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Yamadori Bonsai - The Home of the Most Extensive & Dramatic Collection in North America

This Rocky Mountain Juniper is estimated to be 500-800 years old. It was originally collected in the Rockies by Ryan Neil. The pot is by Ron Lang. Styling by Ryan Neil. It's available for purchase at Mirai Bonsai

Though there are other places with quality North American yamadori* (Nick Lenz' comes to mind, but I think he's sold much of his collection), Ryan Neil's Bonsai Mirai is almost certainly the home of the most extensive and dramatic collection in North America (there are hundreds on their site)
Today it's three of Mirai's Rocky mountain junipers. Though there are plenty of others to choose from (I just counted 45, each more dramatic than the last), I picked these three almost randomly, not because I thought they are the best (that would take too long to figure out), but just because I like them and thought each was different enough from the other two to provide some interest 


*Yamadori are bonsai collected from the wild 


Closeup of the tree above



Rocky Mountain Juniper, estimated 250-500 years. Collected by Randy Knight. Pot is antique Chinese. Styling by Ryan Neil. Available for purchase at Bonsai Mirai

Twister. Rocky Mountain Juniper, estimated age 250-500. Collected by Randy Knight. Pot by Sara Rayner. Styling by Ryan Neil. Available for purchase at Bonsai Mirai

NEW! 6th U.S. Bonsai Exhibition Album - Plus 2 New Bonsai Fertilizers

6th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition Album

Every two years we get a jolt of bonsai excitement when our copies of the latest U.S. National Bonsai Exhibitions Albums arrive.
This time it's the 6th Album, and it's the best yet. This should come as no surprise, bonsai is still relatively new in North America (and much of the world) so steady improvement is to be expected. However, given the exceptional quality this year, maybe expecting continued improvements is bridge too far.
I guess we'll see...
Hardcover, 11 1/4" x 8 1/4" 224 pages
Round out your collection - We still have two earlier Albums, but just a few each


Bill Valavanis working on one of our
New Green T Mini Bonsai Turntables 
Bill is the driving force behind all 6 National Bonsai Exhibitions
and the Albums


Green Balance Bonsai Fertilizer Pellets

Green Dream is gone. But don't despair, our New Green Balance fertilizer is an excellent replacement at a much better price
Green Balance fertilizer pellets release nutrients evenly
over a 6 to 8 week period
Formulated to encourage healthy controlled growth on established bonsai, with emphasis on development of roots, nebari trunks, and branches with short internodes and small leaves


Green Growth Bonsai Fertilizer Pellets

 Our New Green Growth fertilizer pellets release nutrients
evenly over a 6 to 8 week period
Formulated to encourage rapid growth on young bonsai and pre-bonsai

The following prices apply to both
Green Balance and Green Growth fertilizers

1 lb bags 10.00
2 lb bags  16.00
8 lb bags  48.00

 FREE Shipping for Continental U.S. Orders 50.00 or more


A Famous Juniper Bonsai Before & After

Back on the leash. This is a good example of a maintenance before and after. The basic shape has long been established and refined and now after a period of unrestrained growth* it's time to bring it back into shape 

The following quote is Tyler Sherrod recalling this famous tree from his apprentice days with Shinji Suzuki...
"This memory popped up from 4 years ago. Probably the best Needle juniper in the world. It resides at Shinji Suzuki's Bonsai Nursery in Obuse, Japan. It's this time of year, when the new growth has hardened off, that we cut back these junipers. Tweezers are used to comb out the long foliage, then the "painstaking" task of cutting them back into profile. What a pleasure it was to be in the presence of this ancient tree"


This original before shot provides a peek into a Japanese bonsai workshop. I'm particularly impressed with the microwave and cups arrangement



After. In all its glory

The photos and quote in this post were borrowed from Tyler Sherrod's fb timeline

*periodically letting an established bonsai 'off the leash' so it can regain its vitality, is important for long term health


Rocky Mountain Bonsai Bliss

This Rocky mountain juniper has that natural simplicity that's not as easy to achieve as you might think. So natural that you can easily envision it growing on a mountain side at 9,000 feet in the Rockies.  It was posted by Todd Schlafer

A few days ago we posted a remarkable Colorado blue spruce that Todd Schlafer had a significant hand in developing, so it seems like a good time to take a look at some more of what Todd's been up to. If you'd like to see even more, Here's Todd on fb and here's his less up to date First Branch Bonsai website 


Close up for a better look at the trunk and pot


 Another of Todd's Rocky mountain junipers

Here's that Colorado blue spruce that we featured a few days ago. I think it's worth another look and besides,  I forgot to mention Austin Heitzman who built the perfect stand for this perfect tree. Austin was commissioned by Loren Buxton, the owner of the tree


Close up for a better look at the trunk and especially the wonderful pot  


Buckstone's Bonsai Beauties

This Korean Hornbeam is  12" tall x 11" wide. It was originally collected (no location is given but it must have somewhere in Asia) and Imported. The pot is by Horst Heinzlreiter, a long time favorite on Bonsai Bark. Speaking of, you might notice how the pot and tree look like they were made for each other. I wonder if Horst first saw the tree and then made the pot. I cropped the original photo (see below) for a closer look at the pot and trunk

