Tropical Bonsai, Not Exactly Your Common Houseplants

bucida

Tropical bonsai wasn't exactly what came to mind when I first glimpsed this powerful tree. More like some old cold hardy conifer. But a second glance reveals the leaves. Could this be a Bucida spinosa (aka Black olive*)? Well, yes, it could be and I think it is, even the though the artist, Enrique Castano calls it a Terminalia molineti (if hacking through the thicket of plant names is your thing, you might enjoy doing a little research).

It has been a while since we’ve featured tropical trees. This might have something to do with our bias for the cold hardy trees of the north and of high mountains terrains. If you live in Vermont and you grew up a few miles from the slopes of California’s Sierras, certain types of trees can make strong impressions.

This bias is compounded when the only tropicals you see are common houseplants. But still, as witnessed by the extraordinary trees in this post, tropicals can be every bit as powerful as our cold climate favorites.

By the way, Enrique Castano, the artist behind the impressive Bucida spinosa (or whatever you want to call it) above, is the author of our Botany for Bonsai (currently on sale, as are all of our bonsai books).

Book Sale ends tomorrow night

20% to 30% off Bonsai Books

Bonsai Books August 2016

20% off 1-2 books – 30% off 3 or more

almost all of our books are already discounted
this means double discounts for you
Sale ends Friday night at 11:59pm EDT

 

bucida-1This tropical Dwarf black olive* (Bucida spinosa) with its melted wax feel and gaping trunk is a tree that only Mother Nature (and Mary Madison's skilled hands) could create. It's from the 1st U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition album (out of print, but we still have the 4th and the 5th is coming soon).

 

bucida2A little digging around and I came up with yet another muscular Bucida. This one was posted on Internet Bonsai Club by our old friend Jose Rivera.
*These Black olives are unrelated to the European olives (true olives) of martini fame

Fine Branching Is Key to Superior Deciduous Bonsai

wbff2This now famous Japanese beech (Fagus crenata) received the coveted Kokufu prize at the 88th Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition. Aside from its overall magnificence, this tree provides a perfect example of what great ramification looks like. The photo is from the World Bonsai Friendship Federation. Identification and other details were provided by Bill Valavanis.

Ramification literally means branch development, or how branches grow. However, when it comes to the art of bonsai, it has come to mean branch development that displays a couple key features: taper and fine branching. These features are critical when it comes to developing quality deciduous (and other) bonsai.

Continued below…

Bonsai Book Sale ends soon

20% to 30% off Bonsai Books

Bonsai Books August 2016

20% off 1-2 books – 30% off 3 or more

almost all of our books are already discounted
this means double discounts for you
Sale ends Friday night at 11:59pm EDT

BT66decid

This illustration (originally from Bonsai Today magazine) is one of many that we featured in a three part series of posts from 2010 (links provided below). The following text is from the first post in the series...

Deciduous trees develop rapidly, but they also lose their shape rapidly. With precise pruning and pinching, you can create excellent fine branching in just a few years. But it’s an on going process that requires continued pruning and pinching to maintain… (there’s more here, here and here).

satsukiRamification is not just about deciduous trees. A lot of skilled pinching and pruning is behind this Satsuki azalea's wild profusion of flowers. The photo, which we featured in another 2010 post on ramification, is from Robert Callaham's benchmark Satsuki Bonsai book (published by Stone Lantern and due back in print later this year).

25% off all Tool Sets, Kits & Rolls

TKRS-1-ZIP

This sale includes our tool sets, tool rolls and cases,
and any set of 2 or more tools that are sold together on our website


More Savings for Stone Lantern Orders

Extra 10% off orders 100.00 or more
and FREE Shipping on Continental U.S. orders 49.00 or more
but only if you choose free shipping when you check out

A Green T Bonsai Turntable Will Change the Way You Work on Your Bonsai

GTquintana

Another happy Green T owner. The smiling face belongs to David Quintana Mendiguren. The tree is a Scot's pine and the beautiful turntable is of course, David's Green T.

