Gentle Reminders – Lower Prices – New Sale

TM-Roshi Banner

We just started a NEW Sale
Roshi Bonsai Tools – Up to 30% off

I just got back from the 4th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition. I was quite inspired (to say the least) by the powerful trees displayed, the good people I met and the overall feeling of the whole event (tomorrow I’ll show you some of the winners).

In fact, I was so inspired that I got all soft and decided to sharpen my pencil (unintended!). I’d been thinking I needed to revisit our prices for a while now and just didn’t get around to it (better exchange rates and we’re buying certain things in higher volume). The result is good news for you. About half of our items have been reduced. Some a little, some way more than a little.

Best of all are Roshi Bonsai Tools. Again, because of higher volume, I was able to reduce almost all of them. Especially the stainless Roshi Tools, but others too.

That’s not all. I decided to go all in and run a Sale on Roshi Tools. In addition to lower prices all Roshi Tools are 10% to 30% off (1 tool -10%, 2-3 tools -20%, 4 or more -30%). Plus you get an additional 5% off on all orders of 100.00 or more.

This Sale won’t last very long, so don’t wait…

 Roshi2Roshi Stainless Concave Branch Cutters
Now only 44.00
plus your 10% to 30% off

While We’re Waiting – Part 1

shohinsuthinThis Shohin display is from Suthin Sukosolvisit’s Bonsai Gallery. Every National Bonsai Exhibition has featured at least one these by Suthin. This year I challenged myself to pick out Suthin’s display as I walked into the Shohin section of the Exhibition. It was easy. Taking nothing away from some other wonderful displays, still, Suthin’s immediately demanded my attention from across the room.

Though word is trickling out, we’ll wait for the official announcement (and photos) of the winners of the 4th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition before we say anything.

Meanwhile, here’s a collection of bonsai that belong to some of the people I ran into at the exhibition.These are not necessarily trees that appeared at the exhibition. Just trees I like.

colinponderThough Colin Lewis did show a tree at the Exhibition, this gnarly old Ponderosa pine isn’t it. I think Colin would be the first to tell you that most of the rugged character of this remarkable tree was already present when it was dug. Still, it takes a sure hand and good eye to bring out the best in any worthy yamadori.



Here’s a tree that was in the show. It’s an Englemann spruce that belongs to Andy Smith (Golden Arrow Bonsai). It was dug by Andy in the Wyoming Rockies and is one of several trees in the show that, to my eye at least, evokes rugged western North American terrains. There’s much that can be said about the topic of bonsai styles that reflect local terrains, but that’s enough for now… except to say that the pot is by Sara Rayner, who was also at the show, displaying an impressive large selection of her impressively large (and other sizes) bonsai pots. Sara also exhibited a very impressive tree at the show (stay posted for the album).


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis elegant, fluid Japanese black pine belongs to Michael Levin (Bonsai West). Turns out Michael is the person who got me started with bonsai. Thirty years ago and I finally got around to thanking him.


candyOkay, this waterfall garden is clearly not a bonsai. But any beautiful Japanese influenced garden is a close cousin. It belongs to Candy Shirey, long time student of Larch Master Nick Lenz, and gardener as well (I guess that’s obvious).

Stay posted for part 2. There’s more to come.

Walking Through Row after Row of Mind Bending Bonsai while Holding on to Your Socks


We don’t have any photos yet from the 4th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition, so we’ll harken back to the very first Exhibition (way back in 2008) and show you Jim Gremel’s magnificent cascading Sargent’s juniper that just happened to be the first grand prize (National Award Masterpiece) winner, in what is now becoming a long chain of U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition winners.

I got back late last night from the 4th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition in Rochester (I left early due to previous commitment). No one except a designated professional is photographing the trees on display, so nothing to show yet. We’ll have to settle for me using my words.

The show was phenomenal (is phenomenal – it’s not over yet). The quality of the trees almost floored me (it’s not easy walking through row after row of mind bending bonsai while holding on to your socks). If I had to compare this year’s show with 2012, I’d say the overall quality is 50% better, though comparisons are odious (remember?) and quantifying bonsai is impossible anyway.

Three more quick comments and then you can get on with the rest of your life:

First: The venue is very good. Spacious and open. A marked improvement over the last one, which wasn’t bad. And then there’s the excellent job Bill and his great gang of bonsai bodhisattvas did making the cavernous space into a first rate bonsai show.

