and architect of the Cold War rapprochement between the US and China told a gathering in Davos “that it would be fatal for the West to get swept up in the mood of the moment and forget the proper place of Russia in the European balance of power.” “The war must not be allowed to drag on for much longer” and came close to calling on the West to bully Ukraine into accepting negotiations on terms that fall very far short of its current war aims.

Kissinger also added that “Negotiations need to begin in the next two months before it creates upheavals and tensions that will not be easily overcome. Ideally, the dividing line should be a return to the status quo ante. Pursuing the war beyond that point would not be about the freedom of Ukraine, but a new war against Russia itself.” Kissinger told the World Economic Forum that Russia had been an essential part of Europe for 400 years and had been the guarantor of the European balance of power structure at critical times. European leaders should not lose sight of the longer term relationship and nor should they risk pushing Russia into a permanent alliance with China.

“I hope the Ukrainians will match the heroism they have shown with wisdom,” he said, adding with his famous sense of realpolitik that the proper role for the country is to be a neutral buffer state rather than the frontier of Europe. The comments came amid growing signs that the Western coalition against Vladimir Putin is fraying badly as the food and energy crisis deepens and that sanctions may have reached their limits.

But others have different opinions, “We’re seeing the worst of Europe,” said German vice-chancellor Robert Habeck in an angry outburst in Davos, accusing Hungary and other recalcitrant states of paralysing attempts by the rest of the EU to craft a full-fledged oil embargo on Russia. Mr Habeck, who doubles as economy minister, said Germany is more or less ready to endure the shock of a total cut-off in Russian oil imports, but others want to carry on as if nothing had changed. “I expect everyone to work to find a solution and not to sit back and work on building their partnership with Putin,” he stated.

But Habeck self opinionated as he is, does he really know the facts of the matter why this present conflict with Russia and Ukraine came into being, has he taken steps to understand the problem? No he has not, if there is an embargo on Russia then there will no oil or gas for Germany. Industry cannot function hence a decline in production resulting in a failed economy and hardship worse than what happened during the second world war. The people will not stand for this, they will protest and riot if need be because their standard of living will decrease to an unacceptable level. Habeck is completely out touch with reality.

President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered his usual tour de force in a video address to the forum, saying “this is the year when we learn whether brute force will rule the world”. If it does, he added with his trademark touch, there will be no point in any more World Economic Forums in Davos. He said that Russia should be shut out of the civilised world entirely and that all trade should stop until Russian forces are driven from Ukraine. He added that“Sanctions should be maximum, so that Russia and every other potential aggressor that wants to wage a brutal war against its neighbour would clearly know the immediate consequences of their actions.” (Full article link below)

In the next article (out July 10th) the discussion continues revealing more facts of blatant stupidity causing high inflation, economic downturn, hardship and famine on the African continent; due to the bourgeois elite and collective west’s incessant madness. Until next time, BW, Nik.

Article 76 – ‘Design: a discussion’ Part 6

Hi, welcome to Taiga Bonzai in this article we return to the subject of design due to the response we have received from our followers. Design has meaning and message conceived in the mind of the artist regardless of the genre.

Introduction – to remind you of two opinions from bonsai masters Utsubo Monogatari and his written work ‘The Tale of the Hollow Tree‘, (circa 970) ‘where the tree’s beauty can only appear when shaped by the hand of man‘ and John Yoshio Naka “Don’t turn your tree into a bonsai, turn your bonsai into a tree.” A tree that resembles its wild counterpart, but times have changed, although traditionalists will predominantly adhere to the old ways modernists will opt for another path; we now look at some other examples of design. Sokan and Shakan

Sokan – known as twin trunk is quite common in nature but it is said not so much in bonsai design, the two trunks derive from one particular root method, where they trunks may split immediately above the roots, (nebari) or rise as one from the soil and then split after a few centimetres. The two trunks will each differ in diameter and height, the dominant trunk is relatively upright, whilst the secondary trunk will develop away from the main trunk which can be slightly slanted. Each trunk will develop their individual branches and foliage with each having a single crown or canopy.

Sokan or twin trunk example

Styling two trees into a single composition does require some consideration as both have to rise in close proximity from the nebari. Therefore, the nebari has to be exposed to show that the two trees are actually connected failure to do this renders the style incorrect. In addition, there should not be reverse taper where the two trunks split, branch selection is another factor in reducing any potential voids in the overall composition.