A Green T Turntable will change the way you work on you bonsai and enhance the results… And you’ll enjoy the journey


Our new shipment of Green T turntables has arrived, so I thought I might regale you with some beautiful Green T bonsai, a few happy Green T owners and some good news from Bonsai Master Kimura and his appretices.

And by the way, we’ve got two models now. In addition to the Green T Basic model we now offer the New Green T Plus.

Here’s a resounding Green T endorsement
by four Kimura apprentices

GTapprentices

Four Kimura apprentices with bonsai and Green Ts.

gtpatritiani-2

This happy Green T owner is Massimo Paterniani, as is the magnificent Italian cypress bonsai.

WBC - Green T Official sponsor

Green T is the official sponsor of the upcoming World Bonsai Congress that will be held in Saitama at the end of April. Every demonstration will take place on a Green T table and Master Kimura is already using Green T as the only table for magazine photo shoots

 

eduardo

Edoardo Losio relaxing with his magnificent Yew and his Green T Plus.

 

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Green T Basic works for most people, especially with larger trees. But if you work on smaller trees, or like to work standing up, then there's the New Green T Plus.

A Green T Turntable will change the way you work on you bonsai and enhance the results… And you’ll enjoy the journey

 

Bonsai Book Sale

20% to 30% off Bonsai Books

Bonsai Books August 2016

20% off 1-2 books – 30% off 3 or more

almost all of our books are already discounted
this means double discounts for you

More Savings for Stone Lantern Orders
Extra 10% off orders 100.00 or more
and FREE Shipping on Continental U.S. orders 49.00 or more
but only if you choose free shipping when you check out

Found Bonsai – Exceptional Trees from Humble Origins

Privet Bonsai Re Styling (10)

Front left shot of a Privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium) that was collected in 2009 from an old hedge growing in West London. It belongs to Harry Harrington. The pot is by Victor Harris of Erin Pottery

Most of the bonsai we feature start with aged, often highly developed (usually expensive) stock. From there to a show-worthy bonsai might require mostly refinement. In other cases more radical styling might be  involved, but either way, when you start with superior stock, superior results are more likely.

Conversely, most of Harry Harrington‘s (author of The Foundations of Bonsai) bonsai come from more humble origins…

Continued below…

Harry Harrington’s
The Foundation of Bonsai

B1FOUND

The cover of the North American edition of
The Foundations of Bonsai
All of our Bonsai Books are now 20% to 30% off
20% off 1-2 books   –   30% off 3 or more

a

stock

Here's where Harry started. If you hadn't seen the photo above, would you recognize the potential?

…Many of Harry’s trees come from stock dug up in various urban, suburban and rural setting around parts of the U.K. Most of this stock is rough and raw, and often far from looking anything like a bonsai.

The ramifications (sorry) for most of us are obvious. In most cases, our trees are from nursery stock or sometimes urban or suburban yamadori. Our challenges are much the same as Harry’s.

All the photos in this post come from Harry’s bonsa4me gallery

Privet Bonsai Re Styling (12)

A closer look at Harry's carving

b1foundmain

This photo and the one just below, were taken during Spring 2015 after the tree had been partially defoliated and pruned. As you can see, it has come a long way from the freshly dug little stump in the photo above, though it still had a long way to go when compared to the photo at the top of this post.

 

HHTRUNKHere's Harry's caption for this shot, "Detail shot of the back of the bonsai I posted yesterday. Often times it is the below-soil part of an old Privet that is used for bonsai as this image illustrates.....the tree still has a stone (from the ground) embedded in its trunk."

 

Privet Bonsai Re Styling (11)

Harry and his prized Privet. I was surprised when I saw this photo. I had been envisioning a larger tree.

