Bonsai Perfection, 150 Years Old

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Borrowed this and the other photos you see here from Michael Bonsai. His caption reads simply... "Goyomatsu - 150 years old" Goyomatsu translates as white pine (goyo is white five needle (thanks to Bill Valavanis)  and matsu is pine) In this case, it's Japanese white pine

I don’t know much about this tree, other than it’s a nine trunk Japanese white pine (Pinus parviflora) that Michael Bonsai posted, and that it’s among the finest examples of  Japanese white pine multiple trunk bonsai I’ve seen.

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The other side

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goyohand

We don't know the dimensions of the planting, but this hand might provide some reference

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This One Is For Yew

yewmain

We have no way of knowing how much of this impressive deadwood is due to natural forces over a very long time, or the relatively sudden hand of man. Maybe a bit of both.  We do know that's it's Yew (Taxus) but do not know which species.

Today’s one tree post is from Robert Pressler‘s timeline. The caption states simply… “Will Baddeley this one is for yew.” Robert is the owner of Kimura Bonsai and Landscape Nursery in Los Angeles and Will is a well known  bonsai artist and teacher who lives in the U.K.

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yewfull

The front. Looks like a pretty big tree, though we have no way of knowing just how big. We can however, approximate its size based on the leaves

 

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A closer look at some impressive deadwood

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One of a Kind Bonsai

colin

This remarkable, one-of-a-kind tree belongs to Colin Lewis. Here's his caption:. "Colorado blue spruce, acquired 2008 from Harold Sasaki. Styled 2011-2012. Pot custom made by my old friend Dan Barton, 2013. I'm letting it grow this year to refresh some old congested areas..."

I’m on the other coast this week visiting family for Thanksgiving. It also happens to be my birthday today. Something I wouldn’t normally mention, but it’s been three quarters of a century and I’m just a little amazed and perplexed by the whole process and not altogether sure how I got this far. Anyway, I’m taking a shortcut today. This post originally appeared in April of 2015. It was a little wordy so I deleted a couple paragraphs. Here’s your link to the original if you’d like.

Colin Lewis is one of those people who are interested in exploring and pushing bonsai boundaries. Below are a couple more of Colin’s trees that you might enjoy.

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colin1

Colin's caption: "Oh what a tangled web we weave.... Crazy Ponderosa pine from Andy Smith 2005." We've shown this one before, but it's always worth another look. Colin posted it on facebook with the tree above and you can find it on his website as well.

 

colin31This Tamarack forest is from Colin's website. I have a soft spot for Tamarack (Larch - Larix laricina). It's one of several sub-arctic trees that reaches down into northern Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine (a little further south at higher elevations) and runs northwest through Canada's great Boreal forest and all the way into Yukon Territory with  non-continuous growth in Alaska (if you've been following the debate on the Keystone XL pipeline, you might have heard something about the Boreal forest).

 

Ho-YokuColin Lewis' excellent Ho Yoku Bonsai Care Products are all available at Stone Lantern. So is his book, Bonsai Survival Manaul.

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Bonsai Forest, Bonsai Books, Bonsai Tools, Green T

luismain

This striking Sakhalin spruce (Picea Glehnii) forest belongs to Luis Vallejo.

Seems like every forth post these days features Luis Vallejo’s trees. This is no accident; Luis consistently puts up great trees that are beautifully photographed. This makes my job easy. As is usually the case, the original photo (just below) came from Luis’ timeline.

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luis

Here's the original photo, exactly the way we found it on Luis' timeline. He doesn't say what the companion is.

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Closeup of the forest floor with trunks

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The companion. A little fuzzy after cropping, but still a pretty good look

 

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Left trunk with deadwood

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Center with main trunk

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Bonsai Beasts of the Southern Wild

monster

Beast of the Southern Wild. We don't know the dimensions of this monster, but we know its name. It's a Pithecellobium  unguis (Catclaw black bead), a genus and species completely new to us (and probably new to you too). As you can see, this particular bonsai is about as unique as they get with nature doing most of the work and Nacho Marin providing the finishing touches.

Getting ready to  head out of town for a little mixed R&R and work (there’s always some work), so we’ll take a shortcut today. This post originally appeared in February, 2015, though from where we sit now, it was entirely too wordy. A condition we’ve attempted to remedy with some serious surgery

Today, it’s the bonsai of Nacho Marin, an artist who has burst into bonsai consciousness with intensity, daring and large doses of creativity. At the risk of overstatement, Nacho is an artist who stands out in a world where new and exciting bonsai appear daily.

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bougA fascinating somewhat grotesque looking trunk. And then there's the profusion of brilliant flowers (actually bracts, a strange thing about Bougainvillea).

 

button

One of the best Buttonwoods we've seen in a while. We did a post on Nacho's Buttonwoods a while back but missed this one.

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boug2

Though comparisons are often odious, I like this Bougainvillea more than the one above. I'll leave the rest to you.

 

fic

This massive columnar tree is a Nea buxifoli.

All the tree shown here belong to Nacho Marin. You can see more on facebook and on his website.

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The World’s Largest Bonsai?

enri3

That's a human arm resting on the side of the pot. I don't know what kind of tree it is, but based on the trunk and nebari, I might guess it's a Ficus of some sort. I also don't know where this monster tree resides. However, I do know who the hand and arm belong to. His name is Enrique Castaño, the author of Botany for Bonsai, The Science Behind the Art (Stone Lantern & Haskill Creek). The photo is from Enrique's timeline. No information about the tree is provided.

