Three months ago, at the end of December 2012, I put up this post on grafting a juniper from the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens bonsai collection. In the two weeks after that post, I grafted another two junipers from the collection, one using the same channel technique as shown in the post, and another using a thread-wedge technique. In the previous post, I guessed that I would be able to give a progress report around mid-March, and boy was I right on the money!
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! Gather round for the one, the only, the Big Instant Bonsai Demo Extravaganza!
Who among us hasn’t heard the term ‘instant bonsai’, or even been accused of it at one time or another? But what exactly is it, and why is it so bad? In this installment of the Bonsaipiece Theatre series, I enlist the aid of one of my lovely assistants – a juniper from the JBG, and try to find out. So without further ado, I give you – Instant Bonsai! Continue reading
One of the most frequent comments I get when people hear that I’m from Israel, is how much they’d like to visit the country.
In the US, in Italy, in the UK, and most recently at the Noelanders show in Belgium, almost everyone I meet says “Oh, you’re from Israel! I’ve always wanted to visit!”, followed immediately by “What’s the bonsai scene like there?”. Even people who’ve visited in the past, say they want to visit again.
Always one to listen to the crowd, I’ve decided to explore the possibility of organizing a tour to Israel, custom-tailored to the bonsai community. Please imagine that such a tour really was available in 2013 and answer the following poll honestly. Please note that such a tour would probably cost a couple thousand dollars.
Well, the 2013 Noelanders Trophy has come and gone, and blog posts are popping up all over with pictures, videos, and accounts of the event. In the true spirit of this blog, I’d like to offer a different angle on the event. Continue reading
Back in April, I was invited by my good friend and fellow bonsai artist Ami Yehizkiyahu (winner of the 2012 Botanical Gardens Award) to join him on a yamadori trip in the north of Israel, where an old olive grove was being pulled out to make way for new construction. When we arrived, the local contractor told us that the grove was rumored to be about 1500 years old!
As we pulled into the work site, we could see that the massive trees had already been pulled out, and were just about to be loaded on to trucks. The trees had left behind massive craters, which were still full of pieces of trunk, which were to be gathered and sold as firewood. After securing permission, we proceeded to load an entire van with pieces of the old trunks. The memory and the story of these old trees would live on and serve as inspiration for the future bonsai.
For my help, Ami generously gave me 11 choice pieces. I am happy to say that most of these pieces are already growing and starting their journey toward bonsai.
The other pieces remained in Ami’s garden, where they are sure to have a very bright future!
One of the most powerful and versatile tools in bonsai is grafting. It gets a bit of a bad rap as an ‘advanced technique’, but it’s surprisingly simple! True, compared to the random process of back-budding, in grafting you are assuming full control over the placement of the future branch, so you really need to think ahead carefully of what and where you’ll be going with it. But grafting adds so much flexibility and options when styling a tree, that it really is a good technique to have under your belt. Continue reading
Forgive me reader, for I have sinned. I enjoyed myself WAY too much on my Burrs weekend. Between the great people, the spectacular lectures, and – oh yeah – working with more than 30 other people in a 2-day bonsai marathon, I didn’t take as many or as good pictures as I should have. For example, believe it or not, but I have absolutely NO photos from Tony’s garden, or of the work we did there!
But allow me to start with a bit of background Continue reading
As I’ve mentioned before in the introductory video to this blog, one of the things that really fascinates me in working on the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens bonsai collection, is just how complex the project is, and how it really requires you to go back to the fundamentals of botany-before-bonsai. You can’t work a tree if it’s not in tip-top shape, and it’s our responsibility to make sure it stays there. As a wiser man than I has said before – we don’t want our trees ‘alive’. We want them ‘thriving’. Continue reading
Our story begins seven years and three computers ago. Now, since my computers tend to meet violent and non-backed-up ends, most of the pictures in this post have been reconstituted from various dubious sources, and are somewhat lacking in quality. I hope they shall make up for it in the story that they tell.
The story is that of one of my first and earliest trees. My signature tree. Which has gone from humble nursery-material beginnings to the top of a national exhibition, and right to death’s door. Twice. Continue reading
One of the greatest challenges in managing the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens’ bonsai collection, and in re-styling the trees, is the poor condition of the soil and the root mass in virtually all the trees in the collection. This literally affects all aspects of working with these trees, from watering and fertilizing routines, and through to options for re-growing and re-working the trees. If the foundations are shaky, the whole building will be affected.
Therefore, one of the first orders of business in the collection is slowly repotting all the trees into better, more aerated, substrate. A particularly striking case in point came from one of the trees in the collection, which was slowly (and then quickly) deteriorating, clearly due to root problems. When the leaves had turned from a pale yellow to white, branches were dying back, and washing out the soil with water and humic acid were having less and less effect each time, it was clear that a complete, bare-root repotting was necessary to save the tree.
The tree was bare-rooted and repotted into very well-draining soil at the end of August. This is the result less than six weeks later: