1500 year old olives – now THAT’s what I call yamadori!

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!


Step by step – grafting a juniper at the JBG

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

Up Close and Personal with British Bonsai – Burrs 2012

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