Japan Satsuki Bonsai Tour– Part 4

Valavanis Bonsai Blog


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We had a long and enjoyable today, well, every day is full of beautiful bonsai, highlighting Satsuki azaleas. We took a subway and four taxis from our hotel to the Shunka-En Bonsai Museum of Kunio Kobayashi. He is well known for his award winning Japanese black pines and Satsuki azaleas. In fact, this is the first time we have visited him when he was not at his museum. He was judging a Satsuki exhibition in Yokohama and his senior apprentice Hiroyuki Suzuki was setting up another Satsuki exhibition at the Ueno Green Club– that’s one we will miss. Mrs. Kobayashi did a great job, as always welcoming us and serving us green tea.

Since Peter Warren is teaching in Florida and Hiroyuki is at the Ueno Green Club we had Jin Yasufumi, who speak English, translate for us and give us a grand tour of the tokonoma displays all featuring…

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My Hinoki Cypress Update


This is my Chamaecyparis Obtusa Nana Gracilis. I acquired it just over a year now from a small garden center in the middle of no where, it was just sitting in the corner minding its own business until i came along. The garden center owner was more than happy to sell it cheap, I think I paid 6 or 8 euro in the end for it.

I have not attempted to style it in anyway, only keep it alive and healthy. When I first got it I reduced the size of the pot it came in by cutting the top down and removing a small amount of top soil. On doing so I revealed the second trunk and a nice enough small natural shari. I reduced it further this year to get to the base of the trunk.

I just pinched the new growth to allow sunlight to penetrate to the inner branches, as I have heard a Hinoki will never back bud on old wood. I was hoping to maybe begin to style it this summer and repot it next summer as I don’t know how long it has over stayed its visit in the pot it is in. Anyway here is some photos I have been meaning to up load a while since starting the Blog.

I really like this shot from underneath


Some growth I am trying to protect and encourage


From above


Just need to decide now where to start with styling. Plenty of thought and research before hand ;)

At the Munster Bonsai Club workshop, i had the oppurtunity for Ian and Phil from NIBS to have a look at this and see what they thought.


After some discussion it was decided to remove the lower branch and begin to wire it.



It was decided the whole tree needed to be wired in the end, with help from Ian it finally got done, Here me grooming my balded tree 🙂


The before image


The after image, Finally 🙂


So that’s where the tree stood after our workshop in January 2014. And heres how it looked after a few weeks..



And here it is in May 2014. Starting to fill out a bit.




Here is the pot i have recieved from Phil In the Northern Ireland Bonsai Society.



So after a bit of deliberation we decided to have a look at the roots and see what can be done to get one step closer to this pot.






There was quite a lot of long roots wrapping around the pot. So we removed any heavy roots that we didnt need,



Me and Piotr getting stuck in.



When we got through a lot of the roots we could move out of the way the main tap root was quite strong and hindered the potting chances of going into a shallow pot. Just like what i have. The decision was to remove what we could without compromising the health of the tree. As we removed earth and roots we discovered what we had originally thought was the nebari was just the beginning of the nebari. It turned out to be quite powerful. A major bonus. Although what i had originally set as the front may be changed due to the find.

Here is a shot of the newly discovered nebari.


It was decided to cut down the original pot and place it back in their untill new roots had developed and we could look at removing more of that heavy main root. Probably next season. Anyway i was able to put the tree into some nice akadama i had recieved also from Phil (Major plug for phil, top man for supplies in Ireland)



it turned out we had cut the pot too short so we had to put some of the trimming back on.


So here it is after stage one of root trimming. Quite happy to have found that inside the pot.



So thats how the tree looked after the club meeting. A few days later i decided the time had come to remove the wire that was on the tree since january as i was quite close to biting in. Here was the tree in the end of may 2014. Ready to remove the wire.



A look at some of the wire






I think this is the first time I can truly say that i badly need proper tools. I have seen how nothing compares to proper concave cutters or wire cutters that snip right at the tip of the cutting blade. It makes a massive difference and I am in the process to get my hands on a decent kit, especially after the time it took me to carefully remove the wire without damaging the branches. I should have known from being a mechanic that the right tools make all the difference.




Heres the tree with the wire removed



And a look around the side and back





A closer look at a jin that hasn’t recieved any lime sulphur yet.


When we removed the hinoki from its pot and rmoved some roots and soil, we discovered this lump of nebari. since its not wet and dried since the last photos i said i would take some photos and show you it a bit closer.







So thats the newly acquired nebari, that we didnt even know existed. That were the tree stands at the moment.




Next step now is to re wire the tree the coming week. Should be fun 🙂



Itoigawa Workshop: Start to Finish

well wrote and in quite some detail. Good read

Bonsai Prelude

Itoigawa before photo Itoigawa before photo

The workshop I chose to participate in this past weekend was the Itoigawa juniper workshop with Ryan Neil. In this post I hope to point out some of the things I learned, guiding us through the process of styling just as we did in the workshop. So get your notebooks out, this is going to be a long one.

