Missing In Action

Posted by on Jan 17 2012 | Comment now »

Wow, has it been August since my last blog post.  Have to get cracking and post a bit more – lots have been happening in the bonsai world for me.

Here is a tree I recently collected from a bonsai nursery that went fallow in 1994.  A batch of trees were in nursery pots and over the years they grew into the ground and consumed the plastic pots they were in.  Some trees thrived and dropped new roots, others were blown over and made interesting natural designs and some perished by neglect.  Three of us volunteered to help the owner dig them out, and as a result she gave us workers a pick of the trees.

This is what one side of the area to be dug out looked like prior to the work.



Donnie in the Jungle.

Donnie and I formulate a plan – Donnie and Reggie dig, I repot.

 Repotting – getting ingrown plastic from the nursery pots out of the root mass was a pain. On the  bright side, I got to do initial rough styling on 56 different trees – that was a blast.

Here they are digging out one of the last trees.

Reggie, Donnie and I after the work. We were all sore for a few days after that work load.

The tree I selected – a natural raft Chinese Sweet Plum.

There is a virtual design competition on the IBC for  potential design for this tree.

Virtually There

Posted by on Aug 08 2011 | Comment now »

Here are two virtuals I made of a Scots pine for an internet friend  in Slovenia.

Here  it is with a pot by Horst Heinzlreither.



Something to Stand On

Posted by on Aug 08 2011 | Comment now »


For the 2011 BCI/ABS Convention in Louisville, Kentucky USA, I sponsored a stand making work shop.

I designed a decent stand that could be assembled more or less in the workshop time. To prepare most of the cutting, fitting and gluing had to be done prior to the workshop. The attendees had to do the detail work, minor assembly and the sanding and finish.

The class could accomodate up to 10 students. The project entailed making two prototypes and then 12 kits (2 in reserve). Only 7 people ended up in the class so I now have 5 kits left over. (I gave one of the prototypes to a fellow club member that gave me some wood, and the other I donated to the BCI/ABS silent auction.)

One by one I’ll be finishing the kits. I guess I’ll have to tweak each one to make them a bit different.

Here is a stack of mahogany prior to the joinery. I normally do one of a kind work, so making 14 stands of the same basic design was really a stretch for my small garage shop.

Here is one I finished this week, on a glass topped table

Here is a shot of the same one in natural sunlight.

This is the insert, a laser cut Japanese Maple leaf (not the other kind of illegal leaf that some seem to think it is alien ). This one was painted to look semi-realistic.

Now I have to figure out what to do with 4 more of them. Basketball

Return to the Blog

Posted by on Jul 26 2011 | Comment now »


Several months ago the database behind this blog was corrupted and the image links lost.  Cleaning up the old images would have been a major job so I let the blog languish. However, today I realized that if I do not worry about the old images and I can start blogging anew, so here it goes.


Here is a shohin tree I’ve been working on.  It’s a Clerodendrum actulateum sometimes called a Haggar Bush. The pot is  Japanese one signed but seems to be developing white spots in the glaze (see the lower left part of the pot)

This was it about a year ago.  A fast growing species.

This is another shohin tree, a Yaupon Holly (Ilex Vomitoria schillings nana) that I collected from the landscape around my house . It was in the ground for about 8 or 9 years. It could be called an exposed root style. It’s a Xiying Chinese pot.


This was a virtual I did about a year ago before I slanted the tree into the new planting angle.


Spring Has Sprung In Florida

Posted by on Feb 21 2011 | Comment now »

My elm trees have started budding, in fact,, some are full of leaves already.

Here are two Florida Elms.

The first one I called “Styled by Wilma”, as in hurricane Wilma – a unusual variant of the windswept style.

The next one is  broom style Florida Elm.  Even tough both trees came from the same area they bud out at different times.

Here is the same tree photographed in the studio.

Visit to FELAB in Merida Mexico

Posted by on Feb 02 2011 | Comment now »

In November I was one of the guest artists invited  to do a program at the FELAB convention in Merida on the Yucatan in Mexico.  I worked on a large Black Olive Bucida spinosa collected and owned by Enrique Castano. (Thanks Enrique for letting me work on such a large specimen.)

The tree before the demo (photo by Mike Feduccia)

Here are a few photos of the me working on the tree sent  to me by Alejandro Bedini of Chile and former President of FELAB.

And an after shot by Mike Feduccia.

This virtual design might be one future for the tree.

I don’t have any other photos due to strange circumstances.  Sorry.

But I had a great time with Enrique, Erik Wigert, Mauro Stemberger, Min Lo, Robert Steven, Guillermo Castano, the Feduccias  and a host of other characters.

The Bonsai as Interior Decoration

Posted by on Jan 19 2011 | 1 Comment »

Many bonsaists are aware of the Japanese use of a tokonoma to display bonsai inside a Japanese home. It can be an attractive and fun way to display a bonsai.  Unfortunately the vast majority of western homes do not have an interior tokonoma.

