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A Little Bonsai History

pac-rim-zhao-elm-2

This famous Chinese elm (Ulmus parivflora) planting is by Zhao Qingquan, reknowned penjing artist, teacher and author of two best Penjing books in the English, Penjing: the Chinese Art of Bonsai and Literati Style Penjing

Yesterday we featured a couple of events and photos from the Pacific Bonsai Museum. So, just for the fun of it, I thought we’d go back and find our earliest PBM post. It’s from April 21st, 2009, almost exactly 9 years ago. Way back in the day when it was owned by Weyerhauser and called the Weyerhaeuser’s Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection.

The two photos shown here  were sent to us by David De Groot, who was the collection’s curator at the time. David is, among other things, the author of Principles of Bonsai Design, the most complete bonsai design book we’ve seen in over 25 years.

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korean-yew-pac-rimThe two bonsai in this post, including this remarkable Korean Yew (Taxus cuspidata), are from  Weyerhaeuser's Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection (now the Pacific Bonsai Museum).

 

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Coming Soon, Brilliant Bonsai Fest at the Pacific Bonsai Museum

elements

While you are visiting the The Pacific Bonsai Museum's Bonsai Fest (see below) you can enjoy their current LIVING ART OF BONSAI: ELEMENTS OF DESIGN exhibit. A perfect twofer.

Bonsai Fest! Comes to Federal Way. A two-day celebration over World Bonsai Day – Mother’s Day weekend
Details below…

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Decked_out-Oak

An Oak in one of the Pacific Bonsai Museum's many outdoor display sections. I couldn't find the variety, but the small leaves lead me to believe it might be a California live oak, or some other related live oak.

This May, Pacific Bonsai Museum hosts its first annual Bonsai Fest! The event features local bonsai enthusiast’s best works of art, as the Puget Sound Bonsai Association (PBSA) presents their member’s annual spring show. The public can view the club members’ bonsai, ask questions, and watch bonsai-making demonstrations. Demonstrations will be made by Tony Fajarillo–silver medal winning ‘Pot Party’ bonsai garden creator from the 2018 Northwest Flower and Garden Show–at 1:00 pm on May 12, and by Frank Heidt–longtime friend and student of Dan Robinson of Elandan Gardens–at 1:00 pm on May 13. Visitors can vote for their favorite PSBA bonsai to win ‘best in show.’ People’s choice voting concludes at 2:30pm Sunday with winners announced at 3:00pm.
Continued below…

BonsaiFest

Continued from above…
Visitors can tour Pacific Bonsai Museum’s groundbreaking 2018 special exhibit ‘Living Art of Bonsai: Elements of Design’ that compares bonsai with other works of art and reveals the secrets of good bonsai design, breaking-down how exactly bonsai artists make tiny trees appear big, old, and interesting. Free, docent-led tours of the exhibit begin at 12 noon and 2:00 pm, both days. (Advance registration is not required.)

Bonsai Fest! offers visitors a pop-up shop where the inspired can buy their own bonsai to practice the art at home, as well as bonsai pots, bonsai books, and other gift items. Visitors can also enter a free drawing to win a bonsai tree. (The drawing winner will be chosen at 3:30pm Sunday.) An art station will be available to kids and adults who want to get creative and make cards for mom.
Continued below…

10mhI couldn't resist showing this from last year's exquisite Natives exhibition at the Pacific Bonsai Museum. It's a a piece of a Mountain hemlock planting by Michael Hagedorn with a painting of Mt Rainer. For more you can visit two post we featured last December (here and here)

Continued from above…
On Mother’s Day–May 13–local poet Alexandria Manalo will be on-site from 11am to 2pm to writing complimentary, personalized poems for moms and other loved ones. Visitors can also pose at a bonsai selfie-station to take a photo with mom or snap a pic to share with her.

Main Street Gyro food truck will be onsite Saturday, May 12 and Chebogz food truck will be here Sunday, May 13.

Admission is free; $5 suggested donation for those who are able to support the Museum.

Saturday, May 12, 2018 (World Bonsai Day), 10am to 4pm; and Sunday, May 13, 2018 (Mother’s Day), 10am to 4pm.

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In Praise of 3 Phenomenal Bonsai Tools (Okatsune Tool Sale Ends Tonight) & Another ‘Cedar’ Bonsai

redcedarCU

Close up of a Red cedar bonsai forest. I'm going to assume that it's what we call the Eastern red cedar, which is actually a juniper (Juniperus virginiana), though there are trees in other parts of the world that are commonly called Red cedar (none are Cedrus or true cedars). Our source, an online company that sells 'bonsai' seeds is no help with identification, nor with the owner of this forest.

