Mame bonsai

New bonsai book. Shohin – Through the seasons.

The English and french version of the new book “Shohin – Through the Seasons” is now ready for preorders for the English and French language. The book is launched in February 2020.

It has been a great pleasure writing a new book, after my first Shohin – Majesty in miniature was sold out a long time ago.

Four chapters

The book has four main chapters, each dealing with the seasons; spring, summer, winter and autumn. Taking care of the trees, techniques and styling. Each chapter ends with the the display of the season, and how to display Shohin bonsai.

The book is now ready for pre orders in English and French language. 

Order your book today and save 30%

English edition can be ordered here: 

French language – Language francaise:


Pruning a tiny mame bonsai Juniper

The tiniest of bonsai, the mame-bonsai, needs extra caution when pruning. Do not trim them regularly, because it will weaken the growth and health. Letting especially evergreens grow a little out of shape before trimming, making the new growth produce energy is essential.

Trimming right

Trimming is done by pruning and pinching. Pinch out the middle and develop the side shoots. Making a nice branch division and natural appearance.

After pruning. Juniperus communis `Green Carpet`. Height 7 cm.

Pruning further back is done by cutting above a sleeping bud or new side growth. Do not prune behind any green, because the branch will be lost. Secure all branches have approximately the same amount of foliage to secure the balance of energy throughout the tree.

This small Juniperus communis Green Carpet is made from simple nursery stock. It measures only 7 cm / 2,75 inches from the lowest part to the top. Video and gallery below.

The small wonders of Japanese maples

Maybe it is because of the size of the tree. Maybe the size of the leaves. The wonders of the Japanese maples in Shohin bonsai always amaze me more than bigger amount of colored leafs. The same with the tiny leafs of the Cotoneaster microphylla.

I have always admired the simplicity in bonsai. Especially in the world of the smallest trees. As a headline of my now sold out book says, Majesty in Miniature. This is so true for this special branch of bonsai, focusing on the seasonal changes.

Cotoneaster microphylla.


Maybe I appreciate the small amount of delicate leafs more, because they seems more fragile and adds a feeling of not lasting long. We just have to enjoy as long as they are present. It can be over in a few days. When chlorophyll (the green pigment that helps taking up light for photosynthesis)  draws back into the stems, and shed the leaves. Controlled by shorter days and dropping temperatures. Making a small magic happen, and preparing trees for winter.

Japanese maple.

European Yew

Or English yew. Goes under both names. There is only one latin name though. Taxus baccata. This specimen is a headline story in this months seasonal bonsai report from the Shohin Bonsai Europe garden. Also detailed explanation of English yew, pinching and distributing energy to the correct areas of a tree, is part of the 27:30 long video. Ready for subscribing members now. 

In the Q&A video this time, a question about pruning and controlling growth on Lonicera nitida is answered.

Happy autumn

bonsai video

Autumn, (and I do repeat myself year after year) is one of my favourites. When it gets colder here in Northern Europe, the colours of deciduous trees change. For now it is still warm, but this will slowly change. Deciduous trees change their leaf colors from the darker summer green tones to yellow, brown or red. Especially the Japanese maples are stunning in all their variations.


Stop feeding

At this time it is important  to stop feeding your bonsai. Feeding them now will stress new growth, and this new growth will be too weak to cope with the winter colds. It is time to do other jobs in the bonsai garden though. Checking wire applied in the summer or earlier. Ensuring that the summer growth does not overgrow the wire and make marks difficult to change.


Cleaning out any weeds or dead leaf at the soil surface, to secure no pests are hidden. More important, the removal of dead plant material are of big importance because fungus can be a present. Most actions of fungus are good actions. because fungus breaks down dead plant material and feed future trees with nutrients. But that is when it is happening in the ground, in the forest.

In the bonsai pot, fungus can attack weak branches and open wounds. Therefore it is advisable to remove what can cause this. And that is dead plant material. Fungus likes humidity and cooler weather, and just that is the features of autumn.

The good thing, is the wonderful colours at the bonsai. Looking forward to that part.

Follow the seasons

One of the elements in the monthly video updates at the BONSAI VIDEO STUDIO is the report from my garden. Following the changing seasons is one of the important parts of bonsai. What to to when, and the pleasure of getting in contact with nature all year. All 12 months will be covered in the Vlog, so you can enjoy following the garden and trees.


Give yourself (or a friend) a membership and enjoy the ongoing educational bonsai video tutorials.
Sign up and get full access immediately. Ask your questions about bonsai and get video answers.

Follow the four seasons of bonsai, and learn bonsai with high quality video content by international bonsai artist Morten Albek.

First month is a free trial membership.

We will be happy to have you as part of our community.  

Tokonoma display

The garden Tokonoma is used on a daily basis. On rainy days I keep tables and scrolls out, and just set up a basic display. Sometimes just a Suiseki. Other days a proper display with scrolls and tables are included. Like today.

The point is to use the Tokonoma the whole year. It gives me tremendous pleasure and practice. it also enhance the experience of enjoying bonsai. It raises the level of the displayed items, and I pay more attention to their development and quality when set up in the Tokonoma.

Sometimes it is not very well developed trees or plants I display for my self. It can be semi developed trees that I want to have a clearer and cleaner view at than standing on the tables in the bonsai garden. Or simply enjoying them on their way in the middle of their development. When guests arrive, I clean up and display the best of my trees in respect of the guests.