For the past few months, I have taken a western approach to displaying bonsai inside my house.

Our kitchen has a counter that looks out over the eating area and to the family room.  I have been placing bonsai on the counter just above the sink, which happens to be the middle of counter. In our home, the kitchen is the center of family activity and the tree placed there can be viewed by anyone using the kitchen, or eating food at the eat-in area or in the family room. When we have guests, this prominent spot for the bonsai draws much inspection and lots of comments.  (My shohin Firethorn, Pyracantha, was especially well liked by  holiday guests. The red berries are great around Christmas.)   This is  a cell phone shot of  an Dwarf Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria schillings nana) shohin on the counter.

Our home also has the US version of a tokonoma, an art niche.  We designed the house with a couple of  niches to contain paintings and sculpture but a shohin bonsai fits in there nicely.  The overhead light is a nice touch.

The Cold War

Posted by on Apr 14 2010 | Comment now »

For the second winter in a row, my area of Florida experienced its coldest  weather ever. I don’t have a green house so I rely on covering plants and using lights and sprinklers under the plastic. I also move the smaller ones indoors and then back out.  I even tried make a temporary greenhoue from my barbque grill. I put the smaller trees on top of the grill and the larger ones on the ground.  Luckily that evening the temperature did not hit freezing or I would have turned one of the grill burners on low.  I use natural gas so resupply wouldn’t have been a problem (as long as we keep finding natural gas in the ground)

If it gets any colder I’m moving to Florida.

The Kracken Molts

Posted by on Apr 13 2010 | Comment now »

Kracken intro

Now that the brutally cold weather has passed it’s time to work on my tropical trees. Here the Kracken has molted.

I have started to wire the next level up. No need to wire the very top as most of that will be pruned off when the bottom branches are where I want them. i used inexpensive Korean aluminum wire as it will not stay on the tree very long. Notice the wild movement to the branches. In order to maintain it the tree needs constant wire and pruning.

Here is a closeup of one side of the tree. I will remove the wire in about 2 months. The pot is still a bit large but as the Big Bad Wolf used to say “The Better to Grow You My Dear.”
Here is the historical info on it.

I did some work on the Kracken. It’s coming along nicely. Here it is before any trim. It’s in an extra large pot to encourage growth. The goal is to have this be its final pot so it has a way to develop.

Partly through trimming and defoliation.

Here’s a close up of the nebari. The roots you see were either the result of a chop or a graft (the middle semi-straight root was the graft.)

The front had a large branch removed several years ago. The scar has closed and time will merge it with the rest of the trunk.

Here’s the back defoliated.

Here’s the front with some wire.

And all wired up and no place to go – well not true – it went back on the bench.

A close up view of the wire.

I did this work about a month ago. The tree is already full of new leaves. I”ll try to post a photo later.

Here is a early development shot from 2008 of a Ficus microcarpa Kin men showing very contorted branches.

My 16 year old daughter, upon seeing me photograph this tree, named it the Kracken, after the sea monster, now starring in the Pirates of the Carribbean movie.

Its growing in a large plastic tub – plenty of room for development. While working on the branches I have also been working on the root system – hence the large pot. it will grow wild for a few months then I will cut it back hard again. A couple cycles of this and it will be ready for a regular bonsai pot. The trunk is about 8 inches across at the base.

Sorry I don’t have a before shot, I accidentally deleted it from the camera prior to down loading.

A close up of the branches to show how brutal pruning builds taper and movement.
Kracken branches

Here’s a photo of it from November 2004 when it was first styled. It’s a poor photo but it gives an idea of the development.
It’s been in the large tub the whole time.
2004 Kracken

2010 EPCOT Bonsai Show

Posted by on Mar 04 2010 | Comment now »

Yesterday we dropped off trees for the 2010 Walt Disney World EPCOT Flower and Garden show. This is the 15th or 16th year that the Bonsai Societies of Florida and Walt Disney World have jointly arranged this long exhibition. Over a million people see the bonsai trees at the Japan pavilion.

This has been the coldest winter on record for Florida and yesterday was no exception. In addition the show has started the earliest in the year ever – EPCOT feels it needs to run the show longer to get a better return on its investment. As a result, the selection committee had to limit the tropical trees on display for fear of damage due to a major frost. Nonetheless I submitted an Australian Pine and a Buttonwood figuring they can deal with the March weather. In addition, the committee arranged a person on cold stand by. Disney will provide the person a room at a Disney hotel and they will go to the exhibit and remove the trees and place them in a hotel room for the night if there is a frost warning.

Setting up the display is always a challenge as there are some big trees involved. This year Disney was prepared with two Lull lift trucks.

The Bonsai Society of Brevard had 4 members show tree – Ronn and Reggie, along with me and Gene Callahan.

Disney now consolidates all trees on a trailer in a holding area and then drives the trailer to Japan. It’s easier to cross the Pacific that way :)

I didn’t get to photograph all the trees as it was so cold I decided not to linger. When it warms up I might go back to check out the rest.