Progression Trees-

The following are last week’s work in photos, with comments. These bonsai are ‘on the way to find out’, needing growth here and there and future adjustments, directing them toward long term goals. Please enjoy the photo essay-


Here’s a client tree, a Rocky Mountain Juniper that I’d grafted a few years back, collected by Randy Knight. All the original Rocky Mountain foliage has been removed. The long extensions on the grafts indicate it’s ready for initial branch placement.


New foliage rough placed, without attention to detail. There’s little foliage on this tree and detailing it would reduce plant momentum. Fine work will be in another year or two. For now it needs a lot more growth and extension, especially in the back, where there’s a lack of depth.


Here’s a modest sized tree, about 20″, that needs a touch up. My client acquired this in a workshop about 20 years ago with Colin Lewis. It has two decades of layered information from Colin’s styling and then my client’s branch refinement and shari creation. A couple years ago I worked on the branch pads, and the job this fall was to clarify that.


After cleaning up the trunk and reclaiming the branch and pad structure. This is progression work, nudging the tree down the road. The left canopy—a double canopy tree here—needs breadth to match better with the canopy on the right.


A female yew sporting berries. Here the work is half complete, the lower branches yet to be trimmed and adjusted. The carving was done by my client, wonderful work using small tools to pull fibers. Slow, for sure, yet offering great detail. This yew grew in the ground and the trunk was one big block of wood before being carved. This is a chunky tree, 22″ high with an 8″ trunk.


Here’s the yew after the lower branches were completed. The upper left branches need length. This is a prime example of progression work (not show work), focussing on balance, the length of branches, and building structure.

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  1. Ray says:

    Wow Michael, beautiful work. Incredible trees🙏

  2. Steve Colombo says:

    Beautiful work that makes me realize how far I have to go.

  3. Bonsai Pit. says:

    Great post, helps us appreciate the transition and development regimes. Anymore coming soon lol.

  4. mcole says:

    Very nicely done

    Michael Cole

  5. Linda Soliven says:

    Thank you, .Mchael Photo essay very I formative! Some grafts on my Rocky Mountain juniper didn’t take. Gotta get those parts regrafted. The work you did is inspiration for the future of my tree. Hope I’ve long enough 😕.
    Linda Soliven

  6. Stephen Liesen says:

    Really nice to see the changes in trees over time. I wonder if there’s any earlier pictures of these trees. Masterful!

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