Todays display – that will stay for a few days before it is changed – is a mame-bonsai Juniper I have had for several years. The display is a bit different from how I would normally display a mame (shohin) bonsai. But this is not an exhibition display. It is in my private Tokonoma, and the goal is to enjoy and not to compete.

The Tokonoma allows me a lot of freedom from the ordinary, so I have set up a small tree with larger elements, because I want to see how it works. To balance the small tree with the larger and visual heavier elements, I have placed it on a thicker stand made of wood. This is placed on a stone slap, again to balance with scroll and stone in the display. Does it work? It is up to you to judge. Later I will make a video at the Bonsai Video Studio were I will like to experiment and discuss the possibilities, and the guidelines to make a good display. In the Tokonoma, and at exhibitions. Today, I will just enjoy.


Keep cool with double potting

We have spring-time summer at present at my location. Hot and wonderful weather that demands a need to cool down. The small mame-bonsai are in very shallow pots with a limited space for roots and soil. The sun and warm weather heats up pots, roots and soil rapidly. This happens faster than it is possible to cool them down with water. No matter what, the soil is heated to an unhealthy level if precautions are not taken. The space is so narrow and limited that normal transpiration isn’t enough to keep the inner temperature down st the trees. And roots are harmed by a soil heated up too much.

Spindle Tree, Euonymus planipes, mame-bonsai made from a cutting.

Of course it is possible to place the trees in the shade and this will cool them down to some extent, but this will also have the negative effect that growth elongate and a compact tree is ruined. Some sun is necessary to keep internodes (distance between each leaf pairs) short, to develop a compact tree needed for bonsai. Especially with tiny trees like mame (bean) bonsai it is essential to achieve a compact and detailed implied image of a tree.

Double potting is the answer to your dreams.

The normally heated area close to the pot can be cooled down by placing the pot in another pot filled with soil. The extra border of soil will make a small wall that keeps the heat from being to strong. When the moist soil surrounding the inner original pot evaporates in the heat, it helps cooling down the center part. It acts like a termo protection or isolation layer helpful in the summer heat.

Crap Abble, Malus sieboldii.

Roots from the tree in the center pot also will be able to growth through the bottom holes and into the extra pot and soil, keeping it healthy growing during the growing season. Any time needed, it is possible to take up the inner pot with three, and cut expanded roots at the bottom of the pot. Double potting will also work with larger trees, if necessary.

The two mame-bonsai shown are in training period and not fully developed.


Bonsai garden expanding

These days the new bonsai garden area is getting the finishing touches. Originally the bonsai garden was a bit smaller, but there  was an urgent need for more space. Because new trees are coming in for the Bonsai Video Studio recordings, and there simply wasn´t room for the trees as it was. Secondly (but as important) I needed improved settings for the video making and working space. Okay. Thirdly. Because I just wanted it. Watch the new Vlog released this coming weekend, and you will know why.

The new area should be able to blend in well with the rest of the garden, and also add good growing conditions. This is mostly concentrated on light, and I will go deeper into this too in the Vlog from the garden –  available for members.

You can buy your membership here. Remember the first month is a free trial period, so you can try it out without paying if you do not find it is something for you. But I am sure you will stay 🙂

At the Vlog I will also show how an old Prunus bonsai is pruned, pinching a Shohin Yew, adding fertilizers and a short sneak peek into the next theme (released early June). The next Theme will be dealing with what worries many enthusiasts; how hard can I prune back raw material and how to start deciduous bonsai from scratch.

The garden and trees are just happy this spring acting like summer. A lot of new growth is pushed forward, improving the health and development of the bonsai collection. This spring already shows to be better than last years summer measured in heat and sunny days. Climate changes most likely. Some part due to natural changes, but we have to deal with that on an environmental plan as well so we do not affect the planet more than is good for it – or for us. By growing bonsai and being closely connected with nature I think we will have an improved healthy view on our resources.

15 years with shohin bonsai

This year the Shohin Bonsai Europe website has been online for 15 years. Worth a small celebration I think, and an excellent excuse for a glass of wine on a Sunday evening. In the start the website was made to spread the knowledge of shohin bonsai when little appreciation and information was present. Today this has changed a lot and shohin bonsai is just growing in popularity day by day. Same is the support of the website and I enjoy continuing the work. Now with the online Bonsai Video Studio added. Teaching bonsai online with video tutorials.

Shohin bonsai is still the main theme, blended with medium bonsai. The beauty of bonsai is not limited to one special category for me. I enjoy the art in different aspects, but my favourites will always be the smallest ones.

Mame-bonsai Cotoneaster in autumn clothes. Morten Albek, Shohin-bonsai Europe garden.

The bonsai garden is being rebuild in spring to take in more space for trees, and room for the video production. It is a feast to live a life with bonsai.

New video is online for subscribers to the Bonsai Video Studio by the way. Sign up if you want to watch and see more when new videos are published every month.

Below a small gallery of shohin and larger bonsai from Japan. Have a nice and peaceful weekend. Now just waiting for spring one month away.

Enjoying bonsai before the rain

Bonsai before the rain comes.

Cotoneaster shohin favourites

The Cotoneaster is among my all time favourites for shohin-bonsai. especially for Mame-bonsai (from 9,5 cm and down), because it is slightly draught tolerant, and can develop a fine root system for the extremely small pots used. Cotoneaster × suecicus ‘Coral Beauty’ is one of the varieties among the Cotoneaster specimens that are particularly good for Shohin bonsai. …

Cotoneaster shohin favourites Read More »

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