Willowbog TreeWheelers

I headed off down to Willowbog Bonsai Nursery last night to participate in a workshop led by the rather splendid Marc Noelanders. I’m a bit uncertain of workshop attendance these days as I don’t generally get what I need just now in terms of teaching and learning experiences. However, Peter and Jean Snart have been good to me over the past few years and I do like to support them in their ventures. Also, there’s a very special atmosphere at Willowbog which makes me go down as often as I can. It’s very similar to that prevalent at Burrs last weekend (I’ve just realised, I forgot to post anything about the bonsai side of that. Bugger!) and is best described as camaraderie to the point of feeling like family.

Today’s workshop was more routine than Burrs and I took down my achilles heel tree – a San Jose Juniper I got from Dan Barton about four years ago and which has caused me endless grief ever since. It simply won’t do what I want it to do and I have spent an eternity wiring and rewiring it. (If God had wanted us to spend our time in this way, the lines in the Karate Kid would be “wire on, wire off” and nothing to do with wax!) Branches have died, fallen off or generally been a pain. And it just keeps growing which you’d think would be a good thing. But the new growth is like very small javelin – each one of them aimed at my fingers, eyes and any other body parts which get in the way. I’m tellin’ ya – the tree got attitude!

I did my best with the tree – extended a couple of sharis and so on – but at the end of the workshop I was so fed up with it, I traded it in against a nice shohin Korean Hornbeam. Nicer tree, easier to maintain and a helluva lot easier to carry! I came away satisfied.

Cycling-wise, I had taken the MTB so an early morning cobweb run from Willowbog Bonsai nursery was effected. Jean had suggested the route she uses for her 10K runs, so I set off down the road. I did quite well although on wetter sections I was somewhat wary after last week’s tumble. A lack of ability to read a road sign led me to taking the wrong road – instead of heading back through Stonehaugh I ended up in Wark. No matter – just makes the route 10 miles longer! Nae borra! Sort of. All in all a nice route with plenty undulations of all shapes, sizes and forms – some gentle 1%,2% and 3%, a number of 4-7% and then some challenging 8-12s. There is a long (c. 1 mile) stretch on the single track road up over Willowbog that is an 11%. A combination of too much traffic that was not interested in leaving room for cyclists, a slippery surface where leaves had fallen and a colossal amount of knackeration caused me to call it quits and get off and push for a while, which kind of put paid to any chance of a decent average speed reading. The knackeration was mostly (I believe) the result of not having had anything substantial to eat for over 24 hours – i.e. a real proper meal instead of chocolate and crisps. That’s something I’ll need to bear in mind in future. Next time I’m down, I shall make it my challenge to ride the entire route, but I think I’d probably take the Dolan instead of the MTB as it felt just a tad heavy today. The Dolan would have laughed at the bulk of the hills and would certainly have made lighter work of the grade 11 stretch. Next time!

San Jose Juniper

The OWB - first two stand for Obnoxious Wee

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