This article has some fantastic photos of potential pine bonsai growing in the ground in the Kinashi Bonsai District in Japan.
On a recent trip to Atlanta, I visited many places that you’ll probably hear about in upcoming posts, but the highlight was a trip to Clermont, GA to talk with Steve Cratty at Plant City Bonsai. He took the time to talk with me about almost every aspect of his bonsai stock and even helped me choose a fine specimen to take home (which I’ll talk about in the future). Plant City Bonsai has many specimens, but most of the stock is for beginner bonsai artists like myself that is a step above nursery material so that your only choices aren’t a $10 5 year old tree and a $500 30 year-old tree. Steve tries to fill that gap with material that is already started on it’s way to being a good bonsai, but still leaves you plenty of creative control over what the final look will be. I found the experience to be very enjoying and sorry that I missed Warren Hill, who was appearing there the next day. I’ve included some pictures of my visit, and sadly, did not video the tour that he gave me. This is definitely a labor of love with Steve and I got that hint that it may have given him a few gray hairs along the way 🙂
My 2nd Costa Farms bonsai, which some would refer to as mallsai, has turned out to be one of my favorite trees in my collection. People love the S-curve even though most bonsai artists would call it boring and unimaginative. The first bonsai I purchased is much like this (and also a Ficus Retusa) and will be something I will stay motivated to maintain no matter how good or bad it looks. I love the low-maintenance and toughness of the Ficus Retusa species. It stands up to the heat of the South and my beginner mistakes, not to mention that it grows quickly. I have a tough time finding Ficus Retusa or Tigerbark Ficus trees in my area, and I never know what I’m going to get online unless I’m prepared to pay over $100 for a finished bonsai. So, the latest aquisition is again another Ficus Retusa that I found at Wal-Mart with interesting movement (again, in my opinion). Here it is:
As a groomsmen’s gift for my best man, I had bought this tree in hopes of giving it to him to grow eventually into a bonsai. Fortunately, I found a great bald cypress at a good price instead. The bald cypress will be much easier to take care of for a beginner bonsai artist because it’s so tough. This indian hawthorn will have to just stay in my collection while I explore the possibilities of where it should go and it lets me know where it wants to go. Some have very large leaves and multiple trunks, but this one has a nice single trunk and smaller leaves than many of the other varieties. Should stand up to the summer heat and be easy to take care of. It’ll either be a great bonsai specimen one day, or an excellent addition to my garden 🙂
This is basically a one year progression of a Ficus Retusa var. Microcarpa I purchased at Wal-Mart last year when I first got into bonsai. They grow really fast and despite setbacks and my beginner maintenance, it has thrived.
I spoke about this last year, but after leaving it outside for a few months, birds (or something) stripped all the branches off. There wasn’t a leaf left on the tree and most branches were broken. About a week or two later, this is what it looked like.
And after repotting this spring. As you can see, the branches are really starting to develop, and in my humble opinion, this is going to be a nice bonsai. It does need some wiring which I haven’t done on this tree at all. The branches are very flexible though. It gets a lot of good compliments from the people that visit me. People tend to love the S-curve, even though bonsaists hate it. I don’t know if I’m here for the experts though.
I blogged about the “Shanghai Rosie” Azalea bonsai that I purchased from Guy Guidry a few months ago. I had gotten a new pot over Christmas and decided to repot it in something a little larger and thought the blue pot would go great with the green leaves and pink flowers. I bought the blue Houtoku pot from Bonsai Monk. It’s probably not the time for it, most people repot after the flowering period I think, but It’s progressing nicely and there are even 3 flowers hidden in the leaves. I’m hoping to see a lot more flower production next year.
I have had this boxwood for about a year. Last spring, I repotted it into a slightly larger pot and basically cut the top out of it to let the lower branches get light. I’ve heard that boxwood branches need some foliage left on them to continue growing, so I left it for a year and waited for some sprouts lower where the sun was now reaching. I actually had several new sprouts on many branches and it allowed me to cut further this spring. I also put it into a large bonsai pot for some growing room and to get the roots growing out and not down. I hope to style this in a live oak style. Here it is today:
I think every bonsai grower should have a pine. They seem to be the pinnacle of the art and at the heart of the bonsai’s history. I had hesitated for a long time on getting a pine, because their care is much different than a decidous tree. After my recent trip to Bonsai Northshore though, a group of newly grafted japanese black pines caught my eye and I had to have one. The variety is Koto Buki (Pinus thungbergii ‘Koto Buki’), one of the very few true dwarf varieties of Japanese Black Pine, so the maintenance schedule should be much easier than keeping a standard JBP in bonsai shape. It is very young, but I think I will enjoy the final product a lot.
Here’s the pictures of the Evergreen Gardenworks pre-bonsai trees that I purchased. These will be left alone for 3-5 years while they fatten up a little bit before I try to convert them to bonsai. The weeping atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica var. Pendulum) should be particularly interesting, since they are very nice full-grown. You’ll also notice that the Atlas Cedar is not a Blue Atlas, but just the standard form. I don’t usually like variegated color forms since they don’t give me an impression of an older tree.
Buxus microphylla var. japonica ‘Morris Midget’ is one of my latest acquisitions. I actually have several of these planted in my yard because a local nursery has 30 or so at a great price. They have had them for several years and have been unable to sell them because they are really small for a southern garden. Very small, compact, and a slow-grower at a little over an inch per year. I’ve seen decent growth out of the ones in my yard in well-drained fertile soil, so I decided to pick one up to try to immediately put in a pot for bonsai. It has turned out to be one of my favorites. After pruning and repotting, it immediately sprung back with new growth. I think it will be one of the first in my collection to actually look like a little tree. I’m thinking about training into a oak-tree broom style. Here’s some pictures.