Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bonsai tree: The Dog Days


Bonsai? Weird perversion? Highly innovative new cross art? Whaddya think? And to answer your question, I don’t know for sure, but I’d bet my third born grandchild that it’s a Lenz (it just has too many marks of the old Master to deny). Anyway, you can blame it on BUNJINJOURNAL.COM. Or further down the chain of blame;

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Bonsai tree: How to decandle shohin black pine

Source: Bonsai Tonight
How to decandle shohin black pine
Decandling shohin black pine is similar to decandling larger black pine bonsai with one key difference – it’s done later in the season. Just by a few weeks. By giving summer shoots less time to develop, we prevent them from growing too large. As is often the case in bonsai, proportion is far more important that absolute size. “Small needles” are great in the abstract, but on a tree they can look funny if the proportion is off. Larger trees look good with larger needles, shohin look good with small needles. All of which can be produced by careful decandling.
Here’s a 16 year-old shohin black pine, ready for its second or third decandling. It’s rather shaggy.
Shohin Japanese black pine
Shohin Japanese black pine – before decandling
Read more!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bonsai tree: Unusual Rocky Mountain Juniper Styling

This tree has been sitting on my benches for about three years. It has some interesting twists, and some very challenging angles in old wood that made it a compromising puzzle to find the best front and inclination.
The first year it was planted any which way—which happened to be upright—in a box of pumice to get the roots growing again. It had just been collected. The next year I put it in a box as a cascade to let it grow strength and to look at it that way. Well, eventually I disagreed with myself and potted it up this spring as an upright again. I imagine the tree is getting dizzy.
This is a photo essay of the styling of it—

The Rocky Mountain juniper before styling.

One of the best features of the tree, a very old cascading, twisting branch.

The large right upper branch was stripped and carved.

Final photo. Tree is 32" from apex to bottom of the cascade. The lower branch in particular needs growth to fill out and balance the lower cascade. Also the training pot is too big to be a final pot. So there is still development to be done with this one, as ever. Whenever was a bonsai done in a day?
I enjoyed working on this tree. The rigidity of the basic structure—the old branches—did not allow the usual harmonies to be imposed on them. And so I left the tree pretty much as it was. I think in the future a very interesting tumbling pattern of foliage pads could develop, almost like water coming down a waterfall over an erratic pattern of rocks. Read more!

Bonsai tree: Coming Soon: North American Bonsai at the International Bonsai Symposium

This splendid Japanese maple by Bill Valavanis is from the cover of International Bonsai’s special Maple Issue.
Larch, cedar, bald cypress, buttonwood, Rocky mountain juniper will be all featured September 10-12 in Rochester NY. Meet some excellent bonsai artists and teachers, take a couple workshops and go home happy (visit International Bonsai for details).
…the gallery book North American Bonsai is now double discounted at Stone Lantern. So is The 1st U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition Album.

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bonsai tree: More Than Just Pots

I love this schefflera by Sara Rayner, even though it’s a bit jammed in the photo. It’s completely unique and has a natural uncontrived feel. I found it and the photo below at The Art of Bonsai Project.
For a long time I thought Sara Rayner just made fine bonsai pots. I didn’t know she made fine bonsai as well. I would venture a guess that I’m not the only one who has held such thoughts, as Sara is quite well known for her pots, and less well known for her trees (at least that’s my impression). Anyway, her trees are every bit worthy of her masterful pots. Their are others in the bonsai world who make their own pots, but few who match both sets of skills so well.
Ponderosa pine and pot by Sara Rayner. Another one of a kind. The tree is unique and the tree pot combination echo that uniqueness.

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Bonsai tree: Summer misting

Last summer I mentioned the practice of ‘hamisu’ which is the misting of bonsai during hot summer days. This light topical watering wets the foliage, trunk, pot and first half inch or inch of soil. It refreshes the tree.

If you water the trees in the morning on hot days, they will often need this lighter watering once or twice following that. This is especially true when the temperatures rise above 90 degrees F. Hamisu is most effective when the sun is lowering in the sky.

Be careful watering too late in the day when you have fungus problems. There is juniper tip blight, Phomopsis, to be concerned with, for instance. Any water on the foliage should dry before night sets in during the warm months.

Michael Read more!

