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Bated by Bonsai. Now we're hooked!

08 July 2014 - Posted by Lizzy Browne

As gardeners we're always looking to challenge ourselves with something new and unusual. For many years I've been fascinated with Bonsai but have never owned my own. I'm always drawn to the Bonsai displays at flower shows, and have marvelled at the skill, knowledge and patience that obviously go into producing these incredible trees.

For the last few years we've been making our own version of bonsai called Kokedama. This translates (allegedly) as 'Poor man's bonsai'. Hundreds of years ago, Japanese peasants, so as not to feel left out, and despite being unable to afford a fancy-pants pot, would try their hand at Bonsai by collecting a sapling and wrapping in a ball of moss, scavenged from the forest floor. Ours dangle from the trees in our woodland garden and they make the journey to the composting loo that little bit more interesting. On windy days even more so - ducking and weaving between swinging moss balls.

To make the Kokedama we buy Japanese clay compost called Keto from a Bonsai supplier. It usually arrives by courier, but one of their staff, an extremely pleasant and knowledgeable chap called Darren dropped it over in his car. The car also contained a few specimens of top quality Bonsai. Even I, who know nothing about bonsai, could tell the difference in quality between those mass-produced twisted sticks that I've seen in garden centres and these lovingly grown, petite pots of arboreal perfection. The bait was cast and we were hooked.
We bought a few. We even sold a few, so we bought a few more.

Our collection is beginning to grow. Only a dozen or so but each plant has been carefully pondered and its finer points have been deliberated, with Darren painstakingly guiding us towards the very best trees. Perhaps one day I'll even have enough skill to create a Korabuki-Fukinagashi with great Sharimiki (multi-trunked, windswept style with exposed bark). If you're a beginner like me, or an experienced collector come and see what we have to offer. We'll learn together or perhaps you'll be generous to share your knowledge with us. After all that's what gardening is all about.

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Bat Pu

06 July 2014 - Posted by Lizzy Browne

(First posted Tuesday, October 15, 2013)

Call it serendipity but as we were giving thought to a range of nature  friendly garden products for next spring, who should turn up at Urban Jungle but  the director of a new, Norwich company selling Guano. And who should that  director be but a friend from 30 years ago that we'd completely lost touch with.  We weren't sure who was more surprised.
So how on earth does somebody from Norwich end up becoming involved in Bat Poo?  Well, whilst travelling in South East Asia last winter he was in search of  Durian, otherwise known as vomit fruit (I forgot to ask why!). When he found the  very finest Durian, he asked the grower why his fruits were so superior to the  others being offered on the island. It's a secret ingredient that makes mine  the best Durian, came the reply. If I told you what it was it wouldn't be a  secret would it my friend? After some gentle persuasion the grower took him to  a series of caves, each one the size of a cathedral, filled with ancient,  mineralized bat pooh, some of it over 2000 years old. A business opportunity had  just presented itself. He bought the caves!
And now he's mining this mineralized, totally natural wonder ingredient and  exporting it to Norwich to be used as a soil enricher/plant food.

We'll be supplying Bat Pu in 1.5 and 3 Litre containers priced at £9.99 and  £18.99 respectively. And without sounding too previous, we think a lovely tub of  poo would make unique Christmas gift for a gardening friend.

And if you're worried about the bats, they vacated the caves over 200 years ago,  no doubt in search of a newer, fresher home.

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