Tokonoma garden display

 

DSC07732A wonderful day before winds will be ripping off some leaves the next days. The Tokonoma was used to do some recordings for next years new videos. I will later this year announce some news about these videos, so stay tuned. Cliffhanger intended.

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The tree is a Crabapple I have been working on for some years (12 years to be exact). Startet as a garden yamadori tree, I got from a friend. Cut back and regrown. Now it is time to add finer ramification, but it will newer be as dense as a Japanese maple. It has a different nature, and I have to go with this.

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The bonsai event

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The biggest Danish bonsai event took place Saturday the 6th, may 2017. A wonderful day with great people and small trees. The Danish Bonsai Society has this spring event every year. This year my local group Fuchi Bonsai hosted the event, and it seems at it was well received. Here a few pics of the event. More will follow this week.

Shohin-bonsai India

Do they grow Shohin-bonsai in India? Oh, yes they do. I didn’t really knew what to expect as I travelled to India in November. I was there to teach bonsai but had no idea if Shohin-bonsai was part of the bonsai world in the warm region of Pune. It was a great pleasure to watch how this part of bonsai also was present, and even small Mame-bonsai is developed. In the tropic climate trees are grown from cuttings and seeds, and develops satisfying trunks with speed.

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Small pieces on the workshop.

Especially Chinese Junipers and Shimpaku is grown with very good results. The Chinese Juniper differs from Shimpaku by being lighter in needle colour and softer than the more compact Shimpaku variety from Japan. A tropic variation also was present, but the looser growth and longer needles are better suited for medium and large sized bonsai.

The heat in the tropical environment demands much watering for the smallest bonsai. Therefore they are arranged at tables with pebbles who keeps the humidity up for a longer time. Watering is partly with a sprinkler system and followed by hand watering afterwards, to secure thorough watering. The advantage of the sprinkling system is that the trees are cooled down and leafs kept from being burned by the sun. This does not keep a man with a watering can going through the trees to secure everything is healthy and water evenly.

 

Bonsai in India

Bonsai in India is not so well-known internationally. Not yet anyway, but it might change. I have just returned from a great trip doing private demonstration and workshops in Pune. That is about 160 km south-east of Mumbai in the Maharashtra district.

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There is a long tradition for bonsai in India, but for some reason this has not reached out internationally like Japan and China. The three behind my invitation is Prajakta Kale, Kamini Johari and Sucheta Avadhani. They run the bonsai project Bonsai Namaste, that can be translated to Welcome Bonsai. In 2018 a very big bonsai event is planned, bringing in bonsai artists from Japan, Europe, US i.e. including  my self. That event will be followed closely here and on Facebook of course. It will be great I am convinced, attracting people internationally.

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This trip was a mix of bonsai demonstrations, a workshop and consulting about the international event taking place February 2018. The material for bonsai in southern India naturally is tropical trees. Ficus in different variations. Junipers, J. chinensis and Shimpaku plus a local variety I didn’t know of before meeting it there. Also tropical raintrees and species I was unfamiliar with. Not a big issue, because it is mostly about aesthetics and pruning techniques fairly easy to adapt to other specimens. Where I came short in knowledge of specimens, their more than 25 years experience made up for it.

 

I worked on several trees every day, mainly midd sized. In the gallery below impressions from day one, at the country side garden of Sucheta Avadhani, just outside Pune. Within the next weeks a part of the collection will be moved to a common place where they all can work together. More reports to come shortly.

Top 5 bonsai No. 3

The next of my favourite bonsai on the top 5 bonsai list, still in random order, is the Yew. European Yew, alias Taxus baccata. To me one of the strongest and most beautiful trees that is a full quality replacement for the classic Japanese black pine traditionally (and almost always) used as the main bonsai in a Shohin display i Japan. And therefore copied in most of Europe. The reason why I mention a replacement for the Japanese black pine, is that this tree doesn’t cope well with the colder parts of Europe, and it is difficult to maintain a good tree here in Northern Europe. Instead I recommend the use of the European Yew, that have the same qualities as the Japanese favourite, showing strength and adding peace to the display.

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The Yew, Taxus baccata and other varieties, are easy to grow, tolerant to pruning and it is possible to develop a fine and dense ramification of branches. The dark green foliage looks great towards the grey-brown aged bark. In the other posts about my favourite bonsai, I also mention some disadvantages, so here they come. Like Junipers and Cotoneaster, the wounds do not heal with callus like on many deciduous trees when larger branches are removed. Therefore it is important incorporate this in the design. Furthermore it is importnat to know that Yews are very hard wooded, and therefore wiring branches and positioning them should be done at a young age (the branches, not your age).

In Japan it is common to brush the bark and remove flakes of bark, to achieve a smooth looking brown trunk. This to add contrast between living and dead wood enhancing the image. I have always preferred natural aged bark and do not use this method for that reason. I like the flaked grey brown bark, that for me is a more natural and beautiful expression.

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Yews can be attacked by Scale insects. I try to keep an eye on the trees especially in spring and the start of summer where these bad boys have a habit of visiting.I remove them manually with a nail or with a pair of tweezers. Also using a water to wash the rests of is good, removing youngsters not yet hidden by their protective shield.

The roots of Yews are ramified so it is easy to prune. Rougher than on Azalea and Rhododendron, but it can be reduced heavier when transplanting a larger tree to a smaller pot, than other trees. The dense root mass have a lot of water consumption roots, and is therefore easier to adapt to a small shohin pot in a shorter time.

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Yew also tolerates heavy pruning Just take care not to remove all green because this might cause its death. Keep some foliage to regain strength and a healthy tree when you hard prune a Yew the first time to reduce its size.

During the summer period, Yew like partly shade during the midd day with hard sun. It even tolerates a shadowed area, but will have a better and tighter growth if not set in full shade. Remember to keep the soil from drying out totally, and a small shower will make the Yew happy when watering.

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