Friday, April 29, 2011

Bonsai tree: World’s Smallest Bonsai?

Micro tree. Is this a Japanese maple? It’s from a facebook posting by Bonsai Guest House.


Usually, when something is billed as the world’s smallest (see below) or largest, or..?, it moves into that surreal novelty realm. Would you say these tiny bonsai qualify? I’m not so sure. There’s an art to doing this and to keeping the tiny trees healthy. Still…..

A place to stay

The photos in this post are from Bonsai Guest House in Osaka. I know almost nothing about the place, but you might want to check it out on your next Japan junket.

$1,000 Bonsai from Scratch Contest idea

You could do this for our $1,000 Bonsai from Scratch Contest. Think small and win (well, no guarantees). Small bonsai (Shohin Bonsai) is a pretty good idea if you are at a loss for what to do.

With flowers no less. It’s from the same facebook posting by Bonsai Guest House.

From this, it looks like Mr Mitsuo was trying to create the ‘world’s smallest bonsai.’ Definitely the novelty approach.

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bonsai tree: How to repot a young Japanese black pine (2 of 2)

Source: Bonsai Tonight
How to repot a young Japanese black pine (2 of 2)

One of my favorite repotting activities is often neglected. After removing the tree from the pot and working with the small roots (see part one of How to repot a young Japanese black pine) it’s time to improve the nebari. “Nebari” refers to the area where the roots emerge from the trunk – it’s the one part of the roots we can see from the outside. Good nebari conveys strength. A weak or unsightly rootbase can detract from the overall look of the tree.

We can improve the nebari by removing roots that don’t fit in for one reason or another, or by arranging roots in a more attractive fashion. For a young pine with lots of roots, I rarely hesitate to remove troublesome roots because I know there are better roots underneath. If the roots to be removed are bigger than what root scissors can handle, I use a concave cutter.

Concave cutter
Concave cutter

I have two of these – one for branches and one for roots. I’ve heard that this practice prevents the spread of fungus, though I don’t know how important this is. I like using separate tools for roots and branches because it’s easier to keep the branch-cutting tool sharp – the root tools must cut through soil particles – and I tend to keep my repotting tools separate from my other tools.

Some roots are easy targets. The small root below crosses directly above a root that grows directly away from the trunk.

Crossing root
Crossing root

Root removed
Crossing root removed

Read more!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bonsai tree: Backyard Bonsai #10

This isn’t necessarily the best shot of these gardens. I picked it because I think the mountain in the background gives a good sense of place (somewhere in Italy).

Antonio Gesualdi’s Bonsai Garden

I found these photos on facebook. They are part of album entitled AIkI BONSAI EN… my Bonsai Garden by Antonio Gesualdi. Though none of the photo are perfect, still, they capture the delights of Antonio’s little piece of bonsai and garden paradise.

Our backyard bonsai tradition

We’ve been occasionally putting up photos of backyard bonsai displays almost since our beginning, way back in the recesses of time (more than two years now). Here’s our last one. Good ones aren’t that easy to find, but this one certainly qualifies. If you’ve got photos of yours, I’d love to see them

A pond and bridge and plenty of other Japanese influenced landscaping features that go well with bonsai.

I like this shot. Even though there’s a lot going on, this corner of the garden seems lush and peaceful. It also shows a lot of very large bonsai.

Two very powerful trunks and a blue blue sky.

Antonio’s outdoor tokonoma.

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bonsai tree: You Can Win Our $1,000 Bonsai from Scratch Contest!

A close up of a large nursery stock plant that was transformed into a shohin (small bonsai) by Morten Albek (author of Majesty in Miniature, Shohin Bonsai), from Bonsai Today issue 107.

Why you can win

No one has entered yet. We’ve had a couple threats, but no one has sent us any photos of the raw stock yet. The contest is wide open.

One suggestion

Do what Morten Albek did. He took a relatively large nursery plant and cut it way down to make a small bonsai. That’s just one idea, but it’s a good one.

Another suggestion

Do whatever you want. But do it! You’ve nothing to lose and plenty to gain.

Rules etc are here

Good Luck!

Speaking of Bonsai Today…

…. all back issues of Bonsai Today are now 50% off (that’s half price for the math challenged).

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bonsai tree: Corylopsis spicata: An old Winter Hazel

I feel a bit guilty about not showing more of the deciduous trees I’m working on, as they form about 45% of my collection. It is a sad default to be primarily blogging about the junipers and other conifers, but the reason is that conifers can sometimes be designed in a day, whereas the deciduous I have are either very young, or poorly balanced and very old—both of which need 10 or 15 years of work. This Winter Hazel is one of the poorly balanced older trees.

The Winter Hazel came into my yard last year, and is the oldest I’ve seen over here. In fact I’ve never seen an older one in Japan. Neither had Matt Reel when he visited my yard a few weeks ago. The problems of the tree were obvious. The larger trunks were to the outside of the base, and there was no center trunk. The center trunk had died, but, curiously, a shoot had developed right in the center of the old rotted hole. That shoot is now about 8 years old, but will take another 15 before it is the dominant trunk. A lot of foliage balancing by cutting leaves in half every year, and restraining some shoot areas and letting other areas run wild, is ahead in the reworking of this one. This photo is just after flowering, and the young leaves and shoots are just beginning to grow.

