Larch #6

I bought this tree a couple weeks ago at the Kromeriz exhibition because I wanted a tree that could become an interesting looking literati for a relatively low yamadori price. Also, just to challenge myself and see what I could come up with from more or less boring or very average material. Again, I would like to hopefully motivate people that decent trees can be created from material that will keep your wallet happy.

Here is the tree as bought.
The nebari is actually not too bad once I’ll be able to cut back the long root that moves all the way to the end of the training pot. However, since it is planted not completely center and this long root was left, it may take a couple re-poting sessions (maybe 4 years) to get the root mass back to the trunk.

The following day, I jumped on this tree and styled it as well as created some deadwood and treated it with dyed lime-sulfur.

While I was wiring the crown I took a step back and realized that I probably won’t ever like this design and that actually a very compact literati could be made. Perhaps I made a mistake in making the deadwood and not incorporating the removal of the lower branches into the design. I made a photo edit showing my future vision of what this tree could be and I might actually bring this design into reality fairly soon.

Maybe I’ll do it in the spring, but the first step is having a look at the rootball at that time and deciding what to do from there.




Dwarf Alberta Spruce

I wanted to update you with a tree that I’ve had since I started all over with Bonsai, here in the Czech Republic. It’s a species that I don’t recommend for beginners and nor does the rest of the Bonsai community. The cheap price and their natural tree-like appearance at nurseries make them obvious and appealing choices for starters. However, Spruce do not like to be rushed and usually one picks them up, brings them home, cuts the life out of them and shapes their upright branches into straight branches or even rainbow shaped arches. They usually end up dying after such abuse and poor care or die back and just look awful. How many have you seen at Bonsai exhibits? I have actually only seen two.

Harry Harrington has a great and informative website called I recommend having a look there for guidance if you’re a beginner but even if you are an expert I believe you can find a lot of inspiration and perhaps, even new information there.

But, I am getting a bit off point, here’s a link that’s directly related to caring for and getting results from the infamous Dwarf Alberta Spruce:

Here are my results so far.


First re-pot from the nursery container in the fall of 2012, and has been styled for about a year. I was really inspired by one of Walter Pall’s Spruce and I also wanted to create a high-alpine style tree. Bottom branches are left to help with growth and also fatten up the base if possible. This was Spring 2013


I let the tree grow freely this 2014 season with as much growth as possible.


First wiring came off, late summer 2014. You can see that I let the wire bite in somewhat, this is bad on some trees but for most conifers and especially Spruce, you should let the wire bite a little, otherwise your styling work will be pointless. As you can see the branches swung right back up again.

From this point on, I couldn’t find any pictures of the 2nd re-potting to something that resembles a stone from Mr. Jiri Svacina who is a great pot-maker and lives just outside of Brno in the village, Zastavka u Brna. This re-pot happened in spring of 2015 and the tree was wired again in September with the bottom branches still attached. You can tell how much I loved this poor tree.


Jumping forward to Spring 2017. Here is the 3rd re-pot, which I did so that I could lower the tree a little more and move the feeder roots closer to the trunk. You can see that at this time I also eliminated the bottom branches as I did not think they were adding so much and I wanted to finally get a better image out of this tree. I also gave the tree a bad wiring job in September of 2016, this was just to get the branches to hold their position. Wire was removed at this time so that it could recover from the re-potting process as best as possible.


Here is the little Dwarf today. I am very pleased with how it’s progressing. Do you see mountains in the background?



Bonsai should look good from all angles, I tried to make that happen here. I also hope that this tree will keep improving and that it may motivate you to take a second look at boring nursery material.

Have a good one!


Kromeriz exhibit 2017

Howdy to all and I hope you enjoyed the last bit of summer, a lot happened but it just seemed like it was May a few weeks ago. All well, all of the seasons have something to offer. Instead of complaining how hot it is we can now complain of how windy, cold and dark the days are getting….

Last weekend I was able to visit the annual Bonsai show in Kroměříž at the Flora convention center. I left with 4 new trees, an empty wallet, new inspiration and quite a few pictures that I would like to share with you.






That was a lot. Thanks for checking them out.





