Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bonsai tree: Tropical bonsai at the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum

Source: Bonsai Tonight
Tropical bonsai at the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum

The National Bonsai and Penjing Museum in Washington D.C. contains a number of bonsai that need far more warmth and humidity than D.C. winters can provide. They are housed in a greenhouse at the museum where they are currently thriving despite the impending cold weather. I’ve included photos of several below along with a few trees from the North American and Chinese Collections.

As before, the photos are presented in order of number of years in training, beginning with the longest in training. The banyan below has been in training since 1906.

Ficus microcarpa - Chinese Banyan. In training since 1906. Donated by Shu-ying Lui. Chinese Collection.

Ficus microcarpa – Chinese Banyan. In training since 1906. Donated by Shu-ying Lui. Chinese Collection.

Crataegus laevigata – English Hawthorn. In training since 1953. Donated by Bertram F. Bruenner. North American Collection.

Bougainvillea glabra – Bougainvillea. In training since 1969. Donated by James J. Smith. North American Collection.

Ficus microcarpa ‘Retusa’ – Chinese Banyan. In training since 1971. Donated by Mike Uyeno. North American Collection.

Schinus terebinthifolius – Christmas Berry. In training since 1973. Donated by Edward Nakanishi. North American Collection.

Conocarpus erectus – Buttonwood. In training since 1975. Donated by Mary Madison. North American Collection.

Acer buergerianum – Trident Maple. Donated by Stanley Chinn. Chinese Collection.

Acer buergerianum – Trident Maple. Donated by Michael Levin.

There were a number of signs that fall was upon us around the garden. Banana foliage in the Chinese Pavilion had recently been hit by frost. Elsewhere, fall colors filled the museum.

Garden at the Chinese Pavilion.

Japanese Laceleaf Maple – beautiful fall color.

Japanese Laceleaf Maple.

I’d like to thank Jack, Aarin, and the many volunteers that maintain these trees for our benefit. It’s an outstanding collection and I appreciate all of the effort that goes into its maintenance. Thanks!
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Monday, November 29, 2010

Bonsai tree: Now Back (It’s No Secret)


Bonsai Secrets by Peter Chan is back in print, new cover, excellent contents, and all.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bonsai tree: Another Trident: More Fall Color


This monster Trident maple has it all; massive trunk, fluid natural looking nebari (some maple nebari seem overdone), good lines, perfect pot, healthy green moss, everything (you might question the placement in the pot). The artist is German Gomez.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bonsai tree: Bonsai the Natural Way and the Hand of Man


My best guess is that this powerful old tree is a needle juniper (Juniperus rigida), though I can’t be sure. Whatever it is, it seems to posses an extraordinary number of separate live veins and a massive amount of deadwood to boot. It’s from Gyozan Nakano, Sakai: A 35 Year Anthology (not available in English).

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bonsai tree: Rules of Bonsai?

Though I don’t think this has much to do with ‘rules of bonsai,’ I like a well done bonsai drawing and this one qualifies. I found it here. The post is titled ‘?5º Workshop Bonsai Morro Velho.’

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Bonsai tree: The Attribution Question


This is a wonderful tree and the presentation is quite good (though it is difficult to make out the companion plant and some of the details on the main tree). I think it might be a hornbeam. It’s from Bonsaimania on facebook. All it says is: La foto de este bonsái pertenece al álbum de Jordi Escaler (The photo belongs to Jordi Escaler’s album). Do you think this tree belongs to Jordi? When I tried to follow the link provided, ‘content unavailable’ came up. When I searched Jordi Escaler bonsai, I struck out.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bonsai tree: Inspired by the Master


I found this striking forest-on-a-cliff on facebook. It was posted by Dario Ascoli. It caught my attention for two reasons: first it stands on its own as decent bonsai with good potential for further development, and second, it is reminiscent of a famous Hinoki forest by Kimura (see below). Though I can’t find any information on this (who’s the artist etc), I’d wager that the trees are also Hinokis.

Mature trees vs young trees

Though comparisons are often odious (and unfair, especially when it’s with Kimura), still, older trees make for much more interesting forests. In this case, Kimura’s hinokis (below) are not only mature, but also expertly styled; each one in accord with its size and position in the forest.


Another distinctive feature on the Kimura forest is the use of deadwood. It adds a touch of age and a sense of the struggle that you might expect trees to experience on a steep rocky mountain side.

Expert spacing and pruning help too

The spacing on the forest above is pretty good considering how many trees there are, but it is still a little crowded. Perhaps with time and a little jinning and pruning, it will open up a bit. You can see the advantage to a more open look on the Kimura forest. The maturity and power of the individual trees stands out, much the way you might expect in a inhospitable mountain environment.


This famous masterpiece hinoki forest is by Masahiko Kimura and is one of his favorites. The photo is by Morten Albek (author of Shohin Bonsai). It appears in The Magician: The Bonsai Art of Kimura 2.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Bonsai tree: Photoshopped Enchanced Fall Color


This remarkable Trident maple turned up on Bonsai Mania via facebook. It’s from the photo album of Alex Probst.

Enhancing color

I realize that everyone’s monitor isn’t the same, but still, this looks like a case of photoshopping to enhance color, when color is the point of the photo. In this case it’s yellow that’s enhanced. You can tell by the yellowish trunk and the yellowish wooden slab that the pot rests on. The pot also has a yellow tinge, but if it were the only thing that did, you’d have to assume that that’s its natural color.

It doesn’t really need it

None of this is to say that this isn’t a remarkable tree. It clearly is, with its extraordinarily powerful well tapered trunk and near perfect, natural looking nebari (not over the top like some maple nebari, but rather flowing naturally from the soil to the lower trunk). The overall shape of the canopy is excellent too, as is the choice of the pot (it’s a temporary display pot, too small to grow the tree in for very long).

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bonsai tree: Bonsai Crazy


Is this bonsai a yew (Taxus)? And is it one of the most powerful and dynamic bonsai around? Or, is it a Phoenix graft masquerading as one of the most powerful and dynamic bonsai around (even if it is a Phoenix graft, it is still quite spectacular)? I suspect it isn’t a Phoenix, though the large hunk of deadwood on the right does give pause. One thing I do know is that it’s from the album Bonsai Crazy by Adrian Lee Eu Wyn.

2011 is closing in. Don’t be caught without your bonsai calendar.

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Bonsai tree: More from GSBF Convention Exhibit

Source: Bonsai Tonight
More from GSBF Convention Exhibit

The GSBF XXXIII Convention Exhibit included more stones than bonsai. The two ends of the exhibit hall were devoted to suiseki, and some of the stones were displayed in more formal arrangements. The composition below was created by Mas Nakajima.


Suiseki display

Another suiseki display featured a large scroll and accent plant.

Suiseki display

The remainder of the suiseki were displayed along the walls of the exhibit room.

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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Bonsai tree: Japanese Maple

Some of you may have been following the development of this Japanese Maple Bonsai. I just took the brilliant red leaves off yesterday; we’ve had a lot of sun here in Portland and they did not last longer than 1 1/2 weeks. But it was a beautiful fall.

In any event, the small trunk to the right—which was originally an airlayer of a branch from this tree—has grown well and feels well ‘locked’ into the nebari. I’ve been piling cake fertilizer near it to stimulate the fine feeder roots that are the ones that fuse into a solid mass eventually. The upper roots were so active that they were growing right up into the cakes. I had to literally cut the fertilizer balls off yesterday.

One of the downsides of this higher rate of fertilizing is that the apex of the tree gets stronger, so I removed leaves in the top part of the tree during the growing season. It will take a couple years before this tree settles down again, but we did need that strength to fuse the smaller trunk in. The roots were so active that the tree has risen almost half an inch in the pot since this spring.

I will be repotting the tree next year, and the two photos here show the new front for it. The shift is subtle, but that small difference allows an arc to the trunk that supports the flow of the tree to the right.

Former frontFuture front
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Friday, November 5, 2010

Bonsai tree: Golden State Bonsai Federation XXXIII Convention Exhibit

Source: Bonsai Tonight
Golden State Bonsai Federation XXXIII Convention Exhibit

The Golden State Bonsai Federation (GSBF) held their 33rd Annual Convention, “New Faces,” last weekend in Santa Clara, California. As always, the Convention featured a bonsai and suiseki exhibit. Bonsai were displayed in formal arrangements with accents – suiseki displays book-cased the bonsai at opposite ends of the room.

Although the exhibit was not large, it did a good job of representing California bonsai with trees from different parts of the state. I hope in future years the exhibit can grow larger. California is host to many bonsai clubs and has many fine trees, making the GSBF convention an excellent venue for showcasing the state’s collections for bonsai enthusiasts and the general public alike.

For those who couldn’t make it this year, here are photos of the trees in the exhibit.

California Juniper

California juniper

Trident maple



California juniper
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Bonsai tree: Finally! Gnarly Branches, Ancient Trees


Gnarly Branches, Ancient Trees: The Life and Works of Dan Robinson – Bonsai Pioneer

Thank you for your patience

We’ve actually had the book for a couple weeks now, but a detail that needed to be worked out arose at the last minute. Now all is well and we are ready to ship.

The Picasso of bonsai

This is surely 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.
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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bonsai tree: Mugos by Mother Nature & Georg Reinhard


The sculpted look. This Mugo pine  bonsai by Georg Reinhard combines wildness and elegance with its flowing lines and almost perfectly shaped robust live growth. I particularly like the way the deadwood twists and turns all the way back down to soil and the jagged lightening bolt on the left. Though I know that some people take issue with highly sculpted deadwood, this is so well done that I can’t imagine even the most dogmatic proponents of the naturalistic look being too worked up about it.
I don’t think we ever see Mugo pines quite like these here in the States. It’s safe to say these are Yamadori (collected from the wild); Mugos are native to Europe, and they certainly have that look. But then there’s that skilled human hand that belongs to Georg Reinhard. Check out bonsai-kunst for more bonsai by Georg.


A more natural feel. The human hand is less evident here than in the one above. Still, it’s hard to know just how much the artist (Georg) contributed to this tree’s natural feel without seeing the way it looked when it was dug. No matter, this tree speaks for itself, loud and clear.

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bonsai tree: story of a Larix decidua

This came into my garden early spring 2001, larix decidua from the Italian Alps.
 01 (2)

 the first 2 yrs were spent convincing the tree it didn’t need the large arial root you can see in the first 2 pics, I did this by building a box with 2 sections, one to contain the roots from the main base of the trunk, about 40% of the root mass, the other to contain the roots from the arial root, I kept this section as dry as possible, watering when the foliage showed signs of stress (wilting) and feeding and watering the other half very well.
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Bonsai tree: Accenting bonsai

Source: Bonsai Tonight

Accenting bonsai

The East Bay Bonsai Society’s 49th annual show featured the kinds of bonsai accents one would expect – including flowering plants and suiseki – and a few that one wouldn’t. One of my favorites was a simple planting in a ceramic pot with a handle.


Accent in ceramic basket

Fern accent

Tiny accent in great pot

A small grass stuck out for its name: “Teena Turner grass.”

‘Teena Turner grass’ (sic)

Turns out that ‘Tina Turner Grass’ is more than a cute name – it’s a cultivar of Scirpus cernuus.

The show also featured some wonderful suiseki, including a snow-capped mountain range.






What most caught my attention, however, was a display featuring a coast redwood.

Coast redwood with bottled beer, paperback fiction, and electronic accoutrement

Accent matériel

Remote as accent

Coast redwood with novel stand

For all of its novelty, something about the display struck me as familiar. I checked through some photos and found what I was looking for at this year’s BABA show. Thanks, Tim, for another fun display.

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