Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Formal Bonsai Forest


Finished for now. Three years after planting. Masahiko Kimura styled this Ezo spruce (Picea Glehnii) planting with a high mountain stand of conifers in mind. You may also notice how Kimura enhanced the feeling of age by removing or jining about half of the limbs. Trees tend to shed limbs as they age. This is especially true of trees in forests where growth folows light.


An intermediate stage. One year after planting and two years before the top photo. It’s quite powerful at this stage, wires and all. Notice how all the trees are almost perfectly straight and vertical. The look isn’t completelly natural yet but still prety impresive.


Freshly planted. Kimura started with inexpensive, untrained trees. The placement of each tree is carefully thought out to create a natural feel. We will discuss some of the concepts behind placement in future posts. Read more!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pruning Tips


This is a young deciduous tree before pruning. Notice that the tree’s energy moves primarily upward. It is forming a more or less inverted triangle. In order to control this growth and move the energy down, prune to form the tree into a triangle with tip pointing up.

The right part of the picture shows the same little tree a year or two later. Now your goal is to control growth and keep the tree’s basic shape by continuing to prune back vigorous upward growth and to eliminate unsightly and unhealthy growth. Read more!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Literati bonsai with one branch


After: It’s ecentricity lies in its striking simplicity. It is a Japanese red pine (Pinus densiflora).


Before. This bunjin clearly has some potential; especialy with its aged, elegant trunk and ample branching to chose from.

In conclusion: nature is a perfect art to work with. Read more!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Viewing Stone Exhibit at the National Museum


This wonderfuly scenic suiseki is from the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum’s current calendar of events.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Roy Nagatoshi, Walter Pall, Shinji Suzuki, Isao Omachi & The Ichiban

Isao Omachi using the Ichiban.
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

More Sweet Little Trees


This little pine clump with its shagy too long needles, aged lichen covered trunks and funky almost too-small pot is near perfect in its imperfect naturalness. From Shohin Bonsai World, Nishinomia branch. For a detailed look at the ins and outs of pine bonsai, you might want to check out our Masters’ Series Pine book.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

So, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

In most areas of the country, snow is simply a part of winter. In the South, however, it may come once per year and most of the time that doesn’t stick to the ground. We had a really good snow this year though, and for some of my bonsai, it was their first time to deal with it. We got about 4 inches a few weeks ago,but it was gone by lunch. So here are some pictures of it:

snow_2009 109
Juniper in snow

Bonsai bench in snow
Bonsai bench in snow
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Repotting Bonsai Tonight


This photo is from Bonsai Tonight’s first in a series of posts (five total with excelent photos) on repottng.

A clear thorough series on repotting

Jonas Dupuich (Bonsai Tonight) has one of the best visual and written instructions on repotting we’ve seen yet. If you haven’t done a lot of repotting (or even if you have) it will set you straight on details you may be overlooking. Check it out, it’s an excellent series on an excellent site.


It starts here with this Trident root-over-rock. Read more!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Green Workshop: Ugly Branches


These simple grafics show three solutions to three common branching problems. Read more!

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Holiday Greeting from Min Hsuan Lo


This perfectly ramified, wonderfuly balanced, natural beauty belongs to Min Hsuan Lo (Min is his family name) of Taiwan. I received it as an email greeting this morning.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bonsai Calendar Now 50 percent% off


If you factor in our site wide sale…
…the discount is more than 50 percent. How much more depends upon your order (the larger your order, the bigger the discount). Calendars here

Last shiping day before the 25th of December
 The first is tomorrow (Monday the 21st of Decembder). Orders must be received by 11am Eastern time if you want them shipped tomorrow.

Our Japanese garden calendar is also 50 percent off

CG9-2T Read more!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Crafty Nick’s Crazy Cedar


You like unconventional? Crazy? How about daring and masterful? Notice how the color and design of the pot plays with the wild deadwood and the small touch of moss on the left mirrors the foliage. Just another bonsai from left fild by crafty old Nick Lenz, master left fielder, author, and preminent master of cedars, larches and other collected North American gems. This photo is from North American Bonsai (American Bonsai Society – compiled and edited by Martin Schmalenberg), now on sale at Stone Lantern.

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Repotting a trident maple: securing the tree in the pot

Part 4 of 5
Once the tree and pot are ready, it’s time to put them together. For starters, the pot gets a drainage layer of pumice. If the pot were much thiner or the climate warmer I might forego this step, but I’ve found my maples do well with it.

Pumice drainage layer
After spreading out the drainage layer, I add my decidous bonsai mix – mostly akadama with pumice, lava and charcoal. I typically form a mound in the center of the pot when I pour in the mix to help prevent air pockets from forming when the tree is set. If the base of the rootball is concave, this becomes particularly important.
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Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Sierra Juniper’s Eight Year Journey

After. January, 2009 at Bay Island Bonsai show “An Exhbit of Fine Bonsai.” If you go to Styling on Bonsai Boon you can see how Boon got from before (below) to here.

Another example of a formidable bonsai artist expertise

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Winter is an excellent time to make careful lists of the year’s bonsai blunders, stapling them to our New Year’s resolutions with a simlar intent to forget all about them when things begin growing again. More productvely, it is a good time to look for good or more appropriate pots for your trees. To dream of accent plants to assemble. To wonder about stands… and then to call up one of our wonderful stand makers and order what you’re wondering about.

