Good Ponderosa, Bad Ponderosa

Posted by on Nov 21, 2015 | No Comments
Good Ponderosa, Bad Ponderosa

Among American native pine species, Ponderosa pine is perhaps the most popular species to collect and train as bonsai. While I can think of numerous other species that seem more suitable to bonsai based on needle characteristics, it is Ponderosa that you will most often find. The reason for the relative plethora of Ponderosa compared […]

P. monticola Meets Matt Reel

Posted by on Nov 9, 2015 | 10 Comments
P. monticola Meets Matt Reel

Pinus monticola, or Western White Pine, is native to the Sierra Nevada mountains, Cascade Range and the Pacific Northwest. The tree has a typical slender white-pine family needle with a somewhat more muted coloration than many of the striped white-pine family members. The needles are beautifully soft and seem to end up anywhere from 1- […]

Small Black Pine Progress

Posted by on Oct 26, 2015 | 2 Comments
Small Black Pine Progress

Each fall, I can hardly wait to get started on working on black pines. The long summer season of working on juniper and cypress finally winds down and we can get to serious fall work on conifers of all types. While I probably have more cypress work that I could be doing (they never stop […]

The Artisans Cup – Trapezoids and Parallelograms

Posted by on Oct 18, 2015 | 4 Comments
The Artisans Cup – Trapezoids and Parallelograms

While the trees at The Artisans Cup were undoubtedly the core of the show, they were not the only focus for many visitors. You could do no more than glimpse the room from the entrance before you were convinced that you had never seen a show quite like this one, either in America or Asia. […]

The Artisans Cup Judging

Posted by on Oct 4, 2015 | 27 Comments
The Artisans Cup Judging

In their Sunday afternoon panel discussion Ryan and Chelsea Neil expressed a desire for creating professional standards in bonsai and for consistency and transparency in judging of bonsai exhibits. To that end, the judges at The Artisans Cup were separated during judging so they would not influence each other and they were informed in advance […]

Reflections on The Artisans Cup

Posted by on Sep 30, 2015 | 5 Comments
Reflections on The Artisans Cup

I left San Francisco at 7am on the Wednesday morning before The Artisans Cup to drive over to Alameda to meet up with Jonas Dupuich. Among other things we were taking my grafted California Juniper and accompanying pieces up to Portland, Oregon for the show. Both Jonas and I were happy that most of the […]

A Golden Moment in the Garden

Posted by on Sep 15, 2015 | 4 Comments
A Golden Moment in the Garden

One of the nice things about having a yard that faces the San Francisco bay and the rising sun is that occasionally there are moments when the lighting is just amazing. They don’t happen every day, but they are more frequent in fall and winter than during the summer. A few days ago I glanced […]

Too Straight for a Juniper

Posted by on Sep 10, 2015 | 4 Comments
Too Straight for a Juniper

In bonsai, Junipers are supposed to be all twisty and contorted. That’s the rule. So, I guess we should all just ignore the tree that I’ve been working on for the last few years – it’s too straight for a juniper. Check back next time I post something. But seriously, where do the rules come […]

Yamadori Style Kishu

Posted by on Sep 2, 2015 | 4 Comments
Yamadori Style Kishu

I think it was back in 2007 that Jim Gremel did a workshop for BSSF, the somewhat-infamous Yamadori-style juniper workshops where he takes young trees and wires them into crazy shapes. His concept is great, it’s just that the execution takes a long time. I wired a couple trees during that workshop and recall him […]

A Conversation with John Boyce

Posted by on Aug 20, 2015 | 2 Comments
A Conversation with John Boyce

One of my first teachers, John Boyce, a founding member of the Bonsai Society of San Francisco in 1960, approaches bonsai from a seemingly unique direction. Incorporating elements of minimalism, Japanese Literati aesthetics and one other strong influence… John has always had a strong preference for bunjin trees – and he likes his bunjin on […]