A Golden Opportunity to Refine Your Bonsai Skills and Deepen Your Understanding

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This striking shot was lifted from Bonsai Empire's video on Bonsai Fundamentals, an upcoming course by Michael Hagedorn.

This post is to unreservedly and enthusiastically encourage you to take Michael Hagedorn’s upcoming Bonsai Fundamentals Course.

Here’s some copy borrowed from the host of the course, Bonsai Empire: “Bonsai Fundamentals is an online tutorial offering unique insights into the fundamental concepts of Bonsai design and techniques. It provides important but often neglected instruction of plant-physiology and Japanese aesthetics, deepening your understanding of the living art of Bonsai. Available from March 11th.

If you know Michael Hagedorn you don’t need any more encouragement. But just in case you don’t know him, keep reading for a few observations about Michael and his way of bonsai…

I spent a very enlightening week studying bonsai with Michael Hagedorn a couple years ago. Aside from my own fumbling (and sometimes embarrassing) attempts at bonsai technique, there were several things that impressed me about Michael’s approach to bonsai.

Continued below…

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Michael Hagedorn's Mountain Hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana), winner of the Finest Evergreen Bonsai at the recent 5 U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition.

One of these is Michael’s devotion to technique. Attention to detail, rather than being a means to an end, is, for the best artists and craftspeople, an end in itself. And I can say with confidence that Michael is no exception. And though I don’t remember him saying this, I’m sure he would agree that without some effort to learn technique, you and your bonsai will stay stuck at the beginner’s level.

Continued below…

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Another shot from the video

Something else that stood out is Michael’s respect for his bonsai lineage and the Japanese bonsai tradition (Michael was an apprentice in Japan for three years). Every morning before we started we would look through Japanese bonsai albums (Kokufu) with an eye to determining what makes a tree worthy, and to understanding something about a sensibility that’s difficult to put into words (this sensibility part is completely subjective on my part, but I don’t think it’s far fetched at all).

Perhaps best of all, Michael is a friendly and kind teacher with a contagious, playful sense of humor and a distinctive laugh that you will not soon forget. Another good reason to take his Bonsai Fundamentals Course

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Your instructor Michael Hagedorn,
a Bonsai professional who apprenticed under
Bonsai Master Shinji Suzuki in Obuse, Japan

And now a couple words from the kind people that work tirelessly to make Bonsai Bark possible…

You always need more bonsai wire

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Good Bonsai Books will fill in the gaps in your knowledge

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Bonsai Art… As Art

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Bonsai Art Magazine living up to it's name...

Not many words today. We’ll just show you some covers of Bonsai Art (and some of our sales, of course). As far as the aesthetics of bonsai goes, it’s my favorite magazine.

Continued below…

As long as we’re on the topic of quality bonsai magazines…

This may be your last chance for certain issues
we have run out of some issues and many others are down to ones or twos
though we occasionally buy them back from people
this stream seems to be drying up

……….

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Here's what a professional wiring job looks like (and what a professional photo looks like)

Speaking of bonsai wire… As you no doubt know
you can never (well, almost never) have too much wire

Brand New Wire Sale

25% to 30% off 500 gram Bonsai Aesthetics Wire
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25% off 2-5 rolls (10.12 each)
30% off 6 or more (9.45 each)

……….

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If you look closely, you might notice that Bonsai Art (with the exception of its name) is in German.

 

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How would you like to look out your back window and see this? No bonsai, but close enough for my taste.

Here’s your chance to upgrade you Bonsai library…

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25% off our already discounted prices

plus another 5% off orders 100.00 or more
and FREE Shipping on U.S. orders 50.00 or more
Bonsai Books August 2016all this adds up to great savings
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……….

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Not as sure about this one...

All the covers shown here are from Bonsai Art’s facebook photos.

Walter’s Massive Forest & Other Hornbeam Bonsai

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This massive Hornbeam forest belongs to Walter Pall. Walter doesn't mention the variety in his gallery section (you might be able to hunt it down on his blog), but given that Walter lives in Germany, You might guess that it's a European hornbeam (Carpinus betula), but I wouldn't take it to the bank.

