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Forest Bonsai by the Original Grand Master


This magnificent mixed forest is by Saburo Kato, who was one of the original old masters of Japanese bonsai. You can find it and other remarkable trees in his timeless classic "Forest, Rock Planting & Ezo Spruce Bonsai." You can also find some of the most comprehensive how-to bonsai instructions anywhere


Here we are again, staying home, staying healthy and waiting for the ground to thaw so we can start digging.

Meanwhile, this might be a good time to exploring forest plantings. Something anyone can do. All you need is a suitable low pot (even plastic will do just fine), some medium to small forest type plants, soil and a a few handy bonsai tools.

And of course Saburo Kato's "Forest, Rock Plantings & Ezo Spruce Bonsai." By far the best book on the topic. Especially if you like beautifully rendered, easy to follow how-to illustrations along with photos of some of the most inspiring forest plantings anywhere

Part of this post appeared here just over a year ago while some of the text and photos are new. You can expect a follow up how-to post on forest plantings soon.

This remarkable slab planting shows how much drama and power one strong tree can add to a forest. It's also a good example of what you can do with ground cover to enhance realism and beauty. Though the original, which appeared in Bonsai Today issue 23,  doesn’t say, it might be safe to guess that it's also by Saburo Kato. The trees look a lot like Ezo spruce (Picea glehnii), a specialty of Mr Kato's


Saburo Kato's remarkable book features 30 full pages
of beautifully rendered, easy to follow
how-to illustrations, and numerous other pages
with mixed text and illustrations 



This very large forest was on display at the 2017 World Bonsai Convention in Japan. Like so many other Ezo spruce forests, it was originally created by Saburo Kato. The photo was borrowed from Mark Fields, one of our lucky friends who made the trip to Japan.


 Same forest, different perspective. Both this photo and the one above include people, which helps show just how immense this planting is. The photo was sent to us by Felix Laughlin, who is, in addition to being another lucky friend, is the President of the U.S. National Bonsai Foundation


Close up. Realistically sized ground cover is an important piece in most great forest bonsai. This photo was also taken by Felix Laughlin.


The Remotest Hill, Mr Kato's most famous Ezo spruce forest from the cover of his internationally renowned book, Forest, Rock Planting & Ezo Spruce Bonsai. Here's Mr Kato's caption: "Ezo spruce (Picea glehnii). Sixty years ago I often traveled with my father to Ezo spruce in the large virgin forests on Kunashir Island off the cooast of Hokkaido. I selected the finest material to create this bonsai entitled The Remotest Hill."



 The cover of Saburo Kato's "Forest, Rock Planting & Ezo Spruce Bonsai"
The benchmark book for appreciating, understanding & making forest bonsai
(Ezo spruce bonsai too)
Available at Stone Lantern



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