Bonsai tree: Becoming Picasso

Lodge pole pine by Dan Robinson (Elandan Gardens). From The Art of Bonsai Project. Photo by Victrinia Ensor.
I didn’t make the Picasso thing up (though it’s the second time I’ve used it). It’s from a chapter entitled ‘Becoming Picasso’ in Gnarly Branches, Ancient Trees: The Life and Works of Dan Robinson – Bonsai Pioneer, by Will Hiltz. No matter who first thought to equate Dan and Picasso, I think it might be apt. Passion, willingness to break with convention, constant experimentation, a profound respect for the medium, and of course, a fair dose of natural talent, accurately characterizes both Pablo Picasso and Dan Robinson. Of course, you could have all of these things and still not be one of the all time great artists. As far as that goes, I’ll let you be the judge.
A spread from the ‘Becoming Picasso’ chapter in Gnarly Branches, Ancient Trees.

Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) by Pablo Picasso Dan Robinson from Art of Bonsai Project. Photograph by Victrinia Ensor.

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Bonsai tree: One of the Most Important (and Beautiful) Bonsai Books Ever Published Is Coming Soon

This perfect Mountain hemlock expresses Dan Robinson’s respect for how nature does it. Not that he doesn’t add his touch; he does, and it’s masterful. Photo is from the book.
Gnarly Branches, Ancient Trees: The Life and Works of Dan Robinson – Bonsai Pioneer
This will surely be one of the most important (and beautiful) bonsai books ever published. Will Hiltz, author and photographer elevates the art of book making, and Dan Robinson, bonsai artist and master, elevates the art of collecting, growing and styling bonsai. Dan’s approach is uniquely his own and shows profound respect for trees, nature, art; the whole process that we call bonsai. Bonsai pioneer is a good choice of words to describe who Dan is. The Picasso of bonsai might be equally good.
Order yours now
High quality hardcover with dust jacket, 10 1/2″ x 9 1/2″ 292 pages. Due in October 2010. Order and pay now for earliest delivery.
You could randomly open to almost anywhere in the book and come up with a spread as magical as this.
The cover.
Visit Dan Robinson’s Elandan Gardens
Meanwhile (while you are planning your trip), visit their website.

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bonsai tree: Bonsai With Rebar by David Benavente

Some serious stuff! Take a look at the before photo below to get a hit of what you can do with a piece of rebar, some nerve, and more than a little skill. All the photos in this post are of bonsai by David Benavente.
Before rebar.
Full cascade Scot’s pine by David Benavente. You can provide the adjectives. Check out David’s site for the before photos (for this tree and two below) and some other before and after bonsai.
A wild looking Wild olive.
Savin juniper.

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bonsai tree: Balancing Growth on Pine Bonsai

Before decandling. Cork bark Japanese black pine bonsai from Bonsai Tonight.
The photos and instructions in this post are all from Bonsai Tonight. The topic is decandling (also called candle plucking or candling pinching) Japanese black pines (specifically a cork bark black pine). The purpose of decandling is to balance bonsai growth, develop ramification and reduce needle size. Not all pines are the same, nor should they be treated exactly the same. Still, the basic principles can be applied to pines other than the Japanese black bonsai.
After decandling.

“Divide the tree’s growth into 4 zones depending on vigor. Zone 1 is the weakest, zone 4 the strongest. (See “Decandling basics” for details)
Remove the new growth in zone 2.
10 days later, remove the shoots in zone 3.
Another 10 days later, remove the shoots in zone 4.
The process takes 20 days to complete. How does it work? The longer a shoot has to develop, the more time it has to gain vigor. By removing weaker shoots before removing the more vigorous shoots, we give the weaker shoots more time to “catch up” and grow strong. Stronger shoots get less time to develop – this keeps them in check. The very weakest shoots are left alone. Decandling very weak branches can significantly slow them down or bring them to a stop. Letting them grow for a year increases their strength.”

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bonsai tree: Jinning: A Tidy Two Tool Tecnique

The type is almost microscopic, so we’ll synopsize a bit (see below for a slightly magnified version): 2. Use a concave cutter to score around the base of the branch you are jinning. 3 and 4. Crush the bark with pliers. 5. Pull the bark off with your fingers. 6. Create a natural shape by using concave cutters to apply small cuts and to pull of the resulting wood threads (you can use pliers to pull the threads if you want). From a article by David Benavente in Bonsai Today issue 85.
I use a draw knife for jinning and carving. It’s a great tool; the more you use it, the more you realize just how versatile it can be. And of course, there are a host of other hand tools and power carving tools you can play with and achieve great results. Still, using just two very common tools (pliers and concave cutters) is an elegant solution, especially if your tool box is sparse.
This box of Flexcut carving tools includes a draw knife (on the left), an indispensable tool for a range of tasks. The other five tools all come in handy as well.

