Flowering Bonsai & some other Good News

fuciaThis is the first and only Fuchsia bonsai we've shown. Until now, that is (see below). It's from a post we did two years ago. We originally found it at Aus Bonsai.

Tropical and semi-tropical flowering plants are common and abundant, though not all are suitable for bonsai. This has a lot to do with leaf size, as many have leaves that are too large for bonsai (you can reduce leaf size to some degree, but in most cases it’s best to start out with plants that have small leaves and short internodes).

Two good warm climate flowering plants that are suitable for bonsai are Fuchsia and Lantana. Both are common patio plants here in the Bay Area (my home away from home) and the transition from patio container to bonsai is an easy one.

It’s about the flowers. If these attractive little trees weren’t in flower, they might be consigned to back benches somewhere. However, when they are in flower… well, you can see for yourself.


This cascading Lantana belongs to Ed Trout. Once you get beyond the brilliant and abundant flowers, you might notice the elegant pot (are those holes?).



Another Lantana by Ed Trout. The elongated crown is perfectly designed for showing off the flowers.



Fuchsia in full flower. I found this one and the one below on Pinterest (usually a dead end when it comes to attribution).



This Fuchsia looks like it was styled using the clip-and-grow method.


Two Bonsai Tool Sales & one Wire Sale

Tools & Wire x3

25% off Koyo Japanese Bonsai Tools
25% off Bonsai Aesthetics Novice Grade Bonsai Tools
25% off Yoshiaki Japanese Bonsai Wire

plus FREE Shipping on U.S. orders 49.00 or more

Two Masterpiece Bonsai Forests & an Inspired Imitation


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.

Though comparisons are often odious (and unfair, especially when it’s with Kimura), still, older trees make for more interesting forests. In this case, Kimura’s hinokis (above and at the bottom) 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 above is the use of deadwood. It adds a touch of age and a sense of the struggle you might expect on a steep rocky mountain side.

The spacing on the forest just below 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 forests.

Another distinction is the the maturity and power of the individual trees and also the varying sizes (ages) in the Kimura plantings, as contrasted with the almost uniformly younger looking trees in the planting just below.


I found this striking forest-on-a-cliff on facebook (six years ago). It caught my attention for two reasons: first it stands on its own as a very good bonsai with plenty of potential for further development, and second, it was clearly influenced by the famous Hinoki forests by Kimura (above & below). Though I can't find any information on image search or anywhere else, I'd wager that the trees are also Hinokis.


2sweet21I borrowed this photo from a post we did in 2013. It's also by Kimura and my best guess is that it's also a Hinoki planting.

Today is the first day of a short mid-winter vacation, so rather than spend much time working, we dug this post up from our archives (November, 2010). With quite a few changes and one more photo, to bring it up to date.


Two Big Sales end soon
ORMIX3-225% off Bonsai Fertilizers and Tonics
this sale ends Monday night


25% off Bonsai Aesthetics Tools
also ends Monday night

plus FREE Shipping on U.S. orders 49.00 more
this special will end someday, but not just yet

A Humble Bonsai Artist’s Ordinary House on an Ordinary Street, Somewhere…


Night shot out the back door of a humble bonsai artist's ordinary house on an ordinary street, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.

There are lots of good bonsai blogs these days. I’ve got three or four favorites, but there’s one that keeps bringing me back. The photos are plentiful and very good (even exciting), with shots of some of the best bonsai in North America (and people having entirely too much fun). These alone are worth the price of admission (there isn’t a price, but if there were…). But it’s the writing and the value of the content that really gets me (insight, subtlety, humor; you name what you’d like to see in bonsai blog).

Figured it out yet? Here’s a hint.


