Hi! I am Ian
Welcome to Back Garden Bonsai
I discovered bonsai in 2014 and I’ve been hooked ever since.
Throughout my 20’s I lived in various apartments and house-shares where I had owned a houseplant or two. I even tried to grow a tomato plant one year in my bedroom. Unfortunately it got too big and I had to get rid of it. So my horticultural experience was pretty small, which was fine. I didn’t really have that much interest in plants at this time.
As my 20’s came to an end I moved down to the big smoke …London. I was only there about 18 months when I really stared to have this feeling inside. I can’t really explain it, but I just wanted to to be closer to nature. I longed for a garden and just general greenery. I think the daily tube journeys and overcrowding of central London just wore me down.
To be honest, London has Lots of greenery. Most streets have trees, there is plenty of parks and commons. But it’s not my trees or parks. It wasn’t my space. I don’t know if it was just me, but when I turned 30 I just had this urge to have a garden and to have plants.
At this time I was living in a one bedroom flat. My friend had the bedroom. As for me, well the living room doubled up as my bedroom. Pretty cramped to say the least.
At some point in late 2013 my flatmate went to a Mexican restaurant. The restaurant had a glass bowl full of matches…. However, they where not actually matches.
They where chilli seeds. Once they where brought home and deemed ‘useless’ they where put in a draw and ignored.
In spring 2014 I finally give in to my green urges. I decided to grow the chilli seeds.
The last time I grew anything, it had been the tomatoes. I was determined to this time not let my plants get so big. This time I was living in an even smaller flat and I just couldn’t let the chilies get to big.
While germinating the seeds I started to google how to keep plants small. The first thing I stumbled across was Fairy Gardens. They are kinda cool looking and they did tick all the boxes as such.
But…. fairy gardens? I’m a 30yr old man. I wasn’t to sure how it would go down when I started telling my friends and family what I was doing. Maybe I could just hang back on the little elf and fairy figurines and call it a miniature garden?
Luckily somewhere in those weird search results was ‘bonsai’ as soon as I set eyes on the first tree I was in awe.
My mind was blown. These trees where just incredible. I had to have one.
I initially found YouTube videos from Graham Potter. (You can find a list of all the bonsai YouTube channels here) He had these huge ugly stumps and managed to turn them into beautiful bonsai. I watched these videos endlessly. I just wanted to know anything and everything about these trees.
I was still faced with the problem that all the trees I was looking at where all pretty large. Huge thick trunks and wide root spreads. Living in a small flat in London, trees like this where not really an option. Especially when I checked the price.
As I did my research I found that you can basically make a bonsai from pretty much any plants that gets a woody stem. You didn’t need the 100 year old yew stump. You could use all sorts of trees, shrubs, herbs and bushes. My little chilli that was starting to sprout could and would be a bonsai one day.
Since that day my obsession and collection has grown. I’ve since left London and returned to my home town in Ireland. So now I am growing Bonsai in my Back Garden.
Somewhere along the line in about 2016 I joined Instagram and started to share my trees. The online community is a wonderful place and I wish I had documented my trees a bit more in the early days.
I’ve made this website to continue to share my trees and more importantly share the knowledge I have gained. I’m in no way an expert or a professional but in the first few months or even years I wish I had been able to get advice from some one like myself now.
I don’t have the fanciest and most expensive trees, but for some one starting bonsai today, my trees are obtainable and relatable.
Hopefully I can help or inspire someone along their bonsai journey. I am more than happy to help anyone, so please do get in touch if you need help with something I haven’t covered on here or in one of my Youtube videos
Subscribe To My YouTube Channel
I upload A New Video Every Sunday
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are you a Bonsai Professional?
No, I’m not, but I would like to think I have a strong base of knowledge and have enough experience to share what I’ve learned so far. (Read my disclaimer page)
2. How Long have you been doing Bonsai?
I started in early 2014 and haven’t missed a day yet.
3. Can I Ask you A Question about my tree?
Of course, Hopefully I’ve written about what you need to know on here, but feel free to get in touch if I haven’t. I am not an expert and I don’t know everything, but if I can help, I will.
4. How often do you upload to Youtube?
I upload a new video every Sunday, so be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any.