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No Matter Where You Go

Sabina1This tall, wild looking Sabina juniper was styled by Walter Pall. The photo is from The Art of Bonsai Project. The pot is by Bryan Albright.

Major computer meltdown here (fortunately not our website, so you can still order and we can still ship), but rather our bookkeeping system where we keep track of inventory, money etc (wish us luck!). So time for another shortcut while sticking with our Sabina juniper theme. This one is from October 2013.

No matter where you go, there’s Walter Pall with some more bonsai from his seemingly endless collection and his tireless offering of valuable instruction, especially on His Bonsai Adventure Blog. Walter is both prolific and very good at what he does. In this case, what he does is style some Sabina junipers, a bonsai species that may be common in Europe, but is little-known here in North America.


see below

This Sabina is from a post on Walter's Bonsai Adventures. The tree was collected in Austria in 1997.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about Sabina junipers: “Juniperus sabina (Savin Juniper or Savin) is a species of juniper native to the mountains of central and southern Europe and western and central Asia, from Spain east to eastern Siberia, typically growing at altitudes of 1,000-3,300 m.” This might help explain the ‘little known here in North America” piece.


This is a stock photo of a cascading Sabina with a somewhat ‘in training’ look. The caption says, “Sabina juniper, Juniperus sabina, 50 cm high, 80 cm long, 100 years old, collected in Austria, styled by Walter Pall.



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A Happy Bonsai Accident


The original caption from Milan Karpíšek reads "Sabina of my friend ready for a show." From this we might assume that the tree belongs to a friend and was styled by Milan, but we know about assumptions.

The three trees shown here are from Milan Karpíšek’s fb photos (Milan is from the Czech Republic). Like many of the bonsai featured here, these were discovered by accident (aka stumbled upon). A very happy accident indeed.

After yesterday’s post featuring two Savin junipers (Juniperus sabina) by Gaicomo Pappalardo, I went back to see others we’ve featured over the years and was surprised by just how many there are. This one is from July, 2014. The post was titled A Happy Accident


see below



The caption on this lovely literati says "My entry on Noelanders." Milan doesn't say what kind of pine it is (Scot's?). BTW: The Noelanders Trophy is one of Europe's premier bonsai shows.


The caption on this one reads "For Sándor Papp the best picture of my Sabina photo Willy Evenepoel, Pilsen 2é11."



Close up of the tree at the top of the post. One thing that stands out is just how small the pot is relative to the tree. It's the mounding that makes this possible, but even so, that's a lot of tree for a small amount of soil.

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This close up of the elegant second tree provides a better look at the wonderfully aged bark and that chic shari. Nice pot too.


This close up provides a great look at the superb handmade pot and that sweet little fern. Not to take anything away from the tree itself, which needs no superlatives.


Extreme Bonsai


Perfect! The tree is a Savin juniper (Juniperus sabina) and you already know the painting.

Before I realized that Gaicomo Pappalardo’s bonsai nursery is called Extreme Bonsai, I was taken with how unusual many of his trees are. Now it all make sense.

Today we’ve got three of Gaicomo’s Junipers that caught my eye. If you’d like to see more, you might want to visit Extreme Bonsai’s website or facebook timeline. Or in person if you’re ever in A Coruña, Spain.


Tuesday, May 15th at 11:59pm EDT


Another wild and wonderful full cascade Juniperus sabina



Giacomo calls this series 'Breakfast with donuts' If you look inside the big circle, you'll see a smaller circle. Thus donuts rather than donut? It looks like another juniper, but he doesn't say what type.


Before & After Bonsai – Rediscovering a Juniper’s Natural Beauty


Here's Tyler Sherrod's caption for a job well done.... "Just wired up this juniper for Joe Noga. He has owned this tree for about 30 years. It was grafted with kishu foilage by Mr. Mas Ishii of California. Another cool piece of history of bonsai in America."

Monday morning and we’re already behind, so we’ll let the photos do the talking…. except to say that Tyler Sherrod is one of several Americans (and other Westerners) who has gone through the rigors of a Bonsai apprenticeship in Japan and has brought back his impressive knowledge and skills. Here’s you link to Tyler on fb.

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Tuesday, May 15th at 11:59pm EDT


Before. It's always best to start with a healthy robust tree



After. An excellent example of what some wire and shears can do in the hands of a skilled bonsai artist

When to Let a Tree Run Off Leash by Michael Hagedorn


This luminous Japanese maple in full fall color is from Michael Hagedorn's Crataegus Bonsai Portfolio. I don't know for sure when, or for how long Michael lets this one off the leash, but after reading the article below, I have some idea.

