The Usual Suspects & The Real Mr Kobayashi

ume

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…

NEW Sale -25% off all Yoshiaki Tools

Yoshiaki Turntables, Soil Sieves & Hand Tools

Yoshiaki

 

koba

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).

 

koba2

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…

b1jun-2

Our Masters Series Juniper book

includes a chapter by the real Mr Kobayashi
and an entire chapter on grafting
and much much more
list price 29.95
SPECIAL ONLY 19.95

 

koba4

Again, quoting Bill... "There are over 12 alcoves for formal bonsai displays. Mr. Kobayashi always shows his creativity in creating distinctive bonsai displays."

 

koba5

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.

Yoshiaki Bonsai Wire Sale ends tonight

30% to 40% off 400gram Japanese Bonsai Wire

Japanese wire is stronger with better holding power

wire

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

this sale ends tuesday, Feb 21st at 11:59pm

an extra 5% off all Stone Lantern orders 250.00+

FREE Shipping on all U.S. orders 50.00+

be sure to select Free Shipping when you check out

Bonsai Forests – Turntable, Sieve & Hand Tool Sale

bonsai-chineseelmforest01

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….

NEW Sale -25% off all Yoshiaki Tools

Yoshiaki Turntables, Soil Sieves & Hand Tools
TT1388

 

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.

 

superforest

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.

NEW Sale -25% off all Yoshiaki Tools

Yoshiaki Turntables, Soil Sieves & Hand Tools

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.

 

B1KATO-2

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.

NEW Sale -25% off all Yoshiaki Tools

Yoshiaki Turntables, Soil Sieves & Hand Tools

TYshears

FREE Shipping on all U.S. orders 50.00+

Extra 5% off orders 250.00 or more

be sure to select Free Shipping when you check out

Radiant Red Leaves, Luminous Yellow Pot

mari

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…

Bonsai Tool Sale Ends Tonight

30% to 35% off Roshi BONSAI Tools

TM-Roshi BannerRoshi Bonsai Tools
are famous for precision cuts, durability, beauty & great prices
Roshi Sale Ends tonight, Sunday, Feb 19th at 11:59pm EST

mark3

Winter. Now you can see Bill's stand

 

mark2

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

*wayne@stonelantern.com

NEW Bonsai Today Back Issue Sale

Each issue is rich in step-by-step how-to articles by the old masters
bt100cover-500x642

30% off 1-9 Bonsai Today back issues
40% off 10 or more back issues

an extra 5% off all Stone Lantern orders 100.00+

FREE Shipping on all U.S. orders 50.00+

be sure to select Free Shipping when you check out

Dynamic Show Stoppers & Other Brilliant Bonsai

sat
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…

Bonsai Tool Sale Ends Tomorrow Night

30% to 35% off Roshi BONSAI Tools

TM-Roshi BannerRoshi Bonsai Tools
are famous for precision cuts, durability, beauty & great prices
Roshi Sale Ends tomorrow, Sunday, Feb 19th at 11:59pm EST

 

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.

 

statecover

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.

 

stateredwood

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

Yoshiaki Japanese Bonsai Wire Sale

30% to 40% off 400gram Japanese Bonsai Wire

Japanese wire is stronger with better holding power

wire

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

an extra 5% off all Stone Lantern orders 100.00+

FREE Shipping on all U.S. orders 50.00+

be sure to select Free Shipping when you check out

 

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.

 

statesatsuki

Here's where we picked up our lead photo.

 

statecover2

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…

NEW Bonsai Today Back Issue Sale

Each issue is rich in step-by-step how-to articles by the old masters
bt100cover-500x642

30% off 1-9 Bonsai Today back issues
40% off 10 or more back issues

an extra 5% off all Stone Lantern orders 100.00+

FREE Shipping on all U.S. orders 50.00+

be sure to select Free Shipping when you check out

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…

Bonsai Tool Sale Ends in 2 Days

30% to 35% off Roshi BONSAI Tools

TM-Roshi BannerRoshi Bonsai Tools
are famous for precision cuts, durability, beauty & great prices
Roshi Sale Ends Sunday, Feb 19th at 11:59pm EST

 

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…

THE Book on Juniper Bonsai

b1jun-2Our Masters Series Juniper book has something for everyone
including a wealth of do-it-yourself instructions by the Old Masters
list price 29.95
SPECIAL ONLY 19.95

gs4

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

30% to 40% off 400gram Japanese Bonsai Wire

Japanese wire is stronger with better holding power

wire

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

an extra 5% off all Stone Lantern orders 100.00+

FREE Shipping on all U.S. orders 50.00+

be sure to select Free Shipping when you check out

 

Ferociously Contorted Scot’s Pine

scots2

Gabriel Romero Aguade says of this magnificent, ferociously contorted, Scot's pine, "Maintenance work and small improvements in a pinus sylvestris from a client. Reposition the angle of planted, settlement of the low branch, cleaning of leaves and selection of outbreaks."

I’ve been seeing a lot of Gabriel Romero Aguade’s bonsai these days and every time I do, I think I should post some. Now, finally, the moment has arrived.

