Old Bonsai & Ancient Trees

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This magnificent Juniper bonsai is said to be 800 years old, which makes it a very old bonsai. But not the oldest bonsai we know of and nowhere near the oldest living tree in the world. It resides at Kunio Kobayashi's Shunka-en Bonsai Museum in Tokyo. We borrowed the photo from Bonsai Empire.

Getting another late start and the sun is shining (you’d be surprised how few sunny days we have here in Vermont) so time to get outside. All this is an excuse for recycling this post from March of last year.

The tree below is called Old Tjikko. It originally gained fame as the world’s oldest tree, but that seems a bit of a stretch. Though its DNA may be over 9,500 years old, I wouldn’t say that it’s the oldest tree in the world. Instead, it’s the oldest known living clonal Norway Spruce. Continued below…

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oldest-tree-old-tjikko-sweden-18Old Tjikko. This lonely Norway spruce (Picea abies) is said to be 9,500 years old. But the trunk you see in this photo is only a few hundred years old.

The following quote is from Wikipedia. “The age of the tree was determined by carbon dating of genetically matched plant material collected from under the tree, as dendrochronology would cause damage. The trunk itself is estimated to be only a few hundred years old, but the plant has survived for much longer due to a process known as layering (when a branch comes in contact with the ground, it sprouts a new root), or vegetative cloning (when the trunk dies but the root system is still alive, it may sprout a new trunk).Wikipedia has a lot more to say and if you’re like me, you’ll find the whole story fascinating.

 

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This rugged little Bristlecone pine was posted on facebook by Jean-Paul Polmans. Bristlecones are considered by many to be the oldest living trees in the world. According to Wikipedia, the oldest Pinus longaeva is more than 5,000 years old (Pinus longaeva is one of the three Bristlecone species). Bristlecones live their long lives in the remote, high altitude, semi-arid mountains of the western U.S.

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Oldest living bonsai? Here's a quote from Bonsai Empire "This Ficus Bonsai is reported to be over a thousand years old; the oldest Bonsai tree in the world. It is the main tree on display, at the Crespi Italian Bonsai museum." I'm not sure about the oldest bonsai in the world part, but it's no doubt very old and very impressive. If the photo looks familiar, it might be because we've shown it before (or because it's a rather famous tree).

 

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"This juniper is tested to be more than 1000 years old, collected in the wild in Japan. It is still a rough material, as it is in training. It is at the Mansei-en bonsai nursery of the Kato family in Omiya, Japan. Photo by Morten Albek." I borrowed the photo and the quote from Bonsai Empire.

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Old World Bonsai Plaza

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This Shohin Trident maple is one of a large group of bonsai displayed on a plaza in Treviso, Italy.

Getting a deplorably late start this morning, so we’ll take a quick journey back three years to a unusual post about some Bonsai on an Italian plaza. I have no idea if it was a one-off situation or they’re still displaying bonsai there to this day. 

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.


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BarWhat could be better, sidewalk cafes, old world architecture and bonsai?

 

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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.

 

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

 

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

 

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Nice Tree, Spectacular Pot & Other Small Bonsai Wonders

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Nice tree. Spectacular pot. This shot is from the just completed World Bonsai Convention. I cropped the original (see below) to eliminate some background noise.

Staying with the World Bonsai Convention theme, though this time it’s all Shohin (small trees). I can’t read the name of the person who took these photos, but here’s your link.

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Judging by the photos I've seen so far, it would easy to surmise that at least half the trees at the Convention were either Shimpaku junipers (like this one) or pines.

 

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Lilac?

 

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Another Shimpaku

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Close up

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Japanese white pine

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A closer look at the pot (and the base of the trunk)

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Trident maple. Exposed root style

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Your guess is at least as good as mine

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The uncropped original of the tree at the top of the post

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Close up of the spectacular pot

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A small slice of the vendor's section

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More Great Bonsai Shots from the WBC

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Cork bark pine with lightning bolt. I cropped this photo to eliminate background noise while emphasizing the tree and scroll. The original photo (below) and the rest of the photos in this post were taken by Boon Manakitivipartat at the just completed World Bonsai Convention.

The last few days we’ve been featuring shots from the World Bonsai Convention, which ended yesterday. There’s no good reason not to continue… after all some of the very best bonsai in the world were there.

All the photos in this post were taken by Boon Manakitivipart, an influential American bonsai artist and teacher who we’ve been following here on Bark for a long time.

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There were no captions with Boon's photos, but it's easy to see that this is another Cork bark Japanese black pine.

I did some minor cropping on most of the photos to eliminate background noise. And, as you can see, I also cropped a couple photos to show off some details.

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A closer look at the corky bark. My apologies for the fuzz

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Shimpaku of course

 

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This closeup zooms in on the fluid living vein and its contrast with all that wildly expressive deadwood.

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Another Shimpaku

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Is this an Ezo spruce?

