A talent for overcoming adversity
My Personal Journey in Bonsai
I would like to thank all the Members of Kent Club including the late Mick Byrne and Clifford Manville for their help and friendship over the years.
Below is an article that was printed in Bonsai Focus, and other national and international magazines’ during 2011.
Determination overcomes major obstacles to keep styling bonsai
I can still “do” bonsai despite all the odds being stacked against me.
The reflections of one man who found a way round his problems and in so doing has produced new tools and equipment to be used by the rest of us able bodied bonsai enthusiasts.
His name is Adrian Long, that will mean nothing to most of you, but you may come to remember him later, if like, for me, he has, out of adversity, produced equipment to help us all. In 1987 he was involved in a life threatening road accident. He lost his best friend as well as his left arm, and as he was left handed that was particularly significant. Recovering from mental trauma, brain damage and multiple other injuries, he had to make a new life for himself. An engineer by trade and owning his own company he set his mind to finding ways to overcome his difficulties.
Just try to imagine for one minute - your hobby is bonsai, you have trees that you have loved and tended for years, you are just beginning to have a worthwhile collection and suddenly you cannot even hold a tree let alone work on it. Adrian modestly writes:
“I found it difficult to hold my trees for styling. I had reached the point of giving up the hobby until I decided to do what I know best. I went to my workshop and designed a work table that can be beneficial to the disabled and abled bodied hobbyist alike.”
First however he had to design and create a prosthesis for himself that would enable him to hold and manipulate tools and not just bonsai tools.
” The table itself is ingenious. It is of course totally portable and can be fixed to most worktops and tables in seconds. Moreover it alleviates all that back breaking leaning over trees when cutting, trimming or styling. All you need to do is just tilt or rotate for the best view and position for working or styling.
The table rotates a full 360° and tilts up to 90°. The table surface is non-slip and the tree is held on by bungees and special bands depending on pot size and design. The tops start at 15cm diameter up to 30cm diameter, they come in square and rectangular shapes as well”.
Adrian feels that this table has allowed him to carry out a full range of bonsai tasks. He now continues to enjoy this wonderful hobby without too many problems. This table is suitable for Mame, Shohin and Chuhin trees with a working weight limit of 16Kg.
Not only for Adrian but for many enthusiasts in the UK this new turntable become an invaluable part of our bonsai equipment.
In use during 2012 at the United Kingdom finals of the European New Amateur Talent contest, it was used by the contestants and by next year I reckon it may well be in use at the European finals. Not only for Adrian but for many enthusiasts in the UK has this new turntable has become an invaluable part of their bonsai equipment?
Not just satisfied with this he has now moved on to work with larger and far heavier trees so he has created what he calls “The Extreme”, a floor standing version.
This model has been well received with all those of us with large heavy and difficult to handle trees. How many of us struggle, giving ourselves aching backs and even hernias as we struggle to get these trees in a position to work on. The Extreme can be used at two adjustable heights depending whether you’re sitting or standing and is operated by a Hydraulic system. It is made from top quality materials and the care for detail makes this model a pleasure to use.
This is a man of great determination and considerable talent, I am sure we will be hearing more of his innovative inventions in years to come.
Adrian has designed a number of attachments for his prosthesis so that he can cope with the many bonsai tasks involved with styling and maintaining his bonsai. This includes wiring, shaping and trickiest of the lot re-potting.
Adrian adds” The first thing that concerned me was how I could continue to wire branches etc. I designed sprung type tweezers with protective tips so that I wouldn’t damage the branches. I have changed my techniques over a period of time by anchoring one end of the wire either into the pot or to a more stable branch adjacent to the one I am working on. Although this is not the perfect way to wire I have found it works for me with good results”.
Other attachments he has created include a special trunk holding tool. This is a fully adjustable claw like tool to handle various sizes of trunks and large branches without damaging them.
Adrian told us about his favourite tool which is the nylon ball. “I use this solely for re-potting, it helps to secure and firm the tree into the new compost without any damage to the finer roots.”
“The journey I have been on since my road accident has not been easy, I am still finding new ways to wire, style and carry out all the other jobs required. I have my nemesis which also happens to be my favourite tree the Satsuki Azalea, this is because the branches are so brittle. No doubt in time I will find a way to overcome wiring these beautiful trees. If I have one piece of advice to give to anyone faced with a new disability it would be, never give up, there is always a way to adapt and enjoy this beautiful hobby”.
For more information on the above products mentioned and all products available from Adrian contact via the website