Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bonsai tree: Art from National Museum

115 years in training! This dignified old Zelkova serrata lives at the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum. It was donated by Yoshibumi Itoigawa and has been in training since 1895.
The photos in this post are from last year’s Autumn Arts of Nature exhibition at the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum in Washington DC.
Yosa Buson (1716-83)
Sotdae. Kusamono: Pygmy bamboo (Pleioblastus pygmaeus) & Wild Ducks. Artwork created by Sam-Kyun Yoon. Inspired by a traditional Korean folk art called sotdae. Placing large sotdae at the entrance to a village is a very old Korean tradition still practiced today. The carved ducks atop tall wooden poles are thought to guard against calamities and disasters.

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Bonsai tree: Bonsai balance

There are few concepts more central to bonsai than “balance”. The California buckeye below strikes me as a well-balanced composition. The foliage, ramification, trunk, pot and stand all work well together.
California Buckeye – Aesculus californica
The photos here are from the Bay Area Bonsai Associates’ 28th annual show. Like so many good exhibits, it provides ample opportunities for thinking about balance.
The cryptomeria below is a favorite of mine. There are few good examples of the variety around, and only a fraction of these are shohin. When I squint my eyes and focus on the tree’s silhouette, however, I notice that the trunk is surprisingly thin. For the foliage to be balanced with the trunk, I would expect either a thicker trunk or thinner foliage – a subtle point for such a nice specimen.
Cryptomeria japonica
Read more!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bonsai tree: Bonsai Drawing by Patrick Giacobbe

Bonsai graphite on paper copy
If you paid attention to our recent Bonsai Art Contest, you will remember that Patrick Giacobbe won first prize with his Graphite on Bristol board drawing. Here is another Graphite on Bristol board drawing that Patrick submitted.

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Bonsai tree: Grafting a Ponderosa Pine

I have been grafting smaller ponderosas with black pine and red pine for some time. Before I went to Japan I grafted a very small ponderosa with 10 Mikawa Black pine scions. So I had eight grafts on a small tree…and then when I styled it years ago, I only used two grafts to create the tree, and cut the rest off. People in my backyard have been surprised it is grafted as the black pine and ponderosa bark match so well.
The first photo: A few grafts on a bankan (twisted-trunk) Ponderosa pine. The scions are a black/red pine hybrid, which I chose for the thin Red pine-looking needles. This tree has a very Red pine feel to it. And ponderosa foliage on small and moderate sized trees just does not look good to me. I know for some this is controversial, but it does look a lot better than the ugly grafted trees we see with black pine base and white pine top. And it is a way to use the wonderful material we have in a new way.
Ponderosa Pine
Read more!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bonsai tree: Wiring tricks and tips

We all know you can add curves to a branch that is too straight, but did you know that you can also use wire to shorten a branch that is too long?
Now it’s much shorter and much more interesting.
Read more!

Bonsai tree: Larch in a sphere


I had a fantastic weekend at this event, I exhibited this Larch in an unusual setting, part of the innovations display. Read more!

Bonsai tree: Hemlock group

This Mountain hemlock has been one of those intriguing trees that is so big at 65″ it is almost more of a conversation piece than a bonsai. And yet thinner trunked trees can be considerably taller and still ‘work’ as bonsai. I collected it about 1 1/2 years ago, and put it in pumice in a cedar box that was sort of cobbled together in an effort to have it appear to be on a slope of a hill.
Having dreamed about that hill for a while, at the March 2010 Seasonal we put it on a temporary plywood slab and erected a muck dam and at least got the footings of this unstyled tree underway. The chopsticks drilled into the plywood was a spur of the moment idea. When I woke up that morning I had no idea how to keep that muck wall overhang from falling over.
It may be ready for styling this fall, although I’ve always felt it would be a very light styling. There is already so much of a natural and wild and windy feeling about this group that I won’t be doing much.
Here’s a bit of a photo essay:
Read more!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Bonsai tree: No name bonsai galery