Second: I was struck by how innovative many of the trees and displays were (are). Plenty of bonsai tradition expressed for sure, but equal amounts of innovation. Some natural movement towards more American trees and landscapes and some daring breaks with tradition. You’ll see when we get some photos (though remember, photos, no matter how good, never ever capture the true power and beauty of masterpiece bonsai).

Third: I made a point of talking with random people as we milled our way through the aisles and was also struck by how friendly and engaged everyone was. Many people were aficionados, but others had very little previous exposure to bonsai. No matter. It seemed to me that everyone was energized by the experience and willing to share their enthusiasm and delight.

I know it’s getting late. But if you happen to be near Rochester NY, and are interested in bonsai enough to be reading this and you haven’t bothered to go yet, well it’s not too late. Lacking that, we’ll see you in 2016!

The Home Stretch


What’s in a name? This delightful Eastern red cedar, like most of the trees we call cedars, is not really. It’s a juniper (Juniperus virginiana). It belongs to Juan Calderon. The photo is from the 2008 1st U.S. National Exhibition. Now, six short years later, it’s time for the 4th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition.

You know how sometimes you wish you had been somewhere when something important happened but you didn’t find the time or energy to pull it together, and then later, as word gets out about what you had missed, you wonder why and maybe even kick yourself a little?

Tomorrow I leave for the 4th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition and there’s still a lot to do (books to get ready, see below*), so I won’t say much more. Except that, when I think about what I still have to do, I can only imagine what lies in front of Bill Valavanis and his tireless crew.

But I’m not worried. I’ll finish up here and pull out of my driveway tomorrow morning and Bill and and his friends will do what they have to do and open the doors Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, there are these photos that Bill sent us at 12:07am this morning…


Bill Valavanis and his happy band of brothers (and sisters) with the new road sign.



This blank slate awaits the vendors and their wares. Having been a vendor (not this time, though some of our books will be available*), there’s a lot I could say about how much goes into it (a whole lot). You can show your appreciation by showing up and doing a little shopping.


POSTSAnother blank slate. I can only imagine how they get from this…


set up 1…to this. With miles to go before they sleep.


SET UPA glimpse of the process. Looks like some little trees for a Shohin display on the cart. There’s a finished shohin display in the distance.



Here they are again. Just a brief respite.



The welcoming garden. This is what you’ll see first when you show up this weekend.

There’s still time to get up and head to Rochester for the 4th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition. I look forward to seeing you there!

* For you bonsai book lovers, I’m pricing and loading up a bunch of books (including many out of print) for Bill’s indomitable crew to sell. These should help a little with the Exhibiton’s expenses (we split the proceeds, which should help a little with my expenses too).

Off the Couch and on to North America’s Premier Bonsai Event


I’ve never seen a Rosemary bonsai that looks quite like this one. To my eye the deadwood and the way the branching and foliage are styled is reminiscent of an old yamadori Shimpaku from Japan. This remarkable tree belongs to Peter Warren, one of the headliners at this weekends 4th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition. Peter will be tackling a well-known and well-traveled old White cedar bonsai on Sunday. The result will be auctioned at the conclusion of the demonstration.

Two more good reason for you to head to Rochester NY this weekend. Hiroyoshi Yamaji and Peter Warren are two of the headliners at the 4th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition. Not that you necessarily need more motivation to get up off the couch and start making plans. Just the wonders of the bonsai on exhibit and all the good stuff in the vast and varied vendors section should be enough to motivate any bonsai lover. But, just in case you’re on fence, consider this a gentle push.


Good Cork bark Japanese black pines are few and far between. This one is by Hiroshi Yamaji, a famous Japanese bonsai artist who is going to style a large American grown Japanese black pine at the Exhibition on Saturday.  The freshly styled, and no doubt vastly improved tree will be auctioned at the end of the demonstration.


I look forward to seeing you this weekend. I won’t be a vendor this time, but you can find me wandering around wide eyed, dazed and delighted (apologies in advance if I don’t remember your name and you’ll receive nothing but good-natured sympathy if you don’t remember mine).

Note: I didn’t link Mr Yamaji or Mr Warren’s websites above because I want to encourage you to visit the 4th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition, rather than stray off into the web multiverse. However, because we always provide links to sources, here they are: Hiroyoshi Yamaji and Peter Warren.

Trees Don’t Lie! Marco Invernizzi Rides a Wave of General Enthusiasm


We’ve shown this Japanese yew by Marco Invernizzi before, but a bonsai this good is always worth another look.

