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A Brilliant Before & After Bonsai from Humble Beginnings…


Before and after Japanese maple. Another magical transformation by Suthin.

We’ve been enjoying some excellent before and after transformations lately. Particularly ones by our friend Suthin Sukosolvisit, one of our most prolific and brilliant North American bonsai artists (Suthin is originally from Thailand, but he has been here long enough to to have American children and grandchildren, so I think he qualifies as North American). This time it’s an almost obscenely lush Japanese maple from humble beginnings.


Humble beginnings. Not a very good photo and not a terribly promising tree. At least to an untrained eye.



After! Suthin doesn't say how long it took from there to here but my guess is less time than you might imagine


Messages from Our National Bonsai Treasure


John Naka's famous Pomegranate (Punica granatum) has been in training since 1963. It was donated to the North American Collection at the U.S. National Bonsai & Penjing Museum by Alice Naka in 1990. There's something about a quality bonsai displayed with a beautiful scroll. Our thanks to Alexander Voorhies for this and the other photos shown here.

Our friends at the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum invite you, as a fellow lover and supporter of bonsai, to sign up for Museum Messages today. Once you join the mailing list, we hope you will see and appreciate all the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum has to offer and consider making a financial contribution to support the National Bonsai Foundation.
See below for more…


This rugged old Toringo Crab Apple (Malus toringo) is mirrored by its shadow. It was donated to the Japanese Collection by Shu'ichi Ueda in 1976 and has been in training since 1905.



I like the way the shadow highlights the fine branching on this root-over-rock Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia). It was donated to the Chinese Collection by Yee-sun Wu in 1986 and has been training since 1956.



This Imperial Trident Maple (Acer buergerianum) was donated to the Japanese Collection by Prince Takamatsu of the Royal Household in 1976 and has been in training since 1895. The stone paired with it is a Mountain Stream Stone collected in Kamogawa Japan, and donated by Kunizo Motoki. We originally showed this tree with shadow several years ago, but this is the first time with its companion stone.


cu1This close up emphasizes the shadows and provides a better view of the movement in each branch and the full reach of the nebari


Close up of John Naka's Pomegranate


Click on this live link to learn more about this national treasure and to sign up for the mailing list


Gilding the Bonsai


Gilding the lily. Or more accurately, gilding the Satsuki azalea. You might like this brilliant tree in such a colorful pot when it isn't blooming, but as is... well, you be the judge. I found the photo and the other two shown here on Kuanghua Hsiao's timeline. Mr Hsiao wrote... By Bonsai Addicted, but we know better (Addicted is one of those places that posts a lot of other peoples trees and often doesn't attribute or identify).

Only one of the three trees shown here is attributed to its owner. We try to be honest about our sources and let you know when they’re not the owner or artist. Ideally we would try to find the true source, but sometimes a combination of time pressure and frustration makes hunting them down almost impossible

az2Looks like another powerful Azalea. This time without flowers (its condition about 90% of the year). Maybe we could put it in the pot above. This time the caption says... Shared a photo of Aus Bonsai... but like the photo above, that's no help. Aus Bonsai is not owner or artist and is guilty of the same omissions as Bonsai Addicted.



At last we have a real owner. This Satsuki azalea belongs to the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum.



Perfectly Rugged


I am struck by just how rugged and natural this tree is. A fitting contrast with the way the it is presented; the professional studio photo, the quality stand and pot cleaned and oiled to perfection. As you can see, it's a pine. I won't bother to guess the variety.

Only one tree today. Got up early this morn but circumstances are conspiring and now my schedule is shot. Here’s where I found the tree and here’s the caption… Nippon Bonsai Sakka Kyookai Europe EspañaSAKKA TEN 2012 – PEÑISCOLAFotos de estudio realizadas por Alex Espuny (Studio Photos by Alex Espuny). I would like to offer more, but I think you’re going to have to do your own research this time.



Itty Bitty Bonsai

sho11Even though the crown is leaning back a bit, I'm going to call this side the front, given that it provides the best view of the trunk and the deadwood. The four photos of this tree are by Haruyosi, as are the tree and the pot.

Continuing with our itty bitty bonsai theme…. We don’t usually show four shots of the same bonsai, but I like this little tree a lot and the shots were just sitting there begging to picked up and shared. It’s a Shohin (you could even say Mame) Shimpaku juniper by Haruyosi. From his numerous great facebook photos. It originally appeared here in March, 2014. Our first of many Haruyosi posts.

sho10This side is also very good and presents a better view of the crown. But we're going to call it the back. It doesn't really matter, especially since the tree is in a round pot.


sho12Close up.


sho13Another close up.


1939954_580764918686491_814169564_nA little color for you to enjoy. Cherry blossoms, also by Haruyosi.


More Bonsai Beans


The sweet little Japanese maple belongs to Hiroshi Kunii. Hiroshi calls the pot Maru (circle in Japanese).

Continuing with tiny bonsai theme from yesterday…. I borrowed this post from June of last year. It’s definitely worth another look.

The tiniest bonsai are called Mame in Japanese (bean in English) and the little trees shown here certainly qualify. They (including the pots) are by Hiroshi Kunii.


