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 […]

The Art of Micro-Positioning

The Art of Micro-Positioning

Many of us started out the same way—with all our bonsai benches in full sun, or all of them tucked under the shade of a massive tree. Too little love or too much. Either way after witnessing some bonsai getting grumpier we ponder where else we might put them. And that is the beginning of […]

A Wildlife Tree Snag Gets Made—

A Wildlife Tree Snag Gets Made—

Our friend Brian French is a wildlife arborist specializing in habitat creation. He’s also the State Coordinator for the Oregon Champion Tree Registry. And he came out to create a full-sized tree snag in my front yard, making for an unusual day in the bonsai garden. When this vigorous 60′ Douglas Fir began to lift […]

The Dark Paths of Apprentices

The Dark Paths of Apprentices

This is an update on the Dark Paths thread initiated in the last post. I overheard a conversation which was quite clearly a conspiracy, though it was in sotto voce and I was likely intended to hear it. My two apprentices, both disgustingly young, were plotting to take my scissors away at the first indication […]

New Apprentice: John Eads

New Apprentice: John Eads

Another has joined our growing list of indentured servants at Crataegus Bonsai, following the path well laid by Bobby Curttright and Andrew Robson. Bobby has since started his business in Portland, OR and Andrew is in his last month before freedom. John can feed you. He’s run a successful wood-fired pizza food cart in Portland […]

Review: Bonsai Empire Advanced Bonsai Course 2

Review: Bonsai Empire Advanced Bonsai Course 2

In short, they keep getting better. These joint courses from Bonsai Empire and Bjorn Bjorholm really shine as a resource for the self-taught student, and yet are helpful even for those with access to a physically present teacher. Here’s a snapshot with some quick commentary: If you like long detailed wiring and styling sessions and great […]

2020 Book Tour, By Amtrak…

2020 Book Tour, By Amtrak…

This fall my new book Bonsai Heresy will be published, and next year, in April 2020, I’m leaping on a train to do readings and signings—barnstorming fashion, like days of old. Our endearing Amtrak service The book tour will be a big loop around the U.S. for roughly three weeks. I have fond memories of […]

Revisit: Mountain Hemlock Branch

Revisit: Mountain Hemlock Branch

A few years have passed since this hemlock was styled, and it seemed a ripe moment for an update on its progress. It was collected by Anton Nijhuis, and is unusual being a naturally rooted branch off a larger tree. The first styling was in December 2014 when former apprentice Bobby Curttright was here, and he […]

Color and Unusual Pot Choice-

Color and Unusual Pot Choice-

A tree with red berries in a green glazed pot. A conifer with green foliage in an unglazed, reddish brown pot. An orange flowered tree matched with a blue glazed pot. Common and good options. For pot choices, these opposing colors from the color wheel can work, and work well. But they are also Bonsai 101 […]

Bunjin Shore Pine Restyle-

Bunjin Shore Pine Restyle-

This Shore Pine—Pinus contorta subsp. contorta—has several interesting fronts. It has been a conversation piece with guests for their favorite front. Here’s what we did in a restyling. The original front of the tree, where we started our adventure …but here was a more engaging trunkline, about 90 degrees left, and inclined 30.  After cutting off the […]