Sunday, January 31, 2010

Juniper by Isao Omachi

This is a Juniper by Isao Omachi. Though you can tell it’s a juniper, no specifics were given except that four of Mr. Omachi’s trees have been accepted in Kokufu-ten.
The tree is remarkable and so are some of his bonsaing work. I recommend you take a look and feel free to add to the discussion. Read more!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bougainvillea Bonsai

Bougainvillea. Two things stand out; the flowers and the trunk. You might also notice the how small is the pot relatively to the tree. If the purpose of this tree is to show off its colors, then you would have to say it’s a screaming success. But what if you take away the flowers? Is it still a noteworthy bonsai? Or does that even matter?
In Japan flowering trees are often designed in ways that show off the flowers first and foremost. Normal bonsai guidelines do not always apply. In some cases where the flowers come and go almost overnight, the trees are moved front and center for that brief moment and then stuck in the back of the bench for the rest of the year. Bougainvilleas have an advantage; they can flower for months at a time.
I have been thinking about offering more critiques. It is a good way to learn and advance our skills and it doesn’t just have to be about me telling you what I think. You can write as much as you want in the comments, and going a step further, you could even offer your own bonsai for criticues.
My biggest question about this tree is the pot. I think a glazed pot would be better. It could also be a little wider and shallower. The depth of this pot takes a little away from the powerful girth of the trunk.
I like the root on the right, because it expands the base of the trunk and lends stability and balance. The other root in the center of the pot looks blueish and strange in the photo. Idealy there could be a root on the left side of the trunk which would counter balance the trees lean to the right. But ideal roots are hard to come by.
andolfo Read more!

Shohin exhibition

Shohin has a fun place in the bonsai world. One of the best events in shohin world that I know about is the biannual event held by the California Shohin Society in Santa Nella, CA. The next one is a week away – visit Shohin Seminar 2010 for details.
One of my favorite unproductive discussion topics focuses on the maintenance of large or small bonsai. Unfortunately I can not reproduce even the tenor of the greatest expounding on the topic I have witnessed, but if you’re curious, find Guy Guidry after dinner at your local bonsai convention and fire away.
Here are some photos of shohin on display at Bay Island Bonsai’s 11th annual exhibit.
Japanese Maple
Read more!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bark Stripping Tool

This is my brand new Bark Stripping Jin Tool. It has two settings, one for thin branches and one for thicker branches, but you can adjust it easily to any size up to almost 5cm. The overall lenght of the tool is 6approx 17cm. Made in Japan by Koyo tools.
I just braved the cold and ice and tried mine on three types of branchs: oak, larch and juniper of different thickness. As soon as I got the hang of how much pressure to apply and the wrist movement, it worked like a charm.
TJIN2 Read more!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

California Juniper Gallery


California juniper by Ernie Kuo. This tree was collected by Sam Uyeno in 1985 and later purchased by Mr. Kuo. Height 79cm in a Chinese pot. Read more!

Bonsai contest

This is a Cape honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis), by Ken T. I like the knob on the right that makes the tree unique and tells a little story. I can still see a few things that might improve it.

1. The soil line could be just a little higher so the base of the tree would have more anchored feel. Generally saying this is just to lower the tree in the pot.

2. Perhaps letting the crown grow up higher in the center and then rounding it off some would balance the tree a little better.

3. The roots from the surface should be more covered with soil.

4. If turning the tree counterclockwise, it the view could be better.
flowering serissa for contest at stone lantern 010
This is a flowering serissa by Brian and Jill. It is healthy, the flowers are great and the strong little trunk is a good start. A too large pot can work for growing on and encouraing development, so maybe that is their intention.
This is a little ficus by Susan Richards. I like the way the trunk is wired. It promises a good future for this sparse little tree. Right now the sparse leaves are way too big for the tree, as is the pot; at least for show purposes Read more!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Deciduous and broadleaf trees

Despite the fact that half of the trees in the winter exhibit are without leaves and most of the other half are fighting off winters tendency to tinge foliage with a yellowish or bronze cast, many bonsai are at their best look this time of year. Late winter and early spring are great times to show flowering bonsai, but managnig the silhouettes of trees coverd with new growth is a challenge. Fall is a good time to show bonsai as pines are in check and fall color may be evident. But it is only in winter that we can clearly see the structure of deciduous trees.
With careful technique, leaves can be shrunk to fit the scale of tree. Leaves hide the degree to which a tree’s branches are ramified. Great branch structure is a source of pride for deciduous tree owners.
Although the tree is attractive in summer, it’s far more dramatic in winter. We experience the tree in three dimensions by examining the tree front to back and top to bottom. We can also get a better sense of its age without leaves. It was a pleasure to have this tree in the exhibit.

