New Name, New Curator, Same Great Bonsai Collection


Simplicity. Elegance. Balance. Perfection. However you say it, this tree has it. The only thing that breaks up the perfect balance is the irregular nebari. Maybe that’s a good thing. It’s a Japanese beech (Fagus crenata). The artist is Yasuo Mitsuya of Toyochasi, Japan. This masterpiece and the rest of the trees shown here reside at the Pacific Bonsai Museum. The bonsai photos are all by Hoe Chuah. From the Bonsai, Penjing & More blog.

We’ve mentioned that the Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection has a new  improved website. What we haven’t mentioned is they also have a new name and a new curator. The new name is the Pacific Bonsai Museum and the new curator is Aarin Packard. Aarin’s previous incarnation was as the assistant curator of the National Bonsai & Penjing collection and the creator of the Capital Bonsai blog.

Aarin is replacing David DeGroot, who is retiring. Dave is an accomplished bonsai artist, teacher and author whose long time service was of great benefit to the collection and to all of us who have enjoyed it over the years. Based on what I’ve heard about Aarin and seen on his Capital Bonsai blog, I expect he will build on Dave’s success.



Short, stocky and full of character. It’s a Korean Hornbeam (Carpinus turzczaninovii) by Sae Won Kim of Korea.


trident Root-over-Rock Trident Maple (Acer buergeranum). If you look very closely, you’ll see a lot of great detail in the trunk and rock.



 Close up of a famous Tamarack (Larch) by Nick Lenz. A shot of the whole tree is just below.



This Larch (Larix laricina) is featured in Nick Lenz’ Bonsai from the Wild.



Vaughn Banting’s flat-top Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum).

Thanks to the Bonsai, Penjing & More blog and Hoe Chuah for the photos from the Pacific Bonsai Museum that are featured above.



Dave DeGroot.


Aarin Packard. From the National Bonsai Foundation.


Nick Lenz’ classic on North American bonsai varieties
and the art of collecting from the wild.
On special at Stone Lantern.

Extreme Bonsai Beauty & Thank You for Your Patience


Once again Extreme Beauty is back and once again we could only get ten copies (don’t ask). If you’d like to know more about this remarkable book, here’s something from last year.

We’ll make this short and sweet (lot’s of traveling these days so it’s hard to keep up with everything).



Speaking of keeping up… we haven’t forgotten about our Bonsai Detective Contest. I promise we’ll have the results soon. Thank you for your patience.

Tools - Koyo

Bad news, good news. Our wire sale ended last night and our tool sale began this morning. 20% off all Bonsai tools and Garden tools (plus other sales including 10% off for orders of 100.00 or more).

Betting On 2015 – Bonsai Calendars Are Here


We’re getting close and we’re feeling more confident everyday that there will be a 2015.

In fact, we’re so confident about 2015 that we’ve gone ahead and imported some Japanese Bonsai and Garden Calendars. It’s worked in the past, so why not let your guard down a little and take a positive view about another year?

If you have friends, be sure to tell them that you read it first right here. 2015 is coming! Beyond that, your guess is as good as mine.



The first page of our 13 page Bonsai Calendar happens to be the cover.



A close up of part of the cover of our Japanese Garden Calendar. It has seven pages. We’ll leave the math up to you (there’s a hint below).



Close up of January’s feature tree from our 2015 Bonsai Calendar.


garden-calendar-inside-15 Our Garden Calendar’s January – February layout for the handful of you who need to brush up on your Japanese. You might notice that our Bonsai Calendar has the months in English (see the photo at the top if you don’t believe me).



As long as we’re advertising our wares, you might like to know that we extended our Bonsai Wire Sale until Sunday night (Nov 2nd) at 11:59pm EDT.

A Bonsai Teaser


I found this extraordinary and unusual bonsai on Bonsai Nakayoshi’s facebook photos. What’s unusual is the planting configuration and overall shape. What’s extraordinary is also the configuration, overall shape and excellent ramification.

Still traveling so we’ll just throw a few miscellaneous trees at you today. A bonsai teaser.



Here’s a funky old Oak in a funky old pot (I can’t tell for sure if it’s just a weather beaten terra cotta training pot or ceramic pot shaped like one) with some deeply hatched bark. It’s from a before and after on Jean-Paul Polmans’ facebook feed.



A spectacular trident grove from an award winning display at the 2013 Taikan Bonsai Exhibition. The artist is Kenji Oshima. The photo is from Bill Valavanis Bonsai blog.



The seemingly hollow English yew appears in Will Baddeley photos on facebook.

Biennale 2 – Mixed Media Bonsai & Much More


I don’t know how big this planting is, though I’m leaning toward pretty big. Which means that’s a particularly impressive pot (taking nothing away from the impressive planting of course). This photo and the next three below are from Bill Valavanis’ blog.

Three posts ago we featured some photos from Robert Steven’s just completed 1st International Bonsai Biennale. We referred to it as the most unusual and provocative bonsai extravaganza ever and nothing has happened since then to change that appraisal.

We also promised to show some more photos soon, so here they are…


One of many display areas.


One of a whole slew of impressive bonsai.


Another impressive bonsai as part of one of many unusual mixed media displays.


Another mixed media display. This one and the two below are from Robert’s facebook photos.


Some of the many opening ceremony performers.


The Maestro himself.

