Focus on Fall Pruning: Chojubai

Focus on Fall Pruning: Chojubai

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about the endearing and rambunctious flowering shrub Japanese Flowering Quince, ‘Chojubai’. It grows vigorously, flowers well, and stays small. And it’s a good subject for fall work overview. Old Chojubai in the fall Often we are laser focused on our bonsai when they are growing…and then as vaporously […]

Revisiting A Dead-Topped Azalea-

Revisiting A Dead-Topped Azalea-

Several years ago a weak Satsuki ‘Kinsai’ azalea arrived in the garden with a dead crown, dead branches, and shari down two sides—characteristics that suggested a promising juniper rather than an azalea. After a period of puzzling, we thought a prostrate styling might be a new future for it, and that, with luck, we might […]

‘This Is The Tree I’ve Had The Longest’

‘This Is The Tree I’ve Had The Longest’

Anyone with a bonsai garden can point to that one tree that predates all others. For me, it’s a juniper. And that’s the tree that I wish to share today. The history of this one is memorable for me, collecting it as an Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) on the rocky shores of a lake near […]

Vine Maple ‘Boot’ Revisit-

Vine Maple ‘Boot’ Revisit-

This composition is from March 2015. We had it in the studio for our annual fall trim and thought it might be fun to compare it with the original styling.  I’d intended this one to be a bit…awkward. Many paintings, sculpture, or other art I enjoy looking at again and again often have an element […]

Tree-like Juniper Styling

Tree-like Juniper Styling

Often we style a juniper as an abstract form. Many species are, after all, shrubs, and have no clear form. And then, deadwood features often go off into sculpural wonderlands quite unrelated to trees, other than being made of wood. This Rocky Mountain Juniper, Juniperus scopulorum,  was collected by Steve Varland of Backcountry Bonsai. When […]

Windy Mountain Hemlock Styling

Windy Mountain Hemlock Styling

This Mountain Hemlock, Tsuga mertensiana, came from Vancouver Island, BC, courtesy of collector Anton Nijhuis.  My impression of wind-influenced trees is that the foliage pads are slender when seen from the side. Also, there is usually some air between the branches. We used that idea in our styling of this tree. The raw Mountain Hemlock, […]

Ponderosa Pine—With Same Wire for 10 Years

Ponderosa Pine—With Same Wire for 10 Years

It’s true. I’ve a pine with the same wire on it for 10 years. We often hear talk of removing the wire on our trees in the fall. The question is, when they are not in danger of biting in, why take the wires off? Sometimes, the thinking is, it’s to protect from damage from cold—which, […]

Squatty Limber Pine Styling-

Squatty Limber Pine Styling-

Nearly 10 years ago I found this Limber Pine sitting at the intersection of three cracks in solid granite. The chunks of silvered wood you see as ‘wings’ on either side of the lower trunk, with air under them, are the remains of the original root system that ran down two cracks. The space underneath […]

Arizona Alder in Unusual Presentation-

Arizona Alder in Unusual Presentation-

This planting was originally composed by Oregon bonsai artist Greg Brenden. The container is a concrete water meter cover, stretching the boundaries of what might hold a plant. We’ve been encouraging a kusamono-like wildness to its style since acquiring it some years ago. The meter cover does have a rectangular hole straight through the center […]

Does Burying a Pot in Compost Create Patina?

Does Burying a Pot in Compost Create Patina?

When he was an apprentice here Andrew Robson puzzled over guidance we hear frequently: ‘Bury a new ceramic pot in compost and in a few months you’ll see patina on it’. Well, he took a new, unused pot and buried it in compost for fully two years. He watered it every day (true story). We […]