Mistakes are the key to success

The past weekend I enjoyed doing Shohin workshops and a bonsai demo in Poland.

Teaching brings great joy when students are engaged and wants to learn. Bringing forward the level of bonsai relies on good students asking lots of questions. I have now gathered knowledge through 25 years of mistakes growing bonsai. And mistakes are one of the keys to learn.

Without mistakes no progress.

And I am still eager to learn more. Every year adds new layers of knowledge and new directions. With time errors are less.

Mistakes are the key to success

If we don’t fail we do not know the limits. Growing bonsai very much has to do with knowing the limitations of techniques different species can take, and when to apply them. How hard can a branch be bent on a Junipers or a Hawthorn? When to do it?What time of the year is it appropriate to repot? And so on.

Some of this is learned through books, videos or by teachers at workshops. At the end of the day there is only one way of learning the last bit. By practising by trial and error. Naturally always trying to limit failures as much as possible.

Keep on trying and learning brings joy when I see the results of my efforts improving my trees. Little by little.


The most valuable lesson I have learned up till now is patience. Throughout the past 25 years I have learned all kinds of styling and growing techniques. But time is what really builds a beautiful bonsai. The obvious part of time is of course the slow development of branches over the years, finally reaching a stage where detailed ramification is the result of patient work and techniques applied. But time also matters in other aspects of bonsai growing.

The aging of bark at trunks, and even at thinner branches, is part of time just passing by. Aged surface roots making these look old and sturdy takes time. Same with the aging of deadwood. No matter how clever one is with powertools or carving by hand, the last detailed aging and naturalness is only created by time passing. The fine fissures and cracks developed by deadwood heated up by the sun, frozen wood during winter, wetted by rain, and drying up again is what really matters. And here you can only wait. Letting time do its work.

Marek Gajda (left) and Mark Moreland at the studio of Ogrody Bonsai.

At the workshop a lot of new material was started, and established trees improved. As with the demonstration trees, they have all just started their journey. Many years of reworking and changes will happen. Thank you all who took part, asked and listened. It was a great joy being with you.

Below some very nice pictures from the demo and workshop in Ogrody Green Day´s in Poland. Send to me by the very kind Ming and Mark Moreland from the UK, who visited the event. 

Photos: Ming and Mark Moreland.


Bonsai Green day´s

Four days in Poland at Bonsai green day´s takes an end. The PAB, Marek Gajda and all his helpers have done a great job including attracting a lot of visitors. Meeting old friends and making new may sound like a cliché. But this is how it works and makes it worthwhile traveling around the world with bonsai.

The Grand Prix winning tree. Juniper by Jan Novotny from Czech.

Glad to be invited back by Marek Gajda doing Shohin workshops, judging the show, and doing a demo on a larger Juniper.

Grand prix winning tree, Juniper, by Jan Novotny, Czech republic. Best European native bonsai, Common Myrtle, Myrtus communis, by Herbert Obermeyer from Germany.

The exhibition shows that quality have raised quite a bit since my last visit here. Great material with a lot of potential for the coming years. Congratulations on bringing the level up to this standard. The European bonsai scene develops all the time.

Myrtle communis. Best European native tree in show. Herbert Obermeyer, Germany.

Also a more simple and version of Shohin display was presented.

The show had a great number of visitors, and I made a short video from the event. Watch video below, and all photos at the photo gallery.

Shohin Juniper article

Recently the Bonsai Focus magazine published the article of the Juniper chinensis styled for Bonsai Empire online Shohin course. I am really looking forward to develop this tree for the future. Normally I have a little resistance against these very uniform on a row developed bonsai imported in stacks. This one found it owns spirit by having some special features. Now I will move on to another one. Exiting to do some styling looking ahead and imagine the result as it will be (hopefully) within a few years.



Mini demo at the Trophy

February 8 – 9 – 10 the famous Trophy in Belgium takes place. Bonsai Empire has a stand in the main hall where you can watch live mini demos Saturday and Sunday.

I will be “on stage” Saturday at 12:00 with a talk about Shohin bonsai, and again Sunday at 12:00 with a lecture about accents. Hope you will be there, and take part in this great event. See you around and at the Bonsai Empire stand.


SUNDAY 12:00

Deadwood carving

Deadwood at bonsai always have a fascinating effect. The blend between the living and the dead reminds us about life and death as it is. The aesthetics of deadwood can be both very pleasing and sometimes overwhelming. Almost unnatural in its design with huge curled branches and trunks at Junipers. Like if it is from another world.

Deadwood at Juniper, Masahiko Kimura, Japan.

