In October Tony won a Bonsai Clubs International excellence award, only one of three presented that year, for his cascade Mugo Pine on a rock. Tony seeks to promoted Bonsai as an art form in its own right, hosting exhibitions in Museums and Art Galleries along with unusual locations that capture the public imagination. He has presented bonsai in a creative and dynamic way courting controversy and praise in equal measure.
Tony has championed the introduction of a fair and transparent judging system that is now widely used across the global bonsai scene. If you would like Tony to demonstrate at your next event, provide a workshop or lecture. Or if you want to have a one 2 one workshop he can be contacted. Over the years Tony has created hundreds of bonsai for himself, clients and students: below is a small selection of some of his favourites.
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Chameleon Music This is a blog that blossomed out of a love of finding and sharing new music, and is dedicated to introducing up and coming musicians and bands from all over the world. Andys shohin bonsai Fun things I see and do in my bonsai life. British Shohin Bonsai small goods packaged big. Scratch Bonsai Developing bonsai trees from scratch. Would you trim this root ball before planting it?
The need for balanced roots must be weighed against the need to retain as many roots as possible. What about the future planting angle? If the tree were to be styled as a half-cascade, it would need more roots in back and fewer in front to fit next to the edge of a cascade pot. If it were to be developed as an informal upright, it would need roots evenly spaced all around. Boxwood can survive severe root pruning. The Old Man picked up this one from the side of a road in late afternoon after it had been lying there all day.
The scars resulted from being dug out by gardeners. They healed over slowly. Nine inches tall from the top of the pot to the top of the tree, it is nevertheless an ordinary Japanese boxwood. Varieties of the Japanese boxwood do well in the San Diego climate. The latter two are varieties of the microphylla. All three grow so slowly that space for them is not a problem. There is some interesting but conflicting reading on the Internet on the origin of the Kingsville and its scientific name.
With restricted growth, microphylla can be kept small. The boxwood in this saikei was from a local nursery. Shaded under a tree and watered until the soil was mostly washed out, it was a runt when I bought it. I have managed to keep it small. The hard part is keeping moss on it. Back to the question of how to plant the yamadori.
Eitan did not reduce the root ball and he chose to plant it in a position where it could become either a windswept or a half-cascade. Taking a closer look at the trunk, another possibility emerges. The microphylla sprouts back readily on old wood, so it is possible to gradually force growth lower on the trunk. For those who like short, heavy-trunked trees, this would be an excellent opportunity to develop one. The decision for now is to keep the options open. Foliage on the bottom of the branches will grow back more slowly.
In fact they are like finished pieces of sculptured driftwood — the quality of which no human being can hope to create. Back in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, such material could be found relatively easily in Japan, Korea and China. Stories have been told of how famous bonsai hunters in Japan would risk life and limb, just to collect beautiful pines, spruce and junipers from rocky precipices in the high mountains.
Today of course, collecting from the wild mountains in Japan is not permitted unless it is from private land. There is a growing awareness of the need to preserve nature and the countryside and most people see the sense in observing this code of practice. There is clearly no point in digging up plants from the wild because if everybody did this, then there would be no plants left for others to enjoy.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of certain sections of the bonsai community especially in Europe, where bonsai is relatively recent and plant material from the wild mountains is quite plentiful. In the Italian, French and Swiss Alps there are lots of beautiful larches, pines, spruces and even junipers growing in rock crevices and cliffs.
They have the most desirable characteristics for exquisite bonsai. The worst-case scenario is when bonsai collectors take trees from public land without permission. This is tantamount to stealing or theft as there can be no other word to describe it. It is certainly not a nice thing to do.
Here in Britain, some Forest authorities will give you permission to dig up trees from their land. It is usually when the trees are growing in the wrong locations. In the South of England, for instance, there are some large tracts of forests, which have pines growing on heath land. This is land, which was originally grass and scrub land, but over the years pines have colonised the area and become such a problem that they are now considered almost a weed. In order to keep these pines under control, the forest authorities simply destroy these pines at regular intervals.
Bonsai enthusiasts have always seen this as wasteful and have asked the authorities for permission to dig some of these unwanted pines up for hobby purposes. With a valid licence you can dig up as many trees as you wish without breaking the law. The pines from some of these forests make lovely bonsai material as they have been growing in boggy conditions for many years and have been nibbled by wild life such as deer, sheep and ponies which keep them stunted and short.
Other collecting opportunities occur when new roads or other projects are under construction. When new highways are being made, vast tracts of forest often have to be cleared. The trees are just a nuisance and they are just bull-dozed and burnt. If you can get permission to dig up the plants before construction begins, then you will be in for a treat.
But it is usually very difficult to get permission to remove the plants from these sites as it can be dangerous with all the large earth moving machinery moving around. You never know — as you can be lucky. It is not always the wild areas that have the best raw material for bonsai. Sometimes you can come across lovely bonsai material in the most unlikely places.
I have seen potential bonsai growing on the roadside and from out of old buildings. In cities like Kolkatta, I have often seen Banyan and Peepal trees growing from the cracks of walls of buildings. If you can spot the right material — all you have to do is ask permission to dig it out.
A generous tip usually does the trick. Old building sites, railway yards and derelict land are prime locations for collecting potential bonsai material. Many yews, which are now beautiful bonsai, were once grown in nurseries for foliage for Ike-bana purposes. Chameleon Music This is a blog that blossomed out of a love of finding and sharing new music, and is dedicated to introducing up and coming musicians and bands from all over the world.
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Only time can do this! So let us explore this theme of yamadori shohin Bonsai a little and how we can possibly acquire them. Yamadori Ponderosa Pine Pinus ponderosa — this tree was an accent tree exhibited with out shohin by the author in the 2nd US National Exhibition. About 6" 15cm. This past November I traveled to Japan and visited a rare Bonsai treat. I was asked not to name the artist but he is one of the few great curators of many of the old yamadori shohin in Japan and probably the best creator of deadwood there.
We spent time discussing the natural phenomenon of old deadwood. He had some interesting comments when we spoke of shohin Bonsai. He said that young wood less than 50 years is not long lived. It will not survive, unless treated, for more than 25 years or so. His opinion was that old yamadori wood that is tight grained will live as long as Bonsai for as old as the tree lived in nature year old yamadori tree deadwood can last for another years. It is something to think about when creating deadwood on shohin trees — they must be treated over the long haul to survive natures corrosion.
Their grain is wide and not tight and inherently softer so will decay faster than tight grained wood. So, is it possible to have this really ancient wood on shohin trees? His solution was to air layer sections from these fantastic large yamadori trees to create shohin yamadori specimens. The photo is one example that he is creating. This tree came from year old shimpaku from the mountains of Japan collected in the earlier part of the 20th century.
So, we can consider one option of air-layer a small section of a larger yamadori Bonsai tree. It may be a section that is not essential in the overall design for the larger tree. Another option is to try and find shohin specimens when collecting in the mountains or cliff-sides among the many larger trees. I personally do not do much collecting.
In the United States most of the better material is in the Western areas of the country — Rocky Mountains, etc. I live on the East Coast. I have asked professional collectors to look for shohin material for me. The first Ponderosa Pine shown was collected from a small rock crevice in the mountains.
The second one was flattened by snow and had to be jacked up with a bar to develop a more upright form. It is still in training and will be tilted more to the right so as to be less horizontally oriented. Both species have inherent challenges for shohin Bonsai. The Ponderosa Pine has long needles that are quite difficult, if not impossible to reduce — especially in non native areas such as where I live. The Rocky Mountain Juniper foliage can be quite lanky and droopy — again in our area — and also do not like the moist air we have here in the Northeast US.
So, in both cases, I am considering grafting better shohin type foliage onto the trees — itoigawa onto the Rocky Mountain Junipers and either black pine or scots pine onto the Ponderosa Pine. On the Internet Bonsai Club, Yvonne Graubaek showed us a nice shohin communis juniper that was collected off a cliff in Sweden about 5 years ago. This is a wonderful little yamadori shohin Bonsai that she has cultivated.
She kindly gave me permission to use this photo the photo was taken by her son, Kristian Graubaek, see above. Yamadori Ponderosa Pine before. Tree after collection from Rocky Mountains in a training pot when purchased in Yamadori Ponderosa Pine after. Tree after first styling. More refined styling to follow.
Trunk will be tilted more to the right and apex brought back more to the left to make the tree more upright. Often times with smaller yamadori trees, the foliage has only survived on the ends of long branches. In the mountains you are almost out of place with a shovel or a spade. The best success in getting the trees growing on will be if they grow in hollows or directly on big stones or rocks.
Actually, you don't have to dig these plants up, you only have to lift them up maybe some roots have to be cut. These species show a very dense rootball and sometimes you can put them directly into a bonsai pot, so they can be styled after just one growing season. It is very important, that you put the uncovered rootball immediately in damp moss if available or in damp cloth or pieces of fabric, which you have to take with you, to save it against drying out.
The damp cloths around the roots will then be fixed with special cloths out of burlap, available in nurseries. Some plastic bags can be taken as well. At home, the tree has to be potted immediately in a wooden box with enough draining holes , a suitable plastic container or a big bonsai pot.
The soil I use is a well draining mixture out of akadama, granite and lime gravel. It is important to fix the tree in the pot with a supporting staff, some wire etc In no case should the rootball be cut back at this time to fit in a pot. If necessary you have to use a bigger box right after the removing.
In first case, the freshly removed tree should survive. The rootball can wait for 1 to 3 years until the plant has recovered and is strong and healthy enough to be reduced again. After the potting you can put the container in a tub of water, so that the rootball and the soil get stuck together without pockets of air, for better drainage.
The biggest problem for yamadori collected in the Spring is the change in the climate. In autumn, usually this problem does not exist. The tree can start growing after its winter dormancy like usual without stress and is saved from such an enormous change of temperature. Initially one should place the yamadori in half-shade and sheltered from wind.
Freshly dug up trees don't need too much water and some air in the soil is good for the growth of fine roots. Additionally, I sprinkle my yamadori every day with a fine mist of water. If the tree survives and starts growing the following year, it can be put into the full sun.