In this next image we see a Rowan/mountain ash Sorbus aucuparia in training, a large tree in the ‘Omono Dai‘ class (the first category for large bonsai trees 100 centimetres or 40 inches) and because of its height styling is a little more difficult to attain compared to trees of smaller sizes due to branch placement and amount of foliage produced. The right hand trunk is secondary to the left the (primary) yet both trunks are growing in close proximation curving to the left then taking a different path.

This tree collected in 2015 did not flower and fruit until 2021 and then only on the left hand trunk did this occur, (orange berries) hence it might prudent to refrain from pruning the right hand trunk’s branches to see if it will also flower and fruit. As the image shows there sufficient branches available that can be wired towards the centre to fill the void. This is a deciduous tree that will take a number of years to reach its potential.

Shakan – or slanting is a style having many designers in constant debate of where the design begins and ends as the case may be. According to the book of styles Shakan should be tall to show the trunk’s shape and movement, which may be slanting either right or left. The foliage should be minimal and would be in accordance to give the appearance of balance, stability and strength as would be found in nature. (shown in the following image)

Shakan or slanting example

However, some contend that the leaning style of a tree should grow at an angle of about 60 – 80 degrees relative to the ground, but if this is the case then not only has the Shakan style been completely changed from the original concept. It can be argued that it is not in keeping with the true Shakan style, so where is the dividing line if there is one. A tree’s shape (apart from the artist’s manipulation) is the result of element onslaught for example.

A tree subjected to wind blowing from a constant direction will be bent low to the ground, but much depends on the wind’s severity and strength described in article 69 ‘Design: a discussion’ part 1, this style is classed as Fukinagashi, (windswept) it is not Shakan. Take a look at the image below, the tree is quite remarkable considering it is a ceramic product listed on the website of ‘Dragon Art Studios’ – Poland under the title Sztuczne drzewko bonsai Sosna wykonanw W stylu ‘shakan’.

What is it’s design? – The trunk although slanting left is straight with what can be determined as a ‘live’ vein starting at the base, curling upwards presumably around the trunk (light brown on dark brown) then bending down and slightly back descending into the foliage. Looking through the catalogue of styles this design has Myoggi (informal upright) traits but this is ruled out due to foliage characteristics, the only other style that could be applicable is Han kengai (semi cascade) as the foliage descends below the rim of the pot, but this is also ruled out because of the straightness, height and length of the trunk.

At this juncture all we can say is that it is a remarkable creation in a design all of its own that attempts to mimic the art of bonsai culture, what it is is yet to be determined but it is certainly not in the Shakan style. Bonsai design is constantly changing as we have stated previously, traditionalists are adhering to the ways of the old masters whilst modernists progress along their own path.

But if these new styles are accepted how can they be categorised and who has the mandate to assume such responsibility, one cannot change the historical art and horticultural practices that have been in existence for over 6 centuries; we leave you to ponder on this. Until next time, BW, Nik.

Article 75 – ‘Design: a discussion’ Part 5

Hi, welcome to Taiga Bonzai in this article we discuss the complexities of design, it’s meaning and message what the designer or artist is attempting to impart with their perspective and to attempt to make sense of it all in a rational manner.

Introduction Tanuki – is the Japanese word for Raccoon dog or Badger an animal known as the arch deceiver in Japanese folklore, meaning nothing is quite what it appears. The Tanuki technique is the marriage of a living tree affixed to an interesting piece of deadwood (often from an entirely different species) with the idea of creating a driftwood style composition, which is completely false.

This technique often known as ‘Phoenix Grafts’ (after the mythological Phoenix, which arose from its own ashes) is not currently accepted as part of the Japanese bonsai tradition and would not be displayed at a formal Japanese bonsai show. Nonetheless, many bonsai growers outside Japan consider Tanuki as an acceptable technique, because it reduces the amount of years to produce a deadwood bonsai specimen in the traditional way.

The combination of live and dead wood was usually restricted to coniferous varieties resulting in some surprising and effective displays, but now is a common practice with deciduous varieties. Yet combining live and dead wood is not that easy to accomplish if one wishes the outcome to have a natural appearance. There are two common approaches of how this technique can be achieved, (a) by surface fixation and (b) insertion method.