Here’s an important topic that we seldom hear about. So even though we just ran this post back in September, I think it’s worth another go.

Once again we’re paying homage to the wisdom of Michael Hagedorn, our favorite source for the nitty-gritty of growing bonsai. This time it’s about managing, and especially not managing, the growth of our trees. Our source for the text is Michael’s Blog. For the photos it’s Michael’s Portfolio

In Michael’s own words…
“We talk endlessly about how to manage the growth of bonsai. Which technique for this species, which for that…and it’s a good thing we do, as it’s very important. If we get it wrong we could end up in a pretty pickle.

“Less often do we talk about how important the opposite is for an old bonsai: Letting the tree go a bit. Stop ‘managing’ it for a while. Many trees cannot be kept in continual show shape.”
Continued below…

see below

"An old Winter Hazel (Corylopsis spicata) in a box for some rejuvenation following a couple years of weakness, now showing long extensions and large leaves" 

Michael Hagedorn continued from above…
“There are two concepts here and I don’t wish to confuse them. Most trees need to grow a bit seasonally before they can be cut back to where the profile is. Without that extension growth, if we’re constantly nibbling on the tree, then it can just tire out. This goes for many trees, not all, but it’s not the purpose of this post to go into detail about all that.

“So there’s that idea, seasonal wildness, unrestrained growth. Then there’s the other one, where over some years of life in a bonsai pot, an old bonsai begins to just tire somewhat. It takes a close eye and a good memory to know when is the right time to let a tree off the leash.
Continued below…


Mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana) on levitated nylon board from Michael's portfolio. We've featured it several time over the years and for good reason (something to do with improving a wild tree without sacrificing it's natural wildness). Yesterday we featured a Mountain hemlock by Michael that was new to us.

Michael continued from above…
“Any of you who have dogs know that when you go to the beach or a big field, and take the leash off, it is amazing to see a totally new animal. It takes off and becomes years younger. It laughs. Dances. Becomes a wolf, even if it doesn’t look like one.

“The same thing happens for bonsai. Sometimes after years of applying the same techniques to contain growth—which is an important idea—the tree slows down to be point of damaging it. Branches begin to tire out. We might lose a few. And then it’s time to consider taking the leash off.

“There are a few ways to do this—simply leaving the tree grow for a while unrestrained, maybe until fall. Or if it seems like a serious problem and you’re losing parts of the tree, slip potting it in a box, with large size soil. Be careful, though, as these techniques can totally change the age of a tree. If left too long in a box, a bonsai soon won’t have the structure of a bonsai any more. Leaving it grow unmanaged for one growing season for a light adjustment, to three years for a really tired old tree, is the range.
Continued below…

Still the best bonsai read…


The Schooling of an Irreverent Bonsai Monk

If you haven’t already, this is a good time to dig into and enjoy
Michael  victories & humiliations as a bonsai apprentice in Japan

Michael continued from above…
“Deciduous trees and conifers can respond significantly differently when let go. The deciduous tree is like a small rowboat, easy to turn in the water, needing only months to a year for an upward physiological swing. Conifers can take longer to turn around, sometimes a couple of years, like a big old battleship that takes miles to turn to port.

“And then after a summer of joyful growth, or maybe after a couple years if it’s a really tired out grandparent of a tree, return it to a bonsai pot.”
Visit Michael Hagedorn on his website and his blog. It’s always a click worth making





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A Little Imagination and a Whole Lot of Experience and Skill


This dramatic Mountain Hemlock was recently restyled (reimagined) by Michael Hagedorn and friends. Here's part of a quote by Michael... "Very old Hemlock .... often have idiosyncratic branching, and in the restyling ... we tried to feature the lines of these unusual branches that were created in the wild, without influence or manipulation in the studio..." The whole quote is below

Michael Hagedorn (Crataegus Bonsai) continues to amaze. With an abiding respect for the tree and an approach that is so uniquely his that you might recognize his trees in an instant. Which in this case is a remarkable old Mountain Hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana). Rather than say more, we’ll let Michael do the talking…
Continued below…

Don’t Forget to Feed your Bonsai!



