Arakawa JBP Update 2017 part 1

Nebari Bonsai

This is the Arakawa variety of JBP. Not a Nishiki cultivar, but a rough barked variety. The bark is nice and rough, but so far, rather flaky and not yet persistent. That’s ok, the bark will improve as the tree is refined. I chose a front and completed the first styling in March 2016:

and took it to a Kathy Shaner workshop in March 2017:

I started with cleaning out old needles, and reducing each shoot to a pair of buds and 10-12 pairs of needles:

Getting it into an easy-to-wire state:

Which I did, and Kathy adjusted:

And here is the end result for now:

Notice the trunk has been tilted to the right a bit? I started by excavating the left side to confirm the base would look good at this angle. With it confirmed, I repotted it the following weekend:

I broke down the left side of…

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Creating A Beech Forest Bonsai

Valavanis Bonsai Blog


Beech are highly prized for bonsai because of their characteristic white bark, beautiful foliage, winter hardiness and easy training. There are several beech species native to Japan. The Japanese beech, Fagus crenata is the most commonly trained species for bonsai in Japan. Specimens near Mt. Fuji are especially valued because of their small thick foliage. The American beech, Fagus grandifolia, has rather large thin foliage and often collected specimens are grown for bonsai. The European beech, Fagus sylvatica, is trained for bonsai in Europe and spectacular bonsai are created from thick trunked collected trees.

In the United States European beech, and its numerous cultivars are commonly used in the landscape for different colored foliage or unusual growth patterns. These cultivars are usually grafted onto seedlings of European beech, so they are a widely grown nursery stock.

The normal leaf size of European beech is a bit larger than Japanese beech…

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JBP Candle-cutting

Nebari Bonsai

I like to update this one every summer and every winter (if I can get to it). Remember, candle-cutting JBP with 100 days left in the growing season produces a second flush of growth, with more buds (ramification), and shorter needles, due to the shortened growing season.

July 10, before

Starting at the top, remove this season’s candles:

Middle section complete; leaving longer stubs on the stronger shoots. Look at these like fuses on a firecracker, the longer the fuse, the takes to go!

All of this year’s candles removed:

Pruned heavy areas, and thinned the needles down to 10 or so pairs of needles per shoot.

Want to see how this tree got from a nursery can to antique Chinese container in 10 years, in a flip-book format, with step-by step, cause-effect photos? Check out the book:Developing Japanese Black Pine Bonsai…by yours truly.



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Incredible Nebari

Sam & KJ's Suiseki Blog (水石)

If you have been in bonsai for very long you quickly learn that having good nebari (root structure) adds significantly to the aesthetic and monetary value of your tree.   But to be direct, in the US we don’t see that many trees with what we would classify as outstanding or incredible nebari.  It takes work – and more work – and then some time.

In 2008 we visited a individual (not to be named at his request) outside of Tokyo that was growing Japanese maples that made our jaw drop.  Let me show you the first of a few.

Japanese Maple

A nicely formed tree with the beginning of excellent ramification but with outstanding nebari.  Just look at this closeup.

Nebari on a Japanese Maple

The owner of this tree indicated that when he repots his maples he takes about three days to do it.  Why you might ask? He indicated that he very slowly combs out…

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Boon’s Bonsai

This gallery contains 8 photos.

Originally posted on Bonsai Eejit:
After a busy few days of bonsai home and away, I’m only now getting back to the USA trip photos. Here’s the next chronological instalment….. Next up after Yosemite was a drive back across California…

A Visit To Shinji Suzuki’s Bonsai Garden, Obuse, Japan

Valavanis Bonsai Blog


Our tour was fortunate to visit the bonsai garden and studio of Shinji Suzuki, one of Japan’s premier creative award winning bonsai artists. His garden is full of masterpiece and important bonsai, many which have never been seen before.


His garden design is superb and the beauty of each bonsai can be enjoyed. Small sectional displays have been set up to feature one or a group of beautiful bonsai. The entire pristine garden was clean and neat as well as his working areas.



Obuse is located near Nagago, Japan, host for the 1998 Olympic Winter Games. This is a cold region which was so beautiful with the fresh young green foliage. Since Mr. Suzuki lives in a cold region, mostly narrow-leaf evergreen species are featured including Sargent juniper, Japanese black and five-needle pines, Needle juniper, Japanese hemlock and Ezo spruce bonsai. Deciduous bonsai are well represented with Trident and Japanese…

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