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Scottish Bonsai Collection

Directions to Binny Plants the home of the Scottish Bonsai Collection - Map 

The National Collection of Bonsai in Scotland is based around the "Graham trees" as they are known. Bill Graham, of Maybole in Ayrshire was a master butcher, and when he retired he concentrated on creating and collecting bonsai. Over nearly thirty years, he developed his knowledge and his collection of 300 trees, When Bill died in 1983, his widow donated the trees to the Local Authority Parks Department of Kyle and Carrick so that some them at least, could continue to be displayed at their Annual Ayr Flower Show.

Eventually, Patrick Gibb, then principal organiser of the Show, passed the "Graham Trees" to the Scottish Bonsai Association in November 1984. Mrs Graham then legally gifted the tree to the Scottish Bonsai Association.

By 1986 it had been agreed that the trees would pass from the SBA to a Trust set up which was to become the National Collection. A group of members (some of the bonsai stalwarts on the committee were Craig Coussins, Ian Baillie, Hector Riddell and Jim Russell) set up the first ever National Collection of Bonsai in Britain. Those trees that could be saved, as some were in a poor state, were viewed by Peter Adams, a well-known Bonsai artist, to decide their development.

The Collection's first home was at Malleny Gardens in Balerno near Edinburgh. This arrangement was engineered by collaboration between the National Trust for Scotland and the National Collection. A display cage was built and the Collection was then displayed there from 1988 until 2000, when it was moved to Suntrap Gardens.

In 2011, due to the National Trust for Scotland and Oatridge College deciding to close Suntrap, the collection had to find a new home. The Trustees were delighted to accept the offer from Billy Carruthers of Binny Plants in West Lothian to home the Collection. It was rehoused in a new display cage, and is available for viewing at any time during Binny Plants opening hours.

It was formally re-opened at the Open Day in 2011 by the Japanese Consul General. The Collection has a good relationship with the Consul Generals, and they take an interest in Scottish bonsai, normally attending several Collection and Association events over the course of the year.

The Trustees especially have also enjoyed a close relationship with Japanese culture. In 2007, Alistair Simpson, who was our longest serving chairman, was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays, by the Emperor and Government of Japan, the highest honour available to a non-national in the field of art and culture. Only 6 Scots had been awarded this prestigious honour since 1875 before Alistair.

Having changed its status over the years, in January 2013 the organisation became a charity once more registered with OSCR under the title of 'The National Bonsai Collection of Scotland Charitable Trust.' In 2016, the name was simplified to become 'The Scottish Bonsai Collection Trust.'

The purpose of the Collection is to promote interest and involvement in the Art & Craft of Bonsai through well-presented displays of trees. The Collection features pines, beeches, larches, oaks and other species indigenous to Scotland. These are complimented by some more exotic varieties including a large white pine and 2 large hinoki cypresses.

Scottish Collection trees form part of the nucleus of the display at the SBA's National Exhibition and at Gardening Scotland, and help maintain the close working relationship between the Scottish Bonsai Association and the Collection, and as is usual, all of the Trustees are SBA members at this time.

In order to achieve these objectives, a lot of work has to be done, all of it by dedicated volunteers.





Make a donation to the Scottish Bonsai Collection

The Scottish Bonsai Collection is kept going through the generosity of the general public, the Scottish Bonsai Association and by the efforts of the unpaid Trustees and supporters. You can help to improve facilities at our new home by donating towards the upkeep of the bonsai trees and to expand and improve the Collection. We are registered for the Amazon Smile scheme, so you can chooses us as your nominated charity to potentially benefit us whenever you buy something on Amazon. Alternatively, you can simply click the Donate button below.

Opening speech 2011- Consul General with Alistair Simpson

Cutting the tape on the walkway to the pavilion

Inside the collection on the opening day

The New Pavilion

The new pavillion

Some of the collection at the opening Day 2011

Front view of the new pavilion August 2011

Side view of the new New Pavilion 2011

What the papers say.

Read the National Bonsai Collection News

See more pictures of the National Bonsai Collection

Read what some Non bonsai folk are saying about the National Collection



Ishizuke, Ishitsuki, Ishitzuki
Rock garden style characterised by entire tree planted on a rock but with no soil in the pot. Water or sand ofetn in the base of the pot.

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Gardening Scotland

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