A Rooftop Bonsai Garden in the Windy City

A Rooftop Bonsai Garden in the Windy City

A friend has fought the wind on his top story house in Chicago for years. At a distance I’ve cheered him on. This summer he built a new structure to protect his trees. I thought it worth sharing, as so many have wind issues. In this post he shares the construction of this structure and […]

Mega Black Pine Rewire

Mega Black Pine Rewire

This massive black pine was part of the Pacific Bonsai Museum, now owned by a client of Andrew Robson’s. Here’s a video of me wiring this big black in 2021 (partly on a ladder), followed by before and after photos of the past year’s work. Music courtesy Hapasan: Taiko Cave Wiring by ladder? Sure. Better than […]

Hemlock Summer Trim-

Hemlock Summer Trim-

Summer is a good time to trim a Hemlock. If we leave the spring shoots on a while, they build plant energy and grow roots. For a not-yet-developed bonsai, it’s a good idea to leave shoots on until fall. On developed bonsai, mid-summer is a good time to trim shoots. If we cut too late, small […]

The Patient Magic of Michael Roberts: Part III

The Patient Magic of Michael Roberts: Part III

Once again here’s a Michael Roberts tree with a great progression. This one, a huge Olive that he started from a young plant. Michael writes: “As a kid growing up our family moved to a tract home in Southern California, Orange County. When my dad got ready to landscape the front yard he took me […]

Bunjin—Building On Weird—Part II

Bunjin—Building On Weird—Part II

From our previous post in this bunjin series, John Naka suggests bunjin is a poetic form of bonsai. If we agree with this, then we can agree that herd approval won’t be there. Poetry annoys too many. The crowd pleasers are the chunky thick-trunked trees, the Marvel films. Trees and movies we can understand. The problem […]

Garden Tour: Andrew Robson

Garden Tour: Andrew Robson

This is the second in a series of posts about the gardens of my former apprentices. This time, Andrew Robson, who was with me from 2016-2019. Like myself and Bobby Curttright, Andrew has chosen the modest-space professional bonsai garden, much like the Japanese do. The garden of Rakuyo Bonsai is only a mile from my […]

Boxwood Hard Prune in Summer

Boxwood Hard Prune in Summer

This Japanese boxwood was part of a hedge at my parent’s place. They were expanding their carport and asked if I wanted any of the plants for bonsai. I said yes. At the time, in 1994, the boxwood was about 40 years old, making it around 70 now. Like many broadleaf evergreens, after the first […]

How Large A Cut Needs Sealant?

How Large A Cut Needs Sealant?

The instinct to seal a recent cut is reflexive. Selective application may speed up our work, however, and economize sealant. In Bonsai Heresy I cover the arguments before and against cut sealants, on page 216. Although I cover the differences between bonsai and arborist techniques—and that both are right for their purposes—one thing I don’t […]

Three Azaleas—Three Techniques

Three Azaleas—Three Techniques

At the end of their spring blooming period, these three Satsuki azaleas needed attention. Each one came with a different puzzle. What to do? I’ll let our answers unfold in the photo essay. Enjoy! This Satsuki ‘Kinsai’ has a common geriatric problem. It hasn’t been pruned back in a long time. The whole tree is […]

Bunjin Part I—What IS This Weird Thing?

Bunjin Part I—What IS This Weird Thing?

Bunjin get a bad rap or a badass rap. There’s also those who will pass it by on the bench without comment. I figure the no comment is the most interesting reaction. I thought it would be fun to explore bunjin in a several part blog series. In this first part we’ll touch on bunjin’s […]