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Bonsai Folk Art

frog

Bonsai folk art. There's so much that's unusual and delicious about this one, that I won't bother to say much, except that the tree looks like an Olive (talk about asleep at the wheel, and thanks to a couple astute readers, we're going have to revise this to Rosemary), I love it and  Juan Antonio's caption says... "Otro listo. Romero Palaui." I don't know who Romero Palaui is, but his name comes up on Pinterest a lot. The World Cup Finals start in about 80 minutes, so we'll save researching him for another time

Continuing with our newly discovered Juan Antonio Pérez (see yesterday)…

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frogpot

Closeup of the pot and deadwood.Frog too

 

tall comp

No caption with this one, so your guess is as good as mine

cu

Closeup. Interesting pattern

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Grape Bonsai, in a League of Its Own

grape

We don't see grape bonsai that often and of the ones we have seen, this one is in a league of its own. Even if it weren't a grape, the well-tapered trunk with its powerful base, beautifully carved deadwood, undulating live vein* and long cascading branch present an impressive picture. And then there are the grapes! The artist is Juan Antonio Pérez. He doesn't list the varietal

I’m always a little stoked when we discover a new bonsai artist (new to me and Bonsai Bark, that is). His name is Juan Antonio Pérez and he lives in  El Puerto de Santa María, Spain. The discovery started when I stumbled upon the grape (above) on Magdalena Chiavazza’s timeline. She’s a good resource (she attributes!) and to repeat myself, grape bonsai, let alone such a good one, are few and far between.

Just two trees today. Stay posted for some more by Juan Antonio Pérez tomorrow

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olive

Juan Antonio's caption... Seguimos con la faena. “Hermes”. (We're still on the job, "Hermes"**). When I first glimpsed this bonsai, I thought it was a Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus). But then I noticed the leaves were too small and remembered that Juan Antonio Pérez lives in Spain, where there are no native Buttonwoods, but where Olives abound and such strong trunks are common. I'm not sure if I've ever seen a bonsai that includes so many new shoots growing from the roots and base of the trunk (they could be sacrifice branches, but then the nebari is already so thick, so why bother?)

*Could this be a Tanuki (Phoenix graft)?

**Hermes Greek messenger of the gods, god of trade, thieves, travelers, sports, athletes, border crossings, guide to the Underworld


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Revisiting the Great Bonsai Debate

dmain

A naturalistic Norway spruce (Picea abies) by Walter Pall (from Bonsai Today issue 106)

A blast from the past. This post originally appeared here in July, 2009, our 6th month Barking (this means we’ve been doing this for almost ten years). I don’t know if the topic is still relevant to any of you, but there was a time when it created a bit of a buzz and I think many of us can learn something by reading what Walter Pall has to say about the topic (below). As always with reruns, I’ve made a few changes. 

In the expanding galaxy of accomplished Western bonsai artists, Walter Pall’s bonsai skills and dedication to teaching and promoting the art of bonsai make him one of the brightest stars. Walter is also one of the most prominent proponents of what he and some others call Naturalistic Bonsai 

The quotes below by Walter are from an article entitled A Naturalistic Scot’s Pine that appeared in Bonsai Today issue 104. The other two photos in this post are NOT Walter’s trees, rather two examples of naturalistic bonsai by other artists

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b1northcarapellalarch1

This sinuous root American larch (Larix larcina) by Harvey Carapella, appears in North American Bonsai. It was published by the American Bonsai Society and was compiled and edited by Martin Schmalenberg (now out of print). At first glance you might think it has only four trunks (were it so, would it be a problem?), but if you look closely, you can see a small piece of the fifth trunk just to the left of the trunk on the right.