Surface fixation – the deadwood or host is cleaned, prepared long before hand to allow it to become weathered. The ‘live’ wood can be wrapped around the ‘dead’ wood and either screwed using stainless steel screws, brass nails, wire, raffia or plastic cable ties to make a permanent bond. But problems can arise using this method (a) infection from pathogens to the wounds made by the fixings, (b) ugly indentations in the ‘live’ wood made by wire, plastic and cable ties. Moreover, this method attaching ‘live’ wood to ‘dead’ wood takes some considerable time for the ‘live’ wood to conform to the contours of it’s new host.

Insertion method requires a more delicate approach as it involves the use of extremely sharp carving or power tools and one mishap can result in catastrophe. Once a ‘dead’ wood candidate has been selected, it needs to be treated to remove any decaying material and bacteria potentially harmful to the ‘live’ wood partner. The deadwood in the images shown below are roots from dead pines that were boiled for approximately 20 mins, allowed to dry and left to the elements for 2 years.

Tanuki deadwood

The left picture depicts the front and the right the rear in which you will notice a groove has been made via the use of a Dremel. The groove using the ‘keyhole’ method meaning wide enough to insert the ‘live’ material, but enlarged within to allow the plant room to expand and lock itself in place once inserted. Once both ‘dead’ and ‘live were aligned correctly wet raffia was used to secure the ‘live’ material in place that will eventually swell producing a rigid seam at the rear giving what can be deemed in all intents and purposes a natural entity although we know it is not. (Shown below)

Tanuki left = front right = back

A point of view – if we follow the guidelines of the Japanese masters the meaning of bonsai ‘bon’ – pot and ‘sai’ – tree is the marriage or coupling of the two components and nothing more. Thus we can argue that Bonkei (no ‘live’ material) Saikei (which has) and Hón Non Bó are not bonsai, they are landscape designs using figurines, rocks and structures. Moreover, Tanuki is not bonsai it is a combination of ‘live’ and ‘dead’ wood material often from different species, a fake composition set to deceive the viewer and many purists will concur with this viewpoint.

However, there will be arguments to the contrary some will contend that BonkeiSaikei, Tanuki and Hón Non Bó the latter modelled on the Chinese Penjing style are simply other art forms in the heady world of bonsai. (which is the umbrella term for miniature tree horticulture) If we had stuck to the purist points of view then would this ‘living art’ form have progressed in the way that it has.

If we think back to the first article in this discussion we note that many aspects in life, art, music, architecture and various other entities have radically changed through the eons. Is this the natural course of events of life’s rich tapestry that we are confronted with and should accept as we progress along the highway of a lifelong learning curve. The perception and/or concept of the artist/designer is what it is and we have the freedom to accept or reject what is presented.

This article on Tanuki is merely a discussion – ‘food for thought’ but, Tanuki is the arch deceiver in Japanese folklore meaning nothing is quite what it appears, thus the meaning of ‘covert’ and ‘overt’ comes into being; to be discussed at a later date. Meanwhile bonsai artist Peter Chan of Herons Bonsai gives a good explanation on Tanuki (link below) until next time, BW, Nik. – 1:06 min.

Article 74 – ‘Quarantine!’

Hi welcome to Taiga Bonzai, today’s post was intended to be a discussion on the infamous Tanuki design. This will be postponed till a later date as the question of quarantine is more appropriate given the time of year when bonsai enthusiasts are looking to add to their collection/s albeit purchased from a nursery, the wild, by air layering, cuttings or grown from seed.

Introduction – is quarantine really necessary, is it just a myth an urban legend – a supposed truth which is actually spurious or a superstition. From the knowledge gained via continuous research in horticulture, we have found that there is a need for plant isolation. Why is this – with spring now upon us growth is rapidly returning above and below the soil line and there are measures that have to be taken to ensure the health and vitality of the plant.

Soil microbiology – all soil mediums regardless of their origin contain bacteria, a teaspoon of productive soil can contain between 100 million and 1 billion bacteria. Some of these bacteria are beneficial including Bacillus, Arthrobacter, Pseudomonas, Agrobacterium, Alcaligenes, Clostridium, Flavobacterium, Corynebacterium, Micrococcus, Xanthomonas and Mycobacterium. But also within the soil structure are viruses which are obligate parasites of bacteria that can destroy a plant’s cellular structure often causing disease resulting in a plants demise.

