Some Sweet Little Trees by a Master Bonsai Potter


I'm going to guess that this is a crab apple. You might wonder why that shoot with large leaves, sticking up top, has been left untrimmed. I think Haruyosi is letting it grow to draw energy up and strengthen and perhaps raise the apex.

Down the shore today (New Jersey) with countless trees to identify. Trees that wouldn’t stand a chance in the cold wilds of northern Vermont. So we’ll keep this short. Just some sweet little bonsai by our old favorite, Haruyosi.

haruredHaruyosi makes his own pots and often uses red glazes, which are fairly unusual. Here's his caption (we'll leave the poorly translated English). "On the other hand, this plum tree was in good condition of root. I replanted it into a red glazed pot."



Another apple?


Gotta be a quince.


In addition to being a highly accomplished Shohin bonsai artist, Haruyosi is a master potter.


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Can There Ever Be Too Many Flowers?

azalea1This azalea would be an excellent bonsai even without the flowers. With the flowers, well, you can see for yourself.

Getting ready to leave for a couple days and running late (what else is new?), so we’ll dip into our archives. This one originally appeared in 2012. BTW, my source for the photo above was Tae Kukiwon Bonsai.

Can there ever be too many flowers? If you look at the two azaleas in this post, you’ll see that the one above is covered with flowers, while the one below shows a mix of flowers and foliage. Some bonsai and landscape artists think that flowers work best when featured judiciously; as an accent or highlight, rather than as the whole story. Others (most of us) seem to feel that the more flowers, the better.


Though the tree isn't in the same league as the one above, it provides an example of the less-is-more approach, where the flowers don't overwhelm the viewer. This allows other features to stand out. Things like the shiny glow of the foliage, the trunk, the overall shape of the tree, and the way it is planted (a somewhat unusual saikei style in this case). I found this photo here.


This quince shows a profusion of flowers, but still, there's space for the trunks, the pot and other features to be appreciated. It's from the same place as the photo immediately above.


Color is not just about flowers. This Princess persimmon (Diospyros kaki) is from Bonsai Today issue 39 and is a rerun from an earlier Bonsai Bark post. Among other things, it's a good example of balanced contrasts, especially with the choice of background color.

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An Astounding Japanese Beech Sitting Smack Dab…


What a great tree! What a great turntable! Both belong to Jean-Paul Polmans. His simple caption reads "I like the new turntable in my studio."

So this morning, while looking for that perfect photo of that perfect tree,  on that famous social media time sump, up pops this astounding Japanese beech sitting smack dab on a Green T Turntable. How could I resist?



Another Green T and another great bonsai. It's a Holm oak that belongs to Raffaele Perilli.



No caption needed.

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Resetting the Spring & Other Wonderful Things You Can (& Can’t) Do with Pines


JWP copy

Japanese white pine from Michael Hagedorn's Crataegus Bonsai portfolio. Here's Michael's caption: "A Japanese White pine that was entered into the Taikan-ten. This was when I was a second-year apprentice." 

Every time I visit Michael Hagedorn’s Crataegus Bonsai, I learn something new. If you want to enrich your understanding of bonsai, you could do a lot worse than reading and digesting everything Michael writes. His deep knowledge of bonsai combined with an unusual gift for our American English language will help guide you to the bonsai promised land.

This time it’s Michael’s post from yesterday: Big Difference Between ‘Decandling’ and ‘Breaking’ Pine Shoots… We’ll just show a couple pieces and encourage you to visit Crataegus for the whole story.

In Michael’s own words…

“There’s a storm of confusion around these two techniques…and it’s one of those things we don’t want to get wrong. Pines take a couple years to get back on track, once off track, and so they make us look at our mistakes for a long time.

I’ll try to make this short and sweet. For starters, how do we distinguish decandling from breaking/pinching?

Breaking/Pinching means taking part of the shoot off, usually with fingers, as the shoot is extending in early to mid-spring. This is before the needles have come out.” Continued below…


"Scots pine candles, before pinching."
pine2"With the fleshy part of the fingers, pinch the candle according to its strength, taking more off for stronger ones, less for weaker, none for weakest."

Moving ahead a bit (visit Crataegus to see the photos and captions we skipped).

Decandling means cutting off the entire pine candle off in late spring. Often the new needles have come out already.

pine3"With a sharp bud scissors, the candle is cut at the base."

And again after skipping some photos and captions, what Michael says next about the difference between Breaking/Pinching and Decandling is very important and we’d be remiss to skip it…

Both techniques are appropriate…one isn’t cooler than another, one won’t win you accolades and the other not…we simply apply them to different pines.

Candles of single flush pines—such as Japanese White, Lodgepole, Shore, Scots, Limber—MAY be broken or pinched.

Candles of multiple flush pines—Japanese Black and Red—MAY be decandled.

I say MAY, because only strongly growing pines in good sun should be decandled or pinched.

Michael has a lot more to say and show on Breaking/Pinching and Decandling and I strongly encourage you to visit Crataegus Bonsai for the whole story.


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Which Pot Again – Another Tree, More Choices

which pot

These four images were borrowed from Juraj Szabó. Juraj lives, works and plays in Slovakia. The tree is a Shimpaku juniper (Juniperus chinensis sargentii). Juraj doesn't say where the pots came from, though a couple look like they might be either Tokoname or Yixing pots.

Most of our previous Which Pot? posts have been lifted from Boon Manakitivipart (including yesterday’s), so it was nice to discover one from someone (and somewhere) else. Nothing against Boon’s offerings, he puts on a world class bonsai show. It’s just a nice change of pace.

Some details: First, it’s best if you put your choices (and explanations) in the comments. Please don’t email me. I’m struggling to keep up with my 50,000 daily emails as is. Second, I encourage you to visit Juraj Szabó on facebook where we got the images show here. And third, this post is from our archives. It first appeared almost exactly one year ago.