Quoting Walter Pall…
“A traditional bonsai is ideal; it is abstract. A naturalistic bonsai is realistic, but never totally realistic. There’s always a certain degree of abstraction. But never going as far as many modern bonsai, which are very groomed, very refined, and often look almost unreal. They certainly look like a human being, not nature, has made them. Naturalistic bonsai is the opposite of this development (which has gone a bit too far in many cases, in my opinion)”

Walter goes on to say… “A lot of people think they understand this, and let nature do the styling of their tree in a pot. They think that naturalistic styling is just letting a tree grow and styling here and there. This is wrong. It is called naturalistic because it NOT natural. The trick is NOT to leave the stock as is and let nature do the styling. ‘Naturalistic’ means that the end result, the finished tree in a pot, conveys the feeling of an impressive natural tree that has not been touched by man. It does not matter how this is achieved, but in most cases it is done very artificially – not by nature!

“Naturalistic bonsai has nothing to do with method, but only with result. Clip-and-grow without using wire is an old method for creating bonsai. Many think this is naturalistic bonsai styling. It is not, but it could be. A hedge is created by clip-and-grow method; and it can hardly be called naturalistic…

“Naturalistic is not an excuse for lazy people. It is not about untidy looking trees. It is not a shortcut. I think it is even more labor intensive than traditional styling…”

b1lenzp75jun

Ground juniper (Juniperus horizontalis) by Nick Lenz, from Bonsai from the Wild 2nd ed. (Stone Lantern Publishing - now out of print).

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Feed Your Bonsai (They Don’t Survive on Water, Light and Love Alone)

WALTMAINYour bonsai may never look like this, but they can be this healthy if you tend to basic care, including ample fertilizing. It's a Japanese maple that belongs to Walter Pall. Walter lists its height as 75cm (30") and its age as around thirty years. It was imported from a Korean nursery in 2016. The pot is a Tokoname from Japan.

This is not the first time we’ve encouraged you to tend to your bonsai’s nutrient needs, and it won’t be the last. The tree above appeared here on Bark a few months ago. Most of the rest of what you see here is from an old Bark post (March 2010) titled Feed Your Bonsai, with some value added today

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jim

This magnificently robust Willow leaf ficus (Ficus nerifolia) is by Jim Smith of Dura-Stone in Vero Beach Florida (sadly, Jim is now deceased). The photo is from Bonsai Today, issue 61 and was taken by Jim.

Your bonsai depend on you
Bonsai do not survive on water, light, and love alone. Because most bonsai soil has very low nutritive value (if any), your bonsai depend on you for timely feeding.

Feed generously
Feed generously if you want your bonsai to thrive (this is especially true of younger trees where rapid growth is desirable – see just below). The best way to do this is frequent moderate doses during the growing season. This is especially true if you use liquid fertilizer. With pellets and cakes, how often you apply them depends on how they break down (more on this below).

Note: What follows (in italics) is a part of a post by Michael Hagedorn that we originally posted years ago. It’s from Michael’s famous Crataegus Bonsai blog

“For fertilizing bonsai, we can make this one basic distinction: Begin fertilizing a young, unrefined tree when it begins growing early in the spring. Wait a bit with an older, refined tree—usually begin fertilizing when it’s just hardening off it’s spring growth…

Quiz: If we were to fertilize everything the same, strongly, starting early in the year, what would happen?
The young trees would stay forever young
The old, developed trees would become young again.”

hagedorn1-1Michael Hagedorn's hand showing off healthy well-fed juniper foliage

The perils of not feeding enough
Most people underfeed their bonsai. This may be because they want them to stay small, so they don’t feed much, if at all. What you end up with if you don’t feed enough, may or may not be small, but it will be unhealthy.

Healthy trees
Healthy trees take better to the deprivations of small container growing and other insults like severe top pruning, bending, carving and rootpruning. So make sure your bonsai get the nutrition they need, especially during the peak growing season from spring through mid to late summer (there’s a lot more that can be said about when and how to taper off, but we’ll leave that for another time)

b1junp13a

When you use pellets or other solid fertilizers, each time you water, nutrients are washed down into the soil. Illustrations are from our Juniper book (out of print but due back in the fall).