The progression of my studio is apparent in this photo... mudding and taping is done, paint to follow...

The base. It looks more impressive in person. Bad photography!

New main trunk, and secondary trunk, growing out of old rotted hole.
Read more!

Bonsai tree: Bonsai Mania

Labor of love. I would love to see this majestic and wonderful mountain scene photographed with a neutral background and maybe a little stronger lighting. Still, even with the busy background, this planting stands out as pure inspiration and joy. I found it on Bonsai Mania facebook. The photo belongs to Bambang Gautama’s album. I was unable to determine if the planting belongs to Bambang or someone else.

Hats off

If you’re a facebook user, you might want to visit Bonsai Mania. They have been consistently posting excellent photos of bonsai and powerful natural scenes for a long time. Day in and day out. Such dedication deserves a nod.

Must be China’s Yellow Mountains (Haunshan). A good example of one of Bonsai Mania’s ‘Inspiraciones para tu Bonsái (Inspirations to your bonsai – their translation, not mine)’ which features hundreds of photos of beautiful trees and natural scene.

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bonsai tree: Power, Color & A Too Little Forest

Bougainvillea, Wigert’s Bonsai. I originally captured this impressive monster on facebook. I took the liberty of photoshopping to soften the background a bit. In the process, the flowers brightened some (a result of limited photoshop skills, no doubt). Still, even without my help, this tree exhibits a striking combination of power and color. You can visit Wigert’s Bonsai Gallery to see another shot in a different setting.

Too Little Ficus Forest. This one was lifted straight from Wigert’s Gallery. It’s cropped a little tight to eliminate some background text, but even so, its balance and beauty are obvious. I like the choice of trees, the arrangement, the sense of depth, and almost everything else about this planting (it would have been better to remove the distracting white tag), including the remarkable pot with its coral/pink blush.

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Bonsai tree: Planning Ahead: Francois Is Returning

I picked this pine (Scot’s?) up off of Francois Jeker’s website. I had a feeling we’ve used it before (we’ve posted around 1,000 bonsai on this blog so far, so it’s hard to keep track) and sure enough, we used a slightly different version of it exactly one year ago today to promote Francois’ 2010 visit to Rosade Bonsai Studio (auspicious coincidence, eh?). It’s a classic yamadori and even though it doesn’t show too much of Francois’ masterful carving, I like it’s simplicity and power. Altogether a very handsome tree (and in an amazingly small pot).

Return engagement

Francois Jeker, bonsai artist, author (Bonsai Aesthetics), teacher and renowned deadwood carver is returning the Rosade Bonsai Studio, June 2-4. I know that seems like it’s a ways off, but it’s really not. Besides, it’s good to plan ahead.

Francois and friends at Rosade Bonsai Studio in 2010 (Francois, Solita, man in blue shirt, and Chase).

Something to think about. It should be a great weekend.

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bonsai tree: Bonsai in the Bluegrass

June 16-19, 2011. This looks like a good one. If you are thinking about it, but not sure, check out the impressive list of visiting bonsai instructors.

List of instructors with profiles

Enrique Castano, Jim Doyle, Robert Kempinski, Min Hsuan Lo, Boon Manakitivipart, Jonathan Maples, Ryan Neil, Chiara Padrini, Doug Philips, Martin Schmalenberg, Andy Smith, John Thompson, Ed Trout, William Valavanis

List your event here

Just send us the information with a good image or two (72 dpi, 680 pixels wide).

Celtis (Hackberry) in fall color. By Min Hsuan Lo, one of the symposium’s headliners. Min has been featured on Bonsai Bark several times.

50% off all Back Issues of Bonsai Today Magazine

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Bonsai tree: Hawthorn raft

After 5 years work on the branches it finally begins have some ramification. Read more!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Bonsai tree: That Natural Look

Natural beauty in fall color with a single root system and multiple trunks. Another facebook find (somewhat crudely cropped for a closer look and to eliminate background distraction – the uncropped original is below). It looks like it might be a hornbeam, but that’s just a guess.


I’m not sure about the moss. It look good, but can’t be that healthy for the tree in terms of aeration and related issues. Normally, it’s better to leave some exposed soil. My guess is that it’s just for show and some of it will be removed later.

That natural look

A couple posts ago we featured a remarkable tree that has that ‘untouched by the hands of man’ look. I think this one evokes that natural feel as well, though as a bonsai, it may not be quite so perfect (comparisons are tricky, especially with two trees that are so different).

Apex and branching

I find the apex of the main trunk a little distracting, though if we are looking for that natural feel, then why not have an unfinished looking apex? I also think the somewhat leggy branching on the right is a little unsettling, but it begs the same question. Any thoughts?

Showtime. The uncropped original (photo by Paolo Tortore). The apex still bothers me a bit, but now that we can see the branches all the way out to the tips, they look a little better.

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!