Chinese elm

Read more!

Apex, Canopy, Crown


This Zelkova serrata is a classic broom style bonsai. Often when you think of broom style, you think of Zelkova. However, neither broom style nor zelkova are what inspired this post.

Sometime back someone asked me for some info on designing apices. At that time I promised that I would sometime post something and then proceeded to neglect to do it.


As you can see, this picture shows how to maintain the silhouette on a zelkova broom style bonsai. Pretty simple and the good news is that this technique can apply to many types of trees in various styles, though you don not want to be too literal as there are differences that crop up. Read more!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Collecting yamadori expedition…

My study group in Seattel went out on a field trip to colect native accent plants. This photo document our adventure into the wilds:

The intrepid Grant Rauzi with a licorice fern, deftly separated from a log with a saw…

The total take of accent, including licorice fern, coral berry, and red huckleberry.

Potted: Licorice fern growing on a rotted piece of wood, with moss temporarilly attached with raffia.

And another licorice fern found growing on rotting log, planted in a pot with kanuma.
Wiring aficionado Joyce Tsuji with a black pine in the second Seattle study group, with our koi expert Dick Benbow, engaged in the first styling of an Englemann spruce…

And the noble students Ruth Chaus and John Muth, determinedly applying copper to their conifers…
Happy accent plant hunting everyone Read more!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fantastic Junipers


This is a Shore Juniper (J. procumbens) by master bonsai innovator, Masahiko Kimura. It combinse the sculptural look that has been favored by some Japanese bonsai artists with a more wild, ruged natural look that is in favour in much for the world bonsai community. If bonsai is an art, then the categories are continually being broken down as artist play, explore and inovate. And no bonsai artist that has played, explored and inovated more successfuly thanMaster Kimura.
Junipers are tough, durable and flexible and pruneable. They don’t mind having their roots hacked and they take to container culture. Their needles tend to be small and dense and both their needles and bark come in a range of attractive colours and textures. Perhaps best of all, junipers take to carving like few other plants and their deadwood is both attractive and long lasting especially if you keep it clean and apply lime sulfur.


Dwarf Japanese garden juniper. One thing I do know is that it is unmistakably a Procumbens nana; a dwarf cultivar of the Procumbnes. Procumbens nana is by far the most popular juniper for beginners, at least here in the States. However, you seldom see a masterpiece, as the trunks tend to stay too thin. The trunk on this one is about a thick as they ever get. Read more!

Indoor Bonsai

Wintertime in the South is a time when my house fills with all the tropical plants from the bench. Growing indoor bonsai can be a very rewarding experience especailly if your new to bonsai and want to keep it close to you. Unfortunately, it can be the most frustrating start to your bonsai career. I started like many others have, with a juniper “mallsai”. I made the classic bonsai beginner mistake and kept it inside for a couple of weeks. After readng through many of the sites linked to on this site, I figured out that a juniper is for outdoors only. My second purchase was a Ficus Microcarpa and a much better choice for indoor growing. I have purchased several tropical bonsai that I have enjoyed taking care of.

Each year, I experiment with lighting conditions for these indoor bonsai and this year is not an exception. I am trying a 24-inch fluorescent grow light for my smaller bonsai that was actually pretty cheap at Wal-Mart ($9.95). My ficus gets it’s own 100-watt 6500K daylight CFL and my jade gets a 75 watt desk lamp that does a terrible job. This seems to keep them barely happy for the winter monhts. I really can’t wait for the summer months to put them back outside. They seem much happier in the sunligth. I fully intend to create a new setup before next year that would include 3 24-inch fluorescent of different color temperature. Apparently, when using florescent, you should try to vary the color temps to cover as much ground as possible. Here’s some articles that I run across while doing my research:
Seasonal bonsai;
Winter bonsai;
Freazing weather and watering; Read more!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Shimpaku Juniper pinch

If you are one of those curmudgeons who complains about the overly sculpted look of some Japanese bonsai, you have got to admit that this powerhouse Shimpaku approaches perfection. That trunk draws your eye like few trunks anywhere, with its single living vein, mysterious holow at its base and the spidry fingers and hole at the top. But it’s the tight lush foliage that I want to point out here; the result of some serious trimming and pinching.
Although it is so difficult to advise without seeing an image, in generally saiyng, I pinch far too much on junipers. I recommend cutting the longer shoots that push out of a foliage pad with a scissors, a couple of times a year, rather than trying to create density with pinching. That tends to greatly weaken junipers. Repoyting can rejuvenate a tree that is metabolicaly slowing down because the pot is full of roots.
bt11 p053-07
You can pinch with your fingers.
bt11 p051-01
You can also use the tips of your shears for fine trimming.
bt11 p052-05 Read more!

