Have you ever wondered what went into creating that piece of living art known as a bonsai? How the precise cutting and trimming and tying kept a tiny tree, just that, tiny?
Craig Coussins has travelled to many countries teaching the art of bonsai. In between these journeys he has managed to find time to write a series of practical books, among them “Bonsai for Beginners”, “Bonsai Master Class”, “Bonsai School and the “Practical Guide to Growing Bonsai: A Guide to the Art of Shaping, Growing and Caring for Miniature Trees and Shrubs”.
Combining photos and text, Mr. Coussins covers such topics as proper watering, soil requirements, how to repot bonsai trees and how to prune both the branches and the in some cases delicate root structure.
In “Bonsai for Beginners” there is also a step by step section, including photos, on how to turn a cascade style bonsai, where the branches and leaves grow down and below the lip of the pot, into an upright tree by carefully turning the tree upside down. This is more for advanced growers, but it is something to work up to. Other parts of the book focus on the more elementary steps of bonsai. This particular book has over 450 photos throughout its pages, covering a variety of plant species. Some are inspirational photographs of finished bonsais; others are to lead you in your step by step journey through the process.
“Bonsai School” is equally endowed with hundreds of photos along with instructions and a calendar to help you keep track of what needs done when on your bonsai. Various bonsai tree artists from around the world are included in the book, each sharing techniques and pointers of the craft.
Whether you choose “Bonsai for Beginners” or “Bonsai School”, or any of Craig Coussins’ other books, you will gain an in-depth knowledge of the elegantly fascinating art of bonsai gardening. Through his photos and his novel like, easy flowing text, you just might find that trying to turn a tiny tree into a living, breathing, sculptured work of art is something you just can’t wait to try. Go for it, and bring a little bit of cultivated Mother Nature into your world.
While the briefness of their glory has to be acknowledged, cherries really are the hardy spring-flowering trees for temperate climate gardens. I can think of no others, apart from their close Prunus relatives and some of the magnolias that even come close to rivalling flowering cherries for sheer weight of bloom and vibrance of colour.
The genus Prunus, to which the cherries, plums, almonds, apricots and peaches belong, includes around 430 species spread over much of the northern temperate regions and has a toehold in South America. Although including a few evergreen species, such as the well-known cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus), the genus is mainly deciduous and generally hardy to the frosts likely to occur in most New Zealand gardens.
The genus Prunus is widely recognised as being divided into 5 or 6 subgenera, though some botanists prefer to recognise these as distinct genera. The subgenus cerasus is the one to which the cherries belong. This group includes a wide variety of species, many of which are not highly ornamental. The species which are of most interest to gardeners are the Chinese and Japanese cherries, not only because they tend to be the most attractive, but also because they tend to be reasonably compact, often have attractive autumn foliage as well as spring flowers and because centuries of development in oriental gardens have produced countless beautiful cultivars.
The Japanese recognise two main groups of flowering cherries: the mountain cherries or yamazakura and the temple or garden cherries, the satozakura. The mountain cherries, which tend to have simple flowers, are largely derived from the original Mountain Cherry (Prunus serrulata var. spontanea), Prunus subhirtella and Prunus incisa. They are mainly cultivated for their early-blooming habit, which is just as well because their rather delicate display would be overwhelmed by the flamboyance of the garden cherries.
The garden cherries are the result of much hybridisation, mostly unrecorded, so we can’t be exactly sure of their origins. Prunus serrulata (in its lowland form) and Prunus subhirtella also feature largely in their background. The other major influences are Prunus sargentii, Prunus speciosa, Prunus apetala and possibly the widespread Bird Cherries (Prunus avium and Prunus padus). The result of these old hybrids and modern developments is the wealth of forms that burst into bloom in our gardens every spring. Regretfully, that complex parentage and those centuries of development and countless cultivars combined with Western misunderstandings of Japanese names and multiple introductions of the same plants under different names has led to considerable confusion with the names of flowering cherries.