Have you ever seen a trunk quite like this? A Kimura yew that we posted a while back has some gaps, but this one has more space than trunk. It would be good to see the tree close up to better understand exactly what the artist did and how the pieces come together somewhere around mid-tree. All the photos are by Hans Vleugels of Belgium.
We have seen lots of online photos that show trees without the artist’s names. Some, like the ones in this post, can be found on reputable sites, that for some reason fail to mention the artists. Others might have their reasons to neglect mentioning the artists. The worse are pirates who steal what they want without compunction. Others could be people who would like you to believe the bonsai are theirs. Some might just do it without understanding that it is unethical, that somehow anything goes on the web. Whatever, the reason, it’s bad form not to mention the artist. Or, if you don’t know who the artist is, you could at least say that you don’t know and mention where the photos is from.
Read more!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bonsai tree: Rocky Mountain Juniper potting

This is what I call, only partly tongue in cheek, the ‘Lazarus’ tree as it had only large roots and no feeder roots when put in a box, and after 8 months in my backyard under a mist system, sprang back into life again. Every month I would dig a bit through the pumice and check for white root tips. Anything to give hope, but for months I was stymied. Then the darn thing woke up in the fall and grew those lovely fine feeder roots, and I opened a bottle of wine. It’s a nice tree, but sadly, I only had a Charles Shaw Cabernet. I will have to pay more attention to my wine stocking in the future.
The first shot is in the wooden box that I built, and then, noticing that it was staying wet too long, drilled a million holes through the sides to air it out faster. I had boards laying over the top of it to prevent rain and misting water from reaching the soil. Before there were growing roots it would take two months for the box to dry out. Which is plenty of time to rot roots…
And in a Yamaki pot. Big tree, big pot. This was potted during my March 2010 Seasonal. Late summer 2010, probably August when it has a few more long pointy shoots, it might be styled. If it’s ready. Read more!

Bonsai tree: Bonsai stories

What to do when a big branch in the front of the tree blocks your view of the trunk? Layer it and make a new tree. Last weekend’s Bay Area Bonsai Associates show featured both halves of a boxwood created by Ned Lycett. Here’s a shot of the main tree.
Boxwood bonsai
And here’s the branch that’s now a semi-cascade boxwood bonsai.
Boxwood and suiseki
Read more!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bonsai tree: Maples

The Bay Area Bonsai Associates (BABA) held their 28th annual show at Lakeside Garden Center in Oakland, California. The show included a good number of maples bonsai. Some of my favorites belonged to local bonsai enthusiast Jay McDonald.
Jay is active in a number of clubs and has contributed greatly to the local scene. He acquired the maple below some time ago and has done a great job developing the ramification.
Japanese maple
Read more!

Bonsai tree: Johnny Uchida Saikei


This stellar saikei by Johnny Uchida was sent to us by Noah. Johnny Uchida is the owner of Grove Way Nursery in Hayward, California.
Here what Noah has to say about this planting: “This saikei was done by Johnny Uchida of Grove Way Bonsai as an example for beginning students who were learning to make their own saikeis and he gave me permission to share them. Mr. Uchida is also the sensei of Yamato Bonsai Kai in Northern California. The trees are cryptomeria and hinoki cypress and the composition is made with locally sourced rocks, gravel, moss, lichen and various accent plants.”
Read more!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bonsai tree: Last Four Entries in Bonsai Art Contest

Drawing by Youri Boerlage. Youri didn’t write anything about this, but it looks like a juniper bonsai with some very wild jin and shari.
Drawing by Matt Cooke’s girlfriend. This is a sketch my girlfriend did for me. As I was busy repotting in early March she had to keep herself entertained. I believe it is pen and water pencil. The drawing is of my recently acquired mountain hemlock yamadori.
Drawing by Pongsatorn Kanthaboon. Pongasatorn’s only comment is that it’s a Juniperus procumbens bonsai. FYI: some common names are: Shore juniper. Procumben juniper, Japanese garden juniper.
Drawing by Don Erickson of Salem Oregon. “Attached is a piece of art work done on the Oregon coast. I get a lot of inspiration when I visit each month. Not only the calm of the coast but the natural trees that I see. Now, if I could just find a pot large enough, and a truck large enough I could get some home.”

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Bonsai tree: Juniper by François Jeker

Planche g?n?.ai
We just received this from François Jeker. François is the author Bonsai Aesthetics and is an accomplished bonsai artist and teacher. He is particularly known for his skills in creating, carving and aging of deadwood. The bad news is that two of these issue are out of print. The good news is that we have been posting excerpts here on Bonsai Bark and plan on posting more in the future. I particularly like his article on aging deadwood which was featured in July of last year.
François’ drawings showing aging progression of deadwood.

Source:  Bonsai Bark Read more!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bonsai tree: Eighth and Ninth Entries in Bonsai Art Contest

Bonsai sketch by Paul Flegenschue. “Attached is a scan of a tree and scene I drew in my sketchbook when I was doing my undergraduate. I imagined the sketch as a Japanese maple during winter, showing its intricate branch ramification.”
Cérigraphy by Gen. Submitted by Matthiew Quinn. “My girlfriend is taking cérigraphy courses. She drew the bonsai of a picture off the web, then made it biger by drawing a couple more bonsai and finally got the big bonsai you see on the shirt. She then made the stencil, printed it on the beige test sheet, then she printed it on the shirt.”
Gen’s image on a shirt. We shown two shots of any entries so far, but thought you need to see how this image is used to get the whole picture.

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Bonsai tree: Wire Sale

A close up of wired branches on a Japanese black pine.
Not all types of trees are typically wired at the same time of year. And all climates aren’t the same anyway; spring in San Diego comes at least three months before spring here in Vermont (not to mention the bottom half of the planet where everything is backwards) and so forth. It probably goes without saying that all people aren’t the same either. Some ignore the advice of others and just wire when they want. Others strictly adhere to the old masters’ ways, but even the old masters’ ways vary some anyway. The upshot is, at any given time, someone, somewhere is wiring a bonsai. Why not you?
We are expecting a large shipment of wire from Japan sometime in April.
By the way, our wire is copper colored aluminum. It’s much easier to use than copper and less expensive too.

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Bonsai tree: Seventh Entry Bonsai Art Contest


Cedar elm forest painting by Donna L. Dobberfuhl. “Here is my entry. It is a 40″ x 30″ painting I did of “The Texas State Bonsai Exhibit” Cedar Elm Forest. The bonsai is planted in a custom ordered Chinese pot of some 65″ long, The Forest is about 4′ tall. I used the style of painting introduced by Chuck Close. I am a sculptor by profession but exercise my mind with occasional painting projects.”

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Bonsai tree: Phemna microphylla root over rock

I found this unusual little gem in Shohin Bonsai Europe’s Guest Gallery - it's a Phemna microphylla. It’s by Tedy Boy of Indonesia. The crown and the rest of the foliage seem to be almost disembodied, like floating in space. I think that’s because you can’t see where it attaches to the trunk. To add to the eccentric flavor, the background and funky plastic stand are pink. It’s not everyday you see a bonsai with a pink stand shot against a pink background.

Source:  Bonsai Bark Read more!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bonsai tree: Fourth Entry Bonsai Art Contest

Bristlecone teapot, by Mike Viljak. Here’s what Mike has to say about it: “Attached is a photo of a bristlecone-inspired teapot I made out of porcelain. The outside is glazed in raw wood ash, but fired in a gas kiln. The base is made of local clay I collected. When doing both ceramic art and bonsai, the two tend to inform each other in lots of ways.”
But don’t wait too long. Entries are coming in at a brisk pace, so we’ll probably close the contest pretty soon. Here are the details on how to enter. Most people are writing short statements about their entries. You might want to do it too.
Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Bonsai tree: Shohin Seminar from California

It’s hard to create a good shohin display. With larger trees, we work to find trees, pots, stands, and accents that work well together. With shohin, the same is true but the number of trees can jump to 6 or more. When done well, shohin displays create truly unique experiences. Here are some photos from this year’s California Shohin Seminar, the biennial event held in Santa Nella, CA.
Shohin display
Even in smaller displays it’s hard to get trees that point the right way and complement each other well. The display below does a good job of mixing broadleaf, deciduous, and coniferous bonsai.
Read more!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Bonsai tree: Roy Nagatoshi Grafts Shimpaku Branches and Foliage onto a California Juniper

Shimpaku foliage grafted onto a California juniper by Roy Nagatoshi. All of the photos in this post are by Dale Berman.
California juniper foliage is heavy and somewhat coarse and many bonsai artist opt to graft on Shimpaku foliage.
Read more!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Bonsai tree: Third Entry in Bonsai Art Contest

Jimmy Le sent this entry in. He didn’t say anything about the medium or really anything at all, except “Here’s my entry Wayne.” If there’s anything else you’d like to say Jimmy, please don’t hesitate.
Back in mid-February we started yet another contest. This one has generous prizes; generous enough to maybe motivate you to enter.

