About admin

Hi, my name is Greg Watson but just about everyone calls me Watto. The nickname comes from my sporting life and my work. I have been active in bonsai for more than 20 years, but the level of activity has been determined by how much time I had to devote. Work and sport did take me away from this fine art on and off over the years but I have always come back. I am a lover of decidious trees, both flowering and non-flowering, and I am particually interested in trees that are dug from either the wild or from gardens. I believe I should firstly ensure dug trees grow and prosper and then try to enhance the beauty that Mother Nature has given each plant. Not change them too much, but just highlight the beauty that Mother Nature has started. I have a collection that is too big (probably over 100 trees) and a passion for bonsai pots that my darling wife calls "worrying". Of course if you have trees, you need pots - its that simple. I am a member of the Goulburn Bonsai Society Inc and a member of the Ausbonsai family. I really enjoy getting out and looking at bonsai, talking about bonsai and being engulfed by the bonsai spirit. I hope you enjoy my trees.

Hollow Trunk Hawthorn

I cheekily labeled this tree the best Hawthorn ever (that I have dug) some years ago and over time I have not altered my opinion. It is of course still a work in progress and there is a lot still to be done but it is on the way to becoming a presentable bonsai.

In November 2019 I had the enjoyable pleasure of attending a workshop with Peter Warren and with his assistance we set this tree on its path. The best feature of this tree is the hollow trunk and with Peters expertise we commenced the process of framing this aspect. At leaf fall this year more work will be done to continue this framing process to enhance this feature. Some more refinement of the foliage pads and compaction of the branches and then hopefully some increase in the flowering then all that is left is a new pot to match the beauty of the trunk.

When all that is done I might be able to exhibit it in a show somewhere, fingers crossed.


Current viewing side

I have had this tree for quite some time and I have been trying to develop the “hanging branch” for a few years, probably unsuccessful as you can see. I haven’t given up hope but it has been a struggle. In the coming months I will separate the foliage pads a bit more to give definition to the overall look and thin the crown more as well.

This side was chosen because it shows a wide base and some movement in the trunk, however I am considering altering the front to this new angle. I will further consider this before the next major work and probably consult with a few bonsai friends for their opinions.

Ivy in Flower

I have not posted in a while so it is time to rectify that situation.

I am taking a late summer photo of a few of my trees and I will share them with you over the coming weeks. My plan was to take quite a few photos today but the rain has put a stop to that. However I did get a couple of shots of my large Ivy in flower and it is first off the rank.

This is the new front view

This tree has had many “fronts” over the years and this is the current favorite viewing position but that could change.

Rear view
The flowers

After flowering I will give it a good trim and set it for next season. I will not let it fruit this year as the tree needs its energy for foliage growth (and I don’t want birds to eat the fruit and spread ivy into our bush land).

New Look for Atlantic Cedar in Training

I have been training this cedar for a few years now and this week I decided to give it a new front. In the next couple of years I may change my mind again but for now this is the look and I hope the tree agrees.

In 2018 this was the look I was hoping would be successful.

However over time the foliage below the soil level, or pot level didn’t appeal to me. So in 2019 I stood the tree in a more upright fashion and I thought that looked OK.

After further study, some wire and a trim this is the latest look and I think it has potential. I will let it grow into the new front over the coming months and then start the refinement stage with the idea to keep the foliage contained within the trunk and the branch lines. As things progress I will update.

Are Tall Thin Bonsai Out of Fashion?

Tall, thin and elegant bonsai appear to be out of fashion. There is a real emphasis on trunk width to tree height ratios, and that ratio also appears to be moving in a shorter fatter direction. To be fair I often try to design my bonsai with thick trunks and as short in stature as I can, but I do think there is a place for the tall thin examples.

The largest trees in the world would never make it as bonsai simply because they are far too tall in relation to their trunk thickness and the oldest trees in the world also fit in this category.

This plum is tall, skinny and I think elegant. It stands 115 cm tall and I have never done the measurements to determine the thunk width to tree height ratio because it would be pointless. The tree still needs a lot of work and the next phase is planned for just after leaf fall where most probably all branches will be wired (to take out those that are straight) and some other work around the trunk transition.

This English elm was dug by me a few years ago and it was pre-styled by horses who ate half the bark off the trunk almost all the way along the length of the trunk. This tree also needs a lot of work especially a new pot. It needs work on the nabari, work on the dead wood and probably a reduction in the size of the crown to bring it more in line with the literati look I am aiming for. Again it is tall, thin (probably not elegant though) and stands about 120 cm high.

I think both these trees have something to offer as bonsai and I hope others will also be bold enough to add a few tall thin bonsai to their collections.

Acacia howittii

In my last post I showed a pot I made specifically for a Acacia howittii ‘Green Wave’ and so here it is, with a friend of the same species.

Both were potted up recently and are looking quite good so far. Only another ten years or so before they start to look good but you have to start somewhere.

I like these because they have some movement in the trunks, good healthy foliage and should flower in the spring. If they do flower next spring I will post a photo or two.

A Couple of New Pots

I’ve been making a few bonsai pots over the last few years and I’m still loving it. It is a thrill to see one of your bonsai in a pot that you designed and made. I am still very much an amateur but if I say so myself I am gradually improving.

Here is a few from the last batch I made.

I have an Acacia howittii destined for this pot

Stick in a Pot – Why Not?

The “stick in a pot” terminology is often used in bonsai and almost always in a derogatory way. People new to bonsai then get discouraged about the art and often don’t pursue it.

Many times a stick in a pot is a starting point and hopefully people will continue and enjoy the art/craft.

Some time ago I dug a few crab apple seedlings I decided to plant it into a bonsai pot to see how it goes and I think it is going along just fine. While it will never be an exhibition winner it will be OK and give me, or perhaps someone else many years of enjoyment. Isn’t the enjoyment factor a large part of owning bonsai? I think yes.

Crab apple pre trim
Crab apple post trim and a little wire

A Couple of Accents

Accents plantings are needed when exhibiting your bonsai and I generally have a few “on the go” so I can use them if required.

Here are two that are currently looking OK so I thought I would share.

Close up of the flower

The first planting is in a pot hand made by Janet Selby (love the little frog on the side) and the second planting is in a pot by James Tranter, again hand made by an Australian potter.


This small Zelcova serrata looked wild before its late spring/early summer trim and tidy up. I think it now looks respectable for the coming festive season.

More work is required on the leaf size and the ramification but those two things go hand in hand so a few leaf size reduction strategies over the coming months should improve its overall look.

Small tree in a small pot, yep I think its coming along.