The other day someone asked if we would do something on Hornbeams, so here it is, the beginning of a series on the Hornbeam genus (Carpinus). And in case the person who asked is actually reading this (or anyone else is interested), our archives contain several Hornbeam articles.

We’ll start with a couple quotes from our long time friend Bonsai Mary… “Hornbeams, with their showy fall color, alternating leaves and interesting ‘flowers,’ make great bonsai subjects. They are deciduous and  by their nature they grow straight.  Therefore, they are best suited to formal and informal upright styles.

Continued below…

 

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 Hornbeam-bonsai-forest-w-WPThis should give you an idea of just how large the Hornbeam above is. That's Walter by the way. I borrowed the photo from Mary.
 Bonsai Mary goes on to say… “The European hornbeam (Carpinus betulus), Japanese (Carpinus japonica) and American (Carpinus caroliniana) are all popular as bonsai. Overall the Carpinus genus has approximately 25- 30 species.  So it shouldn’t be surprising to find many good hornbeam bonsai throughout the world’s temperate zones.”
Continued below… (I loath this -strong expletive – program when it jams everything together like this and nothing I do can fix it)
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This Hornbeam resides at the U.S. National Bonsai and Penjing Museum. This photo is also borrowed from Bonsai Mary. There's no mention of the species, and I'm on deadline, so you'll have to do your own research (though I know if Felix Laughlin reads this, he'll let me know).
Mary continues… “The wood of the Caprinus is very hard (it was used for structural beams) and almost white and resembles animal horns.
You can read more about Hornbeams (and everything else bonsai) at Bonsai Mary.
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This is not the first time we've shown this magnificent full fall color Korean hornbeam (Carpinus turczaninowii or coreana*). Actually, I suspect we've shown all the photos in this post before, I'm just too lazy to hunt them down. We originally borrowed the photo from Bill Valavanis' blog.
*Some sources use turczaninowii and other use coreana, though Wikipedia lists only turczaninowii.

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Continue reading Walter’s Massive Forest & Other Hornbeam Bonsai

A Very Unusual European Olive Bonsai – Before & After

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After. This impressive and very unusual European olive was styled by Javi Campos Juan.

You don’t often see Olives styled like this one; more like a conifer than an Olive. Regarding this, there is a good argument for styling in the way the type tree naturally grows. Trees that don’t conform to this standard often look unnatural.

Still, I like this tree a lot. True, at first glance I thought it was a conifer and was surprised when I read Javi’s Campos Juan’s caption which refers to it as Ullastre (Olea europaea L. var. sylvestris). But beauty is as you find it and  doesn’t always conform to our expectations.

Continued below…

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on our already discounted books


javiBefore

Before

I’ve been following Javi Campos Juan and his impressive bonsai on facebook for a while now. This is our second post featuring Javi’s trees. Here’s your link to our first from last August.

 

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The original uncropped shot

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Backyard Bonsai – #15

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Bonsai with Koi. This shot is from Kunio Kobayashi's Shunkaen Bonsai Museum in Tokyo. The concrete display poles are made to look like tree trunks. All but one of the photos in this post are borrowed from Bonsai Empire.

Yesterday we featured Kunio Kobayashi’s bonsai, so why not keep going on the same track (more or less… just the first two photos are from his Shunkaen Bonsai Museum)? This post originally appeared in November, 2015.

This is the fifthteenth post in our long-standing Backyard Bonsai series. However, if memory serves, this is the first time that we’ve shown commercial gardens that happen to be in backyards.

Continued below…

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BYshunkaenHere's another shot of the famous Shunkaen Bonsai Museum/Garden. Oscar of Bonsai Empire describes it this way: "The garden is quite spacious and this is the center patio; around it the masterpiece trees are displayed on poles made of wood. Most of these trees are pines."

 

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A little tight, but you do what you can with limited space. It looks like a classic (non-commercial) backyard with trees displayed around the edge of the yard.

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Here's what Oscar wrote about this one: "One of the most beautiful Bonsai gardens in Japan, Taikan is located in Obuse. The trees in the photo catch the eye, as the background and ground are plain. The owner of the garden, Mr. Suzuki is known for his great skill displaying Bonsai. The trees are fixed to the poles, mostly to protect them from storms and heavy snowfall." I cropped this photo because I thought the rest was distracting. Here's your link to the original.