25% off all Tool Sets, Kits & Rolls

TKRS-1-ZIP

This sale includes our tool sets, tool rolls and cases,
and any set of 2 or more tools that are sold together on our website


More Savings for Stone Lantern Orders

Extra 10% off orders 100.00 or more
and FREE Shipping on Continental U.S. orders 49.00 or more
but only if you choose free shipping when you check out

Cliff Bonsai – Before & After

Mafter

As always, we'll start with after photo. The tree is a Western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) The artist is Michael Hagedorn. The before photo is below.
 I lifted today’s post straight from Michael Hagedorn’s Crataegus Bonsai. Michael posted fourteen step-by-step photos on this dramatic ‘cliff dweller’. We’ll just show you three of these. I encourage you to visit Crataegus – one of our favorite bonsai destinations – to enjoy the whole sequence.
Here’s part of what Michael has to say about the creation of this remarkable planting…
 “We often think of cliff or rock faces being the place where cascade bonsai get their inspiration. And they do. But there’s another commonly seen growth habit in those steep, rocky areas…

 

Continued below…

New Book Sale

20% to 30% off Bonsai Books

Bonsai Books August 2016

20% off 1-2 books – 30% off 3 or more

almost all of our books are already discounted
this means double discounts for you

Mbefore

Before

Michael Hagedorn continued from above… “I collected this Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) on Vancouver Island several years ago, where, coincidentally, it was growing off a boulder. The leaves were tiny and yellow from the water and nutrition stresses of boulder life. In less than a year it had rebounded and was growing green and vigorous.

“The lace rock used in this experiment was purchased without an intention in mind, driven only by the impulse of ‘What a cool looking rock, maybe I’ll use that someday…’ It had several possible inclinations, one of which proved useful for this composition. And so last Thursday turned out to be ‘someday.’”

b1post-for-web

Micheal’s Hagedorn’s Post Dated
is still the best bonsai read around
and like all our books is now on special

 

MSEQUENCE

Working soil in between the rock and the rootball.”

25% off all Tool Sets, Kits & Rolls

TKRS-1-ZIP

This sale includes our tool sets, tool rolls and cases,
and any set of 2 or more tools that are sold together on our website


More Savings for Stone Lantern Orders

Extra 10% off orders 100.00 or more
and FREE Shipping on Continental U.S. orders 49.00 or more
but only if you choose free shipping when you check out

Bonsai Brilliance Multiplied

machiko

Both the tree and the pot are brilliant and each could stand on its own. But together their brilliance is multiplied. Based on the flowers, I'd say the tree is a quince. The photos trees and pots shown here all belong to Michiko Koide.

It’s noon already and the project I was working on this morning is bogged down (blogged down). We’ll set it aside for the moment and resort to an old trick. This one is from March, 2016, with a little value added – a couple new photos from Michiko Koide’s facebook timeline.

I don’t know much about Michiko Koide and google didn’t help. All I could find is from facebook. Turns out, based on the photos, that’s plenty.

Continued below…

New Book Sale

20% to 30% off Bonsai Books

Bonsai Books August 2016

20% off 1-2 books – 30% off 3 or more

almost all of our books are already discounted
this means double discounts for you

 

mach2

Machiko's pots are excellent, with or without little trees.

michiko2Here's one of those value added photos I promised. It's a spread on Michiko from a Japanese bonsai magazine. There are two major bonsai magazines in Japan, Kinbon and Sekkai and chances are very good it's one of them. 

mach

Simplicity


Our Spring Bonsai Soil offering
is all bagged & ready to ship

SASQAkadama Japanese Bonsai Soil
Kamuna Japanese Azalea Soil

Lava & Pumice for mixing your own
& a Japanese favorite…
Aoki blended volcanic soils

 

mach6

Contrast in trees and pots, but both very sweet. I'm guessing that the tree on the right is a Cryptomeria (Japanese cedar). The Shimpaku is too easy

 

michiko

The other valued added shot. From the same magazine article.

 

red

Another quince?

 

mach3

Feast your eyes and then imagine what you could do with such a brilliant selection of pots.