I’ve been wanting to publish this interview with Marco Invernizzi every since I first saw it at Bonsai Prelude a couple months ago, but have been waiting on our next batch of  Marco’s (and Masakuni’s) famous Ichiban all purpose bonsai tool. They arrived the other day (better late…) so the time is ripe (not that any time wouldn’t be ripe for the interview, just that we’re in this for love AND money).

The interview was conducted by Dylan Fawcett. I don’t know too much about Dylan but I do know that he is a ceramic artist, bonsai aficionato, serious bonsai blogger and friend of Bonsai Bark (*see below).

We’ll start with Dylan’s opening comments (we’ll make Dylan bold and Marco italic):
So to start out with, a “grazie mille!” to Marco for taking the time to answer a few of my questions and diligently run over a couple drafts to provide the most complete answers possible!

As I mentioned earlier, out of my own ignorance, narrowing my bonsai knowledge to the blog-space, Marco seemed to have slipped past my radar. When I met him at the Rendezvous (Brussel’s famous annual bonsai event) a couple weekends back, I couldn’t help but think “damn, this guy knows whats up.” And after listening to his demonstrations and work shops all weekend I can see why he’s truly a gift to bonsai in the West (as well as the rest of the world). Having been through an apprentice-type learning environment myself (in the world of fine dining) I can’t help but respect his constant drive for self improvement. We could all learn a little bit from Marco, even if it doesn’t involve bonsai.

~Hope you enjoy!

How did you get started with bonsai?

As a teenager I always had to keep myself very busy with lots of different things because I was barely spending time with my parents and I don’t have siblings. A moment came when I was 14 and my family asked me to give up every extra school activity that would require a financial commitment on their side….so I was basically left with only freestyle skating, which didn’t really cost much except a few packs of Band-Aid® here and there. So I found myself starving for something to rock my world and change my life and that’s when I saw Karate Kid 3 on tv and immediately realized that first of all, I would never hurt anyone with martial arts, but I definitely wanted to learn everything about bonsai. At that time Milan was one of the most active cities outside Asia for bonsai. More than 5 nurseries were in business and the interest for the art was raising and I rode the wave of the general enthusiasm…..

How did you decide/ how did you come to the opportunity of working with bonsai in Japan?

Now that I’m almost 40 I find myself content just doing something new without getting really deep in it, but back when I was younger I just wanted to become the best in everything I was doing. When I decided that I wanted to learn bonsai I immediately wanted to find out everything about it and I realized that the only way to really learn bonsai was to go to Japan. I was the best student of my class in college, I was the most decorated boy scout of my group and so on. I grew up with the idea that I could only count on myself and the tenacity of my desire to find out everything about what I was truly passionate about.

marco workshop

Dylan’s caption says “Marco compacting an “air-bonsai” in his White Pine workshop” (at Brussel’s Redevous).

How did you decide who you wanted to apprentice under?

During my first bonsai lesson my Italian teacher, Salvatore Liporace, introduced me right away to the art of Masahiko Kimura . I clearly remember it as if it were yesterday, I realized right away that Kimura was someone ahead of everyone else…..( and 23 years later he still is )…..I spent the next 5 years in Italy working hard to be ready to create the opportunity to study directly with him. My Master (Kimura) was obviously quite skeptical about accepting a non-Japanese disciple in his garden for the first time, and to this very day I would say that he was right. It’s hard to imagine 2 ways of thinking that are farther apart, than the traditional Japanese and the modern Italian mentality…..but I guess he was quite impressed with my determination. I wouldn’t have taken “no” for an answer.

What was the most challenging thing you had to do during your apprenticeship or bonsai career in general?

As a disciple, the most challenging thing to do is to stay day after day. I guess it’s like getting married! It’s easy to say yes in Vegas when you are drunk but it’s hard to love the same person for 30-40 years. A disciple who never gives up is the best disciple. After more than 3 years I gave up so I guess I haven’t really been a good one. I was young and I made my mistakes (My Way is playing in the background )…….But this year I’m going back to study with my Master for the first time after 2001 because after 14 years of professional bonsai the only thing I want to do is to learn more.The best thing in bonsai is having the opportunity to learn new things every day. All the rest is worthless.

As a bonsai master, the most challenging thing is to find someone who will admit their mistakes. No one will ever say that they actually killed a tree or that they don’t know how to wire. So I guess that dealing with my customers’ ego is the most difficult task of my professional life.