Not a bonsai, but a perfect Iris in a bonsai pot. Typical of a humble bonsai artist.


tallclumpA very tall Hemlock clump (7 feet 4 inches tall - 224 cm). Here's some of that writing I mentioned...  "This is all one tree, a natural, root-connected clump. For inspiration on how to handle this styling, I thought of the trees in that curious and expressive mountain zone just below the small and stunted krummholz zone, where the trees still have some height and make up small forest groups. The bottom branches of the trees in this zone often have environmental stability, while the apexes are sometimes windblown. So this tree was suggestively treated that way. This clump continues an exploration of our Northwestern forests in bonsai, the first being another Hemlock group designed some time back."


ticketAnother hint



Itiogawa shimpaku grafted onto a needle juniper



I don't know either of these courteous gentlemen. But I'll guess that the photo was taken in a famous rose garden somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.


juniper veins

A juniper and something you probably don't know about living veins.



Another hint






B1POST for web

Post Dated
still the best bonsai read


25% off Koyo Japanese Bonsai Tools


Koyo Tools
have long been a favorite of serious bonsai enthusiasts
includes Master Stainless tools
and professional grade high carbon steel tools

plus FREE Shipping for U.S. orders 49.00 or more

How Not to Fertilize Your Bonsai

black2Japanese black pine (Pinus thunbergii) just after trimming and wiring (the before photo is below). From our Masters' Series Pine Book.

Whenever Michael Hagedorn writes, I read. What follows is part of a post by Michael from his Crataegus Bonsai blog:

“For fertilizing bonsai, we can make this one basic distinction: Begin fertilizing a young, unrefined tree when it begins growing early in the spring. Wait a bit with an older, refined tree—usually begin fertilizing when it’s just hardening off it’s spring growth…

Quiz: If we were to fertilize everything the same, strongly, starting early in the year, what would happen?
The young trees would stay forever young
The old, developed trees would become young again.” Here’s the rest of Michael’s post.

Michael doesn’t talk about which fertilizers he uses, so… in my experience, and in the Japanese tradition, well-balanced, mild organic slow-release fertilizers are the best. Slow release means steady nourishment to the roots and fairly mild means no risk of root burn and no damage to beneficial microbes. When it comes to well-balanced, mixing (or alternating) two or three types of fertilizers works best.


ORMIX3-2Three fertilizers we use. Green Dream pellets and Rape Seed cakes are slow release. Bonsai Pro is a mild liquid fertilizer, for an extra boost. All of our fertilizers are now 25% off at Stone Lantern.


blackleadWell fed and at the peak of health. Now it's ready for trimming and wiring. Both photos of this tree are from our Masters' Series Pine book. BTW, it's not that often you see the base of a trunk almost completely fill the mouth of the pot.

Look familier? Though I’ve added some words and changed things around a bit, the photos and much of the text in this post are from our archives.

NEW Sale
25% off Koyo Japanese Bonsai Tools
Tools-Koyo1-500x303plus FREE Shipping on U.S. orders 49.00 or more


The Artisans Cup – Bonsai Past Present & Future


Look familiar? As an encouragement for you to visit the Artisans Cup website and see for yourself, we'll break with our tradition and not identify the trees or their owners in this post.

We just received a press release from Ryan Neil. It’s about the Artisans Cup, one of the most exciting and innovative bonsai events yet. Anywhere. But Ryan’s press release is not just about what has already happened, it’s also about the future of the Cup and of bonsai.

But rather than me telling you about it, we’ll let Ryan speak for himself…

The Artisans Cup, the premier showcase of American bonsai that took place at the Portland Art Museum September 25-27, 2015, today launches a new site experience offering a comprehensive look back at the event. The site will feature facts, photos, and audio & video content highlighting the concept and creation of the show, as well as details and audio critiques of every tree exhibited.
Continued below…


The second place tree. I cropped this one and the two just below for closer looks.

Ryan Neil continued from above:
Visitors of the new website will get a detailed look behind the scenes at the immense community effort that brought the exhibition to life. The countless hours of planning and hard work by the show’s dozens of collaborators and participants will be displayed through photos, videos, and notes from the organizers. In addition, for a one-time fee of $65, users will be able to purchase access to special in-depth content with insights into the competition and how it was run. This content includes audio from all three panel discussions held during the event: “The Future of Bonsai,” a forecast of the art of Bonsai with founders Ryan & Chelsea Neil; “Ask The Judges,” a chance to get inside the minds of the professionals who judged the exhibition; and the “Collaborators Panel,” a look at how the principles of Bonsai translate into art, design, and culture, featuring key creative collaborators that helped to bring The Artisans Cup to life. Subscription content will also include studio portraits of all 71 trees, along with detailed audio critiques of each tree from all five of the event’s judges.
Continued below…


One of two third place trees.