 

25% off all Tool Sets, Kits & Rolls

TKRS-1-ZIP

This sale includes our tool sets, tool rolls and cases,
and any set of 2 or more tools that are sold together on our website


Extra Savings for Stone Lantern Orders

10% off orders 100.00 or more
and FREE Shipping on Continental U.S. orders 49.00 or more
but only if you choose free shipping when you check out

Bonsai Art Techno Style – An Uprising of a New Generation?

M2

mmI lifted these shots from a video that's a part of an article from ABC Australia, titled, Japan's ancient art of bonsai threatened by waning interest among youth. The embedded text - 30 minutes from scratch - might give some pause for thought.

You may have heard some buzz lately about lack of interest in bonsai by Japanese youth. The other day I stumbled upon an article & video about this very topic, and what one person is trying to do about it. Though it’s never a bad idea to experiment and add some fresh inspiration to any established convention, there might some be reluctance by some people to put both feet on board just yet. Especially given notions like 30 minutes from scratch.

Two Brand New Sales

20% to 30% off Bonsai Books

Bonsai Books August 2016

20% off 1-2 books – 30% off 3 or more

almost all of our books are already discounted
this means double discounts for you

the other Brand New Sale is below

M4

Here's a still shot of the planting from the video photos at the top of this post. It's a little hard to tell exactly what's going on with the supporting structure.

M6

Senior citizens enjoying bonsai in Japan. I - and many of you no doubt - would not be out of place in this photo.

 

M3"... make it because have strong root"

25% off all Tool Sets, Kits & Rolls

TKRS-1-ZIP

This sale includes our tool sets, tool rolls and cases,
and any set of 2 or more tools that are sold together on our website


Extra Savings for Stone Lantern Orders

10% off orders 100.00 or more
and FREE Shipping on Continental U.S. orders 49.00 or more
but only if you choose free shipping when you check out

Bonsai Tool Sales End Tonight and 500,000 (plus) Cuts

TOK103TUNE

These well worn Okatsune bypass shears belong to Greg McNally and Tune Faulkner of Fall Brook Tree Farm in Wheelock Vermont. Tune uses hers all year, but most intensively before the holidays when she makes wreaths. She makes thousands of cuts a day when she’s going strong and has been using the same shears for years. We came up with 500,000 cuts, but suspect it could easily be twice that. This photo and the one the grass below are by Amy Palmer.

Bonsai & Garden Tool Sales End Tonight at 11:59pm EDT

30% off 2 or more Bonsai Aesthetics Tools

a favorite for the novice bonsai enthusiast
and for all of us on a bonsai budget

TC-SET5-AESTHETICS-680a small sampling of the 25 different
Bonsai Aesthetics tools and tool sets we offer

 

25% off Okatsune Bonsai & Garden Tools

OKATSUNEset4

Okatsune Japanese Bonsai & Garden Tools
cut like butter and last forever

 

Both of these tool sales end tonight, Thursday, April 6th at 11:59pm EDT

 

Tunesongrass1Okatsune shears are so good that if you just lay them down next to what you want cut, they’ll take care of it while you tend to other tasks.

Extra Savings for all Stone Lantern Orders
10% off orders 100.00 or more
and FREE Shipping on Continental U.S. orders 49.00 or more
but only if you choose free shipping when you check out

Working Tirelessly to Promote Bonsai in North America & Beyond

770

A piece of a sinuous root Larch the belongs to Bill Valavanis. A photo of the whole tree is below.

The other day Bill Valavanis generously sent us some photos for a project we’re working on for Stone Lantern. If you know Bill, you know this generosity is not out of character. Bill has been working tirelessly to promote bonsai in North America (and beyond) for a long time, all the while generously giving his energy, knowledge and encouragement to our community of bonsai artists and enthusiasts.

Because of Bill’s generosity and dedication, we periodically encourage our readers (that’s you) to visit Bill’s website and his blog. Both are clicks well worth making.

770-2

Here's another cropped piece of a photo that we received from Bill. This time it's a Chinese elm. The original photo is below.

