Slowly the autumn moves forward. Temperatures drops and it is time to stop feeding the trees. I remove all used organic fertilizers at this time to let the trees slowly slow down and get ready for dormancy.
Deciduous trees will slowly turn their leaves into brilliant autumn colors when it gets colder. Autumn is great pleasure for me. I enjoy the silence and fresh air.
Bonsai Radio Show
Less silent was Monday morning. This week I went to a national Radio broadcaster to record three episodes for a Japanese culture show running 3 hours every Sunday morning. In Danish only, so i am sorry I can’t share it with you. But we talked about bonsai as culture, how to care for a bonsai, exhibitions and much more. Although 48 minutes seems very short. I had so much more to say 😀 For Danish readers it is available live from Sunday 13th between 09:00-10:00 or as podcast at https://www.24syv.dk/programmer/sukiyaki
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bonsai art and traditional art brought together. Bonsai art doesn’t have to stand alone as a separate art form. For years sculptures have been exhibited at galleries and art museums in connection with paintings. It is, for me, a natural thing blending art forms like bonsai and sculptures. Or bonsai with paintings for that matter. Scrolls have been a natural component at bonsai displays for years. Why not keeping evolving this.
There is much more that brings these art forms together than divides them.
The only thing that differs bonsai from many other art forms is that it is a living thing that doesn’t stay in its present form for long. It will always grow and continuously transform itself in a subtle or more dramatic form. But isn’t that true with other arts too? Bronze sculptures ages and change colour over time. Sculptures made from wood decays in nature. Art installations are deliberately set up to decay and change over a certain time period.
Bonsai related with clay sculptures is a natural connection, having the pot and sculpture coming from the same source. The clay. The tree grows from the soil and is surrounded by the clay that it is placed in as a bonsai.
Bringing bonsai and other art forms together should not be done without some thoughts about how and why we do it though. Here I have used a sculpture from our personal friend, the highly recognized and very talented Danish sculptor Lene Winther. Set up with a Shohin-bonsai European Yew, Taxus baccata, grown from raw material for more than 12 years. (Far more easy and playful than possible with a large bonsai I believe).But I will like to see it tested out there. The pot is Japanese and made by Ryuen – Kamiya Houkichi.
The strong-looking aged tree fits very well with the story told by the sculpture, also dealing with life, death and beauty. Bonsai and sculpture tell the same story.
Exactly like the bonsai the sculpture plays with the thoughts about our life and connections to something more than the everyday ordinary practicalities.
It is easy to set this up in the living room or where ever you want. At the same time adding more joy, more interest and more tension to the use of bonsai. In daily life – in this example – but also extended to bonsai exhibitions if done carefully and with some thoughts. Sometimes a little helpless setups have been tried out not being very tasteful or being very elegantly performed. I know art is much about taste, but the craft and understanding about how and why and when we do it, should at least have being asked before we carry it out in public.
We might not always agree on what is tried out. There is good taste and there is less good taste. But let’s keep evolving the art, and see it grow and evolve. Not just literally growing but also keeping the spirit moving. Keeping bonsai, art and humans alive.
One of the fun things about repotting bonsai in spring, is the possibility to select a new pot for a tree. You can change pots during the season if roots are left undisturbed an it is a necessity for an exhibition. But then you can’t adjust the position of the tree much or prune any roots.
Therefore the repotting season (later winter / spring) is a good time to check up on a possible new pot and adjustment of the position in the pot, as well as the angle the tree is set in. The Chinese Cork bark Elm, Ulmus corticosa, at the pictures I have been growing in different training pots during the 13 years I have had this in my collection. I have searched for the right pot for some time and tried different solutions without finding the one and only match. But now it is there.
It is a high quality Japanese pot, and the soft lines and the feets support the tree very well I think. Also the subtle creamed yellow colour supports the green of the leaves. If exhibited in winter I will change the pot to a blue glaze so it fits better with the time of the year. In winter I think the present colour of the chosen pot will look to warm and having a different feeling and expression. The creamed yellow colour enhances the summer time image. All a matter of taste and individuality in the end.
As the tree looks at present trunk size and pot harmonize. As do the overall balance of tree and pot. Leaves has just begun to open. Looking forward to the coming growing season. Bonsai are repotted in the workshop these days, and the second part of the bonsai and shohin-bonsai repotting video guide is online at the Bonsai Video Studio.
There is so much to look forward to this spring. Not at least spring it self and bonsai starting to grow. Spring is my favourite time and repotting bonsai is part of that joy. Always exciting to see how roots have behaved under the soil the past seasons. I have just published the first of two video episodes concentration on Shohin bonsai repotting. Going in-depth with soil structure and its influence on the branch development, root pruning and much more important knowledge to be shared.
In the Q&A section (for members) I have recently video-answered a question about Pear rust on Junipers. Maybe worth a watch too if you have missed it. Pear rust is a problem with Junipers, and there are very few ways to deal with it.
I will skip some of the late February chilliness leaving on a jet plane to India and Bonsai Namaste early next week. Just updated the photo archive from the last trip, to warm up for a great event. Did you know that bonsai started in India – before China and Japan?
Early known as VAMAN VRIKSHA KALA, this art was used to create and carry miniature trees around which could be used for medicinal purposes. This greatly facilitated Ayurvedic practitioners to administer medicines sourced from nature and transport these trees to far off areas Bonsai Namaste writes at their website and Facebook page.
Eventually, Buddhist monks carried these miniature trees and the knowledge of cultivating them to various countries during their travels and the art spread in other regions. This is how VAMAN VRIKSHA KALA reached countries like Japan, China, Indonesia etc. Today, it is known world-over by its Japanese name ‘Bonsai’.
Skipping the cold a bit and exchanging it with heat at the origin of bonsai, meeting beautiful bonsai and great people. Can’t be a better start of spring 2018. Full Vlog report, photos and more when I return. Also the second part of the Shohin bonsai repotting will be online as soon as i am back.
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