Here's part of Hiroshi's caption (computer translated from Japanese)... Lesser Spindle (Euonymus Alatus), Shooting date: May 18, 2017, Height: 9.5 cm, Maru Bonsai Pot, Diameter 7.1 cm x height 3.8 cm, It's a cuttings of 10 in mini bonsai



Here's part of the computer translation for this one... Crape Myrtles (Lagerstroemia Indica), hundred days Red Bonsai, Shooting date: May 14, 2017, Height: 9.5 cm, Maru Bonsai Pot / Masako: Diameter 7.2 cm x height 3.4 cm. Of beautiful crape myrtles in the sense that the trees are good fun



Continuing with Hiroshi's computer translated captions... Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus), Height: 15.3 cm. The Old Fat Trunk Bonsai on the back of the ivy house. The Green has become a little bit darker


Hiroshi's caption... Beni Rosewood (Cotoneaster horizontalis), Height: 4.4 cm, It is a little bonsai with the roots of Red Rosewood. A little flower has come in bloom



This one reads... Elm Zelkova (Ulmus parvifolia), Round Bonsai: 5.7 cm tall. It's a little bonsai for elm trees



This one is a Japanese quince (Chaenomeles japonica), so I'm not sure why the translated caption reads... Green G (grass) Bonsai... Height: 5.8 cm, Maru Bonsai Pot / Masako: Diameter 7.4 cm x height 3.6 cm, It is a beans of beans



Another Quince and another computer translated caption... White Flower Butterfly Juba Lee-N1, Longevity Mei Bonsai (CHAENOMELES SPECIOSA) 'Chojubai' Bonsai. Height: 5.9 cm, Maru Bonsai Pot. White Juba Juba Juba

A World of Bonsai Creativity


Hand held bonsai come in handy (so to speak). Without the hand, it would be difficult to say just how small this tree is. This little gem and the others shown here, look like Shimpaku junipers (Juniperus sargentii Shimpaku)

I just stumbled upon a new one for me. It’s called DANY Bonsai. The translation is… “Danny small works. A world of creativity. Free and carefree.” Not a bad way to view the art of bonsai.
Continued below…


Tiny bunjin bonsai. This pot is even smaller that the one above

You don’tsee that many bonsai that are so tiny and yet so well developed. In fact, you don’t see that many tiny bonsai at all. Though some people lump all small bonsai into the group called Shohin, I think these qualify as Mame (Japanese for ‘Bean’)



Twisted! Looks like it might be ready for a bonsai pot that is just a tad larger than the ones above



Danny, free and carefree

A Perfect Example of Great Bonsai Ramification

wbff2This magnificent Japanese beech (Fagus crenata) received the coveted Kokufu prize at the 88th Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition (the oldest and most prestigious bonsai exhibition in the world). Aside from its unique power and beauty, this tree provides a perfect example of what great ramification looks like (made even more obvious by the bright rusty-red leaf buds). The photo is from the World Bonsai Friendship Federation. Identification and other details were provided by Bill Valavanis.

Yesterday we discussed ramification so we’ll keep going with this post that we last featured in January, 2015.


This illustration (originally from Bonsai Today magazine) is one of many that we featured in a three part series of posts from 2010 (links provided below). The following text is from the first post in the series...

Ramification literally means branch development, or how branches grow. However, when it comes to the art of bonsai, it has come to mean branch development that displays a couple key features: taper and fine tips. These related features are critical when it comes to developing quality deciduous (and other) bonsai.

Deciduous trees develop rapidly, but they also lose their shape rapidly. With precise pruning and pinching, you can create excellent fine branching in just a few years. But it’s an on going process that requires continued pruning and pinching to maintain… (there’s more here, here and here).

satsukiRamification is not just about deciduous trees. A lot of skilled pinching and pruning is behind this Satsuki azalea’s wild profusion of flowers. The photo, which we featured in another 2010 post on ramification, is from Robert Callaham’s benchmark Satsuki Bonsai book (out of print).

Deciduous Bonsai & Fine Ramification


Please excuse the fuzz. I lifted this image from youtube and the fuzz came along on its own (there are some still shots below without much fuzz). It's a Field Elm (Ulmus minor) that belongs to Davide Cardin. The youtube video was shot at the 2016 Bonsai San Show in France.

You can learn a lot about deciduous bonsai in the winter. Particularly ramification (see below).


Same tree, different pot in this shot from Bonsai Addicted.I'm guessing that this shot was taken later than the one above, based on the ramification.

Ramification refers to branching, particularly how over time branching develops (ramifies). With enough time and skill (and the right type tree) you can develop the branching so that each branch becomes gradually narrower as it grows and multiplies from the trunk outward, until you  have very fine, almost filigreed twigs at the outer reaches of the tree (see below).



Trunk with sabamiki (hollow). Actually, two sabamiki



This closeup of the crown provides better look at the fine ramification

Bonsai Trifecta


This luminous little Japanese white pine belongs to Suthin. It's a winner, right down to the pot and the yellow-green moss.

Continuing from yesterday with Suthin and pines. The three little trees in this post appeared here one year ago (March, 2017) and were originally from Suthin’s facebook photos


Another strong little Japanese white pine.


This rough little gem is a Japanese black pine. Still a little grooming to do, but all the right stuff is present.