‘Stampede’ Ponderosa Pine Styling…

‘Stampede’ Ponderosa Pine Styling…

There’s a story about the name ‘Stampede’. The Backcountry Bonsai guys enjoy naming the trees they collect, and having received several with memorable names I asked if this Ponderosa Pine had one. I only got an abbreviated version by text and maybe not the full story, but I gather it involved some galloping extraterrestrials or horned […]

How To Develop A Chojubai-

How To Develop A Chojubai-

Last week I was flipping back and forth between old photos and newer ones to see how a Dwarf Flowering Quince ‘Chojubai’ bonsai has changed. Just to take six years in the life of this old fella, from 2012 to 2018, one can see a difference in the ramification. The first photo looks uninspiring, old […]

A Juniper Orchid (to go with our Pine Orchid…)

A Juniper Orchid (to go with our Pine Orchid…)

Some of you might remember a quirky Shore Pine that we put on a post in 2017, calling it the first Pine Orchid in the yard. Yesterday this juniper was styled, and it hangs on the neighboring post that supports the shade cloth structure (thank you Bobby Curttright). The juniper is a bit of a Frankenstein: […]

Juniper Tips Dying?

Juniper Tips Dying?

If they are, you likely have juniper tip blight, or phomopsis. This is a fungus that attacks the growing tip of the juniper, usually in spring when the temps are mild, around 60 F / 15 C or so, and during humid or wet weather. It attacks many species of juniper. Native North American junipers […]

New Book: ‘Bonsai Heresy’

New Book: ‘Bonsai Heresy’

This book has been in the works for some years now. To those who were aware of this and have been asking ad nauseam when it will be done, I now have an answer. Soon. Bonsai Heresy is about the myths of common bonsai technique and thought. The book recounts some of my past misdeeds, looks […]

Choosing the Front: Old Collected Trees

Choosing the Front: Old Collected Trees

How do we choose a front on an older, collected tree? A few tips: Keep an eye out for fronts that show a trunk line that is not an S curve Use the special features of the tree; this might be unusual movement, shari, live vein, jin, old branch, cavity, or even bark Be willing […]

A Trick to Try with Your Wisteria this Summer-

A Trick to Try with Your Wisteria this Summer-

This is a fun technique to ramify your wisteria. After the first flush of leaves has hardened off in early summer, and flowers are long gone, take each leaf and cut them down to two leaflets. This will result in a very thin looking bonsai, and you may wish to provide light shade for a […]

Of Weeds and Love

Of Weeds and Love

‘When one summer I came across Emerson’s argument that “weeds” (just then strangling my annuals) were nothing more than a defect of my perception, I felt a certain cognitive dissonance.’ These are the words of Michael Pollan in his hilarious work Second Nature. The dismissive words of Emerson in the garden are not unlike the […]

Be a Bonsai Sleuth: What is Needle Cast and What is Overwatering for Pines?

Be a Bonsai Sleuth: What is Needle Cast and What is Overwatering for Pines?

Many of the problems we see on our bonsai look very much the same. Needle Cast, a fungus, and overwatering, a care mistake, often look a lot alike. Here are two photos that might help determine if you have one or the other of them in your yard: This pine, a Ponderosa, has been overwatered. […]

Double Helix: Limber Pine Revisit

Double Helix: Limber Pine Revisit

This fella got a new shoe this spring. For years—4 more than necessary—it lived in a wooden box simply because I couldn’t find a pot of the right shape that was still deep enough to hold a strange and unforgiving root system. Above the soil surface was another matter, as the twisting, sharied roots were […]