Ezo spruce (Picea glehnii) was Saburo Kato’s favorite tree. This one is from an untranslated Japanese book on Mr. Kato’s bonsai that his son Hatsuji sent us in appreciation for the gift we (Stone Lantern) sent Mr. Kato’s family when he passed away last year.
I picked this one for a couple reasons. First, there’s the dead tree. You see dead trees in bonsai forests occasionally, but not that often. In nature however, dead trees abound, so why not put them in you bonsai plantings?
The other feature that strikes me is the lush forest floor. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen one quite that rich and varied. Though I can’t be sure, it looks like there might be a few Chinese elms (Ulmus parviflora) in front (and maybe in the back) and perhaps a Hokkaido elm (Ulmus parviflora ‘Hokkaido’) sticking out on the right.
You don’t see mixed forests all that often, and when you do, chances are, you don’t see any this perfect. It’s from Saburo Kato’s Forest, Rock Planting & Ezo Spruce Bonsai (published by The National Bonsai Foundation and distributed by Stone Lantern).
The planting contains five species (six varieties all told) of trees (left to right): Japanese maple (Acer palmatum), Japanese beech (Fagus crenata), Dwarf stewartia (Stewartia monadelpha), Kyushu azalea (Rhododendron kiusianum), Japanese red-leaf hornbeam (Carpinus laxiflora), and Deshojo Japanese maple (A. palmatum ‘Deshojo’).
The forest stands 41″ (104cm) high and was about 40 years old when the photograph was taken.