To Deadwood or Not to Deadwood (for My Friend Sal)

There’s deadwood and then there’s deadwood. It’s a safe guess that this crazy tree is a juniper, just like the other two trees shown here (it may also be a safe guess that it’s a tanuki*). There’s no mention of the artist/owner. Ditto for the other two. Every few days we get a comment from someone objecting to all the deadwood you see on bonsai these days. I get it, things get overdone. Including deadwood. But if we’re going to consider bonsai an art, then we might want to leave room for experimentation. And if we do that, there’s always … Continue reading To Deadwood or Not to Deadwood (for My Friend Sal)

Walter’s Massive Forest & Other Hornbeam Bonsai

This massive Hornbeam forest belongs to Walter Pall. Walter doesn’t mention the variety in his gallery section (you might be able to hunt it down on his blog), but given that Walter lives in Germany, You might guess that it’s a European hornbeam (Carpinus betula), but I wouldn’t take it to the bank. The other day someone asked if we would do something on Hornbeams, so here it is, the beginning of a series on the Hornbeam genus (Carpinus). And in case the person who asked is actually reading this (or anyone else is interested), our archives contain several Hornbeam … Continue reading Walter’s Massive Forest & Other Hornbeam Bonsai

Another Excellent Blog by an American Bonsai Apprentice

Close up of a famous old Japanese black pine named Zuio. This and the other photos in this post are borrowed from Danny Coffey’s Tree the People blog. I don’t how I missed Danny Coffey’s excellent Tree the People blog for so long (going on three years) but somehow I managed. Happily, and thanks to Felix Laughlin (President of the National Bonsai Foundation and tireless bonsai advocate) the veil has lifted. Danny Coffey has been a bonsai apprentice under Mr. Junichiro Tanaka of Aichien Bonsai Nursery, Nagoya Japan, since 2013. During that time Danny also managed to become an intern … Continue reading Another Excellent Blog by an American Bonsai Apprentice

Satsuki Bonsai – A Passion for Variety & Beauty

This wildly colorful Satsuki Azalea is from a Flowering Bonsai Gallery in Bonsai Today issue 65 (image courtesy of Bonsai Focus). If you take a close look at the flowers, you’ll see that there are a number of different shades and patterns. A mark of human passion for beauty and endless variation. There are few things as delightful as Satsuki azalea bonsai in full bloom. Especially in person. Lacking that, next best are high quality photos of Satsuki azalea in full bloom. Especially during the darkest and coldest days of winter. We borrowed this stunning (some might say gaudy) Satsuki … Continue reading Satsuki Bonsai – A Passion for Variety & Beauty

Freeze Damage in Bonsai (& other woody plants)

This luscious planting resides at the North Carolina Arboretum. The photo was put up on the Internet Bonsai Club forum by Arthur Joura. The caption reads “This planting is one of a small handful in our bonsai collection that consists entirely of plant material that can tolerate the extremes of winter, and so it remains on the bench, on display in the Bonsai Exhibition Garden all through the year.” The statement ‘can tolerate the extremes of winter’ makes sense if you live someplace like North Carolina, but not if you live someplace like Vermont. Our Vermont fall foliage extravaganza is … Continue reading Freeze Damage in Bonsai (& other woody plants)

An American Bonsai Celebration

Goshin by John Yoshio Naka. This famous bonsai resides at the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum in Washington DC. Photos will never do it justice. It is huge (about 1 meter tall – just over 3 feet) and is so dramatic in person that it almost seems to vibrate with power. This photo, by Peter Bloomer is originally from Timeless Trees by Peter and Mary Bloomer. It also appears on the cover of Bonsai Today issue 93, an issue that features a tribute to the life and works of John Naka. Four times a tradition? This is forth time for … Continue reading An American Bonsai Celebration

Bonsai Bearing Berries

Pyracanthas (aka Firethorns) are prolific bearers of berries and this one is certainly no exception. More like exceptional. It’s from a post we did in 2012. I’m trying to experience an approximation of a vacation of sorts. Easier said than done, though I’m determined to carve out some free time. So determined that I’m going to borrow four photos from previous posts this time. It’s almost fruit and berry season, so in anticipation here are three photos of Pyracanthas with berries and one in full flower. It won’t be long.   From the many to the few. It’s another Pyracantha. … Continue reading Bonsai Bearing Berries

Celebrating An American Bonsai Tradition

Goshin by John Yoshio Naka. This famous bonsai resides at the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum in Washington DC. Photos will never do it justice. It is huge (about 1 meter tall – just over 3 feet) and is so dramatic in person that it almost seems to vibrate with power. This photo, by Peter Bloomer is originally from Timeless Trees by Peter and Mary Bloomer. It also appears on the cover of Bonsai Today issue 93, an issue that features a tribute to the life and works of John Naka. Three times a tradition? This is third time for … Continue reading Celebrating An American Bonsai Tradition

Grafting Lesson & A Totally Unrelated Wall of Ice

A few stills captured from Capital Bonsai’s video on grafting that features Ryan Neil. I just got home from a short vacation only to be greeted by a three foot wall of ice blocking my front porch (photo below). Weather and a serious roof design flaw conspiring in an effort to ruin my homecoming. Fortunately, Corey and Ric kept the office and warehouse doors clear, so here I am, jet lagged, cold, happy to be home (strange I know) and ready to go to work. But only ready enough to take the easy archival way out. This post originally appeared … Continue reading Grafting Lesson & A Totally Unrelated Wall of Ice

Not Shimpaku

Dwarf Japanese Garden Juniper by Michael Sullivan. From the 3rd U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition Album (apologies for the fuzzy scan). One thing that stands out is how a combination of small touches soften the long, mostly straight, untapered  trunk. First there’s the irregular pot which helps emphasize the small irregularities in the trunk. Then there’s the shari (deadwood strip) that adds movement and interest all the way up the trunk. Finally there’s the surprising little jin at the top of the trunk that further enhances the sense of movement (and adds a touch of humor). Japanese Garden Juniper bonsai Shimpaku … Continue reading Not Shimpaku