Saturday, September 27, 2014


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Shohin Barberry Update


Here's a quick follow up to THIS POST.

Back in June I cut the bush back to this shape but wasn't happy with the size of the crown in relation to the trunk size:

So I took it back further. Though there is currently a very strong triangular shape present, with next year's growth, I hope to soften the angles considerably.


This barberry will probably stay in this oversized pot for another year as the tree develops further.


Thanks for stopping by!


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Challenge Juniper Follow Up

I snapped a few shots this morning of what I came up with. Wound up wiring this juniper out into a semi cascade after much deliberation.

Which brought me to this realization about styling bonsai trees:

There's always the "Eureka" moment. I was really not looking forward to styling this tree. It seemed almost like a chore. Sometimes, when the material is tough but the timing is right, I feel almost pressured to make the most of the season and work a tree. But styling is hard!

Usually when I'm designing, and this one was no different, I'll look at the tree from every angle for hours and hours, days upon days,  until inspiration finds me. I have found that sketching helps the process but then there's that pesky task of identifying what branches are required to form that image. Then it hits you like the first breath of fresh air after being under a strong wave in the ocean. It's refreshing. It feels like a triumph. There's a clarity and a "bonsai high". I love that moment. Don't you?

These are some quick snaps from this morning. I plan to set up the lights and take a proper photo for the competition. I'll update then:

It's a shame that I have no confidence that this tree will survive due to the out of season work and the harshness with which I treated it. But for $10, I think the experience was well worth the investment. 


Updated on 9/23/14: We took home first place in the 3-5 year category!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

BonsaiNut Challenge

Over on the forums we are having a small contest for bragging rights. We have to spend no more than $30 on a juniper in no larger than a 1-gallon can. This little pronana is what i picked up:

This weekend I plan to give it the old chop chop and possibly style it into a semi cascade. That what it seems the tree is lending itself to.

Will post updates after the styling.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Before and After - Shimpaku Juniper

Having lost a good portion of my trees to the unruly winter, this is my first acquisition to refill the benches. Picked this guy up from the PBA festival last Friday and spent the weekend slowly pruning, wiring, and styling. In the future, the front you see here will be the back of the tree but first much foliage has to fill out.

In time.. If it lives.. *frustrated*


Monday, March 31, 2014

Yamadori Sunday

Big weekend for bonsai!

Having boogie oogie oogie'd Saturday night at a friend's wedding, Sunday morning came early!

It was a lovely day of 50 degrees with a constant cold rain. A lovely day to dig. I wish to keep this post shorter rather than longer. I was unable to take many pictures because of the rain, and the mud.

Tree number 1:

Japanese Black Pine. About 6 feet worth!

I whipped up a grow box of approximately 2' x 2' out of treated fence planks.

Mostly pumice amended with lava and akadama.

Tried to take as many roots as was possible.

Profile of the side.

Decent movement, huh?

Pretty wiped in this picture but it's done.

Tree number 2:

This is a large chinese quince. I hadn't gone to the location to pick this up but when the owner offered it to me, I would have been crazy to turn it down. Either I dug it, or he'd take a chainsaw to it.

This quince was probably about 12 - 15 feet when I found it. The gentleman who allowed me to dig it had it stuck in a grow box for about 15 years. When I got to it, the grow box was destroyed and the quince had massively twisted roots encased in the wooden remnants as it escaped into the ground. I took off a great deal of thick roots on this tree. Lucky, there were many fine roots still in the grow box full of turface and peat. I hadn't expected to take two trees. I'm very thankful for the opportunity. I've much work to do. 

If you don't have a reciprocating saw, you are doing it wrong! No seriously, when collecting, this tool saves so much time. Pardon the toys in the yard. I'm a family man.

There she is!

This tree has some fused branches and unattractive qualities to hide or incorporate. It will be a fun challenge to get this guy into shape.

Thanks for stopping by.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Prunus Cistena - Purple Leaf Sandcherry

Spring Time. Finally. The days are lengthening, the nights are warmer and buds are swelling. Well, not all of them.. I've got some late bloomers this year from the insane winter we just had.


Not sure why this one happened. I was at a nursery talking to a friend about kusamono and I spotted a little dwarf purple leaf cherry that caught my eye. I see these trees as I enter my subdivision every day. My kids admire their flowers and dark foliage and ask me about them.

They're pretty.

Plus I always get discounts at that particular nursery and I like discounts.

You're here for pictures. Not my disjointed writing. I get it.

BAM! There she is. Healthy and pushing buds everywhere... On the trunk even. Promising.

There is a lack of branches towards the back of the tree which will require a cooperative bud and 3-4 years of free growth to catch up to the others. That can be solved with time. I have gobs of it.

Let's get to the chops. You've seen my treatment before. Go hard or go home.

Well that's better. Now for the feet.

First, I sawed off half of the rootball. I learned that there were many thick roots that traveled straight down into the bottom of the pot but no tap root to speak of. We used the hose and some chop sticks to remove most of the soil.
Don't you judge my shitty American beer. Don't you judge me! 

What nebari was present jut out downwards and upwards and cross ways and basically needed attention:

So I got creative with their placement while making sure to spray them with fresh water to keep them moist:

And worked in the soil. This mix is comprised of Pumice/Lava/Pine bark/Akadama/Turface. Some of the ingredients are redundant in their purpose but I mixed some of last years recipe with this years' in order to minimize waste. The root ball is sitting on a base of pure pumice. The roots look better. I hope you agree.

And now to let mother nature do her part. 

Thanks for your time and attention. Do leave a comment if you have one to give. 



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Quick update: Hollywood Juniper


After a repot and removing the rebar:

First post starts HERE