Before & After (x2) with Crazy

after 27

After. The pot got chopped in this photo, but beggars can't be cheesy.

Way back on November 2nd, 2015, we did a post on an old Hatanaka/Levin Prostrata juniper, titled An American Classic (it’s worth a trip back in time).

Now we’ve got two more Hatanaka/Levin Prostrata bonsai. Both freshly thinned and wired by Uchida yusuki, aka Crazy; the same Crazy that trinned and wired the American Classic. BTW, both of the trees here look as though Shimpaku foliage has been grafted on, to replace the coarser Prostrata foliage.

before 27

Before. The same tree (the one at the top of the post) from a different angle.

transition 27

After thinning, before wiring. This time you can see the whole pot, though I imagine a new pot was in store (maybe Michael will send us a photo).


after 3a2

The other tree after thinning and wiring.


before 3a 2

The other tree before.

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This photo shows our
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A New and Improved Bonsai Turntable

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Large Mugo pine on a Green T professional bonsai turntable.

Green T Professional Hydraulic Lift Bonsai Turntable

We are pleased to announce the arrival on the U.S. market of an essential tool that will help you work on your trees more efficiently and comfortably.

In Japan hydraulic lift turntables have been the standard for years, but their prohibitive costs have limited their spread in the West. Thanks to professional researchers and the collaboration of well-known bonsai professionals, we are able to offer you a tool inspired by the Japanese turntable and improved in several details (including price).

GreenT is Bigger

The surface is 58cm (23 inches) diameter instead of the usual 50 cm (almost 20 inches). This allows you to work on your largest trees and your smallest trees. You can comfortably use the excess space to have your tools easily accessible.



The work surface is made out of phenolic marine pine plywood which is painted and coated in solid non slip rubber (4 mm thickness, hardness Shore A 70 ). Lifting capacity is up to 200 kg (440 lbs). Tightening screws and threaded bushes are completely made of stainless steel. All the materials used in the construction of Green T guarantee an excellent outdoor weather resistant turntable.

More Useful

Green T features a metal base with five-star support (five horizontal ‘legs’) for maximum stability and a hydraulic foot control lift that adjusts to a maximum height of 60cm (23.6 inches) and a minimum of 43 cm (17 inches). The swing brake of the table can be disconnected with a simple movement of the pedal. Five removable eye screws, located under the bottom edge of the work surface, allow you to anchor your bonsai to the table (see below).



Even with the superior features listed above, at 15 kg (33 lbs), Green T weighs the same as its Japanese competitors.

You Save

You price for Green T is 325.00.
This includes shipping and handling
(U.S. ONLY).
This comes to about half the price of an imported Japanese turntable.
NO OTHER DISCOUNTS APPLY. Green T is made in Italy.

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Green T Professional Hydraulic Lift Bonsai Turntable

Mystical Dragon


I like both the character (the deadwood) and the simplicity (the rest) of this tree. It's a  Buttonwood by Robert Kempinski. I found it here.

It’s time to revisit Buttonwoods, our American (but not just American) tropical jewel . There’s lots of information on the web about buttonwoods and particularly their care. Two good places to start are: Of Bonsai Magazine and Bonsai Mary’s. And then there are our numerous posts that feature Buttonwoods.

The first two photos are new to us. The others are from a Bark post titled American Tropical Jewell.


This one belongs to Mary Madison. John Naka called her the Buttonwood Queen. The tree's name, Senru (Mystical Dragon) was also bestowed by Mr Naka, a man who in the course of long and illustrious life, displayed many talents (including naming). This photo and the story are from Bonsai Mary.


ButtonwoodButtonwood by Ed Trout. The photo is from The Art of Bonsai Project. *


JimSmith I found this monster by Jim Smith in the Of Bonsai Magazine. I couldn’t find any dimensions, but the article on Buttonwoods that accompanies the photo is very thorough. BTW: Jim Smith is an original American tropical bonsai guru. Jim’s nursery (Dura-Stone) is in Vero Beach, Florida.


Mother Nature’s handiwork, with a little help from Robert Kempinski. From the Art of Bonsai Project.


This wild unique tree could only be a buttonwood. Also by Robert Kempinski from the Art of Bonsai Project.


They aren’t all small enough for bonsai. This photo is from Bonsai Mary.

*The sad news about this beautiful Buttonwood is that it was stolen in 2008, and as far as I know, was never recovered.


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Avant-Garde Bonsai

do4Avant-garde bonsai. This fluid tree with its distinctive flying pot is from Bonsai Do. The caption says with Tony Tickle (I visited Tony's blog and couldn't find it). There's also this quote by Thomas Browne (it's in Spanish on Bonsai Do, but here's the original English): Art is the perfection of nature. Nature hath made one world, and art another.

Leaving for the airport in a while, so not enough time to put together a new post. I borrowed this one from February, 2013.

Here are some photos I captured from Bonsai Do on facebook. The good news is they have put together a impressive selection of photos along with some famous quotes. The bad news is that most of the trees aren’t identified by species and many don’t list the source.


do2Spectacular, if just a little fuzzy. The caption says with El Tim Bonsai, but alas, a quick search resulted in a whiff, so the artist will remain anonymous. I'm going to guess that it's a Japanese beech and really go out a limb (so to speak) and say that it's one of the most impressive deciduous bonsai you'll ever see. In every regard, including sheer power, movement, ramification and all the rest.


do1I'm not sure I've ever seen deadwood patterns quite like this. It's a European olive and it belongs to Stefano Defraia.


Something a little different that looks like it's from China. No source listed, but there is this quote by Friedrich Von Schiller (I can't find the English version and my powers of translation leave much to desired, so we'll settle for the Spanish); "Si buscas lo más elevado, lo más grandioso, una planta te lo puede enseñar: lo que ella es sin querer, tú, queriendo, puedes serlo."


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What You Do to the Land You Do to Yourself

collected_walter_pall_styled_rmj1Rocky Mountain Juniper (Juniperus scopulorum) collected by Andrew (aka Andy) Smith and first styled by Walter Pall. It would hard to find a better pair for the job. Andy (Golden Arrow Bonsai) is a professional forester, master collector of wild bonsai and a bonsai artist in his own right, and Walter Pall is a world famous bonsai artist, teacher, trouble maker (in the positive sense of course) and owner of a very impressive bonsai collection. The photograph is by Walter. My apologies for the fuzz. It's the result of dramatically increasing the image size. On balance I think this size presents a better look at the tree in spite of the fuzz.

Still on vacation and enjoying the wonders of the West Coast. Soon we’ll be home and ready to put together some new posts for you. Meanwhile, we’re taking the easy way out. This one originally appeared April, 2014.

This morning I was looking for photos of Lodgepole pine bonsai when I stumbled upon an old interview with Andy Smith that appeared on The Art of Bonsai Project blog, way back in 2005. It’s a great interview. So great that we’re going to post the whole thing and encourage you to jump in and enjoy Andy’s unique insights into wild bonsai, the art of collecting and much more.

The Art of Bonsai Project Interview with Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith is a contract forester in South Dakota’s Black Hills. He became fascinated with bonsai in 1994 while collecting core specimens from very ancient pines to use in past climate studies.

Smith transplants 300-400 trees per year for bonsai and has supplied demo and workshop trees to many of the world’s best bonsai artists. He enjoys learning about this beautiful and extraordinary art and meeting with other enthusiasts around the country.

The following is an on-line interview conducted with Andy Smith (continued after the photo):

collected_walter_pall_styled_rmj2Another Rocky Mountain Juniper that was collected by Andy Smith and first styled by Walter Pall. Photograph by Walter.

AoB: Andy, how do you answer the critics who insist that removing trees from a supposedly pristine environment is detrimental to that environment.

Andy: That depends upon your values and goals for the particular environment in question. For instance, most of my trees come from public lands and the permit process (in my opinion) is well regulated. I pay between $5 and $10 per tree for the right to collect in certain areas (no refunds if they die!). But there are huge areas that are off limits to collecting; for instance all wilderness areas; areas with high recreational value such as along hiking trails and near campgrounds and lakes; wildlife preserves; national monuments; state and national parks; along heavily travelled roads; areas with spiritual, historical or special visual significance; etc.

In these areas the guiding management principles place a higher value on the aesthetic, spiritual and natural qualities of the environment than they do on someone, like me, being able to go out and pursue an interest that might change the landscape somewhat.

The areas that are open to collecting are usually the same areas that are open to other resource extraction. In other words these areas might well be logged, grazed or mined at some point in time, or at least such uses are not prohibited.

andyAndy beside the large pine that he collected in his How to collect Wild Trees DVD.

Another thing to consider is the scale of the enterprise. I collect about 300-400 trees, from several different National Forests, every year, which is far more than anyone else I know. And it takes a huge amount of time, effort and energy to do that.

Meanwhile, the Forest Service is trying to control burn about 8,000 acres a year just here in the Black Hills alone, and many, many thousands more nationwide. This is done to reduce fuel loading and prevent catastrophic wildfires. I understand that it needs to be done but they kill more potential bonsai doing that in one year than I will collect in ten lifetimes. Consider that we recently had a wildfire here that burned over 130 square miles. The fire damage is worse than an atomic bomb would cause. It’s amazing, that in many places you can look from horizon to horizon and not see one live tree.

