Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bonsai tree: Redwood Empire Bonsai Society’s 28th Annual Show

Source: Bonsai Tonight
Redwood Empire Bonsai Society’s 28th Annual Show

The Redwood Empire Bonsai Society held their 28th Annual Show in Santa Rosa, CA, last weekend. Long known as one of the biggest and best bonsai shows in Northern California, REBS again lived up to their reputation. Two demonstrations by Kathy Shaner, a large vendor area, and over 200 bonsai on display drew large crowds to the event. Bonsai were typically displayed in 6′ display areas with accent plants. All trees were well-labeled, and most labels included information about the trees’ age. Some of the numbers indicated a general age – others were quite specific. Here is a selection of some of the large bonsai on display.

Korean hornbeam - 92 years

Korean hornbeam – 92 years


Shimpaku – 456 years

Shimpaku - 456 years

Shimpaku – 456 years

Mendocino cypress - 106 years

Mendocino cypress – 106 years

Monterey Pine - 51 years

Monterey pine – 51 years

Trident maple - 80 years

Trident maple – 80 years

White pine - 50 years

Japanese white pine – 50 years

San Jose juniper - 42 years

San Jose juniper – 42 years

Cork bark oak - 45 years

Cork bark oak – 45 years

Fig - 29 years

Fig – 29 years

Grape - 100 years

Grape – 100 years

Grape, zinfindel - 110 years

Grape, zinfandel – 110 years



Korean hornbeam - 73 years

Hornbeam – 73 years

Japanese maple - 40 years

Japanese maple – 40 years

European beech - 34 years

European beech – 34 years

Hawthorn - 39 years

Hawthorn – 39 years

Atlas cedar - 53 years

Atlas cedar – 53 years

Japanese maple - 40 years

Japanese maple –
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Bonsai tree: Mystery Bonsai Contest

Tree number 1. This one’s a mystery to me.

Win a $100 gift certificate

The first person to identify the artist and the species of all 6 trees will win a $100 gift certificate to Stone Lantern. If no one identifies all six, then the first person to identify five of the six will win an $80 gift certificate to Stone Lantern. If the winner identifies only 4, then the prize is a $60 gift certificate to Stone Lantern (and so forth).

Email you answers to me!

wayne@stonelantern.com. Answers posted in comments below WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED!

Contest end September 30th, 2011

No entries will accepted after Sept 30. If someone properly identifies all six before the 30th, the contest will end at that time.

Tree number 2. I know this one.

Tree number 3.  No clue on this one.

Tree number 4. Think archives.

Tree number 5. Hint: it’s a shohin.

Tree number 6. Tropical beauty.

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bonsai tree: At Bonsai’s Edge

Mosses etc in a stone container. All the photos in this post are from Moss and Stone Gardens.

If it’s in a bonsai pot

You can plant almost anything in a bonsai pot. If it’s woody, you can call it a bonsai. If it’s not, you can call it a companion or accent plant; a planting that’s designed to enhance a bonsai display. Or it could be designed to stand on its own, in which case you can call it a kusamono (for more on this, you can check out Willi Benz’ Bonsai, Kusamono, Suiseki, or this earlier post). No matter what you call it, you might come to the conclusion that, if it’s in a bonsai pot and it’s alive, it’s either bonsai or it’s related to bonsai.

Moss and Stone Gardens

When I recently stumbled upon the Moss and Stone Gardens website, I immediately recognized a kindred spirit. Not only are moss and stones are often incorporated into bonsai, but moss and stone gardens seem to fit with bonsai in more general, aesthetic ways. This is especially true when they are arranged in bonsai pots, but even beyond that, well-done moss and stone landscape gardens seem to have a natural connection with our bonsai sensibilities.

I this a type of bonsai? It’s in a bonsai pot (a cheap unattractive bonsai pot at that) and it even sports a little juniper. Or would you call it a type of penjing? Or saikei? Or…?

This bonsai pot suits this lichen, fern and moss planting very well.

A cornucopia of mosses in undulating, free form pot that may or may not have been designed for bonsai.

Moss and lichens (and maybe something else) in a well-chosen bonsai pot.

A seductive piece of an outdoor moss and stone garden.

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Bonsai tree: Which way does it go?

Source: Bonsai Tonight
Which way does it go?

I brought my hinoki to a Bay Island Bonsai workshop last weekend. It was the first time I’d thought much about the tree since I worked on it last year. It had filled in quite a bit and I wanted to give it some attention. I also had yet to decide what tree I’d be showing at BIB’s upcoming exhibit in January. Boon and I looked at the tree briefly and figured it was close enough to ready for exhibit. As is so often the case, I’d prefer wait a few more years before showing the tree again, but decided, ultimately, that it would be fun to show it at next year’s exhibit and then again in two years when it’s further along.

