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 […]

East meets West: Chojubai on Riding Spur

East meets West: Chojubai on Riding Spur

This is a Japanese Flowering Quince Chojubai presented on a Western riding spur. ‘Presented?’ ‘Held’? ‘Lofted’? ‘Attached’? One might argue the proper term, but the riding spur was found on a hike in the Arizona mountains about 20 years ago, after falling off someone’s boot decades before. I’ve dragged it around everywhere I’ve lived, figuring […]

Revisit: Shimpaku/Rocky Cascade

Revisit: Shimpaku/Rocky Cascade

Revisits are good for showing how bonsai change over time. It’s been four years since we saw this juniper, years in which it’s been trudging along keeping its head down—quite literally, it’s a cascade—and yet making visible strides during those years, too. As a quick recap, the trunk of this tree is Rocky Mountain Juniper and […]

Wisteria Grown by Warren Hill-

Wisteria Grown by Warren Hill-

Starting from a one gallon plant 40 years ago, Warren Hill grew this massive Chinese Wisteria. He did an incredible job. It now has a 13″ base and a huge wingspan, requiring two people to move it. It is surprising how fast Wisteria can bulk up given the opportunity. And also ramify, in just a […]

When Can We Claim Deciduous Work As Our Own?

When Can We Claim Deciduous Work As Our Own?

‘Whose work is it?’ is a question often asked by those who go to bonsai shows. Both conifer and deciduous bonsai will have answers to that question, but how that computation is made differs significantly. It is maybe easiest to understand how deciduous work is different by contrasting it with that of conifers. In most […]

Ugly vs. Pretty Styling

Ugly vs. Pretty Styling

For any styling it’s good to ask: Do we leave it rough, or do we polish it off to as crystalized an image as we can? And the answer usually is, as with many things in bonsai, it depends. When is leaving a mess appropriate? With very aggressive work, with large branches and even trunks moved […]

A New Year’s Story-

A New Year’s Story-

Usually I offer the bungled photos of the year in a blooper reel to start the New Year. As I reviewed the year’s photos, however, it became clear that there weren’t enough qualifying photos. Which suggests either an uptick in selective shooting or a lack of studio clowns. Either way I have no photos for […]