Artificial or natural deadwood?

No matter how artificial it can look in forms, for sure Mother Nature has done it already out there. What the bonsai artist have to do, is finding a natural form for the bonsai worked on. Junipers might have twisted and abnormal forms of deadwood, due to their living environment in harsh weather and mountains. Other trees are more quietly living, and their wood is soft and rots easily. This have to be observed and understood when applying deadwood as a feature of any bonsai.

Deadwood work featured in the first video in the new series about bonsai deadwood, Jin and shari.

New series

The latest, and the coming videos at the Kisetsu-en Bonsai Video Studio deals with just that. How to work with deadwood on bonsai, and what to take in to consideration aesthetically. Sign up and be with us when exploring deadwood.

VLOG 11 and the making of a Kusamono

Vlog 11. October shows the beginning signs of autumn where deciduous shifts from green to yellow, brown or red leaves.

Removing the wire from a bonsai in training, should not be made in one go, but in steps. Finally I arrange a Kusamono planting with dry tolerant grasses and plants. All included in the October edition of the Vlog at Duration: 29:38

Autumn mood

I simply love the autumn with all its colours and melancolic decay of leaves. Does it sound sad? Not at all. There is so much to enjoy, and still bonsai are showing their circle of life. Going towards dormancy just means that the trees takes a rest. Getting ready for next years growth.


The cooler air and freshness of autumn is wonderful. When it not storms and rain is changed in favour of sunshine. The season is not ending. It is just replaced with another period.

This is also a good time to arrange a Kusamono planting with drought tolerant specimens. Giving the plants time to settle before winter.

Rainy bonsai exhibition

For some reason unknown, and maybe needed to be searched deep in our souls, it nearly always rains and is a bit chilly (sometimes really cold) when we at Fuchi Bonsai have our yearly exhibition at The Japanese Gardens in Denmark. Even in a time of drought and heat, it suddenly changes overnight and rains cats and dogs when we are doing our small show. 😀

This was the eight in a row, and very well visited. Fuchi Bonsai is a small group of three people. Johnny Eslykke, Torben Pedersen and me, Morten Albek.

Below photos and a short 3 min. video from the Fuchi Bonsai show. There also is a new Q&A video for subscribers at the Bonsai Video studio, as well as the latest vlog no 8, if you missed it in the holidays. Next monthly theme will be focused on kusamono accents for bonsai, so be sure to get back and check it out. Make your subscription today and watch all content when signed up. First month is a free trial period as always.  For as little as 13 Euros a month you get a lot of bonsai information and video examples on going. You also can save and select a longer subscription for 11 Euros. 

Photo gallery below the Video.

Preparing bonsai exhibition 8

Preparing bonsai for another bonsai exhibition in The Japanese Gardens in Broby, Denmark. This will be the eight exhibition in a row, and we feel fortunate that the three of us in Fuchi Bonsai are able to set up an exhibition every year attracting a good number of guests.

We are challenged with the dry hot weather this year, making moss for soil coverage a struggle. But let’s see if we can pull it off once again and make an exhibition people will like.

We meet at least once a month and the other day we started preparing some of the trees for the exhibition among other things. If you are around we will be happy to meet you August 12th, 10-16 in De Japanske Haver, Vøjstrupvej 43, 5672 Broby, Denmark.


Slowest bonsai demo in the world?

The newest Vlog (just launched) may be the slowest and longest bonsai demo in the world.

Just started on a journey with a Potentilla fruticosa, and found it worthwhile to make a different approach to styling bonsai. Sharing the full process of every step made on a specific bonsai over time.

Often we see trees styled at conventions and in videos, and everything is a one-day work, and we never see the tree again. This demo will be different from anything else seen before. You will be able to watch a monthly update (with exception of a short dormancy break probably), watching every single styling change and technique done on this long termed project.

We will deal with all aspects of styling a deciduous tree following it through several seasons, – including failures and victories. Deciduous trees are almost newer styled at public demos. Simply because they demand long termed adjustments and cutting techniques a short time demonstration will not be able to show. Join the journey and follow from today.

Watch the transformation

Watch the transformation of a Juniperus chinensis. Learn how to do it yourself through step-by-step instructions and clear video recordings showing in detail processes. Sign up today 🙂 and watch this video and get full access to the archive.

The new video shows you how to change a pre-bonsai Juniperus chinensis to a future promising bonsai. Dealing especially with design considerations, what to look for when selecting the front, what branches can be removed, how to arrange branches and much more in detail explanations. Duration 40:09


Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: