Our National Bonsai Treasure

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This Sargent juniper (Aka Shimpaku) resides at the U.S. National Bonsai and Penjing Museum. It was donated by Doug Paul, owner of the Kennett Collection. This photo and the others shown here, were taken and generously offered by Robert Vitale. The plant varieties and names of the donors are courtesy of Janice Vitale and Michael James
We just featured a post about a great job opening at the  U.S. National Bonsai and Penjing Museum, so let’s stay on theme
The U.S. National Bonsai and Penjing Museum is one of our true national treasures and a great place to visit next time you’re in or around DC.  And just in case you’re not familiar with our bonsai collection (it belongs to all of us), maybe these photos can serve as a brief introduction. This is the second time for this post (May 9th, 2018), but it’s worth another look… 
 

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The following is from our friend Felix Laughlin, President of the National Bonsai Foundation…  “We are delighted to announce that the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum has been named the “Best Place to Take an Out-of-Towner” in Washington City Paper‘s Best of D.C. 2018 awards. Thanks to everyone who voted and helped spread the word about the national bonsai collection. We look forward to seeing you (and your out-of-town visitors) at the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum very soon.
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Closeup of Sedum in Rock Penjing “Li Jiang river in Spring.”  Donated by the Shanghai Botanical Garden.
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This iconic Japanese White Pine ‘Miyajima’ was donated by Daizo Iwasaki, one of the world's great bonsai benefactors. Iwasaki sama passed away in 2011. 
 
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Closeup of a Japanese White pine, that was gifted to Nancy Reagan by Hassan II King of Morocco. It has been in training since 1832

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Hinoki Cypress donated by Muriel Leeds. In training since 1964
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A piece of a Pitch pine that was also donated by Muriel Leeds. In training since 1967
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Close up of Chinese Elm penjing forest that was donated by Yunhua Hu. In training since 2004

One Year of Some Serious Bonsai Training

Here’s a once in a lifetime job opportunity if you’re looking for serious bonsai training while working with some of the best bonsai in the world and a crew of dedicated people. Sounds like a great way to spend a year…

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To apply: Please send a cover letter indicating availability, resume, references, and transcripts (unofficial are acceptable) via email to USNA.Internships@ars.usda.gov
Questions? Contact the internship office at (202) 245-4563 or USNA.Internships@ars.usda.gov

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A  Green T Turntable will change the way your work on your bonsai
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That's famous bonsai artist, Kunio Kobayashi on the right, getting ready to tackle his monster demo tree at last year’s World Bonsai Convention. And yes, that's a Green T not even straining to hold the behemoth up.

 

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The famous Masahiko Kimura with his demo planting sitting on a Green T Plus at the World Bonsai Convention. 

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One of the Most Unique Pines in Our Ten Years of Blogging

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This Kuromatsu, aka Japanese Black Pine (Pinus thunbergii) was featured at the 27th Japan Bonsai Writer Association exhibition (Nippon Bonsai Sakka Kyokai exhibition), where this photo was taken. I cropped the original photo (see just below) for a closer look at just the tree

I found this magnificent tree on The Omiya Bonsai Art Museum‘s timeline. This famous museum is home to some of the best bonsai in the world and this Japanese black pine is certainly no exception. To my eye it is one of the most unique pines we’ve featured in our ten years of blogging (well, nine years and 10 months). It’s so wild and rugged that no matter what, it will never look like a more conventionally styled bonsai. Let alone many Japanese bonsai (some people complain about over-styling in Japan – a half formed notion in my opinion – and a topic for another time)

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Here's the original photo

 

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STONE LANTERN & BONSAI TODAY'S FAMOUS PINE BOOK
jbpcuCropped and blown up for a closer look at the gnarled old trunk

 

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The Emperor’s Bonsai

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At least two things set this Root-over-rock  Trident maple (Kaede Ishitsuki - maple planted on a rock) apart from thousands of other root-over Trident maples on this planet. First there it's exceptional quality, and second, it's part of Japan's Imperial Bonsai Collection. The tree's age is about 90 years. Its height is 57 cm (22.5"). Here's a quote from the Imperial website... "Among 'zoki' deciduous trees, 'momiji' (Japanese maple) and "kaede" (maple) (I'm not sure why this isn't translated as Trident maple) are particular favorites of bonsai lovers because of the way they show off the four seasons. Aficionados appreciate the young buds in early spring, the fresh green leaves in May, the red foliage in autumn, and the bare trunk and branches in winter. Kaede does not turn as red in fall as momiji does, but its autumn leaves -- a mixture of yellow and red hues -- are equally prized.
 "At the Imperial Palace, this kaede tree has been transplanted almost every year according to the condition of its roots. Due to its beautiful appearance, it is used for ornamental purposes throughout the year."

Yesterday we featured a tree that was donated to the U.S. National Bonsai and Penjing Museum by The Imperial Household of Japan. Going to the source today, here’s are some more from the Imperial Collection. Only this time, they’re ones that are still there

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i08ad"Bright reddish leaves cover a 'De-Shojo momiji (Acer palmatum 'De-Shojo') in the budding season in April, as shown in a photo. Most of those leaves turn green in summer, but some remain red. They turn red again in autumn before the tree loses leaves toward winter. " From the Imperial Bonsai website. 
The tree is about 50 years old. Its height is 95cm (37.5"). If you'd like to dig in further, there's more on this tree and the others shown here at the Imperial site

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Another momiji  (Japanese maple). This one is a Seigen (Acer palmatum 'Seigen'). It's age is about 100 and its height is 74cm (29"). Here's teaser from the Imperial site... "Red leaves bloom from the tree in April. The color is not as vivid as hues found in the leaves of "deshojo," another momiji species (above), but it is a cherished spring color.
 "The tree features radial "nebari" (surface roots) and dynamic "tachiagari" (the initial rise of the trunk) that help balance the shape of the whole tree. Its "mikihada" trunk surface gives a sense of old age and represents an ideal momiji bonsai work. Given that its leaves grow strongly in summer, the tree was planted in a relatively large vessel. This makes viewers think of a tree growing from Mother Earth." There's more on this tree here

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This Fuji Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda Fuji) is about 450 years old! It's height is 83 cm (almost 33"). This time we'll show you the entire quote from the Imperial site...."The tree age is astonishing. Despite the great age, this tree continues to bloom flowers powerfully every year without showing any signs of weakening. 
 "The viewing season falls in late April. But this year, the Fuji tree sent out flowers a bit earlier than usual. The Fuji was in full bloom in mid-April with its long bunches hanging down.
 "After the flower season is over, what appears to be a dent which looks like a hole comes to be seen in the lower part of its trunk. But it is not a hollow hole, but a work of natural formation that has grown into something like a dent over a long period of time.
 "Despite the large size of the tree, it is planted in a relatively small pot. The vessel is overcrowded with tree roots. So, the Fuji tree is transplanted once in every two years with the roots being unstiffened (untangled?). 
 This is considered to be a species of the original Fuji, or the so-called yamafuji (silky wisteria), that had not been modified."

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Imperial Bonsai in Training for 220 Years

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Here it is. It's a Pinus densiflora (Japanese Red Pine) that was donated to the U.S. National Bonsai and Penjing Museum by The Imperial Household of Japan. It has been in training since 1795. My apologies for the fuzz. I cropped the original photo (from 2010, see below) for a closer look at the texture on the trunk

The Japanese CollectionIt’s right here in North America and it’s one of the best bonsai collections outside of Japan. Here’s an excerpt from the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum’s website... “The Japanese Collection began with the gift of 53 bonsai from Japan on the occasion of the American Bicentennial in 1976.  The trees, which were from private collections, were selected by the Nippon Bonsai Association with financial assistance given by the Japan Foundation.”
Continued below…

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Not 1795, but not exactly yesterday either. This striking Japanese Camellia (Camellia japonica 'Higo') with its full display of remarkable flowers has been in training since 1875. It was donated by the Kyushu Branch of the Nippon Bonsai Growers Cooperative.

Continued from above…
Does the reverse taper on the camellia above jump out at you? When it comes to flowering bonsai, Japanese growers don’t seem to mind features that would be considered flaws in non-flowering bonsai. As long as the flowers themselves are beautiful and well displayed, much is forgiven.
Continued below…

 

pine2This old Japanese Black Pine was donated by Saichi Suzuki. It has been in training since 1895.

Continued from above…
Quarantined. Due to FDA rules, all the bonsai in this collection spent a year in quarantine before they could be displayed.

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The original photo of the Imperial red pine

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You Don’t See Bonsai Like These Everyday

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You don't see bonsai like this every day. For me, there's a temptation to grab my thinning shears. But first, it's a good idea to take it in as is. And there's a lot to take in. Especially the sheer weight of the remarkably lush foliage. And, if you can pull your eyes down to the trunk, the play of the living veins and deadwood is striking. Unfortunately the tree is not identified (nor attributed), but it looks a lot a like a Shimpaku juniper

Normally we shy away from unattributed and unidentified bonsai. But in this case the trees are so unusual that I couldn’t resist

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pine

Root-over-rock pine. This one is similar to the tree above. At least when it comes to dense foliage. If you take a close look at the base, you can distinguish the trunk from the rock

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A Quick Before and After Bonsai

b&aBefore and after Juniper by Bonsai Mike made quick and easy (or at least quick). Here's part what Mike wrote about this tree and the event where the transformation took place...  "I’d like to thank the Puget Sound Bonsai Association for bringing me up to Seattle... Here’s a before and after of my demo tree. Deadwood still needs to be finished."

Yesterday we featured a before and after by Bonsai Mike. Today, we’ve got another of Mike’s B&As. Both are junipers and both are impressive in their own right. After that, most similarities end. Yesterday’s was a monster yamadori where the process spanned five years. Today’s spanned hours
Continued below…

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before

Before. Good stock, but plenty to do to get from here to after

Continued from above…
Transforming a tree in a few hours requires vision, quick decisions and technical competence. Experienced bonsai artists usually pull it off with flying colors, but there are no guarantees (the material they start with has a lot to do with the end result). In this case, the result speaks for itself

After

After. Not bad, especially considering it only took a few hours

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Two Legged Juniper – Before & After

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Sierra juniper (Juniperus occidentalis), before and after by Bonsai Mike. You can see the potential peeking out underneath the foliage in the before shot. Still, an impressive transformation

Today’s tree belongs to Bonsai Mike, a first timer here on Bark (as distinguished from Michael Bonsai, who has appeared here numerous times). Here’s what Mike wrote about this old yamadori juniper… “One of my best trees. I collected this Sierra in 2011. It has gone through 3 stylings since then and keeps improving. The foliage is getting a little heavy now. In order to show greater age, some branches must be removed in order to create more open space.

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beforefull

Before. I cropped off the edges in the B&A photo for a better fit. Here's the uncropped version

 

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Further along...

after1

Mike put up several after shots. This one presents a good picture of the living veins

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Two legged beast. Shot at night

 

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Another night shot

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