 

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Here's a vertical display along a fence at the U.S. National Arboretum. The photo is by Aaron Karnofski.

 

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Up against the wall! I borrowed this from Rosade Bonsai Studio website. We first showed it here on Bark in a 2010 post titled Backyard Bonsai #6: Un Patio Hermoso.

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The Usual Suspects & The Real Mr Kobayashi

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This Japanese flowering apricot (Prunus mume) is from the Shunka-en Bonsai Museum. This and the other photos shown here  are from Bill Valavanis' Bonsai blog.

If you’ve seen the movie The Usual Suspects, you no doubt remember Mr Kobayashi, a smooth and ruthless professional criminal with a Japanese name and a face that doesn’t match. Just another surprise in a very surprising movie.

Anyway, I happened to watch Suspects for about the fifth time the other day, and now a day or so later, I just visited Bill Valavanis (his blog that is) and there he was… the real Mr Kobayashi, a genuine Japanese bonsai master who we’ve featured several times over the years. Strangely (to me at least) I never made the connection. But then, what’s in a name anyway?

Bill’s post is titled A Visit To Shunka-en Bonsai Museum. As you might surmise, Shunka-en belongs to the real Mr Kobayahshi.

Continued below…

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One of many powerful Shimpaku at Mr Kobayashi's Shunka-en Bonsai Museum. Here's a quote from Bill, "There were many large grafted Sargent juniper bonsai, all wired and just waiting to fill out for future sales." Bill consistently refers to Shimpaku as Sargent junipers. He is of course correct, even though most of us in the bonsai world refer to them as Shimpaku (there is a lot more that could be said about this, but we'll that for another time).

 

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I'm going to assume that this monster involves Shimpaku foliage (or Itoigawa or something else very similar) grafted onto Sargent juniper stock.

Speaking of grafted Junipers and Juniper bonsai in general…

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Our Masters Series Juniper book

includes a chapter by the real Mr Kobayashi
and an entire chapter on grafting
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Again, quoting Bill... "There are over 12 alcoves for formal bonsai displays. Mr. Kobayashi always shows his creativity in creating distinctive bonsai displays."

 

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Close up of the Juniper from just above. The blown-up fuzz is my fault. But fuzz or no, you might still appreciate the tree's elegant lines.

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Bonsai Forests – Turntable, Sieve & Hand Tool Sale

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We don't know the source for this photo (Just heard this from Felix Laughlin.... "Wayne, the top photo of the  forest of Chinese elms is from the North American Collection at the NB&PM, and was donated by Susanne Barrymore; it’s been in training since 1988"),but we do know that the trees are Chinese elms (Ulmus parviflora). Most forest plantings have a primary focal point, but in this case there are several trees competing for your eye. But no matter, the overall effect is one of unity, depth and naturalness; reminiscent of Live oaks in the California Coast Range.

Forest plantings today. All the photos are from a previous Bark post (it’s President’s Day and I’m enjoying a busman’s holiday).

Continued below….

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BCI51

Does five trunks constitute a forest? Maybe we should call it a mossy glade. Whatever you call it, it has to be one of the most impressive multiple trunk bonsai anywhere. It doesn't hurt that the individual trees can stand on their own, especially the twin trunk tree on the right (the focal point). The magnificent pot looks like an escarpment in the Rockies. Robert Steven took the photo at the 2012 BCI convention in Guangzhou, China.

 

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The sheer size and inventiveness of this mammoth planting is beyond impressive, though I'm not sure how the two distinctly different parts belong together. In fact, the large trees above that appear so close to the viewer, betray the distant feel of the smaller trees below. Still, based on sheer magnitude and daring, this is a planting that you'll most likely never forget. The trees are Hedge maples (Acer campestre). I've seen this photo several places. This time it was here.

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TYXS-2

B1KATOcovertreesRecognize this? You probably do if you've been around for a while. If not, this is what a planting by a bonsai master might look like.

 

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Here it is on the cover of one of the four or five best bonsai books in the English language (or any language). Available & on special at Stone Lantern.