Bonsai, Deadwood & Another World Series Win


Deadwood! Just before we originally featured this post (August 2012), we showed a couple of Serge Clemence’ bonsai in a post on deadwood. I guess the reason I didn’t include this Mugo pine in that post is because Serge has so many trees with powerful deadwood. Still….

Got excited about the SF Giants winning the world series last night and ended up sleeping until 9:00am this morning when I was shocked awake by a vicious horn blast from a truck delivering our 2015 calendars all the way from Japan (soil sieves -large & smallturntables and watering cans too). All this is my way of telling you that my schedule for the day is shot, so it’s archive time once again. This one is from August 2012. Stay posted for more on the calendars.


More deadwood! I found this powerful tree on Bonsai Tonight. It’s from the Redwood Empire Bonsai Society‘s 29th annual show that took place in Santa Rosa CA. When you see a tree like this and others in the show, it’s hard not to be struck by just how far north American bonsai has come in few short years. It belongs to Ned Lycett. The photo is by Jonas Dupuich.


andolfo2 Deadwood on a small tree. Is it just me, or does the foliage on this Shimpaku mirror the pot? I wonder if it’s intentional. The tree belongs to Michele Andolfo.

Improving Excellence


Morten Albek’s virtual restructing of Hans Vleugels’ Shohin display (the text and arrows are very helpful, though it would have been great to see a second version without them… but we’ll take what we can get). This photo and the three just below are from British Shohin Bonsai.



The original. It’s a real eye opener when you realize that something this beautiful and simple can be improved upon. If you look at Morten’s virtual enhancement (above) the beauty and simplicity are still there, but a more dynamic element has been added.
Here’s a piece of the text from British Shohin Bonsai: “The display was created as part of a photo session at Hans’ bonsai club Eda Uchi Kai where members were asked to bring some trees for a professional photo shoot by Jan Dieryck. The trees in the shohin display are a Juniperus chinensis, an Acer buergerianum, and a Zelkova serrata. Hans’ request for possible improvements brought out several responses, mostly in favour of the existing display but also with minor suggestions such as moving the Juniper slightly off-centre on the rack. But the most enlightening response came from Morten Albek…” (you can visit BSB for the rest of the story).



The owl is difficult to make out in the photos above.


cropped-caragana-expanded-2British Shohin Bonsai’s masthead photo.


HEADER-6 copy

The masthead from Morten Albek’s Shohin Bonsai Europe website.

displayorder 1

This self explanatory display photo by Morten Albek was one of hundreds of photos that Morten submitted with his Majesty in Miniature Shohin Bonsai book that didn’t make it into the book (if you ask the editor/publisher why, he’ll say that the market just wasn’t ready for a six thousand page book).



The cover of Morten’s excellent Shohin book. Currently on Sale at Stone Lantern

A Rare Find and an Old Complaint


It’s rare to find a wild tree that needs very little for it to become a great bonsai (other than digging, keeping it healthy and a little refinement, which are far from very little).

I was delighted to stumble across the the photo above (here) but was disappointed when I read the following: “Saw this picture on FB. A natural growing juniper that already looks like a great bonsai.” It would have been simple to provide a link to the source, where more information may (or may not) be available. Like who took the photo, what kind of juniper is it and where was it found (not the exact location for obvious reasons). This lack of information, which is usually accompanied by a lack of inquisitiveness (there are several comments, but no one asks), is all too common on facebook (btw: accomplished bonsai artists tend to attribute when they show other people’s trees).

eltim4Here’s one from our archives (June 2012) that we found on El Tim. Their caption reads Bonsai Budes Medellin-Colombia and Alejandro Sartori.” When I found this tree in Alejandro’s photos, it links back to El Tim. The same goes for Bonsai Budes Medellin, who have numerous photos of famous and not so famous bonsai and all the ones I checked are attributed. The same goes for Alejandro (no cause for complaint here).



Here’s another one from our archives (Sept 2013). The caption reads: “This magnificent juniper makes its rocky home in California’s Sierra Nevada range. This photo, and the next three photos, are from a recent series on Boon Manakitivipart’s facebook timeline titled Sierra trip with Dylan, Toby and Freddie at Carson Pass.

The Most Amazing and Provocative Bonsai Extravaganza…


Art, culture and the passage of time. I think this old tree and ancient Indonesian deity capture something of the flavor of the Robert Steven’s Bonsai Biennale. The uncropped version of this photo is from Bill Valavanis’ Bonsai Blog.

Robert Steven’s just completed 1st International Bonsai Biennale may have been the most unusual and provocative bonsai extravaganza ever (it’s hard to imagine another bonsai event that even comes close, but these kinds of statements are subjective and open to question, so we’ll leave it at may have been…).

For those of us who weren’t there, all we have to go on so far are the photos and the ones I’ve seen so far are pretty convincing that something unquestionably groundbreaking and very daring just happened. Here are a small sampling of photos that we’ve seen so far. We’ll post some more soon.



A great shot of one of many highly creative mixed media scenes that deserve a long close look. From Bill’s blog.




A happy Robert Steven and friends enjoying the show at the opening ceremony. I found this shot on Robert’s facebook photos.



I’m guessing that this is the front gate. From Robert’s facebook photos.



Close up.


b3Another creative mixed media scene. From Bill’s blog.



Opening ceremony. From Robert’s facebook photos.



Opening ceremony performers. Again from Robert’s facebook photos.



More mixed media. This one with a sense of humor. From Bill’s blog.



 Don’t shoot the messenger. Photo from Bill’s blog.

Enough for now. We’ll post some more soon.