Organic fertilizers
Many bonsai enthusiasts and professionals swear by slow release organic pellets and cakes. Japanese bonsai growers have been using them for a very long time with excellent results. Some people supplement with liquid fertilizer. There are benefits to using more than one type of fertilizer, as each type has its strengths. There’s a lot more that can be said about organic vs non-organic and the use of liquid fertilizers, but we’ll save that for another time.

Most pellets and cakes and other organic fertilizers (for example liquid fish) are mild (have fairly low N-P-Ks) and tend to have a broad spectrum of macro and micro nutrients.

b1junp13b1When trees are in the pot for a long time, the roots spread to the edge of the pot, so you want to place the fertilizer near the edge; the fine feeder roots that absorb water and nutrients are mostly at the outer reaches of the root system. These fertilizer balls (or cakes) are large, so not too many are needed. If use pellets, then you need more. In my experience, most people sprinkle the pellets over the entire soil surface, not just the edges. Still to encourage roots to grow out, the edges are important.

Pellets and cakes
Perhaps the best way to fertilize is with pellets, cakes or other solid forms that break down over a period of several weeks, or in some cases months. This provides  a slow steady supply of nutrients as the cakes or pellets break down. Having said this, plenty of people get good results with liquid fertilizers. Others combine solid fertilizers and liquids.

 

b1junp13c1After transplanting it’s good to place the cakes (or pellets) halfway between the trunk and edge of the pot as the freshly pruned roots will not reach the edge for a while.

Add new pellets regularly
If you are using pellets which break down faster than the larger cakes, you can add a few pellets every week or so during the growing season. This will assure that some are at their nutrient-releasing peak at all times (this is how we fertilize with Green Dream pellets).

 

b1junp13dOn forest style plantings, spread the cakes or pellets around so that each trunk gets its share. Be sure to put some on the inside of the forest. 

There is so much more that can be said about fertilizing and fertilizers, so we’ll just consider this a good start. Meanwhile you can find more information online or in  bonsai books.  Though you need to stay alert. Misinformation is easily as common as good information.


Selling Bonsai & Buying Time – Bill’s Fire Sale

billmaple

This awesome Full moon maple with its fiery foliage belongs to Bill Valavanis. Here's Bill's caption. "The Full moon maple was well developed, one of my favorite developed bonsai. Usually a colorful ribbon was tied to the lower branch to caution people not to damage the lovely branch. As many of my bonsai are, this Full moon maple is often changed in the garden according to season. It is always tied down with one or two pieces of sissy wire."

We can’t go too long without featuring Bill Valavanis. Especially getting this close to the 6th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition (in addition to being  a Hall of Fame bonsai artist, teacher, author, publisher etc, Bill is the prime mover behind the Exhibition). If you can only go to one bonsai event in the next two years, make it this one. It’s the premier U.S. & North American bonsai event and it only happens once  every two years. We look forward to seeing you there!

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firesale

Buying Time – Bill’s Fire Sale

Here’s what Bill wrote about his upcoming Fire Sale… “Join us on July 28-29, 2018 for a Fire Sale! to reduce plant material to allow me time to teach, train bonsai, publish International BONSAI and organize the US National Bonsai Exhibition.

BILLHORNAnother delicious deciduous bonsai that belongs to Bill Valavanis. I doubt if this Red leaf hornbeam or the Full moon maple above will be offered at Bill's fire sale, but you can count of some excellent bonsai and bonsai material being offered

 

6th-2

Less than two months to make your arrangements. You'll kick yourself if you wake up on September 8th and you're not there!

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Cage Free Bonsai & Other Wonders

cf1

I couldn't resist. The photo and Cage Free title belong to Rodney Clemons, a well know bonsai humorist and respected artist (Tony Tickle's American counterpart?).