What was the most rewarding experience you’ve had so far?

Some may think that being the most awarded bonsai artist in Europe could do it, or the fact that I work for the best bonsai collectors in the west. Someone else may say that I gave a main contribution to the evolution of contemporary bonsai in the west, that I helped the very first non-Japanese bonsai enthusiast to win Kokufu or that I created the first and only truly new bonsai tool in bonsai history. To me the most rewarding thing about my bonsai experience is that I made my dreams come true and that made me a free man… and I made my family proud of me! Grandma Luisa is my #1 fan!

What is your favorite species? Either to work with or just to view?



Marco critiquing a Nick Lenz Pitch pine at Brussel’s Rendevous. This seems like a good spot to insert this photo: Marco has just mentioned that his favorite tree is Larch and Nick Lenz is sometimes known by friends and fans as ‘Larch Master Lenz.’

Is there a species you dislike?

All the species that have no potential to become bonsai. Too often I see greed or national pride blinding lots of people’s judgment, so they sell trees that have no potential to become bonsai. They lie to their customers so they can make money. But ladies and gentleman…trees don’t lie! Bonsai is already a very difficult thing to do and I would recommend that everyone dedicate their efforts to the very best possible material they can work on. Every day I see lots of bonsai enthusiasts who want to take up the challenge to make a bonsai tree out of a species that has never been made into a bonsai before. All just for the sake of saying that they did it. Well… it’s like a chef who picked up the worst ingredients to prove the point that he can make something tasty out of it anyway. In a few years time the people who invested wisely will have bonsai, the others will just have sad excuses….

So larch is my favorite specie right? Would I ever sell a larch to someone who lives in Atlanta, in Rio de Janeiro or in Sicily? or would I ever sell a larch with flat bark saying that the bark will age and get rough within just a couple of years. The answer is no.

To be honest, the first time I saw your Ichiban Tool, I was a little skeptical. It was just so different than anything you typically see with other bonsai tools. Then when I saw you using it at Brussel’s, it all just clicked. I thought to myself “holy crap, it really is one tool for everything.” I mean you were cutting wire, ¾” branches, trimming upside-down, it was ridiculous! Could you talk a little bit about designing the product.


Marco’s now famous Ichiban, all purpose bonsai tool. Here’s our original post about the Ichiban and here and here are a couple others.

Before I started to work with my Master, I got a Phd in Design and every day I apply what I learned in college to the bonsai I work on. I actually would have become a full time designer if I hadn’t gotten into bonsai. After using the same traditional bonsai tools for more than decade I realized that they weren’t really ergonomical, only functional. I remember sketching new ideas and designs on napkins, plane tickets or blank corners of inflight magazines. I had to improve the basic bonsai tools I was using every day. It took me almost 3 years but in the summer of 2009 I launched ICHIBAN worldwide and since then I never stop researching new ways to improve it and serve the bonsai enthusiasts of the entire world.

Even though lots of my colleagues won’t use ICHIBAN mostly because they didn’t design it, the main goal of this revolutionary tool is to make it easier for everyone to work on bonsai. Franco from Florida lost the use of 2 fingers in his hand but with ICHIBAN he can still work on his trees because the handle can be held even with only 3 fingers. Jerry from California cannot stand up in front of a tree for more than 10 seconds at a time: his legs won’t support his weight. Now he sits in front of his trees and without raising his elbow, ICHIBAN allows him to prune the top part of his big trees without getting out of the chair. Linda from Christchurch, NZ has degenerative joint disease so she cannot move her fingers very well but when she holds ICHIBAN in her hand she has to move only her thumb making her work on bonsai way easier and enjoyable.

So every time ICHIBAN helps someone spend more time with their trees I know that I archived my goal as a designer.

Do you have any future plans for other demonstrations or workshops in the U.S.?

I just got a Green Card so I guess you’ll see lots of me in the future….but bonsai organizations always want to see new faces, it doesn’t matter how good they are. A guy is having his mid-life crisis and instead of buying an Harley or dating a stripper he decides to become a bonsai master and he gets hired. Sad.

But at least now USA has the highest concentration of Japanese trained bonsai professionals, which can bring only good to the scene.

Is there something or maybe a few typical things that you find people in general have the wrong instruction on?

Most of them haven’t the curiosity to search for the truth or the humbleness to see the huge mistakes they make.

Are there any particularly helpful techniques that you think most people outside of Japan don’t practice, but would be especially beneficial?