Continue reading What You Do to the Land You Do to Yourself

Goyo Matsu, Japanese White Pine, Five Needle Pine, Peace Tree, Million Dollar Tree…

whitepineafter1As you can see, this Japanese white pine has a strong, well-tapered trunk and nice balanced open branching. Most imported Japanese white pine bonsai have been grafted onto Black pine stock.* But this one was grown from seed. It was just wired (in this photo) by Michael Hagedorn (Crataegus Bonsai.) It belongs to a client of Micheal's.

Still on vacation, so it’s archives again. This one is from January 2013 with some value added.

The Japanese white pine (Pinus parviflora) is one of the world’s emblematic bonsai. In Japan, it and the Japanese black pine are the species most associated with the art of bonsai.

The Latin name for Japanese white pine is Pinus parviflora. The Japanese name is Goyo Matsu. Matsu is pine and Goyo means ‘five-needle’ (all white pines have five needles to a cluster). In fact, you will sometimes hear the name Japanese five needle pine used in place of  Japanese white pine.


Root-on-rock Japanese white pines are not at all unusual. The more I look at this one, the more I am struck with just how well-balanced and tranquil it seems. This is to take nothing away from its natural and wild side. The photo was taken in Japan at the 2011 Sakufu-ten exhibition by Jonas Dupuich (Bonsai Tonight).


Fluidity and muscle combined make for a very strong bonsai. To my eyes this is a near perfect informal upright Japanese white pine bonsai. It's from Mario Komsta's facebook photos. My guess is that it originated in Japan and that Mario has been refining it. He calls it Goyo Kundo and though Goyo matsu is the Japanese name for Japanese white pine (see above). I couldn't find anything about Kundo in my dictionary or online, so your guess is as good as mine.


The famous 'Peace Tree.' I like the way this photo captures the lines and color in this famous Japanese white pine's bark. That's the upside. The downside is that there's no way to tell just how magnificently large and powerful this tree is. It resides at the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum. We've featured it before. The photo is from Michael Bonsai.


Million dollar bonsai. Here's a mind-bending Japanese white pine that we featured back in 2011 with our original caption: This magnificent White pine was sold at the 11th Asia-Pacific Bonsai and Suiseki Convention & Exhibition in at Takamatsu, Kagawa, Japan, earlier this month. As you can see, the asking price was 100,000,000 yen (that’s close to 1.3 million dollars). I don’t know what the actual sales price was. Photo borrowed from Bonsai Tonight. 
This flowing bunjin Japanese white pine provides a little contrast to the husky tres above. It's from our Masters' Series Pines: Growing and Styling Japanese Black and White Pines.

*  Japanese white pine bonsai are usually grafted onto Japanese black pine stock, and all, or almost all of these grafts come from Japan. The reason for grafting is because black pines are more vigorous than the more delicate and finicky Japanese whites. This is especially true of White pine cultivars, many of which simply won’t thrive on their own roots (here’s more if you are interested).


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Random Shots & Gnarly Branches

pine9This powerful Japanese white pine with its lush canopy that's shaped like something you'd see on a deciduous tree, makes little attempt to appear like a pine in nature. Still, it's hard to deny how the power of its trunk and the rich beauty of its canopy complement each other. I found it here. It looks like it's part of a Japanese bonsai nursery, but I couldn't find any verification.

Still on vacation and still working. But just enough to edit (or eliminate) dated information and resize the images on this post from July 2012*.


RobinsonHornbeamPRBC20121This wild looking Hornbeam that used to belong to Dan Robinson and now resides at the Pacific Bonsai Museum, provides a little contrast with the tree above. The photo is from Bonsai Otaku (little trees for big geeks).



Speaking of Dan Robinson
Gnarly Branches, Ancient Trees
is back in print


boonbujin-500x574This sweet bunjin red pine was posted on facebook by Boon Manakitivipart, one of North America's most influential bonsai artists and teachers.


quebecA little closer to home.  This old Trident maple clump with it rugged nebari is from Quebec's 2010 Expobonsai.


A little piece of the famous Garden at the Adachi Museum of Art.

*The original post featured notices for bonsai events from around the world that are now long past.



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Revisiting a Great Shohin Display & More

shohinsuthinThis Shohin display is from Suthin Sukosolvisit's Bonsai Gallery. Every National Bonsai Exhibition has featured at least one these by Suthin. This year I challenged myself to pick out Suthin's display as I walked into the Shohin section of the Exhibition. It was easy. Taking nothing away from some other wonderful displays, still, Suthin's caught my attention from across the room.

Leaving for short vacation today and pressed for time so we’ll dip back into our archives. This one originally appeared just over a year ago, right after the 4th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition. Before any winners were announced.

Though word is trickling out, we’ll wait for the official announcement (and photos) of the winners of the 4th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition before we say anything.

