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An Exceptional Bonsai – Before & After


Here's an excellent example of a before and after with an already established tree. It just needed a talented bonsai artist and some free time to bring it back to its previous splendor. In this case the artist is Gabriel Romero Aguade. The tree is an impressively masterful Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis). Not that you don't have eyes of your own, but I feel that some extra excitement is warranted with a tree like this. It resides at the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid.

Here are Gabriel Romero Aguade’s comment (Spanish then English)…
Antes y después del Juniperus chinensis trabajado en el Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid. Si quieres verlo en vivo y en directo está permanentemente expuesto en el jardín. Vale la pena visitar el Jardín Botánico si vas a Madrid.”

Before and after of the Juniperus chinensis that was worked on at the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid. If you want to see it in person, it’s on permanent display in the garden. It’s worth a visit to the Botanical garden if you’re in Madrid.

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Before closeup. All you need now are some crack wiring and trimming skills, and the nerve to tackle such a masterpiece



After closeup of an exceptionally well done job on an exceptionally beautiful tree.


Aluminum wire is much less expensive and easier to use than Copper wire
and  Yoshiaki Japanese Aluminum Wire is stiffer
and holds better than other Aluminum Bonsai Wire
It also has the traditional copper/brown color

Back Savers – Suthin’s Shohin


Bonsai in hand. This little masterpice by Suthin Sukosolvisit looks like a Chinzan Azalea. But that's just a guess. Suthin doesn't say.

Still recovering from vacation and a serious computer meltdown (fixed now by there’s chaos in its wake), so it’s back to our archives. This one originally appeared in August, 2009 (Bonsai Bark’s Pleistocene).

Note: non of the links are still active, so this will be a linkless post. A first for us

I’ve long been a fan of Suthin Sukosolvisit’s. Not just because of his shohin, but because he shows mastery across a range of bonsai sizes and styles. Still, shohin is what this post is about, and when it comes to shohin, Suthin is one of the best artists around

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Suthin Sukosolvisit shows some serious stuff with this powerful shohin (small bonsai) display. This type multi-tree display is the way shohin bonsai typically appear in judged shows.



Suthin doesn't say, but I'm pretty sure this is a Willowleaf ficus.


Trident maple in full fall color. Whether or not it qualifies as a shohin, your guess is as good as mine (maybe better).


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When the Sun Gets Too Hot

suthin11Award winner at the 2012 U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition for the Finest Deciduous Bonsai. It's a Japanese Maple by Suthin Sukolosovisit of Royal Bonsai. It has little to do with the topic of this post (except that Japanese maple leaves are prone to sunburn), but you might like to know that the 2012 U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition is out of print and the last two albums (2014 and 2016) are still available.
Got home from vacation at 11:00pm last night after a six hour flight and an almost four hour drive back to Vermont, and now it’s catch up time, so  no new post today. However, because we try to post everyday, we’ll offer one from our archives (July, 2015). It’s a useful and timely piece of summer advice by Michael Hagedorn from his Crataegus Bonsai.

When the sun gets too hot…

July 16, 2015 by Michael Hagedorn, Crataegus Bonsai

There are various ways of helping our bonsai cope with sun and not literally cooking them on our benches in the summertime. They are in pots, but it doesn’t mean we want to fry a special root dish, in a soil sauce

“Because bonsai are in pots, they are very unlike trees in the ground. We want to reduce any similarities to a dog in a car on a hot day.”

thFry your bonsai it can, without cooking oil…

There are two situations… A cooler climate with rare spikes in temperature to 100 F / 38 C or higher that might last a few days, and then there are the hot summer areas that are always that high:

Sudden, rare spikes in cooler climates:
Simply relocate your trees temporarily. Don’t bring them inside, but on the ground is a good start, under benches maybe, in light shade. Try to avoid full shade. Place them close together, but still retaining ease of watering. Plants near other plants cool one another with transpiration. Placing bonsai on grass is going to be a lot cooler than on a sidewalk.

Hot weather areas:
These areas need site modification…

For the rest of the article, visit Crataegus Bonsai.

BTW: if you’ve never visited Michael’s Crataegus Bonsai, you’re missing some of the best writing and most useful bonsai information on the web. And speaking of writing, Michael is the author of one of our favorite bonsai books: Post-Dated – The Schooling of an Irreverent Bonsai Monk.


b1shohingwatering-300x1971Photo from Shohin Bonsai by Morten Albek (out of print).
TJWANDA Watering Wand is an excellent idea. As is a Fog-It nozzle (not shown here but available at Stone Lantern).