Most of the popular garden plants are lumped together under three general headings:
1. Prunus subhirtella cultivars and hybrids;
2. Sato-zakura hybrids;
3. Hybrids no longer listed under parent species, being instead regarded as just to difficult to classify in that way.
But however you view them, flowering cherries have so much to offer that a little confusion over naming and identification shouldn’t stand in the way of your including them in your garden. And now that many of them are available as container-grown plants that can be bought in flower, it’s really just a matter of choosing the flowers you like. Nevertheless, it’s nice to know exactly which plant you’re dealing with, so that you can be sure of its performance and size. While most of the larger nurseries and garden centres take care to supply plants that are true to type, make sure on first flowering that your cherries match their label descriptions. Misidentification, or perhaps misrepresentation, is common.
Prunus subhirtella cultivars and hybrids
Although the flowers of Prunus subhirtella are usually small and fairly simple, they appear from early winter well into spring, depending on the cultivar. Not only that, the cultivars themselves are long-flowering, often being in bloom for three weeks to a month. There are many cultivars, but most are similar to, or forms of the two main types listed below.
‘Autumnalis’ ( ‘Jugatsu Sakura’)
This is the most reliable winter-flowering form. It often starts to bloom in late April to early May and can carry flowers right through until mid September. It seldom produces a massive burst of bloom, rather sporadic clusters of flowers. This is just as well because the flowers are damaged by heavy frosts. The flowers of ‘Autumnalis’ are white to pale pink opening from pink buds; those of ‘Autumnalis Rosea’ are the same but with a deep pink centre.
‘Pendula’ (‘Ito Sakura’)
Prunus autumnalis tends to have weeping branches and ‘Pendula’ is a cultivar that emphasises this feature. Its flowers are usually pale pink and open in late winter to early spring. ‘Falling Snow’ is a cultivar with pure white flowers, while those of ‘Rosea’ are deep pink.
Sato-zakura hybrids ‘Fugenzo’ ( ‘Shirofugen’ )
‘Fugenzo’ was one of the first, if not the first, Japanese cherry to be grown in European gardens. It ‘s origins can be traced back to at least the 15th century. Its flowers are white to very pale pink, opening from pink buds, and when fully open how two conspicuous green leaf-like pistils in the centre of the flower.
‘Taihaku’ , also known as the great white cherry, has white flowers up to 5cm across. It grows to at least 8m tall with a wider spread and its flowers open at the same time as its bronze foliage expands, making a pleasant contrast. Thought to have been lost to cultivation, this cultivar was identified in Sussex garden from an old Japanese print.
Although ‘Ukon’ mean yellowish, this cultivar has very distinctive pale green flowers and is one of the few unmistakable cherries. Its foliage develops purplish tones in autumn. The unusual flower colour contrasts well with the likes of ‘Sekiyama’.
‘Amanogawa’ grows to around 6m tall, but only around 1.5m wide, and has pale pink single flowers with a freesia-like scent. It blooms in mid-spring and in autumn the foliage develops striking yellow and red tones.
‘Shogetsu’ (‘Shugetsu’, ‘Shimidsu-zakura’)
‘Shogetsu’ flowers late and produces pendant clusters of white, double flowers that open from pink buds. The flower clusters are up to 15cm long, which makes a tree in full bloom an arresting sight, especially considering that ‘Shogetsu’ is not a large tree and that its weeping habit means it can be covered in bloom right down to the ground.
Certainly among the most popular cherries and most often sold under the name ‘Kanzan’, ‘Sekiyama’ has a relatively narrow, upright growth habit when young but eventually develops into a spreading 12m tall tree. Its flowers, which are pink and very fully double, are carried in pendulous clusters of five blooms. They open from reddish-pink buds. The foliage has a slight red tint.
‘Ariake’ (‘Dawn’, ‘Candida’)
This cultivar grows to about 6m tall and flowers in spring as the foliage develops. The young leaves are a deep bronze shade that contrasts well with white to very pale pink flowers.
‘Kiku-shidare’ (‘Shidare Sakura’)
‘Kiku-shidare’ is similar in flower to ‘Sekiyama’, but it has a weeping growth habit. It is a small tree and is often smothered in bloom from the topmost branches down to near ground level. The flowers can each have up to 50 petals.
‘Pink Perfection’ was introduced in 1935 by the famous English nursery Waterer Sons and Crisp. It is a probable ‘Sekiyama’ × ‘Shogetsu’ hybrid and has flowers that show characteristics of both parents; the clustered blooms of ‘Shogetsu’ and the pink of ‘Sekiyama’. The flowers are very fully double and the young foliage is coppery.
‘Kofugen’ has graceful semi-weeping branches and a fairly compact growth habit. Its flowers are not really single but semi-double, though the two whorls of petals are flat rather than ruffled, so the effect is not that easy to see.
‘Shirotae’ (‘Mt. Fuji’)
This beautiful tree has a spreading growth habit that in the best specimens shows distinctly tiered branches. Its flowers, which are white and semi-double on mature plants, start to open before the foliage expands. They are pleasantly scented.
Although possibly a Prunus × sieboldii cultivar, ‘Takasago’ is now more widely listed under the satozakura cherries. It bears clusters of semi-double pink flowers with bronze-red new foliage.
This tree, rather squat when young, but eventually 7m tall bears single white flowers in such profusion as to give the impression of double blooms. Opening from pink buds, the flowers are up to 5cm in diameter and among the later to bloom. ‘Ojochin’ means large lantern, which aptly describes the shape of the flowers.
Other hybrids, species and their cultivars
One of the most popular of all garden cherries, ‘Accolade’ is a Prunus sargentii × Prunus subhirtella hybrid that develops into a flat-topped small tree. In spring it is smothered in pendulous clusters of large, bright pink, semi-double flowers.
Yoshino cherry (Prunus × yedoensis)
Well-known as an avenue tree, this Prunus subhirtella × Prunus speciosa hybrid is smothered in white to very pale pink blooms in spring before or as the new leaves develop. When the flowers are spent they form drifts of fallen petals around the base of the tree. There are several cultivars, such as the pink-flowered ‘Akebono’, the pale pink ‘Awanui’ and a weeping form (‘Shidare Yoshino’ or ‘Pendula’).
Taiwan cherry (Prunus campanulata)
The Taiwan cherry is valued for its early-flowering habit and fiery autumn foliage. The flowers, which are usually a vivid deep pink, are heavy with nectar and very popular with birds. Taiwan cherry is rather frost tender, though once established it grows well in most coastal areas.
Introduced in 1947 by the British authority Collingwood Ingram, ‘Okame’ is a hybrid between the Taiwan cherry and the Fuji cherry (Prunus incisa). It is usually quite hardy, though this appears to be variable, and it flowers heavily in early spring. The blooms open in late winter to early spring before the foliage develops and are a bright soft pink. ‘Pink Cloud’ is a similar though more compact cherry raised by Felix Jury.
Himalayan hill cherry (Prunus cerasoides)
This species is rather frost tender, especially when young, but is a beautiful tree where it grows well. Not only does it produce pink flowers in winter, when little else is in bloom, it has attractive banded bark and the unusual habit of shedding its foliage in late summer then producing new leaves before winter. The variety rubea has deeper pink flowers in spring.
Cyclamen cherry (Prunus cyclamina)
Flowering on bare stems in early spring, the cyclamen cherry is a hardy small to medium-sized tree from central China. The flowers, which are rose pink, are followed by bronze new growth that retains its colour for some weeks before greening. The leaves fall late in autumn and often colour well.
Sargent’s cherry (Prunus sargentii)
This large and very hardy Japanese species is probably best known as one of the parents of the very popular hybrid ‘Accolade’. It can grow to as much as 18m tall and will withstand at least -25°C. Its 3 to 4cm wide, bright pink flowers are complemented by red-brown bark.
Kurile cherry (Prunus nipponica var. kurilensis)
Usually little more than a large shrub, this Japanese cherry can reach 6m tall under ideal conditions. The flowers, which are soft pink and open from early spring, are backed by red sepals that hang on for a while after the flowers have fallen, thus prolonging the spring colour.
Prunus × sieboldii
This hybrid has given rise to several popular cultivars. The original cross is a slow-growing small tree with semi-double 3 to 4.5cm wide flowers in spring. The new stems are often very glossy.
Flowering cherries are largely undemanding plants that thrive in almost any well-drained soil. For the best display of flowers they need to see at least half-day sun and if sheltered from the wind, the blooms and the autumn foliage will last far longer than if exposed to the full blast of the elements.