For example, plant parasitic nematodes also known as eelworms a diverse animal phylum inhabiting a broad range of environments. Taxonomically, they are classified along with insects and other moulting animals in the clade Ecdysozoa and unlike flatworms, have tubular digestive systems with openings at both ends. The following image shows one of the most destructive of these worm-like creatures of which there are many.

Caenorhabditis elegans nematode. Credit Wikipedia

Foliage infestation – there are many pests and disease that attack plant foliage, some are visible to the naked eye but there are many that are too small to see. Nursery plants are notorious for harbouring pests and disease and should be inspected thoroughly prior to purchase. Arguably the question is how does this infestation spread? – In short it is via cross contamination, because the vendor has not taken the necessary precautions to prevent this.

For example, a shipment from mainland Europe to Scandinavia is being fulfilled and depending on the order, the vehicle will probably have more that one stop before the consignment is complete. The plants many different varieties tightly packed on moveable racks floor to ceiling remain in the dark till the load is full, then the journey commences till the destination is reached. It is during this time period when foliage of different plants brush together and contamination begins due to the vehicle’s movement moreover, pests have ample time to roam around moving from plant to plant feeding, laying eggs and spreading pathogens.

We know this to be fact because we were victims of vendor’s sub-standard attention to detail. A few years ago we purchased some Japanese maples including one that was infected with red spider mite Tetranychus urticae. Although the plant was inspected prior to purchase there was no visible sign of the insect on the foliage, the only other possibility is that it was hidden in the soil medium as they are apt to do. It has taken years to eradicate this pest, but due to its resilience it can hide undetected, until the time is right for them to reemerge and continue their destruction. Red spider mites are about 0.5 mm (about 0.02 inch) in length, hence they are difficult to see.

Red spider mite Tetranychus urticae

Taking into consideration what has been discussed thus far, there is no way of knowing what is concealed within the soil, in most cases the composition will be fine; but there is always the possibility that it is not. Indication that problems are looming is when the plant emits signs of ill health, via fungal infection which can include, mildew, rust, blackspot and other forms of blight; these can be treated by using synthetic fungicides. Pests including Scale, Sawfly, Pine knot-horn larva, Mealybugs, Carpenter Ants and Red spider mite will attack causing irreparable damage.

Collecting from the wild – can be enjoyable to some extent, but it is also hard work because much depends on the terrain for example. Derelict building sites if left untouched contain a multitude of species both coniferous and deciduous, these grow in cavities within the walls and in cracked concrete floors. Such places are considered hazardous especially if the structure’s stability is not known, hence when excavating plants one has to be extremely careful in order not to cause unnecessary damage.

If taken from the forest, the area around the plant has to be investigated to ascertain the size of the root spread which can vary considerably depending on the terrain. Should the area be strewn with rocks chances are that the roots will have developed under them in their search for nutrients and because of this, the plant cannot be harvested; which often the case. In this situation discretion is the better part of valour, replace the soil and tidy up the area giving the impression that it has not been disturbed.

Plants harvested from the wild are usually the best option because you know from whence they came, their health condition and surrounding soil medium which should be pH tested. In this case quarantine is not mandatory but advisable, because the plant needs a favourable location to recover from its ordeal. Conifers take longer to recover opposed to deciduous. For more information on this topic see Article 12 ‘Selecting material for bonsai part II’.

Air layering – is a simple but efficient way to clone one plant from its parent, plants use DNA in much the same way that other living beings including humans do. The cells in the clone contain a copy of the donor’s genome, that is translated into proteins and enzymes, which make the biochemistry creating more cells and growth. The cloned plant having a healthy root ball, can be removed from the donor, but should be potted in the same soil type as the parent plant; this ensures the continuity of nutrient supply. Cloned plants do not require quarantine, but isolation is advisable in order for them to develop.

Cuttings – usually from deciduous species can be dipped into rooting hormone powder and planted in a seed compost medium, alternatively they can be placed in a jar of water which after a few weeks will develop roots systems. The cuttings should be placed in reasonably sized pots to encourage further root development and isolated until they are established. Two good examples that are relatively easy to grow are the Ficus ginseng and the Sea buckthorn ‎Hippophae rhamnoides that are quite resilient and vigorous in their growth.

