30 Year Juniper Development Story

30 Year Juniper Development Story

Most young bonsai plants are put in larger pots or in the ground to bulk them up. This is one example of a tree grown only in a very small pot, for 30 years. We don’t get a large trunk that way, but the gain is in micro-detailing. The juniper featured here started as an […]

Photographic Timeline of Kusamono

Photographic Timeline of Kusamono

Today I thought it’d be fun to show how several kusamono—large accents usually displayed without a bonsai—have changed through the last decade or so in my garden. How kusamono morph with age is often striking. Often the plant / root mass / pot balance shifts to favor the root mass. Some of the kusamono shown […]

Never Wired Lodgepole Bunjin Revisit

Never Wired Lodgepole Bunjin Revisit

Wires and conifers are assumed bedfellows…at least, I’d always assumed wires were needed for styling pines and junipers and the like. Seeking to challenge my assumptions, for years I kept an eye out for one that might not need wiring. In 2013 I thought I’d found a likely specimen, and collected it.  Styling this Lodgepole […]

Red Maple as Bonsai

Red Maple as Bonsai

Red Maple, Acer rubrum, is a North American forest tree with a range extending from southeastern Canada to Florida. It’s well regarded as a street tree for great fall color and less sidewalk issues than other maples.  It’s a bit of a stretch to suggest I have wide bonsai experience with Red Maple. I have, however, taken care of […]

Repotting Chojubai in Summer

Repotting Chojubai in Summer

Ten years ago I had several articles about Chojubai translated from Japanese magazines. In one of them a professional reported his preference for repotting in summer. I was surprised and a bit skeptical. Having since experimented with repotting Chojubai at various times of the year, I agree that this small quince does respond marvelously to summer […]

What Happened to the Spanish Edition of Post-Dated?

What Happened to the Spanish Edition of Post-Dated?

Post-Dated: The Schooling of an Irreverent Bonsai Monk is a memoir of my bonsai apprenticeship, and some years back we’d started work on a Spanish translation that went on an unexpected journey. My translator Felipe Rodríguez Romero had almost finished it, we were reaching the celebration stage—deep into selecting balloon colors—when his house was broken into […]

Retrospective: Drawings, Paintings, Sculpture, Pots, and Bonsai

Retrospective: Drawings, Paintings, Sculpture, Pots, and Bonsai

For a year I’ve been dreaming about assembling my past artwork in a timeline. Almost everything I had needed to be digitized from slides and prints, the earliest from 35 years ago. Going through the big boxes of images took longer than expected, as I would drift into reverie over times long forgotten. I enjoyed […]

Pruning Young Chojubai in Summer ~

Pruning Young Chojubai in Summer ~

The last post was about energy balancing older shrubs, using a Chojubai as our example. Here is a younger Chojubai, in a large training container, and to balance it requires a different approach. Early summer is a good time to cut extensions back on developing Chojubai. If vigorous you can cut them twice, once in […]

Energy Balancing in Shrubs

Energy Balancing in Shrubs

Being basally dominant, many shrubs are going to do anything they can to kill off older parts and grow shoots from below. The more geriatric the shrub, the greater the danger of killing off exactly what we want to preserve—the older, trunky bits. They don’t like to make trunks much, with the exception of Satsuki […]

Saxifrage as a Greek God

Saxifrage as a Greek God

Accent plant creating season is upon us. Though it might seem odd to pot up plants in the summer, perennials respond well given a few aftercare precautions. And there’s a great benefit in designing accents in the summer: with foliage you can see what you’re doing. In the early spring an unsprouted mass of roots […]