Bunjin Ponderosa Update

michael hagedorn

A couple years ago I did a post on a Ponderosa Pine bunjin, and I promised an update down the road. Here’s the ‘What became of that tree?’ post…


This is where we started with the Ponderosa Pine in 2013, after some trunk cleanup and lime sulfuring. The long, twisted needles are the result of over-watering (Oil-Dri, which this tree is potted in, exacerbates this problem.) Longer needles can also result from over-fertilizing and lack of sun. Compare this with the final photo.


After styling, from our selected front.


And a couple years later, in a pot, 32″ / 81 cm. The tree looks larger with shorter needles, doesn’t it? There are buds developing as well, and with the upcoming ramification the needle length will reduce further still.

Check out the first post of this tree’s styling:


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Doing It Wrong #2

Bonsai Iterate

Number two on the list of things I was doing wrong for two decades: Repotting too often.

I have heard from many who are scared to repot their bonsai – afraid they will kill the tree. Not me! Perhaps I read one too many things that suggested you should repot annually. And I did for many of my trees. I enjoyed it. Got good at it too. Didn’t kill the trees either, but boy was I slowing them down! My trees were in development. I should have let them grow. Instead, I was root pruning and repotting like I didn’t want them to grow beyond what they were already.

Any advice about how often to repot (or anything else for that matter) should taken with a grain of salt. The advice is given from the context and experience of the giver, not the receiver. If a guy like me (with…

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Doing It Wrong #1

Bonsai Iterate

How does a guy spend twenty years with bonsai and still feel like a beginner? By doing it wrong! I have been doing things wrong for so long, I’m an expert! LEARN FROM ME!

I have not laid out any sort of plan for sharing my misdoings (ironically, as you will see in a moment) but I am going to move forward confident that putting a “#1” in the title will be the right path. There could, no doubt, be many of these. So, what is number 1?
I never refined a tree!

The experts do address this issue, in a way. I would distill the related ideas into two statements:

  1. Every tree is in training.
  2. A tree can’t always be show ready.

The problem is, I took these ideas to the extreme and for two decades never even tried to get a tree to a refined state. What’s worse…

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