As an organization, The Artisans Cup is dedicated to celebrating the beauty of time and the balance of nature, showing American Bonsai for the art form it truly is. A steadily growing subset of the millenia-old tradition, American Bonsai honors the past while pushing the artistic boundaries of what is possible. The Artisans Cup seeks to highlight the artists who are leading the way, while simultaneously inspiring a new generation of Bonsai enthusiasts to join the movement. On the heels of an overwhelmingly positive reception to its inaugural event, The Artisans Cup is looking ahead to its next event in 2020, and laying the groundwork for a show in one of New York’s finest art museums in 2025.
More from Ryan below…


The other third place tree.

About The Artisans Cup: The Artisans Cup is the premier exhibition of American Bonsai, located in the heart of Portland, Oregon. The Artisans Cup is led by Ryan and Chelsea Neil, founders of the groundbreaking Bonsai incubator Bonsai Mirai, located just 25 miles outside of Portland. 3,200 people attended the group’s first exhibition during the 17 hours it was open in late September 2015, making it one of the best-attended temporary exhibitions in the history of the Portland Art Museum.

Retrospective Teaser:


25% off Roshi Bonsai Tool Sale ends tonight
Roshi2We love our Roshi Bonsai Tools
You can feel the craftsmanship when you hold them in your hands
and the price is right
25% off Sale ends tonight (Monday) at 11:59pm EST

FREE Shipping on U.S. orders 49.00 or more

Bonsai Microsculptures

47A perfect yamadori bunjin with deadwood and a snake like living vein. Sweet pot too. This and the other photos shown here are from Ken To's website.

This post is borrowed from our archives (Sept 2013). It wasn’t the first time we’ve featured Ken To’s beautifully detailed little wire bonsai sculptures and won’t be the last. We have caught  a little grief about posting these cause they aren’t real bonsai. But that’s just silly.

Rather than going to the trouble of actually thinking and writing, here’s some text that I lifted from Katie Hosmer at My Modern Met. “To’s microsculptures must require incredible patience and a very steady hand. The curls and twists mimic the shape of a living bonsai, each one standing an average of about 2 to 4 inches tall and placed in various bonsai pots created by Jim Barrett. Ken To uses exhibition grade wire, sometimes choosing to blend several tones into one final shape. The elaborately hand-crafted designs are a wonderful interpretation of the classic bonsai art form, and can be purchased on the artist’s website

A semi cascade with a perfect little Jim Barrett pot. All the pots Ken uses are by Jim.


Informal upright multi-toned weeping willow.


Ken dug this old Shimpaku high in the mountains of Japan. I'd say the silver wire is deadwood and the gold is living.


It's very small and it's made of wire, yet it's clear that it's a deciduous tree in fall color.


25% off Roshi Bonsai Tool Sale ends tomorrow night
Roshi2We love our Roshi Bonsai Tools
You can feel the craftsmanship when you hold them in your hands
and the price is right
25% off Sale ends tomorrow (Monday) night at 11:59pm EST

FREE Shipping on U.S. orders 49.00 or more

Colorful Shots to Brighten up Your Mid-Winter

azalea6This photo was taken to emphasis the flowers, rather than the tree. If you were to take a photo of this tree when it's not in flower, you'd take it a from a point a little lower to better show the powerful trunk and nebari. Sometimes photos just seem to appear on my desktop without any reference. This is the case here, so my apologies for failure to attribute this multi-hued Satsuki azalea to its rightful owner (best guess; Japanese owner).

Today, it’s just a few colorful shots to brighten up your mid-winter experience.



Got a strange old pot lying around that just won't work with any of your trees? Here's Michael Hagedorn's solution. We'll call it Narcissus in a bonsai-ish pot.



