Kinbon Photoshoot

The nicest weather I experienced during the trip was on my third day in Japan, the rest of the trip was either cold and windy, cold and rainy, or cold and snowy. This day however was sunny and pleasant, which was great since the bonsai magazine Kinbon, was coming to do a photo shoot of the trees that were headed for Kokufu-ten.

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These trees had already been photographed once before when they were judged a few weeks prior to my arrival. It was interesting to find out that all the bonsai in the Kokufu exhibit are judged and photographed almost a month before the actual show.

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Since then they were being kept in the workshop, protected from the elements. This meant that my sempai Takuya and myself would be lifting trees for most of the day.

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This needle juniper had some of the tightest foliage pads I’ve ever seen. This tree was from Gashoen, another bonsai nursery nearby, and Mr. Suzuki was taking it to the show for them.

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Not the best picture of a very nice japanese black pine. For whatever reason the photos I take with my iphone don’t capture the whole image as it appears on the view finder.

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Even from the back this semi cascade white pine looks awesome.

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More trees were also being kept in the reception area which is where the photographer set up his backdrop. Since this beech was the closest tree it was the first one to be photographed.

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Once things were set up the photo shoot did not take as long as I thought. The displays had been thought out by Mr. Suzuki long in advacnce and it was simply a matter of us removing the tree, Mr. Suzuki changing the stand and then we were there with the next bonsai to photographed. Very effecient.

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The next one up was one of my favorite trees. A bunjin white pine which had beautifully old shari.

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Since this years Kokufu was a double show, meaning there were two sets of bonsai exhibited, each set was judged and awarded. This already famous Kichou, (Important Bonsai Masterpiece), root-over-rock JBP won “Best Conifer” of the second group.

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In addition to the big trees there were several three-point-displays photographed.

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Japanese White Pine with kumquat shohin and small fern. The kumquat was kept warm in a small plastic greenhouse inside the Suzuki home along with a few houseplants.

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Another killer japanese white pine smiles for the camera.

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The same semicascade white pine from above, but now paired with a shohin root-over-rock japanese maple, and perhaps the most famous accent plant ever.

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I really liked the character of this tree, great trunk. It is a procumbens juniper or sonare in Japanese, with foliage as tight as your ever going to see.

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Once photographed each tree was set out to catch some much needed rays. After we set this tree down I noticed something white around the nebari. It looked like the tree had some fungal issue.

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Concerned, I asked Takuya about it, he smiled and said “Strong tree”. I am no stranger to mycorrhiza but I’ve never see it as abundant as this, it was growing up the nebari! Not only is this a strong tree but its another kichou bonsai.

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This quince was one of the shohin used in another three-point-display. Not only is this tree top shelf, but check out the patina on its pot. Kokufu trees are transplanted into antique Chinese and Japanese pots for the exhibit then put back into their “growing” containers after the show.

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The very last thing I did was give each tree a much needed watering. If you have the chance pick up a copy of Kinbon to see the actual photos. As always, thanks for reading.

 

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Kennett Collection Sale

For any serious bonsai enthusiast on the Eastern Seaboard, there was one place to have been on March 14th. Gateway Garden Center in Hokenssin, DE was host to over 400 bonsai being sold from the legendary Kennett Collection.IMG_9006

Almost all the trees had been imported from Japan and were being sold at amazing prices. I actually passed on buying things last month in Japan in anticipation of this sale.

Museum Curator Jack Sustic, myself, and Museum volunteer Ted Pickett drove up that morning and arrived an hour early. People had already began to muster, circling the perimeter trying to locate the trees they wanted.

There were buyers from Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and even Houston, Texas. Let me know if I missed any.

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IMG_8995A tent had been set up with cashiers, heaters and best of all free coffee and donuts.IMG_8998

IMG_8991The rules were simple and as fair as possible so that everyone got a chance to get a tree.

IMG_8988Each person pulled a wrist band out of a box and that determined when you could go in.

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Peter Warren MC’d the event, going over everything in detail and bound everyone to a gentlemen’s agreement to abide by the rules.IMG_9004

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IMG_9002In what we can hope will become as iconic an image as the original, Peter pumped up the crowd with the shout of “Bonsai Power!”.

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Jack at the starting gate waiting for his group to go. No one dared to try anything funny with what I assume were the first bouncers ever at a bonsai sale.

I was in shortly after Jack and was able to photograph the trees. Enjoy.

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The first group went in at 10 am and apparently this maple was the first tree purchased, by 11:30 over half the bonsai were sold.
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It was a great experience, even for those who didn’t get exactly what they wanted. Thank you to Mr. Paul and everyone involved in orchestrating this event. It’s exciting to know that so many fine bonsai have been distributed around the U.S. and I assume we will be seeing many of them in upcoming exhibitions.

