400-Year-Old Bonsai

Interesting report on a Japanese White Pine at the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum in Washington by VOANews.com.

http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/NYPeNcnyZ6g?fs=1&hl=en_US&color1=0x006699&color2=0x54abd6

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Bonsai Jewelry

Looking through the latest issue of American Bonsai Society’s journal and I found an ad for bonsai jewelry. Frank’s Custom Jewelry makes many different pieces using the lost wax process. Each piece is handcrafted by 2nd Generation Bonsai Master Frank Mihalic. I think it would be an interesting conversation piece to have and I’m considering buying something.

Pendant shaped like a tree

Pendant shaped like a tree

http://www.franksbonsaijewelry.com/

All about pot selection

Bonsai Tonight has a good article on pot selection that’s worth reading.  I have been looking at several different kinds of pots lately, but for an entirely different reason.  I have been struggling with the best type (size and material) of grow pot for future bonsai.  Maybe I’ll blog about it once my research is done.  For now, head over to Bonsai Tonight

Part 1: http://bonsaitonight.com/2010/01/05/show-pots/
Part 2: http://bonsaitonight.com/2010/01/08/pot-selection-redux/

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Let it snow!

In most areas of the country, snow is simply a part of winter. In the South, however, it *may* come once per year and most of the time that doesn’t stick to the ground. We had a really good snow this year though, and for some of my bonsai, it was their first time to deal with it. We got about 4 inches a few weeks ago (yes, I’m just getting around to blogging about it), but even with that much, it was gone by lunch. Nevertheless, here’s some pictures.

snow_2009 109

Juniper in snow

Bonsai bench in snow

Bonsai bench in snow

Air Layering Resources

Bonsai Bark did a nice series in the past couple of months on air-layering. If you have mature yard trees, a well-developed branch you need to remove, or would like the chance to start over with your nebari, then air-layering is definitely something to look into. Here’s the links:

A Simple Air-layering Technique Part 1
A Simple Air-layering Technique Part 2
A Simple Air-layering Technique Part 3

Here’s an explanation of the process and why it works over at EverGreen Garden Works:  What is Air Layering?

Some other resources:

Layering Techniques for Bonsai

Ground Layering at Bonsai4Me

Airlayering by the Texas Agriculture Extension Office

If you have any other resources about air layering and it’s relationship with bonsai, send me the links and I’ll add them to this post.

Plant City Bonsai

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 🙂

http://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf

My 2nd Costa Farms Bonsai

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:

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The Behr Bonsai Scholarship

Passing along information about a good cause for bonsai and for education.  Behr Appleby passed away in May of this year and contributed a lot of knowledge to the bonsai community.

Bonsai Vault has established a scholarship fund in the memory of Behr (Grampz) Appleby (1948-2009) to skilled students / enthusiasts of bonsai seeking a education to improve their art and the bonsai community as a whole. The scholarship will be awarded to an individual(s) for the purpose of achieving a more advanced level of bonsai.

The concept of this scholarship is to encourage and support budding bonsai artists in the fashion Behr showed and demonstrated through his commitment to the art over many, many years. In turn, any individual(s) receiving this scholarship must, with in one year of the award, demonstrate to the Behr Bonsai Scholarship Fund the knowledge that they have acquired. This demonstration of knowledge must be displayed in four distinct different ways.

Here’s more information and a button to donate:  The Behr Bonsai Scholarship

Here’s the forum thread showing the balance of the fund:  Scholarship Balance and Contributions

Indian Hawthorn

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 🙂

Indian Hawthorn

Indian Hawthorn

Ficus Bonsai Progression

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.

Ficus Retusa Bonsai

Ficus Retusa Bonsai

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.

Ficus Retusa Bonsai

Ficus Retusa Bonsai

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.

Ficus Retusa Bonsai

Ficus Retusa Bonsai