A little whimsy to start the day. You can find the photos above and just below, and much more  on Rodney Clemon’s timeline.

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rodmain

Rodney Clemon's famous Kingsville Boxwood. We've feature it before and if I had to guess, we'll probably feature it again someday.

The ancient olive below has little to do with bonsai, though it would be easy to imagine it scaled down to bonsai size

olive"The at least 2,000 year old olive tree of Vouves, on the Greek island of Crete, still bears olives. The olive tree stood here when Rome burned in AD64, and Pompeii was buried under a thick carpet of volcanic ash in AD79. Cemeteries from the Geometric Period (900-700 BC) were discovered nearby."* The photo and quote are from Archaeologist Ticia Verveer's timeline.

*Was this photo shopped to highlight the green? Most olive leaves have a grey-green tone and there are other hints of color manipulation.

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Japanese Beautyberry & other Fruiting Bonsai

06-callicarpa-japonica-fruits

This brilliant little Japanese beautyberry (Callicarpa japonica) is well named indeed (it's nice when the name of a plant says something about how the plant looks; an onamonapia of sight). 
I found this photo on Bonsai Empire They attribute it to AR&B*, but I think AR&B picked it up somewhere else and failed to attribute. Looking at the tree, I'm almost certain that the pot, tree and photo are from Japan.
The rest of the photos in this post are from an old Bark post called Luminous Fruit. The artist is Katsumi Komiya.

If you’ve ever tried to grow fruiting bonsai, you know that getting perfectly healthy, beautiful fruit to grow and stay on your trees is no mean feat (birds, wind, insects and other problems will surely conspire against you). Especially on such small trees.

It’s Sunday, the sun is out and I’m getting a very late start, so it’s back to out archives. This post originally appeared here July, 2015. It plays nicely into our small,  hand held bonsai theme

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kk3Another very sweet little tree with luminous fruit and a colorful pot. I think I can say with complete confidence that it's a crab apple.

 

kk2-770Another little gem in a great pot. Looks like a quince. The size of fruit brings up an interesting point; you can dwarf leaves by defoliating, allowing the roots to become pot bound, etc, but you can't dwarf fruit on an individual tree (you can dwarf fruit genetically, but that's another story). Thus the very large fruit on a very small tree.

 

kk5-770At a glance I thought those little red things were fruit, but on closer examination, I'd say they look a lot like little quince flowers. Most likely a Chojubai.

 

kk1-770Most def another crab apple in yet another great pot. The tiny tree makes the two little apples seem huge.

*Associazione Rock’n’Bonsai

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Suthin’s Bonsai & New Import Duty on Bonsai Wire

Su1

You can see Suthin's mastery in the way this little Japanese black pine undulates (like waves) all the way from the base of the trunk down to the tip of the cascade. You can enjoy this tree and some other new offerings on Suthin's website

Our friend (everybody’s friend) Suthin Sukosolvisit has added the three trees shown here plus some others to his site’s sale page. I think you’ll like them and that you might like to know how to go about ordering from Suthin.

Many of you know Suthin, but just in case you don’t, Suthin is a highly skilled and prolific bonsai artist. One of our best. If you’d like to meet him and see what he’s up to in real time, he’ll be at the upcoming 6th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition (we’ll be there too!)

Due to the trade war
we are now paying extra for Bonsai Wire

This means we will soon be forced to raise our wire prices
But until we do that
(and because we have been stocking up)
we are going to offer all sizes at special pre-duty prices
for as long as we can
So this is your chance (see below)

su3

This one is an 'Itoigawa' Shimpaku juniper (Juniperus sargentii 'Itoigawa'). It's height is 13" (33cm) and the pot is 10" across (25.4cm). Note Bill Valavanis refers to Shimpaku as J sargentii, while others (eg Wikipedia) refers to it as J chinensis. Experience tells me it's best to go with Bill

 

su2

Another shohin (small) Japanese black pine. For more on this tree and others, you can visit Sutin's website

NEW BETTER BONSAI WIRE SPECIAL

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Kilo rolls 16.95 each
ONLY 14.95 EACH FOR 3 OR MORE ROLLS


500 gram rolls 9.95 each
new special
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If you only visit one bonsai event this year, make it the 6th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition

SARGENTS-JUNIPER-page-68-11

I borrowed this famous cascading Juniper from the 5th National Bonsai Exhibition website (cropped to better fit a certain social media's format).

