Sunday, February 28, 2010

Bonsai tree: Beech Forests

This is a somewhat faded image of a somewhat amazing Japanese beech fores.
In Japan, Japanese beech (Fagus crenata) have been for a long time a favorite for forest plantings. Their smooth almost white bark, fairly small leaves, fine branching and easy-to-work-with toughness, makes them a natural for bonsai. Here in the you not be able to find any Japanese beech, but don’t despair, most of the principles can be applied to other deciduous trees.
This is a not-so-faded slab planting. See below for instructions on preparing a slab for planting.
Preparing the slab.

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bonsai tree: courtyard nursery, azalea, Water elm

The entrance gate to one of Vaughn Banting’s bonsai courtyards
Vaughn Banting was an artist, an adventurer and a friend to many people around the world. He was famous in Louisiana bonsai circles for his passion for bonsai. He was both a professional and an avid enthusiasts that devoted much of his life to bonsai, from his teenage years to his untimely passing in 2008.You can visit Vaughn’s website for a journey through his life and work. In addition to photos of Vaughn’s bonsai, and his friends and travels, there are some very telling before and after photos of Vaughn’s nursery that depict the ravages of Katrina.
Spring. You can tell by the azalea blossoms.
Still spring…
Winter. Notice all the trees hidden under the benches. If only it were that easy here in Vermont.
Bird’s eye view. You can see some bonsai peeking out above the fences. You can also see that Vaughn actually had two bonsai courtyards.
Vaughn with a Water elm (Planera aquatica) that he collected and styled.

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Bonsai tree: Japanese black pine

I really like working with Japanese Black Pine. Although they keep needles year round, their appearance changes with the seasons. The pine below is flush with last year’s growth – a mix of spring and summer foliage.
Spring growth above – Summer growth below
I am planning to remove the top half of the trunk when I get a few more grafts in place – more on that next week. After some cutback, needle pulling, grafting and repotting, the tree looked a bit more manageable.
All set for Spring
I learned years ago that bonsai folk can benefit from a deep sense of delayed gratification. Today this tree is both gangly and unbalanced – it looks like it’s waving its arms in the air in dismay. But it’s looking better every year and before long it will look great in an exhibit.
I’ve also learned that there’s far more to bonsai than making trees “pretty.” Routine tasks like repotting provide me with plenty of gratification. While repotting this tree, I was very surprised to see the condition of the soil.
Bonsai soil after 3 years in the pot
After at least three years, the bonsai mix had barely begun to break down. It’s a mix of pumice, lava and akadama. Normally I would expect to repot this tree every or at least every other year. It’s a large tree in a small pot and it’s growing vigorously. But because the soil is so hard, the drainage remained good and the roots developed well.
Combing out the roots
I also appreciate the time savings. Getting an extra year out of bonsai soil saves time and money. Getting that with no cost to the tree’s health is a super combination. Read more!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bonsai tree: A Very Wild Mugo Pine

Mugo Bonsai Creativo School
This is a wild and wonderful mugo pine showed up on facebook a few weeks ago.
There are at least two things that come to mind when I look at this wild mugo pine. First, that it represents a break with traditional bonsai styles, particularly traditional Japanese bonsai. It just doesn’t look like what bonsai used to look like not too long ago.The second thing about it is that it’s a mugo pine. It wasn’t too long ago that the only pines you’d see as bonsai were Japanese whites and blacks. Gradually, as bonsai spread to the west, other varieties started showing up. Now, mugos are becoming quite common and for good reason; their needles are small, they are tough, over time they can show a lot of character. Read more!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bonsai cafe: succulent in a rock, shohin needle juniper, snakey

peter landerloos
This is a colorful succulent growing in a rock.
It features some pretty good bonsai from Western bonsai artists. Definitely worth a visit if you get a chance.
Read more!

Bonsai repoting: ume

Several years passed – no flowers. I’d already carved away the lower 3-4 inches of the trunk and begun developing the nebari. I carved the trunk and helped new branches ramify. But no blooms. I’ll admit I am no fan of double pink, but the point of ume is the contrast between new flowers and old trunk. So I started grafting.
Another 5 years passed. The tree looked great with white blossoms – the fragrance was unforgettable – and I would had fun learning how to care the variety. But ume don’t bud back well, and the grafting became a regular affair. Then, out of nowhere, a few dark buds appeared from some of the original branches. Before long, I saw the first few double pink flowers. Which confirmed my decision to graft.
This year I am mid-re-grafting the entire tree. I let the branches grow past where I can safely cut back so I am essentially starting from scratch. Here is the tree a few weeks ago with the last few white and pink blossoms.
Ume – early February
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bonsai tree: juniper, deadwood juniper

Isao Omachi

Check out the meandering living vein on this wonderful crazy work in progress. Perhaps there is a clue in something that Masahiko Kimura did years ago in a chapter entitled ‘Kimura Flips in our Masters’ Series Juniper book.

Here’s the tree that was flipped upside down. Read more!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bonsai tree: ficus microcarpa

This tree isn’t exactly eccentric, but it's just powerful, handsome and unique. It’s by Budi Sulistyo and graces the cover of his excellent tropical bonsai gallery book.
I think this next tree falls into the eccentric category.
budi s
This ficus microcarpa by Budi Sulisyo from an album entitled ‘Stone Pot’.
This tree falls short of some of Budi’s other trees. I imagine that he posted it to show trees in stone pots. Or just to break with convention or maybe to encourage those of us who aren’t big time bonsai artists to not be afraid to show our trees.
First, it is eccentric and that’s what this series is about. Second, the trunk is heavy and has some movement and character. Third, the leaves are well developed, fairly small and healthy looking. Fourth, there looks to be a pretty good nebari, but it’s hard to tell in the photo.
The comments above are just a few quick impressions. I have too much respect for Budi to simply dismiss anything he does, let alone file criminal charges.
It features some of best tropical bonsai anywhere by some serious bonsai heavy weights from Asia and beyond. Read more!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Bonsai tree: juniper, ezo spruce

The hollowed out trunk caught my eye. I have seen very few trunks that have been so completely hollowed. It looks like it might be a Ezo spruce though I could be mistaken. If it is an Ezo, it must be quite old to attain such size as Ezos are very slow growing. I like the first branch, it almost serves as a second trunk and is not a bad little bonsai in itself. Overall, I think that this is a excellent tree with great balance, and would be noteworthy even without the distinctive hollow trunk.
Here is another tree from the same gallery that caught my eye. Though it’s a juniper, the reddish bark and the deadwood remind me of the Manzanitas in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. Read more!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Repotting a bonsai: Western juniper

While preparing a Western juniper for exhibition, I became curious as to why the tree was planted so far to one side of the pot. I was somehow concerned because I couldn’t show the tree as it appeared below.
Western juniper
My worry was that all of the roots came from a single spot at the far end of the pot. After removing the tree from pot, I have found out that the roots were healthy.
Western juniper roots – note new growth in December
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Bonsai: junipers, shohin

This is a little gem. They one every other year and the quality of trees just keeps getting better. I am already thinking about rearranging my schedule so I can go next time.
For more superb shohin bonsai wait for next posts. Read more!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Nebari bonsai: trident maple

Do you like this nebari, or is it a bit much? If you just look at the bottom photo, does the nebari seem to strong for the trunk? That’s the way it strikes me, but when I look at the whole tree, it works just fine.
Here is another nebari that we featured in an earlier post. This one does seem a bit over the top, though I suspect it will look a little less dominant when the tree is in leaf. What do you think? This is a trident maple. Read more!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bonsai (saikei) landscape: Peaceful Lagoon: Japanese Black Pine