Earlier today I did a post on a Colorado blue spruce that belongs to Loren Buxton of buckstonebonsai. While I was there two other trees jumped off the screen and straight into that place in my heart and mind where we hold beauty. Maybe you’ll share my appreciation 


The original photo of the tree above 

By the way, today is the first day we've featured Loren Buxton's bonsai. I'm always a little stoked when I discover heretofore unbeknownst (to me that is) quality bonsai and bonsai artists


I cropped this one too. It's another Korean Hornbeam and considerably bigger  (18" x 18") and more muscular than the one above. It was also collect and imported. The pot is by Jack Hoover


The original photo 


Bonsai Evolution of a Remarkable Colorado Blue Spruce


I found the photos shown here on Loren Buckston's buckstonebonsai. Altogether Loren featured twenty three photos on the evolution of this remarkable yamadori Colorado Blue Spruce. I've picked a small handful to provide a glimpse into the story and to encourage you to visit buckstonebonsai for the whole story

I've also borrowed some text from Loren, including the fascinating story about the environment that produced and sustained this tree and other unique Colorado blue spruce. The following is in Lorten's own words...
"This Colorado Blue Spruce was collected by Jerry Morris from a very unique fin or microclimate in Colorado.  The Colorado Blue Spruce in this area grow on a very thin layer of soil, which manages to sustain over a river bed.  During the growing season, roots grow into the river bed for moisture, but then are essentially sheared off every winter when the river freezes.  This results in some very unique forms, often with exposed, crawling trunks and interesting deadwood.  Colorado Blue Spruce is the only conifer that grows in this microclimate.
Continued below...


 Part of the creek bed where the tree was dug

Continuing with Loren's text..,.
"This tree was purchased from Todd Schlafer of First Branch Bonsai in 2013, which also marked the beginning of my study with Todd.  Todd is an incredibly talented and hard-working individual, who has managed to propel himself to the top tier of bonsai professionals in the US in a very short period of time.  This is despite not having a formal apprenticeship in Japan.....


Here it is, not too long after being dug


Skipping way ahead to several years later (the spring of 2017), here's Todd potting it in the pot you see at the beginning and end of this post

More from Loren...
"...the tree was ready for its first bonsai pot.  Repotting is one of Todd’s strengths – in particular the first repot from the container used after collection.  This repot is the most difficult and often requires a certain level of engineering.  For this tree, Todd used three wood blocks to brace the tree and position it at the right angle.  After filling the container, long pieces of sphagnum moss were placed along the areas with exposed roots, and then a fence was built using a small gauge of aluminum wire to secure the moss."


It's come a long ways in just a few years. This shot was taken at the same time as the lead photo, just from a different angle


Brilliant Bonsai Great Wine and Good Food

It's Satsuki azalea time again! Satsuki means fifth month in Japanese and now you know why

Bonsai in wine country. And why not, bonsai can be found almost everywhere these days. I stumbled upon these photos on Bonsai Barber's timeline. They are in the city of Bordeaux, France. A great place to visit and sip good wine (at less than half what it costs here) while enjoying the brilliance of bonsai in full bloom
Continued below...


I'm embarrassed to admit that I was in Bordeaux in 2017 and completely oblivious of Bonsai Barber's existence. I guess I was too busy enjoying good wine, food and other pleasure to notice. Oh well, next time...







Bonsai Muscle - More Kokufu Red Pines

Akamatsu, aka Japanese red pine (Pinus densiflora). This one and the others here are from the 2019 Kofuku Exhibition book. Courtesy of Michal Bonsai

This is a follow up on a Japanese red pine post we did a week ago. This time we're focusing on Red pines with muscle, straight from Kokufu, the world's foremost bonsai show

If you've been around bonsai for a while, you most likely know Japanese black pines and Japanese white pines. But do you know the third sister in the trio, Japanese red pines? If you don't. here's another chance for an introduction


Coiled muscle 


Muscle with movement amplified by the lines in the bark




 A little less muscle here, but still a strong base lends a feeling of strength and stability


Bonsai Detective Alert!

 Still on vacation so we'll make this one short and sweet. Three photos originally from the world famous Omiya Bonsai Art Museum in Saitama, Japan.  Our original source (on fb) doesn't bother with identification and rather than take the time to hunt these down (a quick look on Omiya's website yielded nothing), we'll invite you to do your own detective work. Or, you can simply enjoy the photos





Bonsai Before & After – A 7 Year Transformation

privetbefore&afterBefore and after of one Harry Harrington's famous privets

Vacationing this week with a little work thrown in, so to keep it simple we’ll resort to one from our archives (July of 2017)…

It’s amazing what seven years and an ample supply of skill and imagination can do. The impressive transformation shown here is the result of efforts by Harry Harrington, a bit of a whiz at transforming material that many of us wouldn’t give second look. The photos shown here are from Harry’s timeline. You can also visit Harry’ website bonsai4me



After, up close. Pot by Erin Pottery



The other side

The Foundations of Bonsai
A good place to start if you want to see how Harry does it
Bonsai Inspirations 1
Digging deeper
Bonsai Inspirations 2
Digging even deeper



Before, close up