Cherries are often seen growing as lawn specimens, but they can be planted in shrubberies, borders or small groves. By choosing a selection that flowers in succession, it’s possible to have bloom from mid-winter to early summer. Cherries are natural companions for azaleas and rhododendrons, and can be used to beautiful effect as shade trees for the smaller varieties of these or to shelter a collection of woodland perennials such as primroses and hostas. Japanese maples also blend well with cherries and they can combine to make a brilliant display of autumn foliage.
Flowering cherries seldom need major pruning once established. Young trees can be lightly trimmed to develop a pleasing shape and mature plant may be kept compact by tipping the branches, otherwise just remove any vigorous water shoots and suckers that sprout from the rootstock. Make sure that any pruning is done in summer to prevent infecting the trees with silver leaf fungus (Chondrostereum purpureum). Although this disease is present throughout the year, cherries are most resistant to it in summer.
Pests and diseases
Apart from the already mentioned silver leaf, there isn’t really very much that goes wrong with flowering cherries that can’t be tolerated. Sawfly larvae (peach or pear slug) sometimes cause damage to the foliage, and older plants sometimes suffer from dieback in their older branches, but these are seldom serious problems. The dieback is sometimes the result of Armillaria, so it may be advisable to insert some of the now readily available Trichoderma dowels into the trunks of any older cherries to prevent the problem developing.
Virtually all of the fancier flowering cherries sold for garden use are budded or grafted, usually onto Prunus avium stocks. Although few home gardeners attempt them, these processes are not difficult. Budding especially, is straightforward and is carried out in exactly the same way as budding roses.
Species, including the standard Prunus avium stock, can be raised from seed or from softwood cuttings taken in spring or early summer. The seed should be removed from the fruit by soaking for few days until all the flesh has fallen away. It is usually best to simulate winter conditions by chilling the seed for a few weeks before sowing.
When buying flowering cherries you may be faced with a choice of graft height. Which you choose largely depends on the cultivar and the type of growth best suited to your garden. With weeping cherries choose the highest graft possible (usually 8ft [2.4m]), to allow the maximum length of flowering branch. Upright cultivars like ‘Sekiyama’ are best grafted near ground level so that their erect habit has a chance to develop properly, while graft height in not that important with bushier trees.
The important thing to remember, particularly with high grafted plants, is that the main stem will not gain much height from the grafting point. The stems of a weeping cultivar may grow up before arching down, thus adding some height, but if you choose too low a graft that won’ t make much difference. Low-grafted weeping cherries are, however, ideal for large tubs where they can be kept trimmed to shrub-like proportions.
I came across some great training videos on ‘You Tube’ for Bonsai Beginners and the experienced artists. Take a look and tell us what you think. Let’s start with videos for Beginners.
The first video explains: How to grow Bonsai.
The next video is on pruning Bonsai.
To start our new series of reviewing Bonsai clubs, we visit Friends of Bonsai in Northern Ireland.
Known affectionately as the “Saturday Morning Club”, the membership of ‘Friends of Bonsai’ in Northern Ireland has grown rapidly since it’s foundation in 1995.
Cliff Farley, co-founder strongly believes that this is due to the “Down to Earth” and “Practical” way in which the art is being expressed. All teaching is carried out by involving its members through a hands on approach. This coupled with the friendly rapport and Craic (Irish good humour) within its membership.
A totally different approach has been taken in the setting up of the club. With no fees for membership, or no committee etc we have, in effect, done away with usual rules and regulations which tend to dominate any club or society, thus leaving people free to concentrate on what is really important ‘BONSAI’. As we have a non-fee paying membership all our funds come from voluntary donations, sponsorships and fund raising.
Friends of Bonsai was formed to provide the means to deal with the overwhelming demand for knowledge in the Art of Bonsai. From the very basics like pruning, watering, repotting to the more advanced styling techniques required to convert nursery stock and collected material into fabulous Bonsai. Its founder members Cliff Farley and Louis Hook brought with them a vast pool of knowledge with a combined 30 years experience between them training under some of Europe’s top masters which they enthusiastically passed on to its members.
In the past we have been privileged to have had Kevin Wilson,(England) Chi Tan, (Holland) Salvatore Liporace,(Italy) Hotsumi Terakawa, (Holland /Japan) Marco invernizzi,(Italy) David Prescott,(England) Steve Tolley (England) and Marc Noelanders (Belgium). Marc joins us every September to conduct a Bonsai school. (Places are strictly limited).