This colorful tree-pot match is from our 2014 bonsai calendar. There aren't a lot of trees that can handle such a brilliant pot. Judging by the berries and the bark, I'd say it's a Japanese winterberry (Ilex serrata).



We don't usually show pieces of bonsai, but when we do, we call it art. This photo is a part of the cover of our 2013 bonsai calendar.



There's a reason for these chopped up calendar photos; in most cases, our scanner is too small to fit the whole tree and my photoshop skills are lacking when it comes to piecing scans together in a non-butchered way. This one is from our 2016 bonsai calendar (now 50% off at Stone Lantern).



This colorful shot is from our 2016 Japanese garden calendar (now 50% off).


GreenT oak

This photo has less to do with color and more to do with an amazing tool; our new Green T Bonsai Turntable. BTW: you might recognize the tree. We showed it just the other day.

High on the Bonsai & Penjing Pantheons

penjing copy

This remarkable planting belongs somewhere near the top of the Penjing pantheon. I'd love to have close-ups of this brilliant landscape by Kuanghua Hsiao, so we could see the details, but we'll take what we can get. I found the photo here.

Just two remarkable photos today. It’s not that often you see two bonsai by the same person, each so completely different from the other and each among the best you’ll see anywhere.

Kuanghua Hsiao

Speaking of pantheons, this one has to be somewhere near the top of great deciduous bonsai. It was posted on facebook by the same Kuanghua Hsiao (above), but no indication of the type tree or other details.


25% off Roshi Bonsai Tool Sale ends soon
TMRoshiOur 25% off Roshi Tool Sale
ends Monday night at 11:59pm EST

FREE Shipping on U.S. orders 49.00 +

Nipping & Snapping at Noelanders – Part 2


This one has that wild, almost untouched look, that takes you straight to a rocky ledge off in the mountains somewhere. I don't know what it is but I like it and its pot. This photo and the others shown here (and in yesterday's post) were taken by Graham Potter at last weekend's Noelanders Trophy.

Yesterday I wrote “There’s a long discussion on facebook about Noelanders Trophy and some ‘haters’ (an overused word that some people use just because someone else expresses a dislike or a contrary opinion), but I’ve decided that this is a part one post, so we’ll save my commentary for part two.” Now I’m not so sure I want to open this can of worms, but a promise is a promise, so here goes…

…In most art forms, when an art piece is displayed, the artist’s name, (when known) is prominent, with the owner’s name secondary (on loan from so and so, for example).

When it comes to bonsai the convention is to simply list the owner. There are good reasons for this. One is tradition (that’s the way it’s done in Japan). Another is that it’s not always clear who the artist is and many trees have had several artists (this no doubt is part of the reason the tradition developed). And of course, the owner is the one who puts up the money…

I am at peace with this tradition. However, knowing the history of a tree is a real plus. When you see a painting you might want to know who the artist is (is that a Klee, a Miro, a Kandinsky, or…?). This inquisitiveness and ability to see similarities and patterns often causes a second or third look and can deepen appreciation. It’s not that different with bonsai (there’s more that could be said, but you probably stopped reading at least two paragraphs ago anyway).

I borrowed all the photos is this post from Graham Potter of Kaizen Bonsai.

kaizan12Even though this one looks a lot like a few hundred other quality Shimpaku bonsai we've seen lately (a wild, undulating, deadwood dominated trunk with a single living vein, more crazy deadwood up top and a nicely balanced crown for contrast)... still, it's a beautiful tree.



Two headed beauty in naked winter display.



Is this an oak? We showed a couple yesterday that share a look with this one. Perhaps related to Walter Pall's fairy tale bonsai, though somewhat tamer.



This yamadori (Norway spruce?) with its bonsai S curve, deadwood base and perfect little jin up top is one of my favorites. And the pot works to perfection.



I've said enough. We'll let this one speak for itself.


Two New Sales at Stone Lantern


40% off Back Issues of Bonsai Today Magazine


25% off all Bonsai Fertilizers & Tonics

Plus FREE Shipping on U.S. orders 49.00 more