It’s a great pleasure to announce that I have e new Shohin bonsai book on the desk soon. At the Trophy in Genk last year the publishers of the Esprit Bonsai asked me if we could do a reprint of my first book. Originally published by Stone Lantern in 2008. I was really not in the mood for a reprise. So many new things to tell, and is was though more than ten years ago it was published. There would be a need for some updates.
Shohin bonsai seasons
After one day of thinking I returned and asked if we could do a totally new book instead. And Michéle from Esprit Bonsai agreed immediately. Therefore I have used most of the time since then to write a lot of new material and some rewriting of the parts needed to be covered again.
The book follows the four seasons and in each chapter there is a lot of basic and advanced growing advices and examples. As well as each chapter finishes with explanations on displaying Shohin bonsai.
I will keep you updated as soon as preorders, prices and so on are in place. That will be soon. I look so much forward to see it in print.
The book will be released February 2020 and available at the Trophy too.
One of the top priorities of the year, is preparing for the annual exhibition in Denmark. Preparing bonsai starts much earlier than the two weeks ahead before the exhibition opens. Cleaning pots and making small adjustments can be done right before the exhibition. Adjusting mosses too. But everything else needs careful planning weeks or months before.
Long time planning
Already during winter I start the thought process about what to bring. How will the weather behave during spring? This being a late spring exhibition brings some challenges. Conifers will not be influenced much by the spring weather, that might jump from cold, to warm, and back to chilly periods ongoing. Deciduous and especially flowering trees, can be heavily influenced by the unpredictable weather we are always experiencing around this region.
Shohin bonsai display is absolutely a challenge to time right during this period of the growing season. Shohin displays are focused on the seasonal changes, and trees needs to be right there when displayed. Flowers ideally are showing both young and mature stages. Leafs on Japanese maples shows mature and new leaves at the same time (ideally), to make this speciel sense of spring growth. Will the flowering trees loose their flowers from the first growth, or is it the new flowers on the summer flowering trees I can use? Sudden weather changes can change this in a short time.
The main tree
Months ago I prepared some of the trees, including my European Yew, Taxus baccata. My favourite main tree at the moment.
It needed some rearrangements of branches, which I did in late autumn. Six months later it is time to remove some wires, and make final adjustments. During winter the bark was brushed and cleaned. Jin and Shari (deadwood) painted with lime sulfur, both for preservation and to add this delicate contrast between deadwood and live wood. Adding age and a bit of drama. This has to be done ahead for more reasons. Both because it needs to settle and not look too fresh, and because time is limited during spring; having to do all the repotting and spring work taking a lot of time and doesn’t leave much time for anything else.
Before this ends, I am already thinking ahead for the winter shows. The preparation begins now, because timing and development have to be focused on getting the trees looking their best at that time. Avoiding making big changes that won’t be fulfilled and ready to show within the season. Working on developing finer branch structures and details instead.
That’s why it is necessary to have a good amount of small Shohin trees at hand. Some trees being in development or redesign stage. Other focused on exhibition quality at the show I want to enter.
I hope I will time it right and enter one or two nice displays for the Dansk Bonsai Selskab exhibition May 25. – 26. It takes place in Aalborg at the cultural center Nordkraft.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Also a more simple and version of Shohin display was presented.
Being the 20th big show in a row, the Trophy is a benchmark in the European bonsai world. As previous shows Japanese bonsai are still filling a lot of the space in the exhibition. Also very large heavy bonsai seems to be preferred over middle sized and smaller bonsai for some reason. A
With time I hope that more native grown European trees will begin to show up. And less heavy bonsai-monsters. That’s just a preference of mine.
Thanks especially to Bonsai Empire having me on the programme with small lectures about Shohin-bonsai and accents at their stand in the main hall. Great talks with the audience. Always good to see old friends again and welcoming new ones.
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.
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.
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.
My old bonsai competition friend from the NTC at the EBA convent in France 2002, Pavel Slovák (who won the competition back then) guested the Danish Bonsai Society annual meeting Saturday. We have met in between that time in 2002 and as always Pavel is a friendly and kind person to be around. And not the least. He is an excellent bonsai artist with great growing skills. Pavel has a great knowledge that he likes to share, together with his artistic sense and good eye for designing bonsai.
For the fun of it, this was my New Talent Competition tree in 2002 at Trevaréz in France. Unfortunately I am not sure which one Pavel did as the winning tree and have no photos of it. But it for sure was good, because Pavel was talented already at that time.
16 years later (Saturday 26 of May 2018) Pavel Slovák made a demo and presentation working on a Scots pine, Pinus sylvestris. A great result from a tricky material, design-wise. Look forward to meet up with Pavel again at another occasion.
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