Is this bonsai? Does it matter?

An interesting thing happened. Recently, I’ve been working with a group of urban eco artists on their installations for the Jerusalem Season of Culture arts festival, which will take place in September 2016.

One of their key pieces is a massive installation focusing on the emptying and decay of one of Jerusalem’s iconic town squares. Once the bustling center of the city’s urbanite culture, a thriving meeting place of Jerusalem’s extremely diverse populations, the changes of the past two decades have gradually gutted the square, emptied it, and rendered it a mere shadow of its past self. Continue reading

Bonsai professionals should read this post

As the by-line below the title of my blog indicates, a major part of my work is with the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens’ bonsai collection. Over the past four years, what I’ve found is that we bonsai people are a unique phenomenon.¬†We routinely perform procedures that are considered among the most complex and advanced in the botanical and horticultural world; we have intimate knowledge and unique hands-on experience of working with trees that is rarely found elsewhere; we are masterful technicians of applied botany. Continue reading

Showing the process – innovations in bonsai display

There’s always a bit of injustice in a bonsai display. We always like to refer to bonsai as four-dimensional sculpture, but we can only see it in three. Whenever we see a bonsai, we’re seeing a snapshot of that tree – the tree as it is at that moment. We don’t see it’s history. We don’t see it’s development. We don’t get to engage in it’s story – only in the here and now. Continue reading

What 5 years can do to the simplest of material!

In this post I’d like to show the development of one of my earliest trees. Although the tree is far from perfect, it has accompanied me from the very start of my bonsai adventures, and in a lot of ways mirrors my own journey. It is also a great example of how consistent work can yield good results from even the simplest of material. Continue reading

Would YOU join the tour? – Poll

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.

If a tour were to be organized of Israel in the next 12 months, specifically for bonsai enthusiasts - would you make the trip?

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The effects of proper soil in bonsai – example from the JBG collection

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:

A small juniper starts its way to becoming a bonsai

As a bonsai student, one of the hardest lessons I had to learn was patience. Not to look for an immediate result, and impose a ‘bonsai shape’ on a tree, but rather to think in the long term. To work WITH a tree, with its natural growth cycles in order to achieve a better result in the long run. Continue reading

The Jerusalem Botanical Gardens Bonsai Collection – Introductions

Well, here it is!

It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally happened – this blog is up and running!

Towards the start of 2012, I was engaged by the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens to start curating their bonsai collection. I had already been working with the JBG for two years, running both their entry-level bonsai courses, and establishing the annual JBG Bonsai Award for Israeli artists. This blog is aimed first and foremost at bringing the work carried out on the collection to the bonsai community at large. The work is absolutely unique in its scope and challenge, of bringing a very ‘old-school’ collection hopefully to the cutting edge of modern bonsai. I hope you will find our work on the collection as fascinating and informative as I do. In the mean time, sit back, relax, and enjoy as the following introductory video sets the scene for our bonsai adventure!