Diaju-en

At the end of January I was extremely blessed to have traveled to Japan for a 3 week “apprentice” style learning experience with Mr. Tohru Suzuki at the historic Daiju-en bonsai nursery in Okazaki. This trip was timed to coincide with the 88th Kokufu-ten exhibition where I would have the opportunity to assist Mr. Suzuki and the Daiju-en family with getting their trees to and from Tokyo. Before I share that experience I wanted to highlight the trees of Daiju-en.

When you think of pine bonsai you think of Daijuen. As a 3rd generation bonsai nursery, Daijuen and its founder Saichi Suzuki are credited with developing the now universal technique of de-candling used for Japanese Black Pine bonsai as well as the fast growing Japanese White Pine cultivar ‘Zuisho’.

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I had the opportunity to ask Mr. Suzuki about the story surrounding his grandfather’s discovery which resulted in what is now the fundamental technique for training Japanese Black Pine.IMG_2261

For those who have never head the story, it goes like this: One day while in the nursery, Saichi noticed something out of the ordinary with several of his pines. Upon closer inspection the new spring growth had been completely eaten by caterpillars, leaving the trees with out any new shoots.IMG_2436

He set them aside to see what would happen, would they live of die? Not only did the trees live but they put out another flush of growth, only the new needles were much shorter. From that point on the practice of removing spring shoots to force a second flush of growth is applied wherever JBP are growth as bonsai.IMG_2438

I asked Mr. Suzuki about those first trees his grandfather set aside.  He  said that they were in the formal upright style and at that time they belonged to a customer. I asked if they were still around and he replied that they are still alive but were at another customers home. It would have been awesome to have seen the legendary “catepillar “trees, but there were plenty of historic bonsai at the nursery.IMG_2150

Hear are just a few of the pines at Daiju-en.IMG_8627 IMG_8581 IMG_8585 IMG_8560 IMG_8518 IMG_8519 IMG_8517 IMG_8522IMG_8512 IMG_8508 IMG_8506 IMG_8505 IMG_8504 IMG_8502 IMG_8501 IMG_8500 IMG_8496IMG_8512 IMG_8558 IMG_8484 IMG_8485 IMG_8482 IMG_8478 IMG_8480 IMG_8479 IMG_8468 IMG_8469 IMG_8466 IMG_8467 IMG_8463 IMG_8462

IMG_8587 IMG_8580 IMG_2240 IMG_2152 IMG_8533 As always thanks for reading, I hoped you enjoyed seeing some of the Daiju-en pines and learning a little bonsai history. More to come from Japan.

2009 Golden State Bonsai Convention Show

In conjunction with my last post about Peter Adams at the GSBF convention in 2009,  I wanted to share these photos I took of the bonsai on exhibit . Please forgive some of the blurry photos, when I took these 4 years ago, I didn’t expect to be posting them online. Also I normally attribute the owner but again I failed to capture that info. Enjoy.

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IMG_4146California Live Oak

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There were also a number of viewing stones on display.

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Brazilian Pepper

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Olive

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Viewing stone, most likely from the Eel River.

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California Juniper

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Chinese Elm

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Chinese Juniper

IMG_4159California Juniper

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Redwood

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Japanese Black Pine

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Boxwood

IMG_4164California Juniper

IMG_4166Twisted Pomegranate

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California Juniper

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Shari detail

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San Jose Juniper

IMG_4174Virginia Creeper

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Sierra Juniper

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Dead wood detail

GSBF Collection at the Huntington

Any trip to the Huntington Library should include a visit their renowned bonsai collection. On my recent visit to the Huntington Gardens to see the annual Aiseki Kai exhibit, I made sure to stop by the Golden State Bonsai Federation’s (GSBF) bonsai collection despite a rare cold and rainy day in Southern California.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABonsai Courtyard entrance.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalifornia Juniper donated by Mas Moriguchi.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACork Oak donated by Tom Chan.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAProstrate Juniper donated Harry Hirao in memory of Alyce Hirao.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJapanese Black Pine donated by Ed Murakami.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJapanese Black Pine from the Toshinori Matsuanga collection donated by Mayumi Shiira.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACork Bark Japanese Black Pine donated by Ayako Tanita.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalifornia Juniper donated by Ray Blasingame.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalifornia Juniper donated by Ben Oki in memory of John Naka.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalifornia Juniper donated by Harry Hirao in memory of Andy Vu.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShimpaku grafted onto California Juniper donated by Tsuruo Takata.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShimpaku Juniper donated by Ayako Tanita.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShinpaku Juniper donated by Dr. Howard Waldman.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOlive donated by Jack Miller

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShimpaku grafted onto California Juniper donated by Mike Shintaku.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABonsai on pedestals in the main courtyard.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASilverberry from the Toshinori Matsuanga collection donated by Mayumi Shiira.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalifornia Juniper donated by Chuichi Kawahira.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalifornia Juniper donated by Bob Kinoshita in memory of Bill Southworth.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAItalian Cypress donated by Phil Tacktill.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMontezuma Cypress donated by Brian Jackson.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGinkgo donated by Marty Mann.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShimpaku Juniper donated by Mr. and Mrs. Kageo Ohara.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACitrus donated by Dr. Howard Waldman.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPfitzer Juniper donated by Barbara Ajello.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKorean Hornbeam donated by Howard Waldman.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAViewing stones donated by Harry Hiaro.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANewer expansion of the Bonsai Courtyard.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOlive donated by Joseph Cohn.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHollywood Juniper donated Howard Waldman.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPyracanth donated by John Naka.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPomegranate donated by Kathy Boomsma.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalifornai Juniper donated by Bob Kinoshita.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShohin display.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalifornia Juniper donated by Shig Mia.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalifornai Juniper donated by Frank Goya.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalifornia Juniper donated by Bob Kinoshita.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJapanese Black Pine.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJapanese Black Pine donated by Junichi Sebata.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACoast Live Oak donated by John Naka.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABald Cypress donated by Dung Cao in memory of Thu Cao.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalifornia Juniper designed by Masahiko Kimura.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalifornia Juniper donated Grigsby Catcus Gardens.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJapanese Black Pine donate by Kiyoko Yoneda in memory of Kaz Yoneda.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFoemina Juniper donated by Ben Oki in memory of Robert Moor.

Ryan Neil @ Nature’s Way 2.0

Earlier this year I wrote about a work shop with Ryan Neil at Nature’s Way Nursery in Harrisburg, PA. Recently Ryan was back for another round of classes and this time I came with a video recorder.  The first video contains, in Ryan’s words, a “crash course” in Japanese Black, Red, and White pine care. I’ll be posting another video of Ryan explaining his grafting techniques.

The gradual progression of a literati pine bonsai

When caring for bonsai on a daily basis I find it important to look at pictures of the trees taken in the past so I can see how much they have developed. In this post I wanted to show the progression of a Japanese Black Pine in the literati style.

MaYuan “Scholar by a Waterfall”-13thCentury

The subject of literati is too broad, requiring its own post for me to adequately describe it here, but I did want to give a basic idea of what it is. The word literati means a “man of letters”. The Chinese literati were scholar-bureaucrats involved in politics, literature, and art. The paintings created by these men featured trees with slender, angular trunks and branches, with sparse foliage. I admit this definition does not encapsulate all that the literati style is, but as I said, that topic is for another time.  For more information about literati bonsai see the Art of Bonsai Project’s “A brief exploration of the Literati Style.”

This Japanese Black Pine pictured in 2002 upon the death of its creator, local penjing  artist, Stanly Chin, was among 10 trees donated to the Museum by the Chin Family after Stanly’s passing.

Sometime between 2002 and this photo in 2006, the apex died back as a result of a twig girdler.

The pine was allowed to grow and regain its vigor. Here is the tree in 2008.

Since the apex died back, the tree was needing to be restyled. In 2009 the branches were wired and the needles plucked. Initially all the branches were used in this first design.

In keeping with the literati style it was decided that the branch on the right should be removed in order to accentuate the trunk and minimize the amount of foliage.

The next stage was choosing a more suitable pot for the tree. Literati are typically planted in round pots, such as the rustic nanban style or the rivited drum style pot. Drum pots are one of my favorite type of pots, so I selected two that could work with the tree.

Since this bonsai belongs to the Chinese Collection I wanted the tree to have a more classical Chinese style . I think this iron oxide colored pot is more along the Japanese  aesthetic and is slightly larger than I would like.

This other round pot has the riveting like the first and is better proportioned for the tree. I also like the cloud feet that elevate the tree and give the feeling that the tree is growing all alone on mountain top.

July 2012, the pine is ready for candle cutting.

There are a variety of de-candling techniques when working with pine. I have been using the stub (peg & neck) method in which a stub from the candle is left in proportion to the vigor of the candle. The more vigorous the shoot the larger the stub. You can see a medium strength shoot on the left and a strong shoot on the right.

The strong shoot is removed leaving a 1/4 inch stub.

For the medium shoot  I leave a stub 1/8th inches long.

The small shoot is removed completely leaving no stub.

Obligatory shot of strong, medium, and small pine shoots.

With the spring candles cut, the pine is ready to send out its second flush of growth. You can be sure more photos of this tree will be taken as it continues to develop. Now grab your camera and snap some pictures of your own bonsai before they’re all grown up.

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