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Bonsai tree: Second Entry inBonsai Art Contest

Ken T.
Here’s Ken To’s entry. And here is what Ken has to say about it: “Here is my entry for the art contest. This is a wire bonsai sculpture made entirely from 24 gauge wire. It is planted in a high quality Japanese mame bonsai pot. I made this as a surprise present for my wife on Valentine’s day. Just in time for the contest! “
Back in mid-February we started yet another contest. This one has generous prizes; generous enough to maybe motivate you to enter.
Because the first one is Frank Kelly’s drawing that we used to kick off the contest.
We’ve already received several more entries that we will feature over the next few days. We’ll wrap it up when we get our quota; so don’t wait!

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Bonsai tree: Identify This Tree

Be the first to tell us what kind of tree this is, and who the artist is.
Though we haven’t done anything about it yet, we have received several entries to our $100 Bonsai Art Contest. We’ll start posting entries when we get back next week. Meanwhile, don’t be shy; send us your entry. Read more!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Bonsai tree: Representation of accent plant

Last month’s California Shohin Seminar was a delight. Plenty of workshops, demonstrations, and vendors, plus a great exhibit of shohin bonsai. One display element that caught my attention was an accent plant – a wonderful mix of overflowing foliage on a relatively large slab.
Accent plant
I believe this accent would make a great compliment to many bonsai displays. I was curious which tree the accent was paired with when I noticed that the accent complemented not a tree but a scroll. Or the scroll complemented the accent – it’s hard to say which. Needless to say, the two work well together.
Accent/scroll display
I appreciate that the exhibit featured several less traditional displays like the one above and I look forward to seeing more of the like in the future. Read more!

Bonsai tree: Bonsai tools for sale


Stone Lantern got a big tool sale going on. And it is not just bonsai tools that we offer. We also have Japanese gardening tools, as well as ikebana tools. Check it out. Read more!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Bonsai tree: semicascade Rosemary, Shimapku forest, Mugo Pine, European Hornbeam

Old Rosemary plants abound in Europe, so you’d expect to see some pretty good old Rosemary bonsai, and this semi-cacade certainly qualifies. It doesn’t hurt that it’s in a very cool pot.
I am still traveling so thought I would just pluck this European gallery out of one of the folders I have on my desktop for just such occasions. Unfortunately, I can’t attribute because I don’t have access to the artist’s names. Maybe you can help.
This twisty Shimpaku forest reminds me of Point Lobos.
This strange and wonderful little Mugo pine has an unusual shape and might qualify as one of our eccentric bonsai.
Speaking of slabs, and last but not least; a multi-hued European hornbeam planting. Read more!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bonsai tree: Black Pine trunk grafting

Grafting is one of the most useful techniques for developing bonsai from rough stock. A pine I have been working on for the past few years needs a few more branches before I can reduce it to its final height. To do this, I need to graft into the trunk.
Grafting requires a bit of homework for success. I highly recommend grafting with someone experienced or reading about it before getting started. Although I have been doing it for years, I still have a lot to learn. For pine, I have found that the end of winter is a good time to graft. I like grafting when it’s really cold out. On warmer days, sap can fill the cuts before the scion makes contact with the tree’s cambium layer. This year I repotted the day before grafting to further slow the flow of sap. Although this goes against common wisdom on the topic, I wanted to give it a try to see what happens.
For scions, I use branches that are one to two years old. Vigorous, but not too vigorous. I avoid using summer growth – the buds that grew after decandling the previous year. And typically, I used less vigorous shoots than the one below whenever possible, but these strong and compact shoots work too.
Scion – a shoot that developed last spring
Read more!

Bonsai tree: bonsai in snow

The snow is courtesy of Mother Nature.
Someone told me that 49 of the 50 US states had snow this winter. But we don’t leave our bonsai out in the snow like in this photo. At least not in the dead of winter when it’s way too cold for that. The photo above is from Japan. In much of Japan you can leave your hardy trees out most, or all, of the winter, provided they are protected from harsh winds.

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!