5th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition – See You in Rochester


This sumptuous Japanese maple is from the 5th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition website.

I know that we featured this post a mere two months ago, but thought you might need the reminder. Plus it’s a shortcut so I can get out of here to enjoy the rest of the Holiday weekend. I also wanted to let you know that our FREE Bonsai Wire giveaway* ends Monday night, as do three of our current sales. Details are below.

It’s time to start thinking about the 5th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition. All of the previous Exhibitions were wonderful events and they just keep getting better. The dates are September 10-11 and fortunately the venue is the same as last year (if you were there you understand).

I won’t say more about the details right now, because everything you need to know is on the Exhibition site and we will post regular reminders. Meanwhile, enjoy the photos and start making your plans!



A small part of the vast venue and extensive bonsai selection on display


The 2016 logo tree


A small part of last year's vendor section


Spectacular Sargent juniper from 2014



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You Cut That Off and You lose the Soul of the Tree


"In Japan, I'm sure they would say this is not bonsai and cut this very long branch off," says (Ryan) Neil. "But when I purchased this piece of material (Ponderosa pine), the only thing I could think is: man, how could you take this wild, undulating branch that — although it may sit outside of the dimensions of what the Japanese model says makes a bonsai — you cut that off and you lose the soul of the tree. So I think what makes the American style special is preserving the wildness and resisting the temptation to domesticate it." From Think out loud, Oregon Public Broadcasting.

There’s no doubt that Ryan Neil and his bonsai are trending these days. Here on Bonsai Bark and, in this case, in an article from Think out loud, an Oregon Public Broadcasting blog. In addition to the photos shown here, the article features a podcast of a discussion with Ryan that is a must for anyone interested in bonsai in general and specifically American bonsai.

Here’s a quote from the blog: “Ryan Neil is an American bonsai master. He explains how the ancient Japanese art form translates to U.S. style, and walks us through an exhibit of his work currently up at the Portland Japanese Garden.

For more on Ryan and his bonsai, you can visit his Bonsai Mirai. You might also take a look at any of the numerous Bonsai Bark posts that feature Ryan’s trees and the Artisans Cup.


The caption with this exquisite Bunjin Japanese black pine reads "The goal of Bonsai Mirai and the Artisans Cup at the Portland Art Museum: to update bonsai for a new, distinctly American generation."


Big rugged deadwood dominated Rocky mountain junipers are often front and center wherever Ryan's bonsai are featured.


This Ponderosa pine is the lead tree on the blog and is discussed in some detail on the podcast.

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Bonsai by Fields


Like most people, I'm a sucker for showy flowers (subtle flowers too, but that's for another time). On bonsai and everywhere else. In this case it's a very showy Azalea bonsai that belongs to Mark Fields. Often azaleas and flowering bonsai are designed to show off the flowers, and though you'd have to ask Mark to be sure, I suspect that was his intention.

I found the three trees shown here on Mark Field’s facebook feed. There are some other good ones that are definitely worth a click, but rather than show them all, we’ll just whet your appetite.

Mark’s business is Bonsai by Fields, part of which is Mark Field’s School of Bonsai (definitely worth a look if you live anywhere near Greenwood Indiana).


You could recognize this massive tree as a Trident maple from a mile away. And even though saying this it an exercise in stating the obvious, that's a very impressive nebari. Great taper too.


This is a very sweet Shimpaku as is, but I'll bet it would be even sweeter in a smaller show pot with some moss and the deadwood enhanced a little with lime sulfur. FYI and in just case you don't know this; trees you see in shows are often in pots that are really too small for growing. When the show is over, they go back into larger pots.


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American Bonsai, The Unbridled Art of Ryan Neil at the Portland Japanese Garden


I've never seen a bonsai displayed like this. Not even in my imagination, and my guess is the same goes for you (unless you happen to be Ryan Neil). This photo is from a show at the Portland Japanese Garden titled American Bonsai, The Unbridled Art of Ryan Neil.

We’ve featured the bonsai of Ryan Neil numerous times here on Bark. But never quite like this (though Ryan’s Artisans Cup does share some of the same revolutionary vision). I won’t say much more except to encourage you to visit the Portland Japanese Garden (if geography puts a crimp in that possibility, you can at least visit their website).

The event, American Bonsai, The Unbridled Art of Ryan Neil is at the Portland Japanese Garden, May 21 to June 19. Ryan will be offering a Rocky mountain juniper bonsai demonstration on May 29th, 1-3pm.


This time it's a different tree (a Vine maple) and a different background. Same architectural structure though. I lifted this image from a video about the event that you can find on the Portland Japanese Garden website (and that I just spent 25 minutes trying to find again and failing... likely due to sleep deprivation).


You can see a piece of the lovely city of Portland in this shot (also lifted from the video).


A promotional piece from the Portland Japanese Garden Website.


This studio shot of the same tree as above is from Ryan's Bonsai Mirai. Another excellent destination while you're visiting Portland.


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Order now for you FREE wire
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The Details…
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Hamisu: Misting Bonsai on Hot Summer Days

RMJunThis wild & wonderful cascading Rocky mountain juniper is from Michael Hagedorn's latest post on Crataegus Bonsai. Clearly there's more to do, but even as is, it's an exciting bonsai.

