Deciduous Early Development Part II: Magnolia

Deciduous Early Development Part II: Magnolia

An infrequently used deciduous genus for bonsai, Magnolia nonetheless offers a unique, bold personality among our ranks of status-quo Tridents and Elms. Most commonly used for bonsai is Star Magnolia, Magnolia stellata, among the Magnolia species options. The Star Magnolia is a modest shrub or minor tree rather than one of the massive flowering tree Magnolias […]

Deciduous Early Development Part I: Japanese Maple

Deciduous Early Development Part I: Japanese Maple

The first part of this development series covers a few gangly specimens of Japanese Maple. Japanese Maple is one of the most challenging early development deciduous trees because of its propensity to make long internodes. It’s also one of the best examples of a theme that runs throughout the next few posts on early development, […]

(What we don’t like talking about…) TOO MANY BONSAI-

(What we don’t like talking about…) TOO MANY BONSAI-

Many of us are natural ‘gatherers’. We collect things, much like bower birds and pack rats. And then we either present them in display cases, tuck them into storage units, or, if they are bonsai, arrange them in our backyards. Gathering is an endearing trait. And we have things to show off when friends visit. […]

The Dark Paths of Apprentices, Pt. II

The Dark Paths of Apprentices, Pt. II

Some of you may be following this sub-thread about the apprentices here at Crataegus Bonsai. This past week was a whirlwind as John Eads, the new apprentice, moved into the studio residence with his wife and two kids. The move itself was cacophonous and involved many boxes, several families, and 12 kids. Several things happened […]

~New Book ‘Bonsai Heresy’ Nearing Completion~

~New Book ‘Bonsai Heresy’ Nearing Completion~

Bonsai Heresy is my new book about our misperceptions of bonsai technique and aesthetics. The book is wrapping up and things are advancing apace… Bonsai Heresy will shortly be copyedited, giving me a much needed break No fewer than 10 savvy content editors were involved, improving this complex book immeasurably Our production timeline will give us […]

Pot Choice Exercise: Highbush Blueberry

Pot Choice Exercise: Highbush Blueberry

Growing up in Upstate NY there were a lot of lovely highbush blueberries growing wild in the woods, and I’d always wanted to try one as a bonsai. Took a move to the West Coast—where they only exist in nurseries—to finally get around to it. Highbush blueberries, Vaccinium corymbosum, have great erratic, natural branch lines […]

Managing Needle Length of Single Flush Pines-

Managing Needle Length of Single Flush Pines-

It’s summer and our single flush pines have stopped growing. What now? For starters we can clean out old needles. While we’re doing this we may notice that some year’s needles are longer than others. This post ends with a few reasons they might be longer and how to plan for the future. A Shore […]

There and Back Again with a Cryptomeria-

There and Back Again with a Cryptomeria-

Any visit to Japan where remote temples are on the menu will usually involve Cryptomeria. These stately forest trees remind one of miniature redwoods, standing bolt upright as if on review. The Cryptomeria featured here is a home-grown bonsai from nursery stock, not an import. It was first styled by Harunobu Tokita in California. The […]

Wiring Prep: All At Once Or Piecemeal?

Wiring Prep: All At Once Or Piecemeal?

This is a question that dogged me in my early years… Do we clean out and trim shoots over the whole tree before we wire? Or do it branch by branch as we wire? Being a huge fan of simplifying, it made sense to me to do all one thing first and then move on […]

Rocky Mountain Juniper: Alternative Methods

Rocky Mountain Juniper: Alternative Methods

The styling of any yamadori juniper assumes the bending of old wood, and only in unusual circumstances can one avoid this. The tree featured here, collected by Randy Knight, was one such outlier. During the early years after collection some young shoots grew inside and near the trunk. I spoke with my client about an alternative […]