 

bill2shishi

One of Bill's famous Shishigashira Japanese maples

 

SONY DSC

Hornbeam, scroll and companion in Bill's tokonoma


770-6

Here's the original photo of Bill's sinuous root Larch

770-3

And here's the original of Bill's Chinese elm forest

Speaking of Stone Lantern, here’s something from the people that do the heavy lifting around here – Ric, Martin & Barbara (and when he’s not too lazy to get out of bed… yours truly)

Aesthetics & Okatsune Tool Sales

30% off 2 or more Bonsai Aesthetics Tools

a favorite for the novice bonsai enthusiast
and for all of us on a bonsai budget

TC-SET5-AESTHETICS-680a small sampling of the 25 different
Bonsai Aesthetics tools and tool sets we offer

 

25% off Okatsune Bonsai & Garden Tools

OKATSUNEset4

Okatsune Japanese Bonsai & Garden Tools
cut like butter and last forever

 

Bonsai, It’s About the Soil – An Informed Approach

maple

This Japanese maple belongs to Mariusz Folda. I don't know if Mariusz also made the pot, but based on what I've seen of his ceramics, I wouldn't be surprised.

Yesterday’s post on Mariusz Folda’s Shimpaku serves as lead in for today’s comments by Mariusz on his soil mix, and more specifically on the uses and limitations of Akadama, the most famous and widely used imported Japanese soil.

Here’s Mariusz’s quote on Akadama in its entirety…
I look after some bonsai that are very old, like a very old Fagus crenata (Japanese beech) or an old Carpinus koreana (Korean hornbeam). I repot them into IBUKI Sieved Bonsai Substrate of: Akadama/Pumice/Lava ‘large 6.5-7mm’
In this case I know that the old trees may stay in the substrate for 5 to 6 years and the akadama must stay in a good shape. That is why in those cases I fire it in the ceramic kiln.
Continued below…

Koyo Tool Sale Ends Tonight

25% off all Koyo Japanese Bonsai Tools
Tools-Koyo1-500x303this sale ends tonight, Tuesday at 11:59pm EDT

abd

soilMariusz Folda's medium soil mix: Akdama/Lava/Pumice/Zeolite 30/30/30/10 size 4.5-5mm.

Mariusz continued from above
“I use only the best hard brand Ibaraki akadama for IBUKI Sieved Substrate but sometimes I must double make sure, cannot take any chances. Lava and pumice will be ok for sure after many years but akadama can become very very dangerous once it gets out of shape, becomes mud and prevents the roots from breathing and the dump environment deep at the bottom of the big pot cannot be seen.. the roots slowly die.

We all know this can be a serious problem and many great trees are not around because of that.

nebariRepotting the Japanese maple (shown above), with Mariusz's IBUKI Sieved Bonsai Substrate mix: Akdamam/Lava/Pumice/Zeolite 30/30/30/10 size medium 4.5-5mm.

Our Spring Bonsai Soil offering
is all bagged & ready to ship

SASQAkadama Japanese Bonsai Soil
Kamuna Japanese Azalea Soil

Lava & Pumice for mixing your own
& a Japanese favorite…
Aoki blended volcanic soils

 

junHere's an example of Mariusz's ceramic mastery with his caption: "Today I received a photo from Nik Rozman with his outstanding juniperus in IBUKI pot. I still smile ;) Thank you Nik for sharing. Cheers mate"

For more on Mariusz Folda’s bonsai and ceramics (his soil too) you can visit his IBUKI Studio Bonsai & Ceramics on facebook

30% off 2 or more Bonsai Aesthetics Tools

a favorite for the novice bonsai enthusiast
and for all of us on a bonsai budget
TC-SET5-AESTHETICS-680a small sampling of the 25 different
Bonsai Aesthetics tools and tool sets we offer


Extra Savings for all Stone Lantern Orders

10% off orders 100.00 or more
and FREE Shipping on Continental U.S. orders 49.00 or more
but only if you choose free shipping when you check out