The text below is from a 2010 post we borrowed from Michael Hagedorn on summer misting. In addition being a highly accomplished bonsai artist, Michael is a great teacher, with a wealth of bonsai knowledge almost unrivaled in the West. If you’d like to learn more than you ever imagined about bonsai, you’d be well served to visit Michael’s Crataegus Bonsai.

Here’s the original in Michael’s own words:
Last summer I mentioned the practice of ‘hamisu’ which is the misting of bonsai during hot summer days. This light topical watering wets the foliage, trunk, pot and first half inch or inch of soil. It refreshes the tree.If you water the trees in the morning on hot days, they will often need this lighter watering once or twice following that. This is especially true when the temperatures rise above 90 degrees F. Hamisu is most effective when the sun is lowering in the sky.

Be careful watering too late in the day when you have fungus problems. There is juniper tip blight, Phomopsis, to be concerned with, for instance. Any water on the foliage should dry before night sets in during the warm months.”

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Bonsai Book & Wire Sales End Tonight


Norway spruce (Picea abies) by Francois Jeker. From the first volume of Bonsai Aesthetics. Now 25% off at Stone Lantern.

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And just in case you are wondering; yes, we do offer a whole range of Japanese garden books and some others as well.


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Suthin’s Stupendous Bonsai Sale


This massive Trident maple is one of approximately 200 bonsai offered at Suthin Sukosolivisit's upcoming Private Collection Sales Event.

First a disclaimer. We get nothing for promoting Suthin’s ( or anyone’s) bonsai sales or other events. Just an occasional thank you. But that’s enough. We’re happy to do it and we’re promoting our own business at the same time (Bonsai Book Sale and Wire Sales end tonight), so we’re okay with the arrangement.

We’ll just show you a handful of photos of bonsai for sale at Suthin’s upcoming event (June 25 & 26) and encourage you to take a look for yourself (the selection shown here is by no means representative, there are numerous varieties offered).
More details below…


One of many juicy Shimpaku junipers offered

Where: Royal Bonsai Garden, Stoughton, MA

When: June 25 & 26

The rules

Items offered: Bonsai, Pre-bonsai, Bonsai pots and Stone lanterns


Arakawa Japanese maple. For some reason I chose the only two of these offered, when there are so many other great trees. Must be the bark.



Tiger bark ficus



Root-over-rock Trident maple



Another Shimpaku



And the other Arakawa Japanese maple...

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Quiet Dignity – Formal Upright Bonsai

cryptoafter-21This Cryptomeria japonica is reminiscent of the unimaginably vast and towering Giant sequoias in California's Sierra Nevada. This effect could be enhanced by photographing it from a little lower (see the photo below), but you still get the drift.

Back very late last night from vacation, so we’ll revisit our archives one more time. This one was originally titled Quiet Dignity (July, 2011).

What great trees. The one above is from Michael Hagedorn’s Crataegus Bonsai. You seldom see a real good formal upright bonsai and you don’t see many good Cryptomeria bonsai either. Especially in the West (as you might expect, they are more common in Japan). Their common name in English is Japanese cedar, even though they’re not really cedars (but then all kinds of trees that are called cedars, aren’t really).

In Michael’s own words “This cryptomeria was one of the standout trees in Boon’s backyard when I studied with him ten years ago. He’s been maintaining it for years. It was originally styled by Mitsuya during one of his visits to the states in the early 90s, and is the most significant cryptomeria I’ve seen in the United States. It’s about a meter tall, and has been developing as a bonsai for about twenty years….” For the whole story, visit Crataegus Bonsai.

pineformalAnother dignified formal upright. The one is a legendary Japanese white pine and is perhaps the most famous formal upright bonsai in the world. If was restyled by Masahiko Kimura (The Magician) just before this photo was taken in 1997. It appears in our book: Pines, Growing and Styling Japanese Black and White Pines.


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Pine Boom again


This gnarly old Mugo pine belongs to Walter Pall. It's no doubt a yamadori (bonsai collected from the wild). Perhaps from the Alps?

Yesterday was Walter Pall. Today it’s pines, two of which belong to Walter. This post originally appeared here on Bark in September, 2012.

As far as I know, there is no Pine Boom. I was trying to type Pine Book as a filler until a more suitable name for this post came to me. Then, a simple typo, and now it’s Pine Boom.

Anyway, I’m trying to pull myself to together to catch a plane, so, quickly, here are some pine bonsai for your enjoyment (this was written in 2012, but still holds; catching a cross-country plane tomorrow morning back to Boston and then the three hour drive home to Vermont).


sudoWould you remove the first branch? The more I look at this tree, the more I like it. It's a Japanese white pine by Susumo Sudo. Even though it doesn't sport a heavy truck, there are several other features that lend an aged feeling; not the least of which are its rugged bark and natural looking deadwood (particularly the see-through shari). It's from our Masters' Series Pine book.


Before and after Scot's pine by David Benavente. You might notice the rebar in the after photo. If you're familiar with David's bonsai, you know that he has a penchant for using rebar to shape tough old wood.


Apologies for featuring Walter Pall's famous Scot's pine once again, but just in case you're one of the three people who hasn't seen it. This particular iteration of this oft photographed tree, appear on the cover of Bonsai Today 104.


Photoshopped? I'll leave you with this one to contemplate. I found it in Peter Ebensperger's facebook photo.

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