Seeds – are an inexpensive way of producing plants, but not all will germinate because (a) they have not gone through the stratification process and (b) they are sterile. An interesting experiment on testing a seed’s ability to germinate is via store purchased fruit, most varieties including plum, damson, peach, pear and apple seeds require stratification otherwise germination will not take place. Alternatively, mango, pomegranate and citrus varieties will germinate without the need for stratification and can develop into healthy plants. However, these varieties are temperate and cannot tolerate low temperatures in addition, their defence systems are rather poor when attacked by pests and disease. For more information on this topic see Article 12 ‘Selecting material for bonsai part I’ and Article 21 – ‘The Stratification of seeds’

In addition, Information on pests and disease can be found by referring to articles 20 ‘Pests and Diseases‘, ‘Unseen enemies’ series articles 62 to 66 and 56 ‘Bug apocalypse’.

Arguably purchasing plants from nurseries does reduce the time frame to some degree when trying to produce a potential bonsai specimen because they are established and can be shaped accordingly. Nonetheless, being aware of the factors involved that we have described can eradicate unwanted problems regardless of the species one opts for. ‘But what if a plant is inspected to the best of our ability only to find out later that there is an infection – what kind of redress is there?

Unfortunately not a lot, because of the following factors (a) you have removed the plant from the vendor’s premises, (b) it could be argued that cross contamination has occured from one of your other plants, (c) the plant has not been given the proper location as stated on the label i.e. full sun, part sun and shade or shade. Moreover, if the plant develops chlorosis (yellowing of the leaves) or wilt these are signs of overwatering or lack thereof therefore, your viewpoint although justified cannot be proven. A sympathetic vendor may give you a replacement plant if the discussion is amenable but that is the sum total.

If you are contemplating a purchase from a garden centre, nursery or department store make sure to be thorough in your inspection, it is also advisable to wear rubber gloves especially when handling such specimens as, Water Hemlock Cicuta maculata, Oleander Nerium oleander, Yew Taxus baccata and Box Buxus as all are extremely toxic. It is your responsibility to ascertain the plants welfare and condition – if in any doubt walk away. This discussion has given clear reason why the need for quarantine is justified; until next time, BW, Nik.

Article 73 -‘Design: a discussion’ Part 4

Hi, welcome to Taiga Bonzai in this post we discuss Bunjin or Literati because, the old adage of ‘less is more’ comes into being due to the sparseness of foliage and presentation of this particular style.

Introduction – according to bonsai master John Y. Naka in his book ‘Bonsai Techniques’, “The Bunjin style of bonsai is so free that it seems to violate all the principles of bonsai form. The indefinite style has no specific form and is difficult to describe however, its confirmation is simple yet very expressive. Bunjin is the Japanese terminology for this particular style, which first appeared in China during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 A.D.)

Bunjin or Literati – specimens were predominantly conifers, but as time passed deciduous species began to appear for example. Flowering and fruiting varieties Magnolia, family Magnoliaceae and Bougainvillea, family Nyctaginaceae. The edible fig Ficus carica and crab apple Malus pumila are commonplace as is ficus ginseng Ficus retusa, silver or weeping birch Betula pendula; there is no rule to state which species can or cannot be used.

Bunjin are usually tall with slender trunks that can be shaped according to the artist’s interpretation or conception of the style, but it should be remembered that there are different classes for bonsai heights. Small bonsai Kenshitsubo 2.5 cm to 8 cm, Shito 5 cm to 10 cm, Shohin 5 cm to 15 cm and Mame 10 cm to 20 cm. Are in reality too small to be considered for Literati, because they cannot do justice to the style, although there may be differences of opinion on this consensus.

Komono 15 cm to 26 cm can be used, but foliage has to be minimal with thin trunks otherwise the tree will not look aesthetically correct; a balance has to be maintained because, the tree is the picture and the pot is the frame in which it sits. Other classes suitable for Bunjin are the medium size range including, 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 and most majestic of all Bonsai between 152 cm and 203 cm.