Buy wire. Organize and sift soil. Remember what worked. Make notes. If you don’t have a bonsai yearbook, there’s a stocking stuffer for you. If you don’t snowboard, start. You can create a lot of shari on a slope in just a few hours. Otherwise stay home, turn up the heat, and make notes.

Given last weeks’ wintery blast, it might be a good time to buy new woolen hats and mitens too…
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Repotting a trident maple: root-work

Part 3 of 5

I’ve seen it first-hand. Visting bonsai teachers come to town and whip trees into spectacular shape only to leave the trees’ owners with ticking time-bombs. Until a tree is in outstanding health, it’s a poor candidate for even the most basic bonsai tasks. Great bonsai work requires great health, and great health begins with the roots. If you hear otherwise, think twice before handing over the scissors.

All of this to say that repotting is serious business. Cuting too many roots can weaken or kill a tree – not cutting enough can lead to root rot or die back and prevent good nebari from developing. When done well, however, repotting can invigorate bonsai and give them the strength to recover from the most intensive styling techniques. That’s why repotting has always been among my favorite tasks. It’s an art unto itself, and it’s never failed to keep me interested.

Trident maple is best repoted in late winter or early spring. And while most deciduous trees are typically repotted before they leaf out, tridents can be repotted as long as the leaves are ruddy. Repoting this late can slow a tree down a bit, but if it’s in otherwise good health, it won’t skip a beat.

Root-work begins, in this case, with the botom of the rootball. To get to the bottom I have to tip the tree onto its side. After removing the tree from the pot I can see that the roots are loose where the sickle passed, but nice and compact on the other side. If I tip the rootball onto the side where the sickle passed, I can damage loose roots. Tipping the tree onto the untouched side can protect the rootball while I work on the base. This explains why I begin with the bottom of the rootball. If I start with the top or the sides, I’ll be exposing roots that could get damaged when I turn the tree onto its side.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Fruiting Bonsai: A Mystery Persimmon


If you know the variety of this tiny fruited persimmon (Diospyros kaki), let me know. The photo is from Bonsai Today issue 39. When I first saw it, I figured ‘kaki’ was the variety, but no such luck. ‘Kaki’ just means persimmon in Japanese. Height 33″ (84cm).

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Winter Silhouettes at the National Arboretum


More specifically at the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum (through Dec 20th)

Here’s what our good friends and colleagues at the NB&PM have to say about their Winter Silhouettes Exhibit: Winter is the best time to enjoy the true mastery of the art of bonsai by observing the “bare bones” of the trees. With no leaves, the structure of a deciduous bonsai reveals how well the artist has created his miniaturized version of nature. The bonsai curator has selected trees from the museum’s permanent collection for a formal display of these living artworks. Other trees from the permanent collection will be on view throughout the winter in the Chinese Pavilion and the Tropical Greenhouse. Free.

If you have a chance

…go! It’s a great collection and if you are a citizen of the US, it’s yours and it’s excellent, so you might as well enjoy it. And if you are not a citizen, we’d love to have you visit! Read more!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Cornucopia of Bonsai Art & Technique


This drawing by Kihara Susuma is from an article entitled ‘Exploring a Collected Needle Juniper’ that appears in Bonsai Today issue 98.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Repotting a trident maple: removing the tree from the pot

Part 1 of 5

Preparing a trident maple for exhibit requires a lot of work. Fortunately, most of this work happens long in advance of the exhibit. Having developed what branches I could this summer, all that remains is a little clean-up and repotting.

Root-over-rock trident maple

Plucking spent leaves and removing extraneous branches doesn’t take long. Repotting, in this case, doesn’t take long either, though it must be done with care. I’ve owned this tree long enough to know that it needs repotting every year, but the work is usually straightforward.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Ichiban #2: Research & Development

ichi 3

Before you make a decision on what might be one of your most important bonsai investments yet, you can do a little research by checking out Marco Invernizzi’s Ichiban site. In addition to being one of the most accomplished and influential Western bonsai artists, Marco is the designer of the Ichiban.

ichi 2

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Nick’s Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy bonsai by Nick Lenz, who, in addition to be one of our most talented bonsai artists, is also a master of the unusual. This photo appears in Nick’s book, Bonsai from the Wild (Stone Lantern Publishing).
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Freezing weather and watering!

We’re having a week of overnight freezes here in Moldova, following a few days of bright sun and drying winds. The pots are—for once—drying out.

One of the most dangerous things about freezing weather for bonsai is dry soil. Pots breaking is truly a secondary concern. Bad root damage can occur if there is not water in the pot to insulate the roots when it freezes. Otherwise you get a double whammy—freeze dried roots.

So get out your hoses…or spot water with a can…and protect those roots. If you have frequent freezing in winter storage, then watering should be more frequent than you might think. Freezing has one other side effect…it dries out the soil.

In Japan, Mr. Suzuki would have us try to thaw out the bonsai each winter day a bit, so that we could water them. This is a bit contrary to what we hear in the west. But it makes sense.

Stay warm…
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