Before. The only things missing are a little imagination and and a whole lot of experience and skill

In Michael’s own words, from his Crataegus blog
The completed composition, 36″/ 91 cm. We patched in some moss to jumpstart the desired result of full eventual coverage. The environs of Mountain Hemlock often have great views, high up on rounded terrain with vistas. The cascading drop branch does remind me of being in high country, brushing the clouds, where I’ve often see them. Very old Hemlock in this zone often have idiosyncratic branching, and in the restyling a few years back we tried to feature the lines of these unusual branches that were created in the wild, without influence or manipulation in the studio, simply by choosing an inclination and front that showed off the branches to the best advantage — the decision being that the branches were more interesting than the trunk. In the potting this spring it seemed advantageous to make a high mound to show off the lowest branch, leaving the container with a very minor supporting role.


A little perspective... assuming these are more or less average size humans


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You Don’t Have to Go to Japan to Study Bonsai with Bjorn

fujiThis powerful little White pine-over-rock is from the Fujikawa International School of Bonsai website.

Yesterday we mentioned Bjorn Bjorholm’s upcoming Advanced Bonsai Coourse with Bonsai Empire (see  below). This got me thinking about Bjorn’s history here on Bark, so I took a little journey through our archives and came up with this from June, 2013, one of our earliest Bjorn posts

The post was titled Study Bonsai in the Old Country. It featured the Fujikawa International School of Bonsai and Bjorn’s role their at the time. Here’s your link if you’d like a little bonsai history.



fuji5We showed this lovely little pine a few months ago (remember it was 2013) in a post about Bjorn Bjorholm and his Bjorvala Bonsai Studio. I wonder if we would be surprised by the actual size of this tree and the one above, both of which we've referred to as little.

Continued below…

Here’s the course mentioned above…


Bjorn Bjorholm renowned American bonsai artist and teacher doing what he loves

Advanced Bonsai Course

Discounted pre-enrollment for the Advanced Bonsai Course has started! The online course offers unique access to the latest and most advanced Bonsai techniques. Instructor Bjorn Bjorholm guides you through the long-term impact of techniques on a wide variety of tree species.

Disclaimer: No kickbacks, just good karma

This very unusual Shimpaku got sliced a bit (mea culpa, but if you look at the original photo below, you'll understand). Aside from the very radical twist in the trunk, how often do you see a tree where the all the branching and the entire crown are off to the side hanging out in space like this?


There must be another solution to this problem. Still, great tree.


A bright slice of the Kouka-en nursery.

Magnificent Cliff Bonsai & Bjorn’s Advanced Bonsai Course


Here's a challenge for you. Take a look at this Cliff Bonsai photo and the next couple (but don't scroll all the way down) and see if you can figure out just how big they are. I borrowed this and the other photos in this post from Bonsai Empire. The artist/mastercraftsman is Daisuke Nakajima.

Here’s what Oscar (Bonsai Empire) wrote about these Cliff Bonsai… “Trees clinging to a steep cliff, roots entangled in solid rock and beautifully detailed miniature buildings – welcome to the mysterious world of “Cliff Bonsai”. Japanese artist Daisuke Nakajima created these four stunning miniature landscapes, and agreed to share his creations with us. Enjoy!

While we’re on Bonsai Empire… Bjorn Bjorholm together with Bonsai Empire is offering a new Advanced Bonsai Course (see below).


Close up


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Another one



This one provides a little perspective. Smaller than you thought?


Here’s the course mentioned above…


Bjorn Bjorholm renowned American bonsai artist and teacher doing what he loves

Advanced Bonsai Course

Discounted pre-enrollment for the Advanced Bonsai Course has started! The online course offers unique access to the latest and most advanced Bonsai techniques. Instructor Bjorn Bjorholm guides you through the long-term impact of techniques on a wide variety of tree species.

Topics include heavy bending, various grafting techniques, creating deadwood and advanced design principles – for trees in different stages of development. But this course is not exclusively about advanced techniques. It also takes an unprecedented deep dive look into the philosophy and history of bonsai art, as well as aesthetic considerations that are crucial to improving your Bonsai skills.

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The Best of DC – Our National Bonsai Treasure

This Sargent juniper (Aka Shimpaku) resides at the U.S. National Bonsai and Penjing Museum. It was donated by Doug Paul, owner of the Kennett Collection. This photo and the others shown here, were taken and generously offered by Robert Vitale. The plant varieties and names of the donors are courtesy ofJanice Vitale and Michael James
 It’s time to sing the praises of our National Bonsai and Penjing Museum, one of our true national treasures and a great place to visit next time you’re in or around DC.  And just in case you’re not familiar with our bonsai collection (it belongs to all of us), maybe these photos can serve as a brief introduction. 