Check out the clubs Gallery on Flickr .
Location: George Green Hall, Rathgill Parade, Balloo, Bangor.
Time: First Saturday of every month from 10 am to 1pm.
As Bonsai and garden lovers we spend alot of time getting to know our trees, we get intimate with shaping, trimming and styling. We water and feed, but how close are we to our trees! If we were a Bonsai tree what type of tree would we be.
In the following list, map your birth date against your tree type and then take a look at you description. Let me know how accurate it is and above all have fun.
January 2 to January 11 Fir
January 12 to January 24 Elm
January 25 to February 3 Cypress
February 4 to February 8 Poplar
February 9 to February 18 Cedar
February 19 to February 28 Pine
March 1 to March 10 Willow
March 11 to March 20 Lime
March 21 Oak
March 22 to March 31 Hazelnut
April 1 to April 10 Rowan
April 11 to April 20 Maple
April 21 to April 30 Walnut
May 1 to May 14 Poplar
May 15 to May 24 Chestnut
May 25 to June 3 Ash
June 4 to June 13 Hornbeam
June 14 to June 23 Fig
June 24 Birch
June 25 to July 4 Apple
July 5 to July 14 Fir
July 15 to July 25 Elm
July 26 to August 4 Cypress
August 5 to August 13 Poplar
August 14 to August 23 Cedar
August 24 to September 2 Pine
September 3 to September 12 Willow
September 13 to September 22 Lime
September 23 Olive
September 24 to October 3 Hazelnut
October 4 to October 13 Rowan
October 14 to October 23 Maple
October 24 to November 11 Walnut
November 12 to November 21 Chestnut
December 23 to January 1 Apple
Apple (Love) … quiet and shy at times, lots of charm, appeal and attraction, pleasant attitude, flirtatious smile, adventurous sensitive,loyal in love, wants to love and be loved, faithful and tender partner, very generous, many talents, loves children, needs affectionate partner.
Ash (Ambition) … extremely attractive, vivacious, impulsive, demanding, does not care for criticism, ambitious, intelligent, talented, likes to play with fate, can be very egotistic, reliable, restless lover, sometimes money rules over the heart, demands attention, needs love and much emotional support.
Beech (Creative) … has good taste, concerned about its looks, materialistic, good organization of life and career, economical, good leader, takes no unnecessary risks, reasonable, splendid lifetime companion, keen on keeping fit (diets, sport, etc).
Birch (Inspiration) … vivacious, attractive, elegant, friendly, unpretentious, modest, does not like anything in excess, abhors the vulgar, loves live in nature and is calm, not very passionate, full of imagination, little ambition, creates a calm and content atmosphere.
Cedar (Confidence) … of rare strength, knows how to adapt, likes unexpected presents, of good health, not in the least shy, tends to look down on others, self confident, a great speaker, determined, often impatient, likes to impress others, has many talents, industrious, healthy optimism, waits for the one true love, able to make quick decisions.
Chestnut (Honesty) … of unusual stature, impressive, well-developed sense of justice, fun to be around, a planner, born diplomat, can be irritated easily, sensitive of others’ feelings, hard worker, sometimes acts superior, feels not understood at times, fiercely family oriented, very loyal in love, physically fit.
Cypress (Faithfulness) … strong, muscular, adaptable, takes what life has to give but does not necessarily like it, strives to be content, optimistic, wants to be financially independent, wants love and affection, hates loneliness, passionate lover which cannot be satisfied, faithful, quick-tempered at times, can be unruly and careless, loves to gain knowledge, needs to be needed.
Elm (Noble-mindedness) … pleasant shape, tasteful clothes, modest demands, tends not to forgive mistakes, cheerful, likes to lead but not to obey, honest and faithful partner, likes making decisions for others, noble minded, generous, good sense of humour, practical.
Fig (Sensibility) … very strong minded, a bit self-willed, honest, loyal, independent, hates contradiction or arguments, hard worker when wants to be, loves life and friends, enjoys children and animals, few sexual relationships, great sense of humor, has artistic talent and great intelligence.