I first showed the tree at BIB’s inaugural exhibit in 2000. Every few years I remove the lowest branches and re-style the remaining foliage. Between exhibits, the tree has a chance to fill in a bit. To keep the tree full for next January’s exhibit, I don’t want to remove much foliage. For this workshop, I simply removed the yellow and brown foliage and started thinking about the tree’s silhouette.


Hinoki – summer 2011

Before removing old foliage

Old and new foliage

After removing old foliage

Old foliage removed

Cleaning up the old foliage made it clear that the tree was full enough to show. But what struck me, is the direction of the tree.

I asked others in the workshop what they thought. Some suggested the tree points to the right. I think the lowest branch on the right does point to the right, and I desire for the tree to point right. I’d argue, however, that the apex points decidedly to the left. To create balance, the key branch must point in the same direction as the apex. This tree is close to balanced, but not quite there yet.

Hinoki - front

Hinoki – which way does it go?

I noticed, as I looked closely at the tree, that as I rotate it to the right, the direction of the apex shifts from left to right.

A few degrees to the right

Apex left, key branch right

A few degrees to the right


Still further to the right

Apex beginning to point to the right

Although the tree’s silhouette looks pretty good from this angle, it’s not a suitable front for the tree as the key branch points away from the viewer. The photo is useful, however, because it suggests to me how to style the branches and apex to create balance.

Do all of these shots look the same? Are some angles more interesting than others? Am I being picky? Good questions! I’m hoping to re-set the branches before exhibit to improve the tree’s balance. Not all of the tree’s branches are long enough for me to create the silhouette I’m looking for, but I can get closer to my ideal ahead of the exhibit. Time for more wiring!
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bonsai tree: Bonsai maintenance

Source: Bonsai Tonight
Bonsai maintenance

I find mid-summer to late fall to be an interesting time of year in bonsai. It’s a good time for the little tasks – the maintenance work. In cooler seasons, I can bring one or two trees to a workshop that will keep me busy all day. This time of year, I tend to load up many trees and spend just a few minutes with each. This month was no exception. My winterberry, for example, has been growing vigorously, but big cutback isn’t scheduled until the end of the growing season. For now, I’m content to remove a few unnecessary branches and wire the new shoots.

Ilex serrata


Late spring is a good time to work on satsuki. My small azalea has grown dense since spring so I thinned out the new shoots.

Satsuki azalea

Satsuki azalea

My Yaupon holly has budded back wonderfully this year. Like I did for the winterberry, I removed a few unnecessary branches and wired the new shoots. Major cutback will come later.

Ilex vomitoria

Yaupon holly

Not everyone in the workshop busied themselves with such mundane tasks. Here is one of the three ficus that received a basic styling while I was busy with my trees. What a fun project!



I also had a chance to partially defoliate my trident maple. I’d hoped to do this work a month ago, but August has been cool and my trees have been growing slowly. Instead of removing all of the tree’s leaves this late in the season, I removed a lot of the growth at the ends of the branches and all of the big leaves.

Trident maple - summer

Trident maple

After removing large leaves

New leaves revealed after removing the large leaves

Partially devoliated apex

Half-way done

Partially devoliated

Partial defoliation complete

Watching the interior shoots make slow progress has made me wonder about taking a more radical approach next year. Although I have plenty of time to consider what I’ll do with the tree next spring, I’m already looking forward to seeing what will happen.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Bonsai tree: A Bonsai Snapshot in Time

One of the famous old ’Chabo-hiba’Hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa, Chabo-hiba) at Boston’s Arnold Arboretum. This one was dates back to 1787 and it looks like it’s still in the original pot.

Snapshot in time

The Larz Anderson Bonsai Collection (the first bonsai collection in North America that is still living), resides in Boston at Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum. Aside from the fact that it’s very old and the trees (some of them, at least) are still alive, this collection represents something quite unique; a living snapshot of Japanese bonsai from 100 years ago. Well almost; nothing living is static and the trees shown here are no exception. Over time, they continued to grown and mature and were pruned and repotted by a long line of curators. Still, as far as I know, no major restyling has taken place since the collection arrived in Boston in 1913, and much of the original look and feel of the trees remains from that time.

The Remarkable Journey of the Oldest Bonsai in America

If you’d like to dig into the history of the Larz Andersen collection, I heartily recommend this excellent article by Peter Del Tredici, former curator of the collection. You could also check out this Bonsai Bark post from last year, or, best of all, you could visit the Arnold Arboretum. It’s a trip worth making for anyone who loves trees, large or small.

Another old ’Chabo-hiba’Hinoki cypress in a well-chosen modern pot. Some of the pots have survived to this day, but many were lost due to freezing.

Japanese maple cultivar in fall color (though I like the choice of pots on the other trees shown here, I’m not so sure about this one).

Japanese white pine.

A piece of one of the original Hinokis that was saved after an uninvited split in the trunk. For the whole story see Peter Del Tredici’s article.

Slanting Hinoki cypress.

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!