However, not every tree species is suited for Literati design for example, Horse chestnut, Aesculus hippocastanum and Norwegian maple Acer platanoides because of their leaf size. There is a consensus that by constant pruning leaf size can be reduced and there is truth in this logic, but can they be reduced enough to be considered for Literati design; probably not.

The image below is a Bunjin black pine Pinus thunbergii in the Chinese Collection on display at the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum in the United States National Arboretum; it was donated by Stanley Chinn. As the image shows the viewer’s eyes are first drawn to the pot relatively small, a round unglazed feminine container that suggests a delicate approach softening what can be deemed a masculine composition. The trunk’s movement twists and turns right, returning left where the apex with its drooping branches gives the sense of balance, which is simple yet expressive.

Image courtesy of Sage Ross

The next image depicts a Bungin Chinese Juniper Juniperus chinensis also housed at the United States National Bonsai & Penjing Museum, it has been given the Sharimiki treatment or ‘dead wood’ style of bonsai. This tree is planted in an unglazed round feminine container giving a delicate appearance. Sharimiki/Jin treatment suggest that the tree has befallen some catastrophe at some point giving the onlooker an appearance of age, although it is only 37 years old. Trunk movement slants right returning left near the upper part of the tree with the apex in direct line with the trunk’s base as it rises from the soil; foliage is compact giving the impression of a balanced composition.

Image courtesy of Carl Clifford

Designing deciduous Bunjin can result in problems due to their vigorous growth, mature trees are not as supple compared to coniferous, trunks can splinter or crack and branches are easily broken. Shaping is achieved by constant pruning and wiring, which can only be done after sap rising has concluded (end of spring depending on your particular zone) and then all wiring has to be monitored to avoid indentations in the bark. Scarred trunks and limbs render the tree redundant as a bonsai moreover, there are other points to be taken into consideration for example.

(a) Distance between the potential buds, (leaf nodes) if they are too far apart foliage will look open and sparse. (b) Leaf size, if the leaves are too big as with fronded (fern-like) types such as Jacaranda Jacaranda mimosifolia, Royal Poinciana Delonix regia, Honey Locust Gleditsia triacanthos and Mountain ash Sorbus sp. they will look out of context. The principle aim of Literati is ‘less is more’ meaning the foliage should be relatively compact and sufficient but not overbearing.

The final image is of a ‘Gumbo Limbo’ Almacigo Bursera Simaruba a deciduous species native to tropical regions of the Americas. The container a round unglazed feminine pot at first glance seems hardly sufficient to house such a large specimen, but this is what designer has opted for; which enhances the large bulbous lower trunk and it’s nebari. As the viewer’s eye line moves up the trunk we notice a slight kink to the right, above this point the trunk turns sharply to the left then back on itself with further movement to the apex. The lower branch is carefully shaped and positioned to fill the void at the first acute bend with the remainder of the foliage supporting the composition.

Image courtesy of Andy Kuz photo by candyjshirey

These three Literati/Bunjin examples are the result of what can be achieved from studying a specimen to ascertain what potential it holds for this type of style, which is quite unique in bonsai. Thus far we have discussed some of the classic designs found in the catalogue of bonsai styles and there are many more to consider, but at this juncture we will pause the discussion concluding with the controversial and infamous ‘Tanuki‘ design. Until next time, BW, Nik.

Article 72 – ‘Small but deadly’

Hi, welcome to Taiga Bonzai we have written much on pests and disease which cause problems for agriculture and horticultural communities worldwide, in this article we discuss a candidate that not only kills trees, but is able to create serious problems to humans and domestic animals.

Introduction – the ‘Maritime pine‘ or ‘cluster pinePinus pinaster is native to the Mediterranean basin covering a large area that includes, Portugal, Northern Spain, Southern and Western France, Western Italy, Croatia, Tunisia, Algeria and Northern Morocco. It is a hard, fast growing pine containing small seeds with large wings and favours this region’s climate of cool rainy winters and hot dry summers. Pinus pinaster is closely related to Pinus halepensis commonly known as the ‘Aleppo pine’, because both species share many of the same characteristics and pests.

