White pine maintenance and an Oyakata re-style.

John Milton Bonsai

It has been a while since I posted anything, for which I’m sorry but I have busy as always.

A while ago we were cleaning up the white pines on the nursery. This entailed removing old needles from 2 years ago on weaker/not so dense tree’s. These could be easily pulled gently with your hands, as they were turning yellow and going to fall in a while. The reason for doing this was to take them off before they turn brown, just to keep them looking nice.
On stronger/very dense tree’s we were cutting needles from two years ago and cutting the previous years needles. The reasoning behind this is to let some light in into the inner branches/thin them out. By cutting the previous years needles instead of pulling, it means that any cluster of needles with a bud in it that will potentially grow, will hold, the others…

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All in the balance

John Milton Bonsai

Over the last two weeks since my return here we have been mainly candle cutting the Black pines and more recently the medium sized tree’s (also pulling needles, if still needed). We start candle cutting earlier here because there are so many black pines to get through. Smaller tree’s are done later so they have less time to grow and the needle length stays shorter.

I’m not going to go into great depth on what we do here because I have briefly gone into it before and Peter Tea has talked about in in greater detail on his blog.
As a reminder we pull needles down to five pair’s per shoot and cut all buds weak, medium and strong all at once.
There are occasional exceptions to this. For example if there is a weak branch we might leave the very weakest of buds or even leave the branch alone…

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Kuromatsu maintenance work on an ‘old fella’

John Milton Bonsai

The yearly maintenance on black pines/kuromatsu (Candle cutting, needle pulling and any nessacery thinning) has been going on now for a short while as we start pretty early at Aichi-en. We start with the biggest and work are way down to the smallest over the span of a month.

This is the second tree that I did this year.

And after work.

There are many tree’s at aichi-en, from recently purchased to the span of the nurseries existence. This tree actually falls close to being here from the very beginning, one of the longest here and has seen all four generations of Aichi-en. From Mr Tanaka’s great grandfather’s time, it’s been here for one hundred years. Originally a collected tree (yamadori) it was styled and designed by him. The shari isn’t actually original and was made by Mr Tanaka’s great grandfather though, to look at it now you really couldn’t…

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Ospreys on the Magothy

Emily Carter Mitchell ~ Nature as Art

Along the Magothy River on the Chesapeake Bay, the Osprey have flourished in numbers. An evening cruise on the upper river passed by nests on nearly every channel marker along the way.


Their teenagers were tucked in for the evening, some enjoying their supper. A curious one sat up and wiggled his head back and forth in query to my passing.


Mom and dad sat vigilant on the nests, glad to rest from a full day’s of fishing. Feeding teenagers is no easy task.

About thirty years ago, the Osprey population was having a difficult time to reproduce due to thin egg shells. It was discovered that DDT was the culprit, and the chemical was banned from use in the United States in the early 1970’s.

Since that time the population is now growing strong. Wintering in places from Florida to South America, these birds return to the Chesapeake Bay…

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Re-Potting a Tall Scots Pine

Robert Nocher Shohin Bonsai

I had Gerry in the garden today to get some advice on the potting of one of his large pines. In a normal year it might be considered too late in the season to attempt such a thing; but this year it has been so cold and wet that all of our trees are a bit behind where they should be at this time. As the tree is very healthy and the candles have not yet fully opened, we decided to give it a go.

His plan for the future is to train this tree in the literati style, so he wanted to get the tree out of the large oval pot and into something smaller and round..

This is how it looked at the start of the work.


This is the new pot by Ian Baillie. It’s a little deeper than the old pot and the front to back…

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