Fir (Mysterious) … extraordinary taste, handles stress well, loves anything beautiful, stubborn, tends to care for those close to them, hard to trust others, yet a social butterfly, likes idleness and laziness after long demanding hours at work, rather modest, talented, unselfish, many friends, very reliable.
Hazelnut (Extraordinary) … charming, sense of humor, very demanding but can also be very understanding, knows how to make a lasting impression, active fighter for social causes and politics, popular, quite moody, sexually oriented, honest, a perfectionist, has a precise sense of judgment and expects complete fairness.
Hornbeam (Good Taste) … of cool beauty, cares for its looks and condition, good taste, is not egotistic, makes life as comfortable as possible, leads a reasonable and disciplined life, looks for kindness and acknowledgement in an emotional partner, dreams of unusual lovers, is seldom happy with its feelings, mistrusts most people, is never sure of its decisions, very conscientious.
Lime (Doubt) … intelligent, hard working, accepts what life dishes out, but not before trying to change bad circumstances into good ones, hates fighting and stress, enjoys getaway vacations, may appear tough, but is actually soft and relenting, always willing to make sacrifices for family and friends, has many talents but not always enough time to use them, can become a complainer, great leadership qualities, is jealous at times but extremely loyal.
Maple (Independence of Mind) … no ordinary person, full of imagination and originality, shy and reserved, ambitious, proud, self-confident, hungers for new experiences, sometimes nervous, has many complexities, good memory, learns easily, complicated love life, wants to impress.
Oak (Brave) … robust nature, courageous, strong, unrelenting, independent, sensible, does not like change, keeps its feed on the ground, person of action.
Olive (Wisdom) … loves sun, warmth and kind feelings, reasonable, balanced, avoids aggression and violence, tolerant, cheerful, calm, well-developed sense of justice, sensitive, empathetic, free of jealousy, loves to read and the company of sophisticated people.
Pine (Peacemaker) … loves agreeable company, craves peace and harmony, loves to help others, active imagination, likes to write poetry, not fashion conscious, great compassion, friendly to all, falls strongly in love but will leave if betrayed or lied to, emotionally soft, low self esteem, needs affection and reassurance.
Poplar (Uncertainty) … looks very decorative, talented, not very self-confident, extremely courageous if necessary, needs goodwill and pleasant surroundings, very choosy, often lonely, great animosity, great artistic nature, good organizer, tends to lean toward philosophy, reliable in any situation, takes partnership seriously.
Rowan (Sensitivity) … full of charm, cheerful, gifted without egotism, likes to draw attention, loves live, motion, unrest and even complications, is both dependent and independent, good taste, artistic, passionate, emotional, good company, does not forgive.
Walnut (Passion) … unrelenting, strange and full of contrasts, often egotistic, aggressive, noble, broad horizon, unexpected reactions, spontaneous, unlimited ambition, no flexibility, difficult and uncommon partner, not always liked but often admired, ingenious strategist, very jealous and passionate, not compromise.
Willow (Melancholy) … likes to be stress free, loves family life, full of hopes and dreams, attractive, very empathetic, loves anything beautiful, musically inclined, loves to travel to exotic places, restless, capricious, honest, can be influenced but is not easy to live with when pressured, sometimes demanding, good intuition, suffers in love until they find that one loyal steadfast partner, loves to make others laugh.
For reference I am a Pine (Peacemaker) and it is very accurate.
The original author of this piece is unknown…
The word “waka” translates into “Japanese poem.” The term dates back to the Heian period (794 to 1185) when Japanese culture was being heavily influenced by Chinese traditions, such as Buddhism and Taoism. Poetry and literature were respected art forms during this period. Purists of the time came up with the word waka to describe poetry written in Japanese by Japanese artists. This was to distinguish these 31 syllable texts from the same style verse Japanese poets were writing in the Chinese language.
The Rikugien Garden in Tokyo was constructed during the Edo period (1603 to 1868). This was the time when the Tokugawa shogunate was in power and when the mistrust of outsiders was at its peak. The first shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu saw the value of foreign trade and did indeed encourage it. But he did have a fear of foreigners, their customs and religions and set about turning Japan into a closed society.
The fifth shogun of the Edo period, Tokugawa Tsunayoshi gave permission for the construction of Rikugien Garden. Built by Yanagisaw Yoshiyasu, a daimyo, or territorial lord under the shogun, construction began in 1695. The gardens were designed to emulate the original six forms of waka poetry.