Pot #1



Pot #2



Pot #3



Pot #4

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Great Tree but Which Pot Do You Like?

boonredpineGreat tree. But which pot do you like?

You can never have too much Boon. Boon Manakitivipart’s Which Pot do you like? series has been the source of some of our most popular posts, as have other Boon posts we’ve presented over the years. So, no need to stop now….

Boon posted these Japanese red pine photos recently. The photo above shows the two choices together. Below, for a closer look, you’ll find photos of each choice. Feel free to tell us about your choice in the comments.


Square pot. The order of appearance is important in how we judge things, so because the round pot has the key left spot above, we'll show the square pot first here.



Round pot

If you’d like to explore Boon’s bonsai further (not a bad idea at all) here’s a link to some previous Boon related Bark posts and here’s a link to his website and to his facebook feed.


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Sweeping Dishes & Washing Floors in Exchange for Bonsai Lessons

yogi11A little change of pace. We almost always just focus on bonsai and avoid people photos (that's social media's job), but this one is just too good to pass up. The peaceful Bonsai Yogi is Gede Merta of Bonsai Bali. I cropped this photo (with apologies to Scott Jackson and his great tattoo).*

Another blast from our past. Starting this week, we’re going to be upgrading most of our digital universe. Pain and suffering will no doubt ensue, but it has to be done. Not that I need an excuse for resurrecting old posts, there’s more than enough work around here anyway. But you have to admit, it’s a better excuse than usual. This one was titled Bonsai Yogi when it originally appeared in March 2013.  BTW and in case you’re wondering, I know about the title.

I’m mentally packing my bags for Bali. I could sweep floors and wash dishes in exchange for bonsai lessons. Maybe a little contemplation instruction too, though I’m not sure how long I can sit on the ground with my legs crossed.

Though this is was the first time we’ve we featured Mr Gede Merta, it’s not the first time we’ve featured his bonsai. My favorite Gedemerta Bark post features Snake Dance, a phenomenally wild full cascade Pemphis acidula.


gede1You like fantastic deadwood? Not that's all about the deadwood - even without it this would be a very good bonsai. With all the deadwood (the more you look, the more you see) and other visual treats (the bark for example), I'd say it's a magnificent bonsai.


gede2I've said enough for one post. This tree and the one below can speak for themselves.


* Here’s the uncropped lead photo

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Beyond Dazzling Deadwood


Colorado spruce from Ryan Neil's Bonsai Mirai. This one is more about the bark than deadwood. Normally bark that covers deadwood is stripped to reveal the deadwood, but in this case it makes sense to just leave it. While we're at it, we would be remiss not to mention the fantastic pot. You might notice how the trunk almost completely fills it side to side. Such relatively small pots are usually for show and not year round growing.

Today we’re featuring three remarkable trees from Bonsai Mirai that we’ve never shown before. Yesterday we featured three remarkable Bonsai Mirai trees from our archives.


Ryan usually provides great close-ups and this one is no exception.



Though the other two trees shown here are more about other features, in the case of this Rocky mountain juniper, it's dazzling deadwood again (see yesterday's post). Another unique pot too, though much larger in relation to the tree than the one above.



I think it's safe to say that all four trunks (five?) in this clump style Ponderosa pine share one root system. But then most people would just admire the wild and wonderful qualities of a tree like this before they started speculating about the roots.


Another great close up. Now you can almost see the roots. Is the pot really a wood slab?

Before we mention our sponsor, I’d like to encourage you to visit Bonsai Mirai (on the web and in real space-time). I think it’s safe to say that Mirai is the home of the finest collection of yamadori (bonsai originally collected from the wild) in all of North America.


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Dazzling Deadwood

mirai3Dazzling deadwood. I think I see a live vein on the left edge of the trunk. Otherwise, this spectacular old specimen is a study in deadwood (with a little rebar thrown into the mix). It's a Rocky Mountain juniper. The artist and owner is Ryan Neil, Bonsai Mirai. The tree was originally collected by Andy Smith of Golden Arrow Bonsai (Stone Lantern offers Andy's excellent DVD on collecting bonsai). Intenational Bonsai Mirai has a great little back story on this intriguing old tree.

This post originally appeared here in January, 2012. A lot has changed and a lot remains more or less the same. One of the biggest changes as it relates to bonsai collected in the western U.S. was the Artisans Cup, where so many remarkable trees were gathered in one place (the Portland Art Museum). When it comes to remaining the same, what we said back in 2012 still holds (see below).

Every time I visit Ryan Neil’s Bonsai Mirai website something new and exciting turns up. In my estimation, Ryan could quit right now and still be considered major contributor to North American bonsai (and beyond). But Ryan isn’t quitting (and he’s young), so we can expect more daring high quality bonsai for a long time.

I don’t know how many of us fully appreciate the quality of bonsai material coming out of the Rocky Mountains (and other notable western mountains). I suspect the surface has barely been scratched (so to speak) and with a little intelligence and restraint, that the supply could last for our grandchildren’s grandchildren (and so on) without any serious risk to numbers or to the environment. At least I hope this is the case.

In this vein, I think Andy Smith’s most excellent DVD on collecting provides some very intelligent guidelines on how to make this happen. If you combine Andy’s gentle wisdom with the deep and detailed knowledge of Larch Master Nick Lenz’ Bonsai from the Wild (out of print for now), you’re off to a very good start on the subject collecting.

miraiAll three of the Rocky Mountain junipers in this post belong to Ryan Neil. This one was collected in 2008 by Randy Knight of Oregon Bonsai.
mirai2This one was also collected in 2008 by Randy Knight.

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