More summer pine re-potting

Time is flying by and I have not had time to post the last re-pot I did two weeks ago. I learned from Mr. Slovak that the best period to majorly disturb the roots of pines is right after the summer dormancy or right when the trees switch from pushing growth to the tips of next year’s candles to vascular repair. I mentioned the other details in this post-

I found time to do this two weeks back and thankfully, the weather was quite moderate that whole week and I am sure the trees enjoyed this to quickly repair any damage I caused during the root work.


I have been using, pumice, lava, terramol and pieces of cut up bark to introduce an organic element into the mix I use. I have been sifting everything before adding it to the pots this year; buy most of this stuff here at Bon Equip:

First tree up for work is the Scots pine I bought from Mr. Slovak last year. The bark on this guy is not bad given that it could be around 20 years old.




I removed about 20 percent of the roots that were wrapping around the container and I removed about 70-80 of the old soil. It was extremely root-bound and I took about an hour to get everything loosened up. I have also begun adding sphagnum moss on the surface of all the trees I re-pot, this should help with keeping the substrate moist, provide a great area for new feeder roots to grow and create a more pH neutral balance overall.

Next was the Japanese white pine I bought for a steal last year. I believe that because of the cold spring we had and that I wasn’t around that month to provide better protection, The tree lost a good deal of the branches I wanted to keep in the design. This poor guy will have to have a complete restyling perhaps in two years once it’s growing strongly again. The room for roots to grow now should help in eventually bringing this tree back into a good image again.


Here you can see all the branches that decided to give up and also, I removed some of the ugly crossing roots. I believe that this tree did not see a re-pot in maybe 6 years.


I think I could use the branch to create a Jin in the future but I have time to think about the next design anyway. Now the tree looks like more like a mushroom than a bonsai but at least it can now grow its roots out into fresh modern substrate

The rootball here was similar to the Scots pine, it was absolutely packed and so this operation was very essential this year.


I also created a new area for the trees because of some of the high winds we have had this year. This should keep any of the more unstable candidates from toppling over.

Thanks for reading.



Sabina Juniper update

Howdy, I forgot to take before pictures but I gave my sabina that I bought as a 5 dollar bushy thing about 5 years ago a hair cut. I let it grow freely from the styling I gave it almost a year ago and I’d say about 40% came off.


More or less a sequence of the last 4 years. I don’t really have much experience with Junipers and for the life of me, couldn’t come up with a design concept but I learned a bit after working with this material.


A bigger photo of where I decided to leave it when I finished styling it last September and below is what it looks like now. I feel that I am beginning to get a better understanding of where, how and what to style/wire on a juniper after this haircut.


Still a long way to go, Sabina’s don’t make nice little pom poms like Shimpaku do so ramification will take some more time. I can’t decide if the year difference is actually an improvement or not, but I do know that this tree needs a re-pot in the spring.

Since I was feeling creative that day, I also made a C table for our small couch/TV area out of reclaimed Larch :).


Have a good one!



Birch yamadori & some flowering

This tree was one of the first yamadori I dug up while living here. I originally grabbed it for the bark and accessibility even though it is very ugly, it hardly got a glance. As a result, this tree grew great and the pot is absolutely root-bound. When you ignore material, let it grow freely, do not alter the direction it’s facing the sun constantly and fertilize it the same as the trees that get more attention, one ends up growing with vigor.



This is a mix of grasses from 2700m Italy/Austria


Hosta will open soon

Have a good one.

Small white pine

I bought this tree a little over a year ago. The pot it came in when I brought it in was much too small, I thought, for the health of the tree. I placed it into a larger pot but I still think that it is very suitable for this guy. Then, seeing that it was doing quite well this summer, I finally did something with it and now I like this tree many times more.


Now I cross my fingers or as the Czech’s say, “holding my thumbs.”


Kusamono parade

My last post was a bit of a downer and there are still things to make me smile in the garden. Here are some plants that don’t usually get very much attention and many still need many years to properly develop and therefore, I must show them all at once.



Wild Rose rosa multiflora (i think) Not really a kusamono but very cute and growing strongly



Currently my only Palmatum



Not sure what any of these are called but it is all collected from somewhere around 2700m. It will flower soon


An idea I had but the spores have taken a long time to develop, Brno isn’t humid, at all.

Have a good one.