Pinus halepensis also grows in the Mediterranean region in Malta, Montenegro, Albania and east to Greece, Syria, Lebanon, Southern Turkey, Palestine, Jordan and Israel. Both these species are subject to attack from Dioryctria sylvestrella, commonly known as the new Pine knot-horn‘ or ‘maritime pine borer‘ a member of the Pyralidae family, which occurs naturally in Europe, much of Asia and North Africa. This pest has been discovered as far north as the Arctic Circle but is more common at lower latitudes, where it does most damage.

Dioryctria sylvestrella moth and caterpillar courtesy of Frank Hecker – wikipedia

Dioryctria sylvestrella – is a small mottled brown and white insect with a wingspan of 28 to 35 mm, which flies in a single generation from June to October. The female chooses fast-growing, vigorous host trees on which to lay its eggs. The larvae attack buds, shoots, cones and young stems. Damaged tissue attacked by the rust fungus Endocronartium allow the larvae to enter the tissues and tunnel under the bark into the phloem. The larvae usually remain close to where they were hatched, but occasionally migrate to other parts of the tree.

Larvae pupate inside a mass of resin mixed with frass (shown below) which they produce and continue to feed within. Their boring activity causes large quantities of resin to flow from the wounds weakening the tree allowing fungi and other pathogens to gain entry eventually threatening the trees health. D. sylvestrella was first detected in the UK in 2001 and is different from the three other species in the genus by the fact that the subterminal line is generally smooth with a single waved kink at its midpoint, in the other three species this line is dentate from the mid-point to the dorsum.

Resin and frass of D. sylvestrella images courtesy of ‘Project Portugal’

Efforts to control – these species of pine are under threat, young trees have no defence and eventually succumb, older more mature trees are able to withstand the onslaught but are severely weakened. In Italy the powers that be have thought of several methods to control D. sylvestrella for example chemical usage however, horticulturists are against such practice their arguments are that there is little or no control and many claim that an effective chemical solution has yet to be found.

In addition, it is argued that a chemical approach would have serious consequences to the horticultural industry. Because if used its properties become airborne resulting in contamination of other crops including, olive, fruits and vegetable production rendering such unmarketable, hence loss of income not only to the horticulture fraternity, but also to the state. Moreover, no one in their right mind would consume contaminated food produce, because of the possible side effects if they are unsure of its origin, which is a stringent mandate of the EU.

Finding a solution – the agricultural sector meaning the farmers and growers are of the consensus that it is virtually impossible to prevent the onslaught of D. sylvestrella due to its abundance in the Mediterranean region and its ability to invade. However, studies on D. sylvestrella behaviour indicate that larvae when ready to metamorphosize are compelled to descend the tree and conceal themselves in the litter at the tree’s base. Therefore, preventing the larvae from doing so seems a logical solution in stemming the birth of the next generation of moths.

Traps have been manufactured that can encircle the trunk capturing the larvae as they descend, which are then disposed of. Although these traps are efficient they cost approximately 30 to 50€ each depending on the region, to some this may appear inexpensive; but in reality it is the opposite because much depends on the amount of trees one has on the land. Hence farmers and growers are designing and constructing their own versions as shown below.

Homemade larvae trap image courtesy of ‘Project Portugal’

This homemade version consists of plastic base and wall with a layer of foam affixed to the inner diameter to fit snugly against the contours of the trunk. A hole is drilled into the base where a tube protrudes downward to which a plastic bag containing tree litter is tied on. The larvae walk around the trap eventually falling down the tube into the bag, when the bag is full the larvae are disposed of. This homemade trap costs approximately 3€ to construct. It can be argued that sometimes even the most simplest of inventions are more effective than expensive chemical alternatives.

D. sylvestrella – is harmful to humans and domestic animals due to its ability to shed toxic hairs (called setae or spines) from its body, which it is apt to do when disturbed. According to James H. Diaz of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) “caterpillars bear highly specialized external nettling or urticating hairs and breakaway spines or setae to defend against attacks by predators and enemies“. These “can inflict serious human injuries ranging from urticarial dermatitis and atopic asthma to osteochondritis, consumption coagulopathy, renal failure and intracerebral hemorrhage.”

There are approximately 12 families of lepidoptera worldwide that are able to inflict serious injuries to humans and D. sylvestrella a member of the Pyralidae family is one of them. Andrea Seldeslachts, Steve Peigneur, and Jan Tytgat in their paper published online 2020 May 30. ‘Caterpillar Venom: A Health Hazard of the 21st Century’ states that “Depending on the family and species involved, some toxins provoke local urticating dermatitis, a burning sensation, allergic reactions, respiratory system problems and/or ophthalmia nodosa, whereas others cause systemic effects, including hemorrhagic syndrome, acute kidney injury and/oral phalangeal periarthritis.

