The Story of a Bonsai Tree


As I touch the cool broken street cement of a city, and how the tree is like the breath of nature itself, as it exudes a blanket of cool in the humid air of spring not yet summer.

It is an old bonsai tree, after living half a millennium in Japan, displaced to new shores of America. It is foreign, and in “making America Great again”, it is the root cause of contention, of xenophobic banter and termed “an invasive species”.

Yet it is this poor tree, immune to fungi, immune to the natural causes that affect trees within our borders that brings beauty and safety to a land not its own.

This tree, is like us. It is a community, of smaller things. A node in a network of life within the grander scheme of life. It is the story, of how sadness is rendered beautiful.

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Some re-potting

bonsai balcony brno

Here’s another batch of trees I re-potted. I still have a few more to go but the weather has been real crap lately. Beech, some hornbeam, my new hazel and some others still haven’t opened their buds!


IMG_2007 This tree was bought 4 years ago as a ordinary nursery Alberta bush. I think there is potential to make this look like an old mountain Spruce

IMG_2013 Hazel, still hasn’t opened. I hope the cold didn’t damage too much of the tree.

IMG_2014 This picture of this Linden is from about 2 weeks ago. I will post newer pictures of opened trees soon.

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World Bonsai Convention

Traveling around Asia and Japan

DSC01899EN: As usually, the title says it all. There was (well, at the time of writing still going on) a World Bonsai Convention in Saitama, which is a place I know quite well and therefore I wasted no time and visited the Saitama Super Arena – the second largest indoor arena in the world.

I have always loved the bonsai and all the magic behind them, I read some books and other stuff about them. On the other note, as Wesley Snipes said in The Demolition Man – “Patience is not one of my virtues” and therefore the only thing I can do is to admire the results coming from other, more patient people. They were really worth it. You could still see the little pieces of wires and other tools used to shape the bonsai trees, some of them were 800 years old.

Also, you could actually buy quite…

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The pH Factor (Part II)

Taiga Bonzai

Types of soil and their pH content

In the article ‘Bonsai soils’ there is a more descriptive analysis on the different types, but in short there are 6 basic soils:

Peat soils – are comprised of waterlogged partially-decomposed plant material including sphagnum moss, which is very high in organic matter and moisture with a pH starting approximately at 3.0

Sandy soils – contain the largest particles among the different soil types, that is dry, gritty and because there large are particles creating voids, water retention is not possible. However, sandy soil warms more quickly in the spring. Sandy soils have a pH starting at approximately 4.7

Clay soils – are the remnants of certain types of rocks eroded and weathered to form fine particles, that are high in nutrients, but they can be heavy, cold and wet in winter and very dry in summer. Clay soils have pH from 5.5…

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The pH factor (Part I)

Taiga Bonzai

The first signs of demise

Bonsai either given as a gift, individually purchased or one cultivated by other means, grafting, a cutting or from seed is usually lavished with care and attention to ensure its health and vitality. As the seasons progress new buds flowers and or fruit appear, enhancing the tree’s ruggedness and or beauty, a wonderful miniature specimen of its full size counterpart. But things begin to change, autumn is still a long way off, the tree’s leaves start to turn yellow and this is the first sign that something is not as it should be and questions start running through ones mind.

  • Was it watered enough or too much  
  • Was it given the correct type and quantity of feed
  • Should it have had full sun or partial shade
  • Has it been attacked by pests or disease
  • Did it need re-potting
  • Was it pruned at the wrong time…

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Selecting material for bonsai part II

Taiga Bonzai

Selecting material for bonsai part II

Air layering – although not really a grafting method is a common practice in obtaining potential bonsai material that has some substantial growth, but again much depends on the species. The illustration below shows an old deciduous shrub, which may look as potential bonsai material, but has problems for example. Poor branch displacement and reverse taper at the base of the trunk. Nonetheless, a possible candidate is the lower branch on the right. The following illustrations show the air-layering process.

Air layering 1

Air layering 2

Air layering 3

Air layering 4

Collecting from the Wild – causes arguments on both sides. Those in favour may argue that species they require can not be found at nurseries or bonsai outlets furthermore, seedlings and cuttings will take many years before reaching maturity.

Here are some thoughts on the issue. In some countries where timber harvesting is part of their economy, vast areas of trees are cut and…

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The solo enthusiast versus the club member

Taiga Bonzai

Filming a silver birch wood recently a passer by enquired why, as the trees were devoid of foliage and looked rather ugly. The reply given was that some of the footage would be used to support a discussion on a pending bonsai article. As the conversation developed, he remarked that he had always been interested in bonsai and would like to know more about the art, now he had retired. “Are there any bonsai clubs or associations where one can join?” Unfortunately there are no bonsai clubs in this area that I am aware of was the reply. “That is a pity, bonsai are sold locally in garden centres and stores so there must be some interest.” Yes you are probably correct in your assumption, but it really is up to the individual whether he or she wants to be part of a club or stay as a solo enthusiast.

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