I must admit I enjoy trying to sort out the common name versus botanical name confusion when it comes to certain trees. The other day we featured a Northern white cedar, which is really an Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) and a couple days before that we featured a couple Atlas cedars (Cedrus atlantica), which happen to be one of the three species of true cedars on this planet. Confused? Bored? Okay enough for now, but you haven’t heard the end of it

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OKATSUNEset4-500

Four of my favorite Okatsune shears

all four cut like butter and last forever

I’ve been digging and potting dozens of field grown larch
the past few days and three of the four tools above are what I use
(along with a spade, root hook, Kamaki loppers, an Okatsune saw
and our Masters Grade Koyo Sword Shears)
.
In the image above, the one on the left is the Okatsune bonsai shear and it’s my favorite of all my bonsai shears. The one with the red handle is the 8″ Okatsune bypass shears which I use for heavy branches and roots and is simply the best bonsai/garden bypass shear I’ve ever used. The one with large loop handles is the Okatsune heavy duty hand snips, my root shear of choice for medium and small roots. I don’t use the Okatsune pine needle shears (on the right) for larches, though it’s also a great tool

redcedar

The uncropped photo of the forest above

American Larch Season

larix-decidua

I found this photo in an article about larch at Bonsai Empire. No artist or owner is given. It's most likely a European larch (Larix decidua), though I can't say for sure. Here's a quote from the article... "The larch is a popular Bonsai species, since trunks grow thicker quite quickly and the tree displays stunning seasonal colors. Two common species exist, the Larix decidua (European Larch) and the Larix kaempferi (Japanese Larch)." Whoops! I think our hard working and normally knowledgeable friend Oscar (Mr Bonsai Empire) suffered a momentary lapse and forgot our American larch (Larix laricina)*, one of the very best species for bonsai (we've featured numerous over the years, including the one just below).

Still staying on theme with larches. I’ve been spending several hours a day digging, trimming and potting dozens of American larches (Larix laricina) that I’ve been field growing for years.** Some will come with us to the 6th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition in September, the one North American Bonsai Exhibition not to miss. I hope to see you there!

Okatsune tool sale ends tomorrow night

see below

 

Nicksyellowlarch1

A famous American larch (Larix laricina) in full fall color. The artist is 'Larch Master' Nick Lenz.We originally featured it in post titled In Praise of the American Larch: aka the Tamarack way back in October, 2009. BTW, this tree is massive. Much bigger than you might think based on this photo.

*In Oscar’s defense, he was most likely writing for a European audience who may not have access to our American larch

** Our field grown larches will all be in nursery containers and though they have been grown and trimmed over the years for bonsai, most are still fairly rough. Perfect for the do-it-yourself bonsai artist/enthusiast who is ever vigilant in their search for good material.

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A sampling of some of our Okatsune Bonsai and Garden shears. There are many more, including hedge shears, saws, sheaths, sharpening stones  etc

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Boreal Bonsai King

nickwiki

One of Nick Lenz' famous larches. The larches we'll be offering this fall (see below) aren't this old or nearly this refined (Nick is in a league of his own), but they are off to a good start.

Monday morning, the sun is shinning and buds are just starting to swell. Spring digging season won’t last, so it’s time to get outside.

Continuing our Larch theme, yesterday I dug, trimmed and potted (nursery pots) a few of the larches I’ve been growing on my land for the last dozen or so years. Most are around 20 to 25 years old (they started on a friend’s land up near the Canadian border). By the time I finish digging I should have about 40 or so that will be ready to sell at the 6th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition this September. See you there!

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nickcovertree

This Northern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) is the cover tree from Nick's book, Bonsai from the Wild (out of print). Though larch is the bonsai king of our New England natives, we've got some pretty good cedars too

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Boon’s Tamarack and 4 Pots – Which Do You Prefer?

which pot

One American larch (Larix laricina) and four pots (plus the original). Which do you prefer? All this images in this post were borrowed from Boon Manakitivipart (the image above is a composite that we put together).

Yesterday, April 21st was our first day of spring here in northern Vermont (not technically, but really), so I started digging up some Larches I’ve been growing in the ground for the last 10 to 15 years and putting them into nursery pots. My plan is to take some of them to the 6th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition in September. Anyway, my mind is all larches right now, so I thought I’d dig up (pun unintended) this post that we originally featured April, 2015. 

Boon is at it again. This time it’s our prized local larch (Larix laricina). Around here we call it Tamarack (the Algonquian name that means “wood used for snowshoes”). No matter what you call it, it is in my opinion, by far our best local wild species for bonsai. Bar none.

Here’s your link to Boon’s original photos on facebook.
Continued below…

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SEE BELOW

pot1

Pot number 1

Continued from above…
Which pot do you prefer? If you are ambitious, you might tell us why. (NOTE: So that everyone can benefit from your observations, please put your choice in the comments on facebook. Please DO NOT email me with your choice.)

BTW: the more I look at this tree, the more I think it is very possible that it was originally collected and styled by Larch Master Nick Lenz. I might be wrong, but…

 

pot2

Pot number 2

 

pot3

Pot number 3

 

pot4

Pot number 4

 

or

The original pot.

