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.

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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.