The first step of the styling process (assuming you’ve already chosen the tree) is to identify the following, in order of importance:

1. Find the best base for your tree. By this I mean view your tree from every side, the idea is to find stability. Trees that have an unstable appearance (generally caused by a very thin trunk entering the ground) create an unstable feeling in the viewer. In most cases you’ll want to pick the view where your tree looks the widest at the point where…

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Bonsai Art of Japan Episode 41

An episode dedicated to watering bonsai. Probably the most important part of keeping your bonsai. It was a topic that I found the hardest to grasp when starting out but an absolutely vital one.

Japan Satsuki Bonsai Tour– Part 2

Valavanis Bonsai Blog



Saitama City





Our first stop today was at the private garden of Masahiko Kimura where we saw magnificent, mostly large size bonsai. Nearly every tree was an evergreen, many with dead wood, but not all. Three were numerous famous masterpieces as well as Important Bonsai Masterpieces and award winning trees from the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition.


Mr. Kimura was a gracious host and all of group were served tea and Japanese cookies. Of interest to most of our members was not a large size tree, nor evergreen, but rather a small tropical tree. A few knew the name was “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” but could not think of the botanical name. So, I took out my iPhone and searched and discovered the name is Brunfelsia pauciflora, a small plant native to Brazil. I’ve seen it in Florida and it’s beautiful with purple, white and pink flowers on the…

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Munster Bonsai Club May Meeting

So that time of the month has rolled around again and we were not lucky enough to have acquired a room in our usual location. In the end we ended up having the meeting in my house. Which is only two mins from the original destination, which makes it easier as everyone more or less knew where to go and we saved a few bob (money) in the process. Anyway it turned out to be just four of us, and it was still quite a busy night. We had plenty to talk about and had a bit of time to get our hands dirty. Thanks to my little Hinoki. Everyone had a tree to work on, and some got a nice few haircuts.

I was gutted that i missed the workshop last month, and felt the effect of not having a regular meeting regarding bonsai. It really does give you a jolt and a buzz about the trees that may just be sitting there not getting any attention in our busy schedule. The last two months for me felt as if there was no bonsai club, but it really does show you how lucky we are to have it. Just a space to talk bonsai, and nothing else for 2 or 3 hours. You feel on cloud bonsai afterwards. I felt like going straight out afterwards and dig up that juniper down the road. I had to restrain my self. Believe me. It really is brilliant that we have this club. Especially when i see Ray drive over two hours to get to the meeting, Fair play to him. I have it easy, but most the lads have to travel.

When i think back over the course of the past few years and having no club, especially when i am so new to bonsai it makes a huge difference to have a club. It can really drive you on. Anyway rant over, I am going to show some of the photos i took the other night of the meeting. Which i must say i find hard to get time to take as all Im interested in is talking and looking at trees.


Ray and piotr getting settled in.



Where to start?



My Hinoki and its future pot, thanks Phil 🙂



Out of its pot and ready to get a trim down below.


Look at the new pot


Piotr getting stuck in



Getting raked



Well that was unexpected



Back in the room in its original pot halved.


Ghostly Ray and Peter



My tree stage one complete.


some lovely trees and love the hinoki.

Valavanis Bonsai Blog


Dwarf Hinoki cypress from the Maggio (RJB) Collection received the Yoshimura Award for the Members’ Choice Award.




On May 17-18, 2014 members of the Bonsai Society of Upstate New York organized, staged and hosted our 41st exhibition. Over 100 individual bonsai were displayed by members with different backgrounds, skill levels and bonsai design styles. Everyone was invited and encouraged to display a bonsai.
The exhibition was well received and it’s interesting to note that we only had ONE “committee” meeting which lasted 20 minutes to organize the exhibition. Everyone came together to set up, host and take down the exhibition. As most people know set up takes longer than take down. It took our members about four hours to set up the exhibition and just less than one hour to take it down, not counting some time for vacuuming the floor.
Our next Upstate New York Bonsai Exhibition will be held in…

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Facing it all…

This is an article wrote by Alan, i guy i used to radio and dj with in cork. I thought it was a very honest and brave piece that could give other young people dealing with issues like this hope. Definitely worth a read and like. Fell free to share also. Great read alan, hope you keep the blogging up. Its quite addictive kid.

Alan's world.

Welcome all,

My name is Alan and I’m here to tell you about my experience with severe acne as a teenager.

Right, I’m 15 and I’m doing the usual things a teenager would do;  drink 4 cans on a Friday night after school and generally mess about without getting into too much trouble,I never caused any harm. I was heavily involved with pirate radio stations in Cork throughout my teens. I’v been on them all. A ”radio whore” if you like, and never did the phrase ”a face for radio” become more relevant in my case.

My first experience with acne was the usual couple of red spots dashed about the chin and cheeks, pretty normal for a teenager so I thought. I had been asked to DJ on ”Kiss FM” which in Cork in 2007 was a big deal, lots of listenership and followers. At 15 I felt privileged…

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Choosing the Bon for the Sai

creating interesting jin…on a juniper…without powertools…

good read, suits me as i have no power tools, yet 🙂