Continued below…

Fertilizer Sale Ends Tonight

25% off all Green Dream

Organic Slow Release Pellets
orgreendream2Sale ends tonight (Thursday) at 11:59pm EST

scotscu

Close up

 

scotswith

The artist with the tree. Though the internet is teeming with photos like this, we prefer to focus on the trees and leave the people to facebook (consider the name). Not that there's anything wrong with artists posing with their trees and we are making an exception here. Perhaps this exception has to do with the somewhat distracting mudra.

 

working

The artist in action

BIG SAVINGS ON QUALITY BONSAI TOOLS

30% to 35% off Roshi BONSAI Tools

TM-Roshi BannerRoshi Bonsai Tools
are famous for precision cuts, durability, beauty & great prices

30% off 1-2 Roshi Tools
35% off 3 or more

an extra 5% off all Stone Lantern orders 100.00+

FREE Shipping on all U.S. orders 50.00+

be sure to select Free Shipping when you check out

Full Bloom Bonsai – A Passion for Beauty

65azaleaflower-1

This wildly colorful Satsuki Azalea is from a Flowering Bonsai Gallery in Bonsai Today issue 65 (image courtesy of Bonsai Focus). If you take a close look at the flowers, you'll see that there are a number of different shades and patterns. A mark of human passion for beauty and endless variation.

There are few things as delightful as Satsuki azalea bonsai in full bloom. Especially in person. Lacking that, next best are high quality photos of Satsuki azalea in full bloom. Especially during the darkest and coldest days of winter.

Continued below…

NEW INCREASED DISCOUNTS

30% to 35% off Roshi BONSAI Tools

TM-Roshi BannerRoshi Bonsai Tools
are famous for precision cuts, durability, beauty & great prices

30% off 1-2 Roshi Tools
35% off 3 or more

 

07-flowering-azalea-bonsaiWe borrowed this stunning (some might say gaudy) Satsuki photo from Bonsai Empire.

Fertilizer Sale Ends Tomorrow

25% off all Green Dream

Organic Slow Release Pellets
orgreendream2Sale ends Thursday at 11:59pm EST

 

Satsuki_NikkoThis Nikko Satsuku Azalea, with its soft flowers and perfect trunk is from the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum’s Japanese collection. It was donated by Masayuki Nakamura.

 

NEW Japanese Bonsai Wire Sale

30% to 40% off 400gram Japanese Bonsai Wire

Japanese wire is stronger with better holding power

wire

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

an extra 5% off all Stone Lantern orders 100.00+

FREE Shipping on all U.S. orders 50.00+

be sure to select Free Shipping when you check out

Exquisite Bonsai Stands & a Chance Worth Taking

KMAINHere's David Knittle's caption for this remarkable display: "Honduras rosewood table, 20" x 8.5" x 4" high. It was built for this juniper rock planting displayed at the San Diego Bonsai Club's Fall 2016 show."

It’s time to feature our fellow Vermonter, David Knittle and his exquisite bonsai stands. I’ve picked a few from David’s facebook photos. There’s a lot more where these came from.

Continued below…

NEW BONSAI TOOL SALE

25% to 30% off Roshi Tools

TM-Roshi BannerRoshi Bonsai Tools
are famous for precision cuts, durability, beauty & great prices

25% off 1-2 Roshi Tools
30% off 3 or more

 

K2Here's David's caption for this one (all the captions in italics are his): "Walnut moon stand - 24" x 24" x 6" deep. The Trident maple and Black pine are from the Goldstein Collection"

 

K3"Rosewood table 14" x 9" x 10" high. Cary Sullivan's potato vine bonsai exhibited at the 2015 GSBF Convention"

 

K4"Two tiered stand I built using wenge, a wood from Africa. 30" x 8.5" x 18" high. Black pine displayed by Louise Leister at the Artisans Cup. Beautiful tree and display Louise."

 

K6

No caption with this one. I'm usually loath to guess (for good reason, I'm often wrong) but can't help thinking this remarkable tree is a Chinese elm.

 

K7

No caption with this one either and like the one above, Chinese elms seems right. But before you take it to the bank, don't forget it's just a guess.

 

David

Master craftsman David Knittle at work. I'm not always sure when it's appropriate to call someone a master, but in this case it's a chance worth taking (there's also the question of craftsperson vs craftsman, but we'll let that one be).

NEW Bonsai Fertilizer Sale

25% off all Green Dream

Organic Slow Release Pellets
orgreendream2a favorite of countless bonsai lovers

an extra 5% off all Stone Lantern orders 100.00+

FREE Shipping on all U.S. orders 50.00+

be sure to select Free Shipping when you check out

Kokufu Bonsai Bones

KOKUMAIN

We Borrowed this Hackberry from a new 2017 Kokufu post (part 1) on Bill Valavanis Bonsai blog.

We’ve been borrowing from Bill Valavanis for the entire life of Bonsai Bark (8 years and counting). This time it’s some very impressive deciduous trees from the 2017 Kokufu Exhibition. For more trees from Kokufu (parts 1 & 2) and others from Bill’s recent trip to Japan, you could do a lot worse than a quick trip to Bill’s blog.