 

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A Superb Atlas Cedar Before & After Bonsai

atlasB&A

This elegant before and after Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica) is by Valentín Cruz.

Before we go any further, I’d like to invite you back to yesterday’s post to see a correction and an apology. It all started when I missed the word ‘style’…

Sticking with Valentín Cruz, our new found and very talented young bonsai artist. This time it’s a superb Atlas cedar before and after.

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atlasbefore1

Before

atlasafter

After. Pitch perfect!

 

atlas2back

The other side

 

gremel

Here's a Blue Atlas Cedar by Jim Gremel that we posted back in June 2012. Jim is, among other things,Valentín's bonsai teacher and the owner of Deer Meadow Bonsai in Northern California.

 

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Another Excellent Before & After Bonsai

cruzshimpaku

Shimpaku juniper (Juniperus Sargentii var Shimpaku) before and after by Valentín Cruz. Valentín's caption reads Yamadori shimpaku, 23 years old, which does beg a question (see below)

Last week we posted a dramatic before and after by Valentín Cruz, a young Northern California bonsai artist that we had just discovered. Now we’ve got another juniper (this time it’s a Shimpaku) before and after by Valentín. Maybe not as dramatic as the Sierra juniper, but still a job very well done, with a great eye for detail. Valentín Cruz is clearly an accomplished bonsai artist.

My only question is Valentín’s description of the tree as a yamadori (bonsai collected from the wild). I’m reasonably certain that if the tree is 23 years old, that it was field grown (plus, to my eye, it looks like a field grown Shimpaku) and I’m also reasonably certain that the use of the word yamadori is innocent. Having said this, making mistakes is nothing new to me, so it’s always possible I’m missing something. A day later… I did miss something, the word style (yamadori style) in Valentin’s caption. Moving too fast I guess. Thanks to Tony Suiseki for pointing this out and my apologies to Valentin for this oversight. 

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Ends Sunday Night

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CruzB&A

This is the before and after that Valentín posted. I put the one above together because the images aren't as clear in this one. Though the advantage here is the pot, an unessential and distracting element, is mostly cropped out.

cruzbefore

Before. It always helps to start with good stock

 

cruzafter

After. A job very well done. As you can see, the old pot is too heavy and distracts from the tree. I imagine that once the tree has recovered from the transformation, a new pot is in the offing.

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cruzaftercroppot

I cropped most of the pot out in this photo for a less distracting look at the tree.

 

cruzaftercroptrunk

Another of my crop jobs. This time for a closer look at the trunk

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Enjoy Your Bonsai with a Green T Turntable

GTTRIDENTcropped

A brilliant Trident maple bonsai
 resting regally on its Green T Hydraulic Lift Turntable
this photo is cropped to fit on social media
the original showing the full Green T is just below

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see below

GTTRIDENT

The original photo
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GreenTmugoMassive Mugo pine*
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GTBJORN

Bjorn Bjorholm contemplates his next move
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Green T Bonsai Turntable will help you work on your bonsai more efficiently and comfortably. In Japan hydraulic lift turntables have been the standard for years and now thanks to professional researchers and the collaboration of well-known bonsai professionals, we are able to offer you a tool inspired by the Japanese turntable and improved in several details (including price).

 

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Green T was the official sponsor of the World Bonsai Congress
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 Every demonstration took place on a Green T turntable

GRJMAPLE

Another brilliant bonsai. This time it's a Japanese maple on a Green T Plus.*

Here’s a resounding Green T endorsement
by four Kimura apprentices

GTapprentices

Four Kimura apprentices with bonsai and Green Ts.

 

GTTEDESCHI

Micro Tedeschi with his majestic wild olive* on its Green T Basic

 

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Rugged Bonsai in the Perfect Setting

Main

The natural look. This photo captures two things I love about Eladan Gardens. The first is the rugged uncontrived feel that characterizes Dan Robinson's bonsai, and the second is the perfect setting. The tree is a Sierra juniper (Juniperus occidentalis).

We seem to be stuck on Sierra junipers lately, but who’s complaining? In this case it’s only one (see above and a closeup below) with several other non-Sierra photos to enrich the experience. This post (with some changes today) originally appeared in May 2016.

Back in May, 2016 I finally visited Dan and Diane Robinson’s magnificent Elandan Gardens. It was a quick visit and all I had to shoot with was my cell. So the photos aren’t nearly as good as most of the borrowed Elandan photos from previous posts. But some shots are unique and hopefully capture something of the magic of the place.

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e3

Stonehenge west with bonsai and flowers.

 

hemscene2

Water, sky, rocks, trees and a Weeping hemlock bonsai.

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cascade

Another great view, another great bonsai. It's a large cascading pine in a large pot on a large sculptural stand.

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e4

There are bright spots throughout the Garden, but this one may be the brightest of them all. We don't have to say this is an Azalea.

 

nestled

There were so many trees and memory fades quickly so I won't bother to guess.

 

maincupCloseup of the Sierra juniper at the top of the post

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