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Radiant Red Leaves, Luminous Yellow Pot

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Without going into the stunning red-yellow contrast or why we are showing fall foliage when spring is looming... This sweet little Japanese maple belongs to Mark Arpag. Here are his comments, "Joe Noga Photography and color separation is exquisite !!! The sweet display table (below) is my friend Bill Valavanis' and really compliments my tree. Thanks to my great friends for capturing this beauty!"

Got a very late start this morning but still wanted to squeeze a post in (to make sure you know that today is the last day of our Roshi Bonsai Tool Sale). Coffee and then straight to facebook where these photos from Mark Arpag’s feed jumped off my screen, pierced my cornea all the way through to my waiting retina (vision has a passive quality), then though my pulsing optic nerve and into in my brain’s (it’s a very good brain) bonsai center, where they exploded like fireworks (just to see if anyone read this far, email me* ‘exploded like fireworks‘ and receive a 10.00 coupon to Stone Lantern).

Continued below…

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Winter. Now you can see Bill's stand

 

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Mark's new profile pic. Leaves look like Ficus.

*wayne@stonelantern.com

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Dynamic Show Stoppers & Other Brilliant Bonsai

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This brilliant Satsuki azalea is from a 2015 Bay Area Satsuki Aikokai add (see below).

Yesterday we featured some striking photos from the Golden State Bonsai Federation. Today we’ve got some even more striking photos from a 2015 post we did on GSBF.

Continued below…

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state2015

This dynamic show stopper with its massive deadwood swirl is one of many large bonsai from the private collection of Frank Bardella that were delivered to the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt in Oakland, California (from 2015). The image is from Golden Statement Magazine’s facebook photos.

If you love bonsai but don’t know the Golden State Bonsai Federation’s excellent Golden Statements Magazine, it’s time to get acquainted. I won’t say much more, except that Golden Statements has been around for a long time and is still one of the very best.

 

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Another great cover. This time it’s a Sierra Juniper from the Redwood Empire Bonsai Society‘s 31st Annual Bonsai Show (2014). No artist’s or owner’s name given.

 

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This Coastal Redwood bonsai (Sequoia sempervirens) was also shown at the 31st Redwood Empire Bonsai Society.

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statepine

This delicious pine is one of dozens of great trees you’ll find at Golden Statements (facebook again). There’s no caption to tell us who the artist is or the type tree, but based on the strong trunk, heavily plated bark and long luminous candles, I’m guessing it’s a Japanese black pine.

 

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Here's where we picked up our lead photo.

 

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The cover of the Spring 2015 issue. The quarterly magazine is full of bonsai stories, regular columns, and upcoming activities. And you don't have to live in California to subscribe.

Speaking of Bonsai magazines…

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Golden Bonsai Statements

GSmain

Magnificence in miniature. This is one of the most striking mame (literally 'bean') bonsai I've seen in a long time. And I don't think we need to say much about the pot, it can speak for itself. At a glance I'd guess this little bonsai is from Japan, but we can't be sure without attribution. I found it at the Golden State Bonsai Federation.* Here's part of their caption: "Steve DaSilva reminds all FBS (Fresno Bonsai Society) members that there will be four shohin bonsai workshops offered on Saturday, April 22nd, at the Koen-Nai fundraiser for the Clark Bonsai Collection..." For the rest you can visit them here.

I have long been a fan of the Golden State Bonsai Federation and Golden Statements, their excellent magazine. You can visit them at the GSBF website and on facebook.

Continued below…

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gs5Here' a shot lifted from GSBF's website. There isn't a caption, so we can't say much beyond 'great tree.'

gs2

This juniper looks like a Procumbens (or maybe a San Jose, though the color isn't quite right). The shot is from GSBF's facebook photos.

Speaking of Junipers…

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Golden Statements magazine, winter 2016 cover. Looks like one of California's evergreen oaks (Quercus agrifolia?).

*GSBF, Inc. is a non-profit educational organization which provides services and activities promoting the art of bonsai. GSBF is made up of member clubs in California and affiliate clubs in the adjoining States.

Yoshiaki Japanese Bonsai Wire Sale

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Japanese wire is stronger with better holding power

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30% off 1 to 4 Rolls of Japanese 400 gram Wire
40% off 5 or more rolls

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