Continued below…

20% to 30% off Kilo Rolls
Bonsai Aesthetics Wire

hesitate and lose
This great Sale ends tomorrow night

Wire32-500x159120% off 1-5 kilo rolls
30% off 6 or more
sale ends monday at 11:59pm ESt

 

KOKU5

Bill offer the varieties on some of the trees, but not this one. I could guess Trident maple, but my track record isn't that great. Meanwhile you might appreciate the powerful nebari and the exquisite fine branching.

One advantage of winter shows is the absence of leaves on deciduous trees. A great time to see the structure (the bones) of a tree. Not only the entire trunk from top to bottom, but all the branches (primary, secondary, tertiary etc) all the way out to the finest twigs.

KOKU7Perfect timing. No name given and no leaves yet, but several of Bill's photos show berries or flowers.

KOKU8

Shishigashira Japanese Maple

KOKU3

More berries

KOKU2

Flowers this time. Chojubai Japanese Flowering Quince

NEW Bonsai Fertilizer Sale

25% off all Green Dream

Organic Slow Release Pellets
orgreendream2a favorite of countless bonsai lovers

an extra 5% off all Stone Lantern orders 100.00+

FREE Shipping on all U.S. orders 50.00+

be sure to select Free Shipping when you check out

Watering Tips – It’s Already Spring in San Diego

rmj

This old collected Rocky Mountain juniper is from Michael Hagedorn's Crataegus Bonsai portfolio.

Even though some of us are in the midst of a vast frigid whiteness, others are experiencing the first signs of new growth (your bonsai, not you waistlines) with most of us soon to follow. So why not prepare? This post originally appeared in April, 2015.

What follows has been lifted word for word, photo for photo from Michael Hagedorn’s Crataegus Bonsai. We usually just borrow bits and pieces, so reprinting an entire borrowed post might be a first.

Continued below…

20% to 30% off Kilo Rolls
Bonsai Aesthetics Wire

hesitate and lose
This magnificent Sale ends in 2 days

Wire32-500x159120% off 1-5 kilo rolls
30% off 6 or more
sale ends monday at 11:59pm ESt

 

If you don’t know Crataegus Bonsai (or even if you do), I strongly encourage you to visit and spend some time there. Michael’s depth and breath of bonsai wisdom and his ability to communicate what he knows (with a light touch and sense of humor) will enhance your bonsai experience. I guarantee it.

Spring Watering Tip by Michael Hagedorn
“There are a lot of things we might say about watering bonsai. I’ve tried a few times on this blog to mention some of them. Some are hard to make sense of in words, but as ever I’m willing to try. This one is about watering recently repotted trees.

“At post-repotting time we need to be awake to one change-up, and that is that the interior soil mass (the part that was returned to the pot) may dry out much faster than you’d think.”

“If that interior area is full of fine roots, it will dry out fast after repotting.”

 c1
"This pine is beginning to develop a solid mass of soil and roots, and this is the area that we’ll take our moisture ‘read’ from when deciding when to water. When dry, it will look very light colored compared to the surrounding new soil."

Michael continues…
“If you cut all the fine roots off in repotting your tree, shame on you, but that’s a different issue. For the sake of this example, we’ll assume you have fine roots, and that we’re talking only about established trees with a solid mass of roots and soil. There are myriad other situations, such as proto-root balls with stringy roots that don’t yet hold soil together, but these photos show what we’re hoping for and working towards.”

c3
"A deciduous tree with a very mature ‘loaf’ of roots and soil that is returned to the pot, to be surrounded with new soil."

“Especially with conifers, we usually don’t prune any branches at the same time as repotting. And so…

“In repotting refined bonsai, we’ve created a situation where fewer roots are going to be supplying the same upper water need.”

“This interior mass we’re talking about, this is the area you should watch to determine when to water. Ignore, for a few weeks at least, taking your moisture reading from the new soil you’ve settled in around the original mass. There’s no active roots in the new soil yet and it won’t be drying out fast.”

“Another thing to keep in mind when repotting is to keep a portion of this old soil mass exposed, not covered with new soil, so that you can see when it’s drying out.”

Continued below…

Sale Ends Tonight

 c2
"Freshly repotted beech, showing the two zones of soil—the older soil that is a bit green and mossy near the roots, and the newer soil that is gray (sphagnum moss covering new soil, actually). The older soil will be our indicator when to water, and is not covered with new soil on top but is exposed."

“In many cases you’ll be watering when the new soil is still moist. So we ignore that area. Again, I’m only commenting on watering repotting bonsai with more mature root structures.

“To sum up, only read the moisture level where there are roots to determine when to water.
Wordy post. Hope some of that made sense!

“Here’s a previous post about watering that might spread a broader net around the issue of watering.”

All the above photos and all the text in captions are from Michael Hagedorn’s Crataegus Bonsai.

 

B1POST for web

I've said it before... Still the best bonsai read in the English language