Walter’s Powerful Rough Bark Japanese Maple


This powerful Rough Bark Japanese maple (Acer palmatum 'Arakawa') is approximately eighty years old and stands 70cm (almost 28") high. Walter Pall imported it from Japan this year as semi raw material. Walter has an excellent series of photos on the tree's transition since he received it.

We could devote all of Bonsai Bark to Walter Pall’s trees and seemingly never run out of material. But then, Walter is already doing that with his blog, his website and on facebook, so all we have to do to enjoy his bonsai wizardry, is occasionally touch in.

In case you don’t know Walter Pall, he identifies himself as an entertainer on facebook. There is truth to this according to people who have seen his demos, but he could have just as easily said ‘highly accomplished bonsai artist, educator, entrepreneur, promoter of the art and entertainer.’



Bigger than you thought. Nothing like a little indicator of scale to put things in perspective. We're going to assume that those are normal size human hands. You can visit Walter Pall's blog for more photos of this and other remarkable bonsai.

soil5This photo of our Masters Bonsai Soil appears on a post we did last year called Modern Masters Bonsai Soil. It included a treatise by Walter Pall on Feeding, Substrate (aka Soil) and Watering.


How About Yew?

YewOmiyaThis rather spectacular, muscular Japanese yew resides at the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum in Saitama, Japan, along with numerous other top tier bonsai. The pot looks like it could be Tokoname. Though you can't see the back, it's possible that the single live vein in the front supports all of the foliage in the tree's impressively massive crown.

Apologies for the bad pun in the title. We’ll blame it on faulty wiring (of the physiological type rather than the bonsai type). While we’re at it here’s another bad Yew pun.

One of the great thing about Yews (Taxus) is they grow almost everywhere. Half the landscapes the Eastern U.S. (and other places) sport a yew or two. So it’s possible to find good ones for bonsai in your own front yard (suburban Yamadori). Or someone else’s front yard (just don’t get caught… just kidding).

Another great thing about yew is they are beautiful. Especially the bright yellow green new leaves and the cinnamon bark. And they take to bonsai culture like fish to water.

The only downside is the wood is exceptionally hard. This makes carving a challenging task. Even cutting larger branches can tax (no pun intended) you tools.


YewWalterRugged tree, rugged pot. It's hard to say if the two trunks share a single root system, but my guess is they do. Another possibility is that there is only one trunk that is fused higher up behind the foliage. Like the tree above (but very unlike the tree above) it's a Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata). It belongs to Walter Pall. It's 55cm (21.5") high and over 100 years old. The pot is by Walter Venne. The tree was originally collected in Korea.

Every Day Is Bonsai Day and Today Is Mother’s Day

Ga.5.g1The sculpted look. This Mugo pine by Mother Nature and Georg Reinhard combines wildness and elegance with its flowing lines and almost perfectly shaped robust live growth. I particularly like the way the deadwood twists and turns all the way back down to soil and the jagged lightening bolt on the left. Though I know that some people take issue with highly sculpted deadwood, this is so well done that I can't imagine even the most dogmatic proponents of the naturalistic look being too worked up about it.

Too much going on today, so we’ll dip back into our archives. This one came up when I searched ‘Mother.’ It’s from November, 2010 and it’s titled ‘Mugos by Mother Nature & Georg Reinhard.’

Yesterday was World Bonsai Day. Today is Mother’s Day. If you grow bonsai, you know that every day is Bonsai Day, especially during the growing season. You could also say that every day is Mother’s Day, especially for mothers who have children at home. But sometimes we forget to appreciate the courage, devotion and work that it take to be a mother. So, even though I am a little suspicious of Hallmark Holidays, still, Happy Mother’s Day to all of you. You’ve earned it.

There are Mugos, and then there are Mugos…
I don’t think we ever see Mugo pines quite like these here in the States. It’s safe to say these are Yamadori (collected from the wild). Mugos are native to Europe, and these certainly have that native look. But then there’s that skilled human hand that belongs to Georg Reinhard.


Ga.1.gA more natural feel. The human hand is less evident here than in the one above. Still, it's hard to know just how much the artist (Georg) contributed to this tree's natural feel without seeing the way it looked when it was dug. No matter, this tree speaks for itself, loud and clear.

Today Is a Good Day to Hug a Bonsai… or even a Local Bonsai Friend

wbff lands1-1You may have already seen this magnificent landscape Penjing. Here on Bark, on Bill Valavanis' blog or any number of other places. You don't have to be a rocket scientist (or a bonsai master) to figure out why it's so popular. All the photos in this post were borrowed from Bill Valavanis Bonsai Blog.