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The uncropped original of the photo at the top of the post

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A Goldmine of Great Bonsai

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Cascading Shimpaku juniper with copious deadwood and floating foliage clouds. This could only be described as an exceptionally powerful and distinctive bonsai, even if you take issue with such well-manicured foliage. The photo was taken by Enrique Castano. I cropped it a little to eliminate background noise

There’s an online goldmine of great photos from the World Bonsai Convention, so we’ll just keep digging in that vein. The photos in this post are by Enrique Castano

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This powerful tree must be a Japanese beech

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Another Shimpaku with copious deadwood (I wanted to say what else is new?, but the trees are too good for that kind of cynicism)

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I just couldn't resist. 99% of the time, we just show bonsai and leave the other stuff for social media, but this one is just too good. Are they pretending to be bonsai with their strange hats as extensions? The gentleman is Enrique himself

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20,000 Visitors & Hundreds of Breathtaking Bonsai

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Lush foliage and an unusual design. This Japanese maple features branches that are almost down to the surface of soil. So low that foliage covers part of the nebari and lower trunk - something you don't see that often. Conversely, the way so much of the mid and upper trunk is exposed is also a bit unusual (with no effort made to cover the unsightly black scar). The impression we're left with is a trunk and branches designed to show off the foliage. Much the way flowering bonsai are often designed to show off the flowers.

Thank you Bill Valavanis for the your excellent photos from the ongoing World Bonsai Convention in Saitama Japan (seems like we’re always thanking Bill for something). To see more, I encourage you to visit Bill’s blog. Continued below…

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Here’s what Bill Valavanis wrote about this year’s WBC…
The 8th World Bonsai Convention is taking place on April 27-30, 2017 in Saitama City, Japan. Held every four years, the inaugural World Bonsai Convention was held in 1989 in the same city, Omiya (city name was changed.) There are 1,200 people registered from 40 foreign countries and it is expected that there will be 20,000 visitors during the four day event. I think most came yesterday because it was extremely difficult to see and photograph much. The event is being held in the huge Saitama Super Arena.

 

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“Some of the incredible trees you witness upon entering…”

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Hot off the press. This swirling, whirling dervish of a tree would be hard not to notice, even at the World Bonsai Convention where the competition is just a little stiff.

Some people have all the luck. These photos were taking at the World Bonsai Convention (happening as we speak) by Mark Field. Here’s Mark’s brief comment… “Some of the incredible trees you witness upon entering the show!” Okay Mark, now you’ve got our attention…

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Looks a lot like a Japanese white pine

 

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This closeup is just a little fuzzy, but I think it helps appreciate some details

 

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Raft style Japanese white pine

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Shimpaku. It's hard to see the base of truck in this shot...

 

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... maybe this will help just a bit

 

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Ezo spruce? Can't help guessing even though it's bit dangerous. I cropped this one a little. It was too busy. I think this shot better captures the feeling of the planting (you can see the original here).

 

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Reminiscent of Kimura's rock plantings

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World Bonsai Convention, Kimura & Green T Turntables

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Massive Mugo pine resting comfortably on a Green T professional bonsai turntable. The prize winning tree belongs to Paolo Riboli. The turntable could belong to you.

I just heard from Marco Invernizzi, a long time student of world famous bonsai master Masahiko Kimura (aka The Magician) – and someone we have featured here on Bonsai Bark many times over the years – who informed us that he was at Kimura’s place last week where Green T turntables are used every day by Master Kimura and his apprentices (past and present) .

WBC - Green T Official sponsor

Green T is also an official sponsor of the World Bonsai Convention - the world’s biggest bonsai event - which is currently being held in Saitama Japan.

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Four Kimura apprentices with bonsai and Green Ts

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Monster tree, monster turntable. The tree is a Holm oak that belongs to Raffaele Perilli. The turntable is a Green T Basic that also belongs to Raffaele.

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Boon & His Bonsai Friends

sattrunk-500x481This Satsuki azalea's trunk reminds me of some of Antoni Gaudi's sculptural architecture that graces the great city of Barcelona. Though in truth, the tree resides in Boon Manakitivipart's impressive bonsai collection in the great city of Alameda, California (birthplace of yours truly, btw).

The last week of April and first week of May are peak digging and transplanting season around here, so to save some time, it’s back to our archives. This one is from October, 2010 (with some revisions today).

Boon Manakitivipart is one of North America’s most influential bonsai artists and teachers. Several of his students have become important artists and teachers in their own right, and countless trees of Boon’s and his students’ have appeared on this blog, in magazines and books and elsewhere on the web.

All of the photos in this posts (except the very last one) are from a workshop that Boon hosted. It’s my impression that all of these trees were worked on by Boon’s students.

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 From chuhin to shohin. I have a soft spot for stubby little trees. Especially ones with reams of character like this European olive that was originally a stump dug from Boon's garden.

 

Another short, sweet and muscular little tree. This one is a Coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia).

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Is this a Shimpaku grafted onto a California juniper? Whatever it is, there's an abundance of power, movement and grace. There's another photo (also from Boon's workshop) of Janet Roth working on this tree that says, Janet is working on her show tree for Jan 2014 show.
 


This is the same Sierra juniper that appeared on the cover of Bonsai Today issue 108 (our famous last issue). The first branch has been shortened, and there's more foliage peeking out to the left of the trunk, but otherwise, it hasn't changed very much.

 

The photo that was used for the cover of Bonsai Today issue 108.

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Spring Bonsai Power

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Norway spruce spring power is Mauro Stemberger's title for this series of photos. What caught me about this tree is how natural it looks. As in the case of most of the best bonsai, you know that it has been styled, but styled in a way that you might call just so. Or just enough.

Welcome to another Bonsai Europe post (six of our last ten posts have featured European bonsai). It’s not that we don’t appreciate what’s going on in the rest of the world… it’s just that from where we sit it seems like the center of Bonsai gravity is slowly shifting to that colorful cluster of cultures (sorry) on the other side of the pond (it’s a good thing nobody reads anymore, otherwise I might be in trouble).

All the photos shown here were posted on facebook by Mauro Stemberger.

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