50% off Bonsai Book Special


The following is from our friend Felix Laughlin, President of the National Bonsai Foundation…  “We are delighted to announce that the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum has been named the “Best Place to Take an Out-of-Towner” in Washington City Paper‘s Best of D.C. 2018 awards. Thanks to everyone who voted and helped spread the word about the national bonsai collection. We look forward to seeing you (and your out-of-town visitors) at the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum very soon.
Closeup of Sedum in Rock Penjing “Li Jiang river in Spring.”  Donated by the Shanghai Botanical Garden.
This iconic Japanese White Pine ‘Miyajima’ was donated by Daizo Iwasaki, one of the world's great bonsai benefactors. Iwasaki sama passed away in 2011. 
Closeup of a Japanese White pine, that was gifted to Nancy Reagan by Hassan II King of Morocco. It has been in training since 1832

Hinoki Cypress donated by Muriel Leeds. In training since 1964
A piece of a Pitch pine that was also donated by Muriel Leeds. In training since 1967
Close up of Chinese Elm penjing forest that was donated by Yunhua Hu. In training since 2004

50% Bonsai Book Special Ends Wednesday Night – 30% off Special Also Ends


This luscious Satsuki azalea is one of a multitude of remarkable bonsai photos from the very aptly named, Fine Bonsai, Art and Nature - Now on Special

There’s a method to our madness. All these spectacular photos we’ve posted for your enjoyment are from some of our large selection of bonsai books that we offer and all our books are currently on special. Stone Lantern and Haskill Creek Publishing books are 50% off list prices and all other books are 30% offOur books on Japanese Gardening and related topics are also 30% off .

50% off Bonsai Book Special
Ends Tomorrow Night
30% off Other Books Also Ends

50% off list on Stone Lantern & Haskill Creek Publishing Books
30% off list on All Other Books
Specials end Wednesday, May 9 at 11:59pm EDT


50% off our Pine Book

full111My guess is that this is one of the very best and most famous full cascade bonsai in the world. It's from the Black pine gallery in our Masters’ Series Pine Book. Now 50% off. List price 34.95 - Now Only 17.45



A piece of the cover of Francois Jeker's excellent, one-of-a-kind book. List price 24.75 - Now Only 17.45 


50% off our Juniper Book

B1JUN-2-1The cover tree from our Masters Series Juniper book. List price 29.95 - Now 50% off - Only 14.95


Windswept Japanese white pine tray planting from Zhao Qingquan's remarkable book, Penjing, the Chinese Art of Bonsai. In this case, I think the wind is a gentle but persistent off-shore breeze. Now Only 18.85


50% off The Magician


After. Finished for the moment. The challenge was for Masahiko Kimura to style a bunjin (literati) bonsai with only one branch. It’s a Japanese red pine from our Masters’ Series The Magician, the Bonsai Art of Kimura 2. List price 29.95 Now Only 14.95


50% off Botany for Bonsai

The cover tree for Botany for Bonsai. It’s a collected Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans) that belongs to Enrique Castaño, who happens to be the author of Botany for Bonsai and the winner of the 2010 John Y. Naka award (for this tree). BTW: it looks a lot like what is usually called Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus) in Florida and sometimes called Button Mangrove (just to thicken the plot). List price 22.95 - Now 50% off - Only 11.45



Norway spruce (Picea abies) by Francois Jeker. From the first volume of his two essential books on Bonsai Aesthetics (volume two is out of print). Now Only 17.45



A piece of the cover of Michael Hagedorn's delightfully readable Post-Dated: The Schooling of an Irreverent Bonsai Monk Now Only 10.45



The tree is an old Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata) from the Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection. It’s one of 248 fine bonsai that are featured in the 3rd U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition Album (sorry, out of print). The good news is the 4th & 5th albums are Now 30% off.



Playfully sitting bonsai from Kenji Kobayashi's Keshiki Bonsai - Now Only 13.95


B2ZEN-770We also offer a whole range of Japanese garden books and some other related books as well. All Now 30% off

Feed your Bonsai!



I like organic slow release fertilizers
(Green Dream pellets & Rape Seed cakes)

supplemented once a week or so during the growing season
with liquid fertilizer

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