Meanwhile, here’s a collection of bonsai that belong to some of the people I ran into at the exhibition.These are not necessarily trees that appeared at the exhibition. Just trees I like.

colinponderThough Colin Lewis did show a tree at the Exhibition, this gnarly old Ponderosa pine isn't it. I think Colin would be the first to tell you that most of the rugged character of this remarkable tree was already present when it was dug. Still, it takes a sure hand and good eye to bring out the best in any worthy yamadori.



Here's a tree that was in the show. It's an Englemann spruce that belongs to Andy Smith (Golden Arrow Bonsai). It was dug by Andy in the Wyoming Rockies and is one of several trees in the show that, to my eye at least, evokes rugged western North American terrains. There's much that can be said about the topic of bonsai styles that reflect local terrains, but that's enough for now... except to say that the pot is by Sara Rayner, who was also at the show, displaying an impressive large selection of her impressively large (and other sizes) bonsai pots. Sara also exhibited a very impressive tree at the show (you can find it and all the rest of the bonsai at the Exhibition in the album).


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis elegant, fluid Japanese black pine belongs to Michael Levin (Bonsai West). Turns out Michael is the person who got me started with bonsai. Thirty years ago and I finally got around to thanking him.
Note from the present: Yesterday's post was on Michael's impressive and now somewhat famous 'Hatanaka' Prostrata juniper.


candyOkay, this waterfall garden is clearly not a bonsai. But any beautiful Japanese influenced garden is a close cousin. It belongs to Candy Shirey, long time student of Larch Master Nick Lenz, and gardener as well (I guess that's obvious).


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An American Classic


Michael Levin's 'Hatanaka' Prostrata juniper, 2014 June 2015. Even though the foliage hasn't filled out yet, this shot clearly shows the structure (the bones) of the tree and seems like a good place to start.

Here’s what Michael Levin, owner of Bonsai West and long time bonsai enthusiast, artist and entrepreneur wrote about this spectacular tree…

“The Juniper as you know was originally styled by Mrs Hatanaka of Anaheim California and is a true american classic started from a cutting in the 1950’s, I purchased it in the mid 1980’s . I’ve tended it for 30 years and most recently it was wired by Uchida yusuki “Crazy” from Japan. It is a  mufti generational collaboration between the first generation American Japanese to my generation and now a third new contemporary generation of bonsai wizardry….
More below.


At this fall's Artisans Cup and in full foliage. Photo by Julien Dussaix. The stand is by Howard Chittenden.

Michael, continued from above…
“In 2012 Istarted to prepare this tree for Bill’s 2014 Rochester show.
As you know Prostrata juniper have very loose and hard to control foliage, made up of both juvenile and mature growth. This tree was very shaggy and I started tip pruning it in the way that Mr Hatanaka taught me way back when.

“I repotted the tree in the Spring of 2013 and continued to prune all during that year. I have found that most of my trees respond well to regular pruning in small amounts of frequent cuts rather than a full hair cut all at once. For instance my pruning regimen would be to visit the tree everyday and prune back the elongated growth as needed over the whole growing season…

Hatanaka20092009. This is the oldest photo of the tree Michael sent. He bought it in the mid-eighties, so plenty of time had elapsed by the time this photo was taken.

Continued from above…
“So it went like this through the summer and fall of 2013 into the spring of 2014. After the tree got accepted to Rochester for the fall show I wired every branch in the spring of 2014. As the year progressed I fed the tree high nitrogen fertilizer to push it along but it never grew to my expectations and in August of 2014 I pulled the tree from the show. It was a huge disappointment for me after all the work I had done, but it wasn’t up to my standard.

“In the Spring of 2015 it was looking great and I hadn’t even thought about the Artisans cup, If I had  I was still reluctant to ship a tree all the way to the west coast…

Mrs Hatanaka

Mrs Hatanaka with part of the Hatanaka bonsai collection. I don't know when Michael took this photo, but can guess it was in the 1980s or 90s. Oops, date is on the photo. 1997.

Continued from above
“As the Deadline approached for entering a tree in the Artisans Cup “Crazy” (
Uchi-san aka Bonsai Crazy Uchi asks to be called Crazy) was in town working with me and I thought it would be a great opportunity to finish this project. He did a great job as you could see from this picture.

“As the summer progressed I decided to fertilize with only organic food but still used high nitrogen until July at which time I stopped fertilizing completely. I did however use my pruning technique which I feel is unique to me, in that I pruned almost every day for 2 months straight.

“When I am pruning like this I feel as if I am rocking a car out of a snow bank-the tree seemed to build strength(momentum) and continue to grow all season. My last cuts were made the end of July.

“By the way Ryan did an amazing job of making sure that the tree and its stand made it across the country perfectly, not a scratch on the stand or a twig out of place on the tree.

“The pot is an old commercial Chinese 28 inch oval, They really don’t make them like that anymore. I asked Ron Lang to custom build me one for the tree and he said save your money; the pot is perfect and that he didn’t think he could do better.”



Michael and his American classic at the Cup.

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