If you only visit one bonsai event this year, make it The 6th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition. Rochester NY, September 8th & 9th.

Do whatever it takes! Rearrange you life if necessary so you can be there. Each National Bonsai Exhibition is better than the last, and the last one was mind-stopping. The buzz was palpable and from conversations with dozens of others, the feeling was universal.

And it wasn’t just the bonsai, though they amazed me more each time I wandered through the displays. But the vendors section* was the best I’ve ever seen and the events were outstanding . And then there’s a large collection of some of the friendliest people you’ll encounter anywhere (a shared passion doesn’t hurt).

Continued below…

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bill

This one is from Bill's blog.

I could say a lot more, but I’ll defer to Bill Valavanis, the man behind this spectacular bonsai tradition. You can visit Bill’s blog and if you haven’t signed up yet, or need more details, here’s your link to the Exhibition website.

I hope to see you there and when we run into each other, don’t be afraid to tell me your name for tenth time. Speaking of, this year you can find us in the vendor’s section*

B1-2ALBUMS45-2T

The next best thing to being there...
The first three albums are out of print, but you can still own the 4rd and 5th. And the time is right (see below).

 

bonsaimaple

We've shown this spectacular Maple several times already, but it's always worth another look. I just plucked it off the Exhibition website.

*this year we’re joining the vendor section with some of my field grown larches and a whole lot of wire etc at show prices

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Less Is Enough

770shim5A whole lot of tree to fit into such a small pot. It's looks like a field grown Shimpaku juniper that was raised to look like it was collected in the wild. Most of the collectable Shimpaku (and other desirables) are long since gone from the wilds of Japan. This photo is titled 'Shugaten 2013 - Tokyo Ueno,' which was a Shohin Bonsai Exhibtion in 2013 that was held in Tokyo. Guillaume Billaud posted it.

Stuck somewhere between enjoying a holiday week and trying to do just enough work to keep the ball rolling. I started out today to put together a new before and after post, but it got too complicated and I’ve got some thirsty plants that are beginning to wilt in yet another day of a colossal (for Vermont anyway) heatwave. So sticking with our small and tiny bonsai trend, we’ll take the quick and easy way back to our archives (November, 2013).

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Shohin Pyracantha with yellow berries. A couple things jump out. First are the luminous berries (without these, I'm not sure we'd bother). The other thing that jumps out is the funkyness of the roots-turned-lower-trunk. Exposing roots so they become part of the trunk is common practice. In some cases it works, in other cases less so. You can be the judge. The tree belongs to Edson Cordeiro who lives in Brazil. It's from a series titled "Pyracantha em 3 anos de formação" on facebook.

 

Kadsura berries this time. This photo, like the one at the top, is also from Shugaten 2013 and was also posted by Guillaume Billaud on facebook. This tree would be worth posting with or without the beautiful little berry clusters, though with is a real winner
This photo is from a early vintage Bark post (2009). Here's the original caption: "This banyan style dwarf Snow rose serissa (Serissa foetida microphylla) was styled by David Fukumoto of Fuku Bonsai in Hawaii. The pot is a Tokoname from Japan. Living in the tropics really helps when it comes to growing aerial roots."

 

English yew (Taxus baccata) from Morten Albek's blog. Morten is a long time Shohin artist, teacher, blogger and the author of Shohin Bonsai, Majesty in Miniature, edited and published by Stone Lantern (sorry, out of print)

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