With domestic animals being inquisitive is their natural bent, prone to sniffing or licking, the effect of the toxic venom from the hairs (setae or spines) of D. sylvestrella has what only can be classed as a devastating tragic misfortune, in that there being no antibiotic treatment available at this juncture. These animals are at risk with the most vulnerable part being the snout a wet fur less surface around the nostrils of the nose called the rhinarium, if this is infected by venom the consequences are severe; hence contact with D. sylvestrella larvae should be avoided at all cost.

As we have stated pests and disease are a major problem in today’s world which have been highlighted through our recent articles ‘Bug apocalypse‘ and ‘Unseen enemies‘, not all can be attributed to mankind’s actions, but many can – we have a problem that needs our urgent attention; failure to address it will only lead to escalation. Until next time, BW, Nik.

Article 71 – ‘Design: a discussion’ Part 3

Hi, welcome to Taiga Bonzai in this article we discuss the complexities of design, it’s meaning and message what the designer or artist is attempting to impart with their perspective and to attempt to make sense of it all in a rational manner.

Introduction – in part 2 we stated that in bonsai there are no figurines, structures or independent rocks which is the correct interpretation of the guidelines of this art form nonetheless, rocks are used in bonsai if a tree is attached to them in some way or form. Styles describing trees planted on or over rock are referred to as Deshojo, but the relation between root and rock create different terminology for example. A tree with its roots wrapped around a rock where the rock is at the base of the trunk, with exposed roots descending into the soil, is called Sekijoju. A tree with its roots clinging to a rock is referred to as Ishizuke. (ishitsuki)

Sekijoju – ‘Root over rock’ – the rock is at the base of the trunk, with the roots exposed to varying degrees as they traverse the rock and then descend into the soil below. Ishizuke (ishitsuki) – ‘Root clinging to a rock’ – the roots of the tree grow in soil contained within the cracks and holes of the rock. The rock may serve as a simple container with the tree escaping the container and forming its own shape, or may show a closer relationship to the rock’s shape, growing close to the rock and following its contours. The images below illustrate the difference between the two styles.

Sekijoju – ‘Root over rock’ Ishizuke – ‘Root clinging to a rock’

Creating these styles can be time consuming especially with young plants because the root ball has insufficient length and therefore, cannot be trained in this fashion due to the lack of stability. One way to solve this problem is to plant the tree in a large deep container to allow the roots to develop in length, alternatively planting the tree in the ground for a few seasons is another option. Once the tree’s root system has grown to the desired length it can be pruned and attached to the proposed rock. Here is a link to a video on root over rock.

Neagari – exposed root – The roots of the tree are exposed as extensions of the trunk free from soil, these can extend as far as one-half to two-thirds the total tree height, the image below depicts a tree that has gone through this process. Every second growing season the plant was re-potted but was elevated each time by 1.5 cm exposing the root system that hardened off until the desired effect was achieved.

Sabamiki – split or hollow trunk – this style portrays the visual effect of a lightning strike or other severe and deep trunk damage, which has been weathered over time. It is applicable to deciduous species, conifers, and broadleaf evergreens. The hollowed trunk is usually chiseled out, making a hollow that can range in size from a shallow scar to nearly the full depth of the trunk.

Sabamiki Maple

Sharimiki – driftwood – this style portrays a tree with a significant part of its trunk bare of bark. In nature, trees in the sharimiki style are created by disease, physical damage to the trunk, weathering and age. At least one strip of live bark must connect the leaves and living branches to the root system to transport water and nutrients. The bared trunk areas give a strong impression of age regardless of the tree’s conformation, so driftwood bonsai often fall outside of the conventional styles in shape and foliage.

Sharimiki by Sage Ross

Thus far we have given a few examples on different designs and how effective in appearance they can be to the viewer, but much depends on personal perception and concept. Our next post article 72 focuses on a serious pest that is devastating the Mediterranean basin – a problem of serious concern, but we will return to the design discussion in article 73. Until next time, BW, Nik.