Friday, January 22, 2010

National Bonsai Foundation


The bonsai tree is a formal upright Japanese White pine. Decent formal uprights are rare and this splendid tree is far beyond just decent. That takes me back to the stunningly powerfull and surprisingly elegant monster trees that I had the good fortune to be bowled over by last fall. If you ever get a chance, visit Sequoias National Forest and make it point to spend some time with General Sherman. Read more!

Saikei - Lakeside Planting


Lakeside with Lingering Snow, is my second picuture in a series of plantings from Toshio Kawamoto’s Saikei classic. The trees are the same as in my last post, the pot is almost the same and the landscape is similar, though this one is softer. The focal point, the large single mountain stone that elevates the planting from good to extraordinary, is enhanced by a little touch of snow. The author does not say what the snow is and it is hard to tell from the photo. Most probably, this is a Christmas Holidays artificial snow spray.
I would like to share knowledge about how to create lakeside saikei. If you look at the drawings from the book it is almost as if the author is inviting you to duplicate his work. If you do not have the book, don’t worry, I will be posting photos and the drawings.

Front schemata.

Bird’s eye view Read more!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Shohin Juniper

Photo 227

There is something going on with this little juniper, though I am not sure where is its headed. maybe cascade? In any case, it is potential and will have a hard time to develop in such a small pot. Most of the best shohin are grown in larger pots and then reduced. I do like the heavy little trunk and think that over time and with some work the deadwood might add character. Is it just the photo, or is the wire already diging in? Read more!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Connoisseurs Photo Gallery

The gnarled, cracked deadwood tells this old olives story. Yixing pot.
The masive old trunk with its bumps and crack that tell an ancient story, captures our eye; but what about the fine branching on such a small tree? This type of refinement that is often overshadowed by thick trunks and dramatic deadwood, also tells a story; a story of time put in triming and wiring and waiting for new shoots to grow. Read more!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Repot a Japanese black pine

I wanted to post an example of repoting a tree into a two hole pot – my small pine is a good candidate. Here is the rootball after removing it from the pot.

Before root-work – one year of growth

I was conservative with the root-work as I had yet to determine which pot would be best for the tree. I ended up with removing almost half of what you see below.

After the root work

Read more!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ficus Gallery

This powerfuly built gem is from Ficus, the Exotic Bonsai. It looks like to be a Benjamina cultivar.

Big ficus fan
If you want to grow bonsai indoors, you will be hard pressed to find subjects beter suited than ficus, though some varieties are better suited than others. I have also had some luck with the Willow Leaf ficus. If you have any experience with other varieties, let us know.

This is a large Willow leaf ficus with some impresive aerial roots.

This is a large Benjamina with a well developped nebari.

This is a simple Willow leaf planting. Though it is far from a masterpiece, it does have some charm and is the type of project that almost any beginner might attempt and that's for sure. Read more!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Amazing Pots and Monterey Cypress


This is a wind-shaped Monterey cypresses. I will have some more photos after I make order in them.


Amazing landscapes on California Coast.




Interesting pot art, I would like to give such a home for at least some of my bonsai's. Soon I will try to find some in my hometown. Read more!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Couple Bonsai and Landscapes

This generally old Japanese white pine (P. parviflora) is from a Japanese gallery. Unknown artist.

Hyperbole aside, it is one of the most mind bendinglly wildly beautiful places on this planet. I will keep you posted. Meanwhile, here are a couple of trees plus a taste of what is in the store for today.

A piece of Point Lobos.
Shooting landscapes is a bit like shooting bonsai. No matter what you do, the shot is always as powerful as the real thing. Stil, this might give you some idea of the extreme natural beauty that exists here and there on this planet.

Juniperus rigida (Needle juniper, or Temple juniper). Artist unknown.

Point Lobos
Landscape Read more!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Which One of the Pot Colors Works Best?

This post shows a Satsuki azalea in twelve colored pots. Would your choice be different if the flowers were white? Pink? Red? Tricolor? Colors will vary depending upon our scanner, the settings on your screen and who knows what else? Don’t worry though, it’s all just a game and there is no correct answer.
Read more!