Peaceful Lagoon, my third in a series of plantings from Toshio Kawamoto’s Saikei classic. The trees are five to twenty-year-old Japanese black pines. The pot is similar to the ones in the previous two landscapes, though quite a bit larger.
The purpose of this section is to show how to create a saikei that depicts a peaceful lagoon just off the ocean. The photo taken together with the drawings, create the impression that the author is inviting you to duplicate his work.
If you look at all the elements: the rocks, the trees, the moss, the gravel and the white sand, you can see that their placement and their relative sizes creates a near perfect effect.
Read more!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Creating bonsai moss: ponderosa pine

It’s common, when displaying bonsai at indoor exhibits, to cover the surface of the soil with moss. The alternative dirt doesn’t really compare. Scott decorated his ponderosa pine with a great arrangement of moss and lichens at this year’s BIB exhibit.
Depending on where you live, you may have found that moss doesn’t just show up the week before exhibit. Either that or you find it difficult to keep it under control. For years now, I have taken note of all of the patches of attractive moss I run across that grow on public property. If all goes well, I will end up with a few trays like the one below:
Collected moss
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Monday, February 15, 2010

Ficus rubiginosa and Acacia longifolia

Acacia longifolia. The leaves are a little big, but that is the nature of the plant. Otherwise, this bonsai has it all: generaly aged trunk with a little see-though action and excellent fluid movement. Perfect pot. Great tree!
Ficus rubiginosa. It is got great balance, the semi fused trunk has excellent taper and the wonderful pot looks like it might be old, maybe even antique. I tried to enlarge it to see more detail, but didn’t do much.
16-Ficus_rubiginosa-RH-e-137-3768_IMG-1 Read more!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Backyard Bonsai

Up against the wall! I borrowed this from Rosade Bonsai Studio website. You don’t need new glasses; it’s a little fuzzy because I increased the size to fit it into our format.
I don’t know who lives here, or even what country it’s in. Maybe it’s Spain. I ran into Chase and Solita Rosade there in 2007 at a large show at Mistral Bonsai.
As we mentioned then, it’s a good place with friendly people, and, as far as I know, nothing has changed.


The unfuzzy, uncropped original. Read more!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Famous bonsai and Famous People

How many times have you seen a bonsai that is big enough to sit its shade? And no, I don’t think it’s a plastic tree at Disney World. More like a real live ficus in Thailand.
Have you ever wanted to travel the world and visit all the famous bonsai places and hang out with all the famous bonsai people? If their website is any indication that’s what Chase and Solita Rosade have been up to.
Chase and Solita also fall into that dubious category. But it’s well earned and couldn’t happen to nicer people. If you don’t believe me, visit them at Rosade Bonsai Studio sometime.
Parts of the Rosade Bonsai Studio display at the Philadelphia flower show.

More evidence of famous people and famous places. Read more!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Contest result

Ferry Freriks’ stout-trunked little Honeysuckle takes the grand prize in a down to the wire contest for a $100 gift certificate.
Altogether 41 people submitted their choices. The total count for the first three finishers were: Ferry’s Honeysuckle 84. John Romano’s Erodium 80. Brian and Jill’s Serissa 80.
When I started this contest it didn’t occur that it would be so close. Next time I will divide the prize among the first three finishers. Meanwhile, John and Brian and Jill will have to share content with the knowledge that lots of people enjoyed their trees.

Every single tree got at least a handful of points. And I enjoyed them all and appreciated your daring in submitting your trees and subjecting them to our critiques.

flowering serissa for contest at stone lantern 010

Brian & Jill’s Serissa and John Romano’s tiny Erodium tied for second, just four points behind the first place bonsai.

DSC_0351 Read more!

Bonsai Gallery - Bonsai over/on rock


This group of Needle junipers on a large rock won the first prize at Sakufu-ten #12.
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Friday, February 5, 2010

BIB’s Annual Bonsai Exhibit

I lifted this sinuous Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) off a great gallery at Bonsai Tonight from the 2010 Bay Island Bonsai Exhibit. Though I can’t tell for sure, it looks like at least five full twists in the trunk.
Here’s another heavy-trunked bunjin. It’s a Sierra juniper, also known as Western juniper. It and it’s close cousin, the California juniper are becoming favorites of bonsai enthusiasts here and abroad.

Read more!