The gardens opened in 1702 and originally featured 88 landscaped scenes taken from actual poems. After Yoshiyasu died in 1714, the garden was largely forgotten until 1877 when it was purchased by the founder of the Mitsubishi Corporation, Iwasaki Yataro, who revived 18 of those scenes. Today it is the property of the city of Tokyo, Japan.
Visitors pass through the Naitei-Daimon gate and are greeted by a large cherry tree, which in season sports a cascade of pink blossoms. The pathway takes you to the Deshio-no-minato, a spot on the edge of the pond that gives you an overview of the garden including the islands in the middle. The two hills on the main island represent Izanagi and Izanami, man and woman, from the myth of Japan’s ancient origins. Another smaller island, made of strategically placed stones, is called Horaijima. It represents the home of the immortals.
As you follow the pathway around the pond, artfully placed azaleas and tiny bonsai trees seem to appear out of hidden pockets. Nearing the Tsutsuji-no-chaya teahouse, you find yourself standing in a grove of maples. In fall they will be clothed in bright reds, yellows and oranges. Take a walk through the Sasakani-no-michi, a pathway lined with greenery that is so narrow it is named for a spider’s web. Cross the Togetsukyo stone bridge, built in remembrance of a romantic poem about the moon, cranes and a rice paddy.
End your visit with a traditional tea ceremony at Takimi-no-chaya, another teahouse that sits next to a stream with cascading waterfalls, bonsai trees and stone lanterns. From here you can watch the Sleeping Dragon Rock and listen to the gentle flow of the waters.
A new Free Bonsai Classified Ads web site was launched at the weekend. Bonsai Bazaar will give you the opportunity to create your own Bazaar for selling or exchanging anything Bonsai.
Packed with great features you will be able to setup and manage your own ‘Bazaar’. Sell those unwanted Pots and acessories. Want to swap a tree for a Yamadori? Anything related to Bonsai is allowed…
Take a look at the list of features:
- Register and create your own ad listings.
- Ad Editing – You can edit/pause your ads from within your dashboard.
- Create comments – Give and receive feedback on posted listings.
- Image Uploading – Multiple images can be attached directly to your ad.
- Seller Contact Form – Visitors can easily contact you right from your listing. (Emails are sent from BonsaiBazaars email engine).
- Receive notification of someone who is interested in your product.
- Create a featured showcase Ad for the front page. €10 for 60 days to give maximum exposure.
- RSS Feed – Visitors can subscribe to the rss feed from any feed reader and instantly see your latest classified ads.
- Email and Print – You can now easily have your visitors print and/or email classified ads by clicking a link!
- Tags – Each classified ad supports multiple native tagging for improved organization and searching.
- Ad Visitor Counter – Shows how many daily and all-time visitors on each specific classified ad.
- Member Profile Page – You can update your own info, change your password, upload a picture, and much more. Anyone viewing an ad can click on the authors name to see your profile page. (We use email cloaking software to protect your email address from spammers)
- Google Maps – See exactly where each ad listing is physically located. This feature utilizes the Google Maps so each ad will show a map of the item location. Accurate down to the street name.
- Social Media Marketing – All ads are posted to Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and over 20 other social media sites to maximize the reach of your ad.
- Embed Video – Include videos in your Bonsai classified ads. Supports YouTube, Google Video, MetaCafe, Vimeo or any site that provides “embed” code.
These are just a few of the features available, more will be added in the near future.
- Bonsai Bazaar America. (July 2010)
- Spanish version of Bonsai Bazaar (July 2010)
- Event management
- Bonsai artists profiles
- Practical bonsai blog
Check out the Getting Started Guides and videos on ‘Bonsai Bazaar‘.
The proper soil and fertilization rates are imperative for a healthy bonsai. Typical bonsai soil is a fast draining loose mix of several compounds such as course sand, gravel, fired clay pellets, expanded shale, peat, and bark. Dependent upon your location the soil components may change or some extra components added such as in Japan the use of volcanic soils.
The harmonic mixture of organic and inorganic components set the base for the cultivation of your bonsai tree. The fast draining soil harmonizes with the bonsai containers made specifically for proper water drainage. The whole beginning process of acquiring the proper soil for your specific species of bonsai compliments the whole harmony effect achieved from a finished bonsai masterpiece.
