Friday, October 29, 2010

Bonsai tree: A Gallery of Two

Robert Steven

A sweet little root-over-rock by Robert Steven. I can’t tell tell you what it is or its dimensions or really anything (except that I’d love to see it in my collection). I don’t even remember where I got the photo (or the one below).

Robert Steven is a household name

Over the last few years Robert Steven has become a household name throughout most of the world (wouldn’t that be something?). Actually, about 99.99% percent of the people in the world are blissfully ignorant of Robert’s existence. Too bad. Maybe someday bonsai will enjoy its place as an art worthy of widespread appreciation , but for now, it’s mostly just us (we are a growing population and there are places in the world where bonsai as an art is gaining some foothold, still…).

Robert Steven2

Red pots are not that common. Most people don’t dare use them anyway, as they tend to steal the thunder from the tree. Speaking of the tree, did you notice the ramification? That’s the result of years of careful pruning.

More Robert

Robert Steven is a world class bonsai artist, teacher and author (Vision of My Soul and Mission of Transformation, both now on sale at Stone Lantern for 30% to 40% off). Robert is also a regular contributor to Bonsai Bark.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bonsai tree: Fall Color in Upstate New York


This strikingly colorful ginkgo with its thick, uniquely shaped and uncommonly well tapered trunk (for a ginkgo) is from facebook, courtesy of Bill Valavanis (International Bonsai). In fact, all three photos in this post are Bill’s.


Looks like a pyracantha. The well-chosen blue pot contrasts with and amplifies the bright vermilion berries.


A colorful piece of Bill’s nursery.

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bonsai tree: East Bay Bonsai Society’s 49th annual show

Source: Bonsai Tonight
East Bay Bonsai Society’s 49th annual show

The East Bay Bonsai Society recently held their 49th annual show at the Lakeside Garden Center in Oakland, California. It was another good show for EBBS with a fun mix of varieties, accents and suiseki. Below are photos from the show with a few comments about balance. For comparison’s sake, here is a link to photos from last year’s show.

Why the focus on balance? When exhibiting bonsai with other elements – second trees, accents, or scrolls – the tree will either guide the viewer’s gaze toward the accent or away from it. Trees with clear flow to one side or the other look good on their own and help create compelling displays. What if a tree doesn’t flow one way or the other? Maybe it’s perfectly balanced. Or maybe it’s awaiting further development that will guide it in a single direction – that’s part of the fun.

Korean hornbeam

Korean hornbeam – does the tree point left or right?
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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bonsai tree: A Lost Treasure #6: Enchanted Lands


Enchanted lands, our fifth in a series of plantings (here for the previous one) from Toshio Kawamoto’s Sakei classic (long out of print). The tree are 3 five year old ezo spruce, 16 five to eight year old cryptomeria (6-8 inches tall), 7 three to eight year old satsuki azaleas and 3 three year old tsutsuji azaleas. The pot is a round unglazed tray, 28 inches (71cm) in diameter (you can’t really tell from the photo just how large the pot is).


This diagram is designed to give you a little better idea of the layout and relationship of the elements. The trees are numbered, but your eyes are much better than mine if you can distinguish them.

This bird’s eye view shows the placements of the rocks and footprint of the hills. Yes, the tray is really completely round. Round tray-style pots this size are very unusual. You’ll see extra large ovals and rectangles for sure, but when was the last time you saw a monster round tray-style pot?
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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bonsai tree: winter colours at last

The first frost’s of the Autumn have brought out some colour at last, a few trees have lost there leaves before any colour this year, and others are as good as ever.
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bonsai tree: No Interior Buds, Now What?


One down, one to go. Decandling two Japanese black pines. Photo by Jonas Dupuich.

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Bonsai tree: Gardens of Kyoto

These pics were taken around Kyoto in the summer of 2010. Included are shots from Hieizan, Nanzen-ji, Koto-in, Daitoku-ji, Ryoan-ji, Arashiyama, and a few others. Enjoy!

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Bonsai tree: Rebalancing & Restyling a Bunjin Pine


After. The trunk is strong and fluid, the overall balance is good and the new pot is suited to bunjin style. By Furube Tetsuyi. From Bonsai Today issue 33. See below for the before photo.

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bonsai tree: NEW BOOK! Gnarly Branches Arriving Any Day!


It’s somewhere in the northeast and getting closer by the minute. Any day now, any minute now, Gnarly Branches, Ancient Trees will come rolling in.

I’ve seen most of the photos and much of the text, and I will stake my reputation (whatever it is) on this being one of the most inspirational and exciting bonsai books ever published.

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Bonsai tree: More fall decandling

Source: Bonsai Tonight
More fall decandling

Last summer, Akio Kondo visited California to work and to teach bonsai. During a Bay Island Bonsai workshop, Kondo made an interesting suggestion for improving one of my pines. The tree looked great from a distance, but he quickly noticed that the tree had no interior buds. Without interior buds, the tree had no future. What to do?

I’ve been waiting a year to put his advice to the test. His suggestion was to decandle the tree in fall. Two of my trees made good candidates for the experiment. I decandled the first two weeks ago. I’m now getting to the second tree.

What’s the theory? Fall decandling is a two year process. By decandling late, “summer” buds have little time to develop. If the tree is healthy, it will produce adventitious buds in the tree’s interior.

If all goes according to plan, the tree will look silly in a few months – nothing but weak buds and old needles. Next spring won’t be much different. But as these new buds take hold, they set the stage for the following year. With a second year’s growth, the tree will regain its former vigor. So goes the theory.

Below are detailed shots of the decandling and needle-pulling process. I treated the tree like I would in spring, so the steps below apply equally to pines decandled in summer.

Two 16 year old Japanese black pines

One down and one to go – decandling Japanese black pine bonsai

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bonsai tree: Another Powerful Old Forest


This Japanese white pine is from our 2010 bonsai calendar. It brings to mind the pines on Point Lobos (California central coast). Though it’s difficult to be certain, it has the feel of a sinuous root (netsuranari) style forest (it appears that perhaps the large trunk is separate and the rest is a netsuranari, but again, it’s difficult to be certain). Netsuranari or not, all the trees seem to be cast from the same genetic mold.
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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bonsai tree: Contest Winner

This planting (River in India by Lew Buller) was the subject of a critique contest that we posted back on September 2nd.
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Monday, October 11, 2010

Bonsai tree: Shimpaku Juniper Bonsai

This tree is by far one of my favorites I’ve had the opportunity to work on in Japan. It’s a grafted Itoigawa Shimpaku Juniper on very old Sonare (Juniperus procumbens). The tree was originally purchased from a nursery in Kyushu by a customer and brought back to Himeji several decades ago. The tree has never been shown at an exhibition, but I’m hoping this’ll change in the near future.

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bonsai tree: New Planting Angle (Plus) Equals New Tree


After. Ezo spruce bonsai by Tomohisa Fujikawa.

At first glance you might think that just changing the planting angle is the whole story here. True, it’s a big part of the story and changing the planting angle so radically and making it look so natural is no mean feat. But if you take a closer look at the before picture (below) and the after picture (above) you might notice that there’s more than first meets the eye.
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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bonsai tree: Super Mario


Hornbeam bonsai (Soro in Japanese) by Mario Komsta.

Mario Komsta is his name

Once upon a time, when I was the publisher/editor of Bonsai Today, we featured an article by a rising young European bonsai star (issue 102 – we also featured him in issue 105). His name was Mario Jano. Or so we thought. Turns out, we were wrong (for the whole story see Bonsai Today issue 104 page 53). His name was, and remains Mario Komsta, and judging by the photos here (there’s more on his site) he’s a bonsai star that has fully risen.


Japanese winterberrry bonsai (Umemodoki).


Another hornbeam bonsai.


Whoa! This is one daring Shimpaku bonsai. At first glance I thought ‘oh no, another crazy overly sculpted bonsai.’ But, the more I look, the more I like. It’s two trees in one with that wild free form jin tying them together.

All the photos in the this post are from Mario Komsta’s website.

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