Keeping it Arboreal for Mother’s Day


If mothers were trees…would they be like these?

A speculative look at the similarity between maternal instinct and cultivated bonsai architecture.* 

Seeing the forest for the trees.

Forest for the TreesFive. Five is the perfect number. No more. No Less. Unless you are speaking of children, and then five is just an insane amount. Any more than five is asking to be committed. (Ahem…Cousin C–I’m looking at you!)

Birch trees, with their snow-white bark always make me think of the Robert Frost poem–Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening–the last lines of which could be an anthem for motherhood:

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.”
I invite you to explore with me some leafy-themes of being a mom.
Into the woods we go…

Some mothers are worth-less.

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Air Layering a Boxwood

Bonsai Iterate

The boxwood in today’s post and video was collected from a suburban yard about 14 months ago. You can read about the collection HERE, and a related article about getting it into a box this spring. I have been very happy with how well it is doing. It has a strong root system and has good growth this spring. Many of these long branches need to be removed as I reduce the plant back to the large trunk. Air layering will help move this process along while propagating new plants at the same time.

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#bonsaivideo : A confused Juniper cascade discussed.


I just want to apologize for the camera angle. The tree moves out of the frame every now and than. I was in a harry this morning as I shot this video. I only noticed it during editing.

In this video I will discuss the plans I have for a Juniper that has been in my care since 2013. I have styled the tree a few time during this period. I like styling junipers but this tree is very difficult for me to style. I have this preset idea of what the tree should look like and can not seem to look at the tree with another design in mind. I will be planting this tree in a new pot in September as it has not been repotted. I will also trim the tree back now and will later think of a new design for the tree. I will not…

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When We Protect “Umbrella Species,” Who Else Gets In Under The Umbrella?

strange behaviors

Sage-grouse (Photo: Dave Showalter)

by Richard Conniff/Yale Environment 360

Conservationists often criticize state fish and game departments for focusing single-mindedly on one species to the detriment of everything else — for instance, improving habitat for elk, which then browse down habitat for songbirds. But what if conservationists — who don’t have that traditional hook-and-bullet mindset — nonetheless inadvertently do much the same thing?

That’s one implication of new research looking at the umbrella species concept, one of the fundamental ideas driving conservation efforts worldwide. It’s the idea routinely advocated by conservationists that establishing and managing protected areas for the benefit of one surrogate species — from gorillas to grizzly bears — will also indirectly benefit a host of other, less charismatic species sharing the same habitat. “The umbrella species concept is an appealing shortcut,” says Jason Carlisle, who conducted the research as a doctoral candidate at the University of Wyoming. …

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Transplanting A Pine Bonsai

Valavanis Bonsai Blog

IMG_0183.JPGNow that our deciduous bonsai are mostly transplanted and trimmed, its time to begin with the evergreen species. Many of the pines have been pinched, at least once and I have learned that this is the prime time to root prune and transplant established pine bonsai.



This bonsai is a RAF Dwarf Scots pine, Pinus sylvestris ‘RAF,’ which has been completely container grown for over 30 years. One of my students has been training the tree until I purchased it in 2011. The second trunk is quite vigorous and was not trimmed to maintain the thin trunk. So, we are working with the way the tree developed.



At one time the crown had a pointed appearance that suggests an immature tree. I thinned it out, wired and transplanted it. A few years ago the bonsai was again transplanted into a shallower rectangular container.

PINE 4-2012 copy

April 2012


December 2012


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