Bonsai Perfection – Time to Dream


Just in case you think your monster bonsai is too big for a Green T Hydraulic Lift Turntable... The following is the caption for this photo (from G T's site)... "Matsuda san is the new entry in the Masahiko Kimura Bonsai family and her page Kimura’s home Bonsai has already gained world recognition." And of course Green T is an important part of Kimura's workshop (see below). BTW, the tree looks like a Japanese five needle pine (Pinus parviflora)

Flying cross country today, so we’ve got a rerun for you. It’s a bit of an infomercial, but we think it’s a good one with the potential to upgrade your bonsai experience and your bonsai. It’s from January of this year.

Time to dream about working with you bonsai in style and enjoying the process in ways you haven’t yet imagined. And what better dream than working on your trees with a Green T Hydraulic Lift Turntable of your own?
Continued below…


That's famous bonsai artist, Kunio Kobayashi on the right, getting ready to tackle his monster demo tree at last year’s World Bonsai Convention. And yes, that's a Green T not even straining to hold the behemoth up.

We’ve got four Green T models now. In addition to the Green T Basic model we offer the New Green T Plus. And with each of these two you have a choice of round or square work surfaces. And all four models are now on special

 GTTRIDENTPerfection. A brilliant Trident maple bonsai
 on a brilliant Green T Plus Hydraulic Lift Turntable

A  Green T Turntable will change the way your work on your bonsai and enhance the results… and you’ll enjoy the journey 



Tree just above, after. I don't know how long it took, but because it's a demo, it must have been done in less than a day. Many hands make light work



The famous Masahiko Kimura with his demo planting sitting on a Green T Plus at the World Bonsai Convention. 


Even though this is a poorly doctored photo, we have it on good authority that Sumo wrestlers like Green T Turntables

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Clip & Grow Bonsai – No Wire Necessary


This massive Trident maple most likely started in a field somewhere and was allowed to grow quite tall (the fastest way to thicken the trunk) before it was cut back. This first cut was the beginning of clip and grow styling (see below). The owner/artist of this outstanding bonsai is German Gomez.

Most large Trident maples and many other deciduous trees are started in the field and developed using the clip and grow technique. The result is usually a heavy trunked tree with gentle curves, often in a more or less S shape. You can see this basic shape in the Trident maple in old field growing post here on Bark. A variation of this S curve also shows up in the pine that is shown in the same post, though it was created by other means (trimming and wiring), as pines and other conifers don’t usually take to the clip and grow technique.
One more day of vacation, so we’ve taken a shortcut. The photos and most of the text in this post originally appeared here in November, 2015
Continued below…

clip&growThese simple illustrations of the clip and grow technique are from a website called The Bonsai Primer. The left image shows the first cut, the next one shows the second cut, and so forth.

There was a day before wiring became the norm, when most non -conifer bonsai were trained primarily by clip and grow. Some purists still eschew wire in allegiance to the old ways, but their numbers are dwindling; wiring just offers too many advantages.

Speaking of Wiring…

Yoshiaki Japanese Aluminum Bonsai Wire
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Aluminum wire is much less expensive and easier to use than Copper wire and  Yoshiaki Japanese Aluminum Wire is stiffer
and holds better than other Aluminum Bonsai Wire
It also has the more traditional and preferred copper/brown color


You can see the large scar from the first cut on this powerful old Chinese elm (Ulmus parviflora) . If you follow the trunk up a ways, you can see the change of direction where the second cut took place, though you can't see a scar from this view. This tree appears in the 1st U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition Album (out of print but 4 & 5 are still available). It was started from a large collected tree in China. The owner/artist is Melvyn Goldstein.

One more day of vacation, so we’ve taken a shortcut. This post originally appeared here in November, 2015


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Bonsai Art & the Art of Bonsai

 bonsaiartThe day has barely started and I'm already running out of superlatives. I guess spectacular will do in this case. It's a Korean hornbeam (Carpinus turczaninowii) that belongs to Ian Stewartson. The photo is from Bonsai Art's website.

Delving into our archives, while sticking with our German theme (see yesterday). This one originally appeared March 2013.

Bonsai Art magazine is very well named. As bonsai magazines go, it’s as beautiful and professional as they come. The problem, for most of us at least, is that it’s in German. But really, the photos and overall presentation are so good that maybe the language isn’t as important as you might think.

art8Here's another kusamono (see yesterday), which is Japanese for companion plantings, or herbaceous plants in bonsai containers when they stand alone. This Thalictrum (Meadow-rue), also from Bonsai Art's website, belongs to Wolfgang Putz.


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art7Okay, the trunk is massive for sure, but there's more to this tree (ramification and taper come to mind). It's another Korean hornbeam (Carpinus turczaninowii). This one belongs to Mariusz Komsta and the photo like the others shown here is from Bonsai Art's website. The smaller bonsai looks like a Shimpaku.

art41Learning from the Master, Masahiko Kimura. This is a pretty good example of what a spread in Bonsai Art looks like.


art6-500x696Bonsai Art's cover. The tree, a Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), won a special prize at the 2013 Noelander's Exhibition. It resides at the Bonsai Museum in Dusseldorf. The artist is David Benavente.


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A Bonsai First


I took the liberty of cropping this photo to better appreciate its strikingly powerful and expressive trunk. The tree is a Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata) that belongs to Heinrich Hacker. The original photo is below.

Today’s photos are all from Bonsai-Club Deutschland. If memory serves (a 50-50 proposition at best) it’s a first for us. Anyway, I’m very impressed and imagine that you too will be impressed


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see below


The whole tree in all its splendor. In addition to its aforementioned trunk you might notice how dense the canopy is. BTW, its size is listed as Oomono, which means large in Japanese



This cascading beauty with it's artistic, elegant trunk is a Korean hornbeam (Carpinus turczaninowii). It belongs to Ivo Drüge. The size is listed as Chuhin (medium to large)



Simple beauty in an exceptional pot. This could serve as a companion to a bonsai (it would have to be a very good one) or stand on its own.  It's a Aquilegia that belongs to Jean-Pierre Reitz. The pot is listed as Carlos Hebeisen-Takahama
Shohin display by Peter Schwarzer. No varieties are listed
Close up of part of Peter's display. Any of these trees could stand on its own

Michael Hagedorn’s Review of Bonsai Empire’s Advanced Course

Bjorn Bjorholm, course instructor and highly respected bonsai artist and teacher, busy doing something he enjoys
The following was posted by Michael Hagedorn of Crataegus Bonsai.  We were going to do our own review here on Bark, but a major computer melt down followed by a long planned family vacation, has consumed almost all of our time. But not to worry, Michael Hagedorn knows more and writes better than almost everybody in our trade anyway, so you’re in good hands.

In Michael’s own words…
Once more we have an educational video from Bonsai Empire, using the talents of Bjorn Bjorholm. This is the longest of the three courses so far from the team of Bjorn and Bonsai Empire, running a full 6 hours.

“This is a good and helpful course. The strengths of the Advanced Course are its simplicity of presentation, Bjorn’s extensive and communicable knowledge, the written key points at the end of each section, and most especially the ‘Case Studies’ which cover specific topics on one tree in depth. I thought those in particular were well done, and I think that Bjorn’s presentation style is more conversational in the Case Studies as well.”

Fans of conifers will be satisfied, fans of deciduous will be satisfied; both are covered equally.”

Michael continued from above…
If I had to critique the course in any way I think the sections on ‘Environment’ and ‘Culture’ may seem a bit long for their points of utility to some people, as good as they are. I personally found them quite engaging and well done. It’s not easy to cater to all tastes and interests, and this section will appeal most to those already curious about history and culture. For those who prefer applicable ‘nuts and bolts’ tutorials, they will find that given the length of this course there is still tons of that kind of info.

“Aesthetically this course is simply gorgeous. The attention paid to a full range of images including slow mode, speeded up clips, and overhead views (I assume they did not rent helicopters) enliven this course beyond any of its predecessors.

The Advanced Course is a very solid showing of Bjorn’s, with Oscar’s usual clean packaging job which continues to get better with each installment. Those seeking to apply advanced bonsai techniques will benefit from seeing it done in a careful and clear manner, as presented in the Case Studies. In all I think this latest course is a very useful tool for bonsai enthusiasts and is a continuation of an excellent series that—given its video format and solid instruction—is second only to a live teacher.

For more about the Advanced Course including questions, please go to Bonsai Empire.”

Satsuki Flowers, Maple Leaves, a Tiny Lizard & Other Bonsai Wonders


It's that time of year. Here's David Benavente's caption... Rhododendron indicum “Shin Nikko” hoy, en plena floración (today in full bloom). 45x55cm (18" x 21.5")

It’s been a while since we’ve featured David Benavente and his Estudio de Bonsái. It’s in Galapagar, Spain. Just outside of Madrid. The photos are from David’s timeline


see below


It's not only about the flowers. Close up of the lower trunk and nebari


European olive (Olea europaea).  No caption with this one, but it speaks for itself





Lizard on a European olive. Is this the same tree?



Japanese maple leaves


Unique Tropical Bonsai – Tool Special Ends Soon


This tropical Dwarf black olive (Bucida spinosa, not a true Olive or Olea) with its melted wax feel and gaping trunk is a unique tree that only Mother Nature and Mary Madison's skilled hands could create. It's from the 2008, 1st U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition album (out of print, but we still have 4 & 5).

see below

bucmainIf the pot was better suited to the tree (or a least cleaned up) and the background was better, the rugged power and  reach of this tree  would easier to appreciate. Still, if you're looking for unique bonsai, this wouldn't be a bad place to start. Like the tree above it's a Bucida spinosa. I found it at Komunitas Seniman Bonsai Indonesia



The other side, close up. Root over rock. Or maybe rock swallowed by the exposed root trunk would be more descriptive.