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bonsai tree: In Training Since 1795

Here it is. It’s a Pinus densiflora (Japanese Red Pine) that was donated to the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum by The Imperial Household of Japan. It has been in training since 1795.
The Japanese Collection
It’s right here in North America and it’s one of the best collections of bonsai anywhere.
Here’s an excerpt from the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum’s website:
“The Japanese Collection began with the gift of 53 bonsai from Japan on the occasion of the American Bicentennial in 1976. The trees, which were from private collections, were selected by the Nippon Bonsai Association with financial assistance given by the Japan Foundation.”
Not 1795, but not exactly yesterday either. This striking Japanese Camellia (Camellia japonica ‘Higo’) with its full display of remarkable flowers has been in training since 1875. It was donated by the Kyushu Branch of the Nippon Bonsai Growers Cooperative.
Does the reverse taper on the camellia (above) jump out at you? When it comes to flowering bonsai, Japanese growers don’t seem to mind features that would be considered flaws in non-flowering bonsai. As long as the flowers themselves are beautiful and well displayed, all is forgiven.

This old Japanese Black Pine was donated by Saichi Suzuki. It has been in training since 1895.
All the bonsai in this collection spent a year in quarantine before they could be displayed.

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bonsai tree: Drawing Your Bonsai

A page from Bonsai Today issue 34 (all in stock Bonsai Today issues are currently 25% to 35% off). The artist (bonsai and sketch) is Yukio Karino (mistranslated last name?).
We’ve featured bonsai drawings way back in the early years of Bonsai Bark (2009). We still think it’s a good idea and suggest you try your hand at it. Contrary to the pervasive poverty mentality many of us have about these things, you can do it if you just take your time. The drawings (you can call them sketches if that helps) don’t have to be perfect, and with almost any genuine attempt, you’ll learn something about your bonsai.
After. It’s a Shimpaku juniper. It’s still not finished (which begs the question), but you can get a pretty good idea where it’s headed.
The future (at least for the time being).

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bonsai tree: Bonsai Art: Deshojo Japanese Maple

Deshojo Valav
Deshojo Japanese maple by Bill Valavanis. It’s been Bill’s day in the sun lately with a successful 2nd U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition under his belt, so why not show another side of his talents? One thing that strikes me about this photo the are the five strong colors (black, vermillon, whitish, green and shades of blue) that stand in sharp contrast to each other. This play of colors in such high contrast, along with the simple beauty of the tree, leaves little doubt that bonsai, when done well, is elevated to pure art.
fausta lep
Here’s something I grabbed off  from facebook that has nothing to do with Bill Valavanis. It’s a kusamono by Fausta Lep. I don’t know if Fausta made this exquisite pot. Anyone?

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bonsai tree: More Shots (& Big, Big, Big Book Sale)

Another shot from the 2nd U.S. National Bonsai Exhibit (here for a post from a few days ago). This one (and the last one in this post) was sent to us by Bill Valavanis; the tireless man behind the whole wild and wonderful thing.
Just trying to squeeze this in to drum up a little business. Mid-summer always requires some extra effort.
All the way from Japan. Kunio Kobayashi was not the only famous visitor (and in this case, judge), but he’s the only one with the title ‘Grand Master’ before his name. Three questions: who is the partially obscured senior citizen? Who’s the dude staring at the camera? And who’s the lady? This shot (and all but the first and last shots in this post) is taken from a video by Alejandro Medina Ibarra. For more see this previous post. Read more!

Bonsai tree: Calling all Ceramicists: Can Anyone ID this Mystery Frit...?

Towering tree or a very strong bonsai? It’s from our $100 Photo Art Contest and it’s by Christian Hansen. It didn’t finish in the money, but I wonder if it might have, had people known it’s a bonsai (a very large bonsai). I didn’t realize it was until Christian sent me the photo below. It’s one of only two photos that were actually of bonsai, even though the whole name of the contest was: $100 Bonsai Photo Art Contest.
From top to bottom. I think it’s a Chinese elm. It’s a very powerful tree and there’s a lot to like about it, but does it need but do you think those two lowest small branches should be removed?