In my own country the fine art of killing bonsai is brought to a whole new level. In Spain, where we can find the highest bonsai level outside Asia, there is a lack of patience and dedication into preparing the amazing rough materials they can find on their mountains. In many other countries still the concept that “a tree in a pot is not a bonsai” is not well understood. In USA I rarely meet someone who likes to wire a tree from start to finish. Ryan is right! Too many people are concerned with design issues when they can barely keep a tree alive. Too many people are spending too much time on Facebook instead of working on their trees and 95% of the bonsai enthusiasts seem to aim more for the high quantity of the bonsai in their collection than for the high quality of their trees.

Is there anything about yourself or bonsai in general we haven’t touched on that you’d like to talk about?

3 years ago I opened and funded an elementary school for nomad kids from Ladakh, India. I’m proud to announce that right now me and my team are currently working on delivering a new school tent and two 4x4s full of supplies for the kids and their families. The name of the school is “The Running Noses School” and if someone is interested in finding out more about this project and maybe becoming an active donor…please get in touch with me at

Thanks again Marco for the great responses!

*As a little bonus, here’s what Dylan has to say about us on his Bonsai Prelude.

Bonsai Bark is a blog written by the people who run Stone Lantern. Stone Lantern is a distributor of tons of great bonsai supplies, and the only place to find a few varieties of tools. It always makes me feel confident buying bonsai merchandise from Stone Lantern, knowing that the people behind it are as passionate about bonsai as I am. You will be hard pressed to find a blog that has as many varied and thorough sources as Bonsai Bark. If you spend even a small amount of time on their blog, you’ll be exposed to photos of some of the greatest bonsai by masters all over the world. I’m constantly coming across referenced material that I likely wouldn’t find else where.

marco4 We’ve shown this Juniper by Marco before, but it’s worth another look.

Thanks to Dylan at Bonsai Prelude for conducting this interview. And of course, thanks to Marco for sharing his thoughts and bonsai experience.

Be There Or Else…

4th US

This image was taken from Bill Valavanis’ 4th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition website. If you are one of the three or four people who don’t know about this most important upcoming bonsai event, it’s time to educate yourself.

The 4th U.S.National Bonsai Exhibition starts in eight days. We (that’s me) strongly suggest you be there or else you’ll miss the most important U.S. bonsai event since 2012 (the 3rd National Exhibition). It’s not too late to register and enjoy some of the best bonsai and most talented bonsai artists in North America (and beyond).


This wonderful Sargent juniper planting belongs to the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville, NC. You can find it on Bill’s 4th National website and in the 3rd U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition album.


4th_SHIMPAKU Another Sargent juniper (aka Itoigawa Shimpaku in this case). It belongs to John Kirby. You can also find it on Bill’s 4th National website and in the 3rd U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition album.



This 2012 show stopper is from north of the border. It’s by a good friend and neighbor (when you live in remote places, a friend an hour and twenty minutes away qualifies as a neighbor) Pierre Leloup, a talented multi-dimensional artist (bonsai, Japanese gardens, woodworking, interior design, etc). It’s hard to appreciate the scoop of this planting (it’s 8 feet long) with one small photo. In case you’re wondering, the rippled base is wood that was carved by Pierre. The photo is from the 3rd U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition album.



Pine bonsai with a smiling man who happens to look a lot like Bill Valavanis (American bonsai hero). We don’t usually feature humans with bonsai (we’ll leave our reasons for another time), but just couldn’t resist this one.

Dwarf Kingsvilles & Other Worthy Boxwood Bonsai

You can tell this is a genuine Dwarf Kingsville boxwood by the tight tiny leaves. This planting by Boon Manakitivipart was the winner of the Certre Award at the 2010 U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition.

This post was inspired by an article on boxwoods in Bonsai Mary. I’ve been thinking of featuring some of Mary’s timely articles for a long time, but the photos are small for this format and don’t enlarge very well. Finally a solution dawned; include some full sized photos from previous Bark posts and mix in some of Mary’s smaller photos.

BTW: Mary’s article sheds some light on the rampant confusion about dwarf boxwoods and particularly, what is and what isn’t a Dwarf Kingsville.


Here’s one of the photos from Bonsai Mary. It’s a Buxus harlandii by Yugi Yoshimura that resides in the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. (If you were to ask me, I’d say those leaves look a lot like Dwarf Kingsville, but you didn’t ask me, so we’ll leave it at harlandi).