Soils that contain little to no clay or native soil to the specific species of bonsai requires regular fertilization to overcome the soils lacking. Bonsai planted in non soil components definitely need nutrient elements added.
Plants fluctuate significantly in their reactions to soil nutrients that are programmed in their natural growth rates, the length of their growth periods, their ages, the types of root systems they have, and their ability to take in nutrients. Plants have broadly diverse growth rates and amplified nutrient intensities in the soil will not change natural growth rates. For an example, trees within the same species can have notably diverse nutrient needs and will respond in their own way to nutrient intensity in the soil.
Although one may think by increasing the intensity of fertilizer given to their bonsai will produce greater and more rapid growth rate, in reality it can have a complete negative effect and cause great distress to your bonsai. There comes a point when too much is just that, too much and the fertilizer begins to use the initial effect it was meant for and begins to cause more harm than good. Overdosing on fertilizer with your bonsai can result in a toxicity effect; make it more susceptible to disease, abnormal unbalanced growth, and nutrient imbalances.
Knowing and studying the specific species of bonsai you are working with is the first step in optimizing your fertilizer routine and save you from undue harm to your bonsai. Plant growths differ as well as the season s the plant displays the most growth and need for extra nutrients. Feeding fertilizer in doormat times or times of slow inherited growth is not only senseless but can be disastrous.
Depending on the maturity of your bonsai will also determine the amount of fertilizer it will require. Young bonsai will require more fertilizers than their slower growing mature counterparts. You cannot make a doormat tree begin growing by adding fertilizer. Absorption rates of nutrients by plant roots also vary dependent on several factors: salt levels in soil and high levels of other nutrients. Fertilizers specifically made for all sorts of varieties of bonsai are the best bet of any bonsai artist.
Aftercare and development of Bonsai
While understanding the fact we need to water, feed and repot from time to time, the most important aspect of Bonsai and Penjing care is the maintenance or ongoing after care.
- Wiring a tree and unwiring is a regular event and takes place in most species once a year and sometimes twice in warmer countries with different and fast growing species.
- Checking wires to ensure that it is not biting onto the structure is an ongoing and daily chore.
- Cutting the wire off stage by stage is necessary-usually from the strongest parts first such as apex, tips of branches etc.
- A regime of correct feeding will need to take place to make sure that the tree is healthy.
- Checking for insects is an ongoing and daily part of the cycle which will include a soil drench to combat sub surface pests.
- Turning the tree around every week to make sure that equal growth is happening.
- Removing moss from lower trunk area and nebari-surface roots. Both to stop dampness on the bark and insects being harboured in that area.
- Weed removal is also a weekly chore and this is important to increase the amount of food available to the tree rather than the weeds.
- Placement through the year to either gain light or reduce light such as in mid summer days when the trees may need some shade.
- Constant pruning of tops unless growing onto a shape. Tip pruning is to encourage new twigs and so increase ramification or twig structure development.
- Taking photographs twice a year, in leaf and out of leaf if a deciduous tree. This is to let you see the development of the tree.
- Protection in cooler climates over winter or on high elevations on cooler climates throughout the year where frost can hit any time in the year.
Article written by Craig Coussins and from his fourth book, Bonsai Masterclass-available from Amazon.
Craig Coussins designs a Hinoki Cypress
It does not matter what the tree is that you design but this example shows the potential of a basic garden plant into a Bonsai.
Hinoki Cypress-Chamaecyparis obtusa. This was designed at the Mid Atlantic Bonsai Societies. The bush was grown as a garden plant but was purchased to make a Bonsai. I spent the previous day preparing the tree, wiring all the branches etc, which left me time to explain what I was doing and how I was to do it. I believe that many potentially good Bonsai are lost when not enough effort is put into the demonstration. When I am privileged to be invited for a major event I insist on getting the previous day to prep large material and take the time to study it. Its not about showing off and making a bonsai suddenly appear in an hour. Its about creating art and making sure that it stays alive at the end of it. Perhaps entertaining my audience as well. Cant do those if I am not sure what I want to do with the material. I enjoy finding the tree in the wood!
Images are in Sequence see my website
There are a number of other stylings here