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bonsai tree: Shots from the 2nd U.S. Bonsai Exhibition

Nice trunk. Definitely looks like an azalea. The shot is from a video by Alejandro Medina Ibarra of the 2nd U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition.
Alejandro Medina Ibarra
The shots here are all from a video of the 2nd U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition. The video is by Alejandro Medina Ibarra and it’s brilliant. I wasn’t able to attend, so I’m particularly grateful for Alejandro’s efforts. Something powerful and good took place in Rochester last month if this video is any indication. Really, check it out and you too will wish you’d been there (see you in 2012).
Bill Valavanis
I’m not sure how Bill does it, but he has now pulled off the two of the most important bonsai events in the history of North American Bonsai. You could even say the two most important events. Out of thin air no less. People that have brilliant big ideas and the energy, intelligence, perseverance, and skills to pull them off, are rare, and Bill fits that bill (sorry) perfectly.
This one looks like it’s by Larch Master Nick Lenz, one of America’s foremost bonsai artists, diggers, critics, and authors (Bonsai from the Wild).
More shots…

Bill’s front and Suthin’s back.

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bonsai tree: fine wiring a shohin Itoigawa

Spent the day Sunday with bonsai friends, a great time to fine wire , wiring is fun when you have good friends to chat to, this itoigawa is coming along nicely.
shohin itogawa 2010 Read more!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bonsai tree:Decandling techniques

Source: Bonsai Tonight
Decandling techniques

The practice of decandling refers to the removal of spring growth on pine bonsai.  The goal of the practice is to balance growth and reduce needle size. Simply removing spring growth from a pine will result in smaller needles, but it will only go so far towards balancing the tree’s growth. Over time, the bonsai community has developed a number of techniques for this. The method I learned first is sometimes referred to as the “10-day technique” or even the “10-day, 10-day, 10-day” technique. It’s easy to learn and it works well. The steps:
  1. Divide the tree’s growth into 4 zones depending on vigor. Zone 1 is the weakest, zone 4 the strongest. (See “Decandling basics” for details)
  2. Remove the new growth in zone 2.
  3. 10 days later, remove the shoots in zone 3.
  4. Another 10 days later, remove the shoots in zone 4.
The process takes 20 days to complete. How does it work? The longer a shoot has to develop, the more time it has to gain vigor. By removing weaker shoots before removing the more vigorous shoots, we give the weaker shoots more time to “catch up” and grow strong. Stronger shoots get less time to develop – this keeps them in check. The very weakest shoots are left alone. Decandling very weak branches can significantly slow them down or bring them to a stop. Letting them grow for a year increases their strength.
Do I need to divide a tree into 4 zones? What if I wait more – or less – than the required “10-days” between removing each set of new growth? Adjustments to the basic technique are always available. What if I don’t have time to work on my tree three times over the next three weeks? There is a technique for that too.
The next method I learned is sometimes called the “stub technique.” It’s a great way to decandle a tree in a single day. The steps:
  1. Divide the tree’s growth into 4 zones depending on vigor. Zone 1 is the weakest, zone 4 the strongest.
  2. Remove the new shoots from zone 2.
  3. Remove the shoots from zone  3 – leave a small stub at the base of these shoots.
  4. Remove the shoots from zone 4 – leave a large stub at the base of these shoots.
“Small” stubs are about as long as the diameter of the shoot. “Large” stubs are about twice as long.
Spring growth
Spring growth removed
Large stub
Small stub
No stub
No stub – detail
Where, precisely, to make the cut for the weak “no stub” branches? Just above the line between last year’s growth and the spring shoot. Because adventitious buds develop from tissue in the new growth, cutting into last year’s growth prevents adventitious buds from forming and encourages needle buds instead. This subtle difference defines a line between decandling and pruning.
What makes the stub technique work? I’m not sure. Somehow leaving a stub slows summer growth making it a great technique for balancing a tree’s growth.
There are a number of refinements on this technique. Instead of leaving stubs, I sometimes remove needles from the more vigorous shoots. Sometimes I leave stubs and remove needles – it depends on the relative vigor of the branch I’m working on. I’ll say more about that later this week. Read more!