Today is the big day. World Bonsai Day, a celebration of the art of bonsai that originated with the World Bonsai Friendship Federation. World Bonsai Day is held annually on the second Saturday of each May (you can check out yesterday’s Bark post for some background).

It seems fitting to celebrate World Bonsai Day by showing some bonsai from the 7th World Bonsai Friendship Federation Convention which was held in Jin Tan, China in September 2013 (the 8th will be in held in Saitama, Japan in 2017).

Our old friend, the omnipresent and irrepressible Bill Valavanis was there with his camera… and, well you can guess the rest (borrowing from Bill is a habit of ours). If you’d like to see more of Bill’s photos from the convention here are part one and part two from his Bonsai blog.

Aside from looking at the trees in this post, how might you celebrate World Bonsai Day? It occurs, because it’s about appreciating bonsai and bringing the world bonsai community together, maybe we could each contact a fellow bonsai lover and wish them a happy WBD. Then we could venture out into our back yard and say hello to our beautiful bonsai collection.


wbff pomegranate-1You might recognize the tree by the fruit (if you know what a Pomegranate looks like).


wbff literati

This literati Juniper qualifies as a very unique bonsai. The hole in the trunk doesn't hurt when it comes to unique, nor does the quality and amount of deadwood (a lot for a literati). From what we can see of the foliage, I'm guessing that the tree is a Procumbens juniper.

wbff wall-bonsai

Speaking of unique. Bill labeled this one 'wall bonsai.' Based on the leaves and also the exposed roots, we're pretty sure it's a Ficus.


wbff 11-penjing

At a glance you might think this is the same Penjing landscape we started with. But only at a glance.


The next World Bonsai Convention

All the photos in the post are from Valavanis Bonsai Blog.

Help Us Celebrate World Bonsai Day (Shop at Stone Lantern!)


Brian Donnelly's entry in the 2013 World Bonsai Friendship Federation's photo contest. Brian lives in Canada. I know Canada is big country but the WBFF don't say where. However, I did find this video of him teaching bonsai in French, so I'm guessing he lives somewhere in PQ. As you can see, the tree is a Bougainvillea and a very good one at that.

Okay, the Shop at Stone Lantern part of the title is somewhat tongue in cheek. But only somewhat. After all, Bonsai Bark and Stone Lantern wouldn’t happen without your support. So, on behalf of our staff, family, friends, suppliers, the IRS and anyone who benefits in any way from what we do, Happy World Bonsai Day and Thank you for shopping at Stone Lantern!

World Bonsai Day is celebrated tomorrow (Saturday, May 9th).

The following is from the WBFF website: “Each year, on the second Saturday in May, the World Bonsai Friendship Federation along with the North American Bonsai Federation sponsor a World Bonsai Day celebration. On this special day, clubs, organizations and individuals throughout the world are encouraged to reach out to their respective communities and share the joy and brotherhood we all feel because of our involvement with bonsai….” (there’s more here).



2015 would be the great Bonsai Master Saburo Kato's (1915-2008) 100th birthday. Mr. Kato was the founder and first chairman of the World Bonsai Friendship Federation, the chairman of the Nippon Bonsai Association for 30 years and fast friend to bonsai lovers around the world. We would like to honor Mr. Kato by offering his wonderful classic book, Forest, Rock Planting & Ezo Spruce Bonsai to our customers for only 15.00 (10.00 of each sale to go to the publisher, National Bonsai Foundation).



Forest, Rock Planting & Ezo Spruce Bonsai, Bonsai Master Saburo Kato's beautiful benchmark bonsai book. The list price is 34.95 and now available to our customers for only 15.00 (10.00 of each sale to go to the publisher, the National Bonsai Foundation). This offer is good for the rest of today and through the weekend (until 11:59pm EDT Sunday).


saburo-katoSaburo Kato. Here's a short, somewhat embarrassing personal story about how not to greet a great man.



Professional Nanny & Famous Bonsai Artist Suthin Is Downsizing His Personal Bonsai Collection


This powerful Japanese maple is one of many bonsai from Suthin Sukosolvisit's private collection that are now offered for sale. You can find this tree and the others in this post on Suthin's facebook feed and more on his website.

This is your chance. Friend to all and gifted Bonsai Artist Suthin Sukosolvisit is downsizing his bonsai collection. These are not the ordinarily excellent trees that he regularly sells at shows and at his studio/nursery, these are some of his favorites from his personal collection.