Is there a size limit on bonsai? According to Wikipedia, the largest size bonsai are called Imperial Bonsai (also Eight-handed bonsai), which are up to 80″ tall (almost seven feet, or about two meters). I have no idea why someone decided the cutoff is at that height. Or at any height for that matter. The Japanese word bonsai simply means planting in a pot, so who’s to say when a planting is too big?
Continued below…

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Now you know what Enrique looks like. What you don't know is how big Enrique is. 

enri4

Close up. Look at those exposed roots. It's gotta be a ficus.

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A Bonsai Life

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This prize winning Ficus neriifolia belongs to Ed Trout. I like its relaxed, almost sensuous look. Or if you're not into anthropomorphizing bonsai, you might just notice its wide stable nebari and its stout well tapered trunk and leave it at that. All the photos in this post are from Bonsai Mary.

In keeping with our tropical theme from yesterday and our mention of Mary Miller (Bonsai Mary) from the day before, I dug up this up from our archives (April, 2010, with some editing today)

Mary Miller’s years of experience as a bonsai teacher, author and grower come together very nicely in her Bonsai Mary website and blog. One of the things that sets Mary’s writing apart is the personal touch that she lends to her discussions of bonsai and life, and even to challenges putting together her own website (that was written in 2010, so I’m not sure if these challenges are still in play).
Continued below…

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Maryboug

Mary's Pixie bougainvillea.

maryzhao

You can find this beautiful Serissa penjing by Qingquan Zhao at the the Montreal Botanical Garden (and on Mary Miller's website). You can also find out how Zhao made it and much more in his excellent book: Penjing: Worlds of Wonderment.

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NeeaBonsaiWeb

An award winning Neea buxifolia by Christian Casellas.

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Green T Bonsai Turntable

will help you work on your bonsai more efficiently and comfortably.
In Japan hydraulic lift turntables have been the standard for years
and now 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)

GREEN T BASIC YOU PAY ONLY 347.00

list price 385.00 – Special 365.00
Only 347.00 with your extra 5% over 150.00 discount
FREE Shipping in the Continental U.S.

GREEN T PLUS YOU PAY ONLY 447.00

list price 495.00 – Special Only 470.00
Only 447.00 with  your extra 5% over 150.00 discount
FREE Shipping in the Continental U.S.

Plus your FREE 2018 Bonsai Calendar
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Tropical Bonsai Before & After by Robert Steven

ROBETBA

Before and after by Robert Steven. The before is a photo that was submitted to Robert by David Royinsyah. The after is a digital simulation by Robert. The tree is a Tamarindus indica, a type of tropical legume. The photos are from the Black Scissors Community.

It has been a while since we posted one of Robert Steven’s simulated before and after photos. In addition to being one of the foremost bonsai artists in the world, Robert is a bonsai teacher, so his before and afters are always information rich, with comments about style, technique, horticultural considerations and even bonsai history.
Continued below…

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RBEFORE

Before. The after simulation is below

Continued from above…
However, in this case, I went ahead and did my own commentary before I noticed that Robert had a separate page with his commentary (on Black Scissors Community). So having gone to all the trouble, I’ve decided to keep mine (below). Meanwhile, here’s your link to the real story by the artist himself.
Continued below…

RAFTER

After. Robert's simulation

Continued from above…
Note: these are my comments, not Robert’s (here’s a link to Robert’s comments). With the exception of the pot – what an improvement!- the changes are fairly subtle. What I see is a tree with a gentle prevailing breeze from left to right. With this gentle breeze you get shorter branches on the left and more extended branches on the right, with the foliage on the right extending even further. You might also notice some inner branches curving to the right.

Another change is the apex, with its nod to the right which further emphasizes the prevailing breeze. Beyond that, I’m sure there are other subtle changes, but you’ll have to check with Robert about those.

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Buy a Level for Your Bonsai Bench – Even Better, Use It!

redmaple

This Red maple (Acer rubrum) is from Michael Hagedorn's Crataegus Bonsai Portfolio. To my mind it represents something basic about the best bonsai. The ones you might pass by while searching for something showy. I was lucky when I was there, Michael pointed this one out and told me a story about it. Now you can read that same story. Micheal, ever the poet philosopher, titled it The Blaze of Autumn Sweetly Burns.

This post is a twofer. First there’s the tree above and an invitation to learn more about it and other trees that belong to Micheal Hagedorn. And second a little piece of Michael’s bonsai wisdom about level benches (thanks to Bonsai Mary for the heads up).
Continued below…

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Level That Bench!

Posted by Michael Hagedorn in Crataegus Bonsai on October 20, 2017

Bonsai is about details. From creation to showing, every act in bonsai is about applying technique carefully and deliberately.

And we can get rather distracted by the end zone details, focusing on the local show, getting the right pot, the best stand. Just the right accent. And you could not be faulted, those are essential points in the details of bonsai.

I’ve walked into bonsai yards where someone is so focused on those final touches as to miss one of the main horticultural ones. Being sure the bonsai bench is level is a critical one. This is not about aesthetics. It’s about water penetration.

If a bench is just a few degrees off from level, you can see it pretty easily. What happens then, when a bonsai is watered on that bench, is that the water quickly levels to one side of the pot, and there it soaks in. The other side gets a veneer of water that quickly dries. Over time, guess what happens? We have root death on the side where no water is penetrating. Then a week of rain happens, and that root death turns into root rot. Then you have the situation where you’re prepping your trees for the big show of the year and two of your main branches die, and you’re wondering what insect is eating your bonsai. Well, the unleveled bench did the ‘eating’.

This is just a Halloweeny example of what can happen when so simple a detail as leveling the bench is missed.

“Buy a level. Even better, use it.”

 

B1BENCH-2

Not exactly a bench... more like a bunch of little benches. From the cover of George Buehler's  Bonsai, Your Guide to Creating Stands and Benches, a clear, easy to follow, highly practical book for anyone ambitious enough to build their own backyard bonsai display.

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