Another of Mary’s photos. Here’s her caption: “To add to the confusion (about Dwarf Kingsvilles), there are several similar looking types, such as the Morris midget.  All of these small leaf varieties make good subjects, and are styled very similarly! The bark is usually smooth and often almost white in color.”


We’ve shown this Japanese Boxwood (Buxus microphylla japonica) by Ryan Neil before (Elevating the Art of Bonsai in the West). It’s from his International Bonsai Mirai website, which was recently transformed into Mirai, American Bonsai (more at The Future of American Bonsai from last week).


Judging by the leaves, I’m not sure I’d call this a Dwarf Kingsville, though I’ve seen this type called just that over the years. Anybody out there with a deep knowledge of boxwoods? The photo is from Chinese Bonsai Garden.


bux_1210Here’s one that appears on Mary’s site that we are able to show at our full size (we went to Mary’s source, Internet Bonsai Club for the original photo). It’s a harlandii that belongs to M.Škrabal. 

boxwood-bark-close-up Harlandii bark via Mary. I blew this photo up a tad too much, but you get the idea.


Simple and sweet. This Dwarf Kingsville originally appeared on the cover of Bonsai Today issue 107. The tree belongs to Michael Persiano (co-editor of our Masters’ Series Pine book). You can see and read about its earlier stages of development in Bonsai Today issue 97.

Simple Changes with Profound Results


Kian-Simulation-1One of Robert Steven’s two simulations of a tree in a rock-like container that was submitted by Kian (no second name given). In spite of the somewhat fuzzy images, the general ideas come through loud and clear.

It’s Labor Day weekend here in the States, a good time to relax and enjoy family and friends, so we’ll take the easy way out (once again) and dig into our archives. This Robert Steven critique was originally posted back in December, 2010. It contains useful tips for planting on rocks and slabs and is well worth another look. Especially considering that 90% of you have never seen it, and 100% of you who have seen it have forgotten by now.

Simple changes with profound results
Sometimes an adjustment to the position of a container (below), or a new container (above), can radically transform a planting. Neither of Robert’s simulations involve any changes to the tree, yet both transform a somewhat stagnant planting to something full of natural movement and interest.



Robert’s second simulation.


Kian’s original submission.

I changed the order of Robert’s two simulations (above) which explains why the second appears first below.

Robert Steven’s Critique
The main purpose of using these types of containers** for bonsai is to create a theme that suggests a captured moment of a natural scene.

Kian, the bonsai artist is trying to show a tree growing on a rocky hill, but he fails to do so because the container too symmetrical. It looks unnatural, bulky and monotonous. The result is that the tree and the container are in competition to catch our eye; they look separate, without integrated unity. This is because the wide green moss is too much in contrast with the straight line of the container’s edge without any “third element” to bridge the two elements.


The second solution: Correct the container shape and overall effect by changing the position of the container and replanting the tree. Now the container’s edge has a natural irregular form and the image created is of a tree growing on a rocky hill. By placing some small rocks as a the third element, unity between the container and tree is enhanced.


The first solution: By using a shallow and wide container, a more panoramic view is created. The container’s edge is irregular which gives a natural look, and the small rocks help tie the container and tree together into a unified whole.

Same tree. It’s the containers and the repositioning of the three that create more natural themes and nuance. You make your choice….

**These stone carved pots are by Prayogi of Tulung Agung Indonesia. They are his first generation shapes. I offered him some advice on natural looking containers for bonsai purposes.

General comments
There is more than one way to design any bonsai and my critiques and recommended solutions might not always fit your taste because of personal preferences. But I always try to give my opinion based on artistic and horticultural principles.

To understand my concepts better, please read my books Vision of My Soul and Mission of Transformation which are available at Stone Lantern.

You can also visit my bonsai blog.


Robert’s Mission of Transformation.

The Future of American Bonsai


This photo and the other photos in this post are from Ryan Neil’s Mirai, American Bonsai.

Ryan Neil’s International Bonsai Mirai has transformed itself into Mirai, American Bonsai. As you can see, it’s mostly Mirai, with American  Bonsai as a small tag line.


This transformation is accompanied by a new website. What’s distinctive about this new website is that it’s flat out luscious. Luscious and also highly professional with an abundance of great photos and informative, easy to read text. I won’t say much more (better if you just go and see for yourself), except that Mirai means ‘future’ in Japanese.








All the photos in this post are from Mirai, American Bonsai.