In Suthin’s own words: “Due to my hectic schedule, old age, and slowly becoming a full time ‘professional’ nanny of 3 beautiful grandchildren, I have decided to downsize my personal bonsai collection. Feel free to check out my website for sales items. More trees will be added every week (sorry…no catalog).”



This deliciously lush Shimpaku is also for sale...


suthinmaple2 is this unique Japanese maple...


suthinpine...and this old Shohin Pine (Suthin is a Shohin Master as well as a professional nanny). Suthin will be adding more trees for sale from his personal collection regularly on his website. 

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Clip-and-Grow – Back to Bonsai Basics


You can see the large scar from the first cut on this powerful old Chinese elm (Ulmus parviflora). If you follow the trunk up a ways, you can see the change of direction where the second cut took place, though you can't see a scar from this view. This tree appears in the 1st U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition Album.* It was started from a large collected tree in China. The owner/artist is Melvyn Goldstein. The fuzzy image is due to enlarging to fit our newer format.

It’s full tilt spring around here now. Digging and potting season in all its intensity. So, for the sake of expediency, we’re dipping into our archives once again. This one is from May 2009, Bark’s infancy.

Many deciduous trees are started in the field and developed using the clip-and-grow technique. The result is a heavy trunked tree with gentle curves, often in a more or less S shape. You can see this basic shape in the Chinese elm above. A variation of this S curve often shows up in pines and other conifers as well, though it is usually created by other means (trimming and wiring), as conifers don’t usually take as well to clip-and-grow.

clipgrowThese simple illustrations of the clip and grow technique are from a website called The Bonsai Primer. The left image shows the first cut, the next one shows the second cut, and so forth. If you go to the comments in our previous field growing post, Brian Van Fleet gives an excellent description of exactly what these illustrations are all about.



*The cover of the 2008 album (out of print). The 3rd Album is currently discounted at Stone Lantern & the 4th Album is coming soon.

Bonsai on the Plaza

BarBonsai on the plaza. What could be better, sidewalk cafes, old world architecture and bonsai? All the photos in this post are from Barbazza Bonsai in Treviso, Italy.

I think this the first time we’ve featured bonsai on a plaza. In Italy, or for that matter, anywhere. The displays belong to Barbazza Bonsai. The city is Treviso. You can visit Barbazza on facebook or on their website. Or, best of all, you could go to Italy.



Another great bonsai and architecture shot. Looks like Treviso is an old walled city.


bar4And then there are the ubiquitous men on horses with their grey-green patina (and pigeon droppings) contrasted with brilliant fall colored bonsai.


bar6Trident maple in fall color. Looks like a Shohin size.



An old Yamadori pine with a terra cotta tile roof (another ubiquitous feature in much of Europe).


bar2One more plaza shot (with other common features in the background).

Putz Pines & Pots

putz1The rugged and somewhat worn look of the pot mirrors the well-aged bark and overall rugged feel of this European black pine (Pinus nigra Austriaca). All the photos in this post are from Wolfgang Putz' Bonsaigalerie (a click well worth making).

It’s archive time again… Sunday morning, sunny in Vermont and I need to get outside. This post originally appeared in August 2012.

The time is ripe
This isn’t the first time we’ve featured the bonsai of Wolfgang Putz, but it’s the first time since our original backyard bonsai feature (way back in 2009) that we’ve dedicated a whole post to Wolfgang’s trees. So the time is ripe.

Yamadori pine

Based on what you can see here and other trees in his gallery, I’d say that Wolfgang is one of Europe’s first-rate wild bonsai (yamadori) collectors; and though we’ve decided to feature some of his pines here, partly in appreciation for their rugged bark (this is Bonsai Bark after all) and for their overall rugged natural feel, they really make up only a fairly small portion of his collection (I hope none of you are English teachers).

putz2Another excellent pot-tree match on this gnarly old literati European black pine.


putz3It's hard not to keep mentioning the pots when Wolfgang keeps choosing such good ones. Both the color and texture of this pot are spot on. The shape works too. The tree (a Mugo pine this time) ain't so shabby either.


putz4I like the way the stubby little trunk points one way and the rest of the tree goes the other way. It's another European black pine.


putz5We featured this large, award winning Mugo pine not too long ago.

B1PINE680Our classic Pine book. Though there are some differences between European and Japanese pines (and between Japanese pines), a pine is still a pine. Now is a good time to check out this and other books and products at Stone Lantern with our 20% to 25% off everything Sale. But don't wait; the sale ends tonight at 11:59pm EDT