Developing and correcting a Shohin bonsai

Patience with bonsai is a well known subject. Developing a Shohin bonsai through 14 years pays off when the plan is right. I always lowed the rough bark at the Cork bark elm, Ulmus parvifolia Corticosa.  It was mainly because of this feature I back in 2005 bought this small tree. Since then I carefully developed it.

Originally I just wanted to make a better ramification and add a more interesting feature to the tree. Changing it from a mass produced broom style tree, to a tree with its own characteristics.

2005. The pre-bonsai material as it looked when I purchased it.

Changing style and opinion

The first long time project was to thicken up some of the lower branches especially. To add the aged appearance of a tree with thick lower branches, tapering towards the top of the tree. As well as tapering at each branch. Always having in mind that a branch is thickest at the base and slowly tapers towards the end. Adding a natural appearance.

In 2006. One year after the first initial styling.

Correcting a fault

At the first stages I created the tree as informal upright tree. At that time a lower first branch was right and an important feature of the tree.

After some time I decided to change the tree into a more leaning positing, giving it more interest. Keeping the lower branch in the new position proved to be a mistake. I fell in love with the lower branch dropping down created at the earlier stages of the training. I always fancied this feature at another three. At a Juniperus chinensis where I developed the same key feature. Working very well at that specimen.


2010. After five years training, developing the main branch at the left.

The fault at the Cork bark elm, is that it simply isn’t a realistic feature. A low branch beneath the canopy will be shaded out and die eventually. Maybe not at a bonsai where the light reaches the inside, but we have to keep in mind that it is resembling a large tree in nature. In nature such a branch will rarely survive. Therefore its doesnt work and I decided to remove it after some considerations.

2018. Ulmus parvifolia `Corticosa` with the lower branch still in place.

Achieving a simplified and much more harmonic result. Shohin bonsai is, due to their small size, always presenting the tree in a more simplified and suggestive manner, than when designing larger bonsai. Still it is of importance to keep the natural large tree in mind when styling the bonsai.

Bonsai is an ongoing learning experience, and trees develops and changes constantly. Mostly for the better. 🙂


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.

Spring break bonsai video


Buds are bursting like crazy these days. New growth is breaking through and I am crazy busy producing new videos for our members. We will deal with the always popular issue:

How do I make a bonsai from raw material?

On demand the next episodes of the Monthly Theme will focus on right that. From May 1`st we start a new video series dealing with different sizes and aspects of this subject. Probably the most sought after information on video. I will take you through the process from the very raw material and its pre-training to the “finished” styling and aftercare. We will deal with hard cutting back of deciduous specimens, to the styling of conifers. All on different stages and different levels.

First video will be released May 1`st and once a month the next months we will deal with just that. Styling bonsai in different sizes and with different approaches. Step by step we will guide you through the process of designing bonsai, so you hopefully will feel confident doing this yourself.

Before that the monthly Vlog is on. This time from the bonsai garden, and a short visit at a workshop. Stay tuned for that in a few days.


Earlier I posted a video tutorial doing a Yamadori Scots Pine. It was a challenging transformation of a collected material. The good news is that it is coming along nicely and healthy with new buds. Not a single branch lost! I will talk about this in the next Vlog from April. Released in a few days.

If you are not a subscribing member yet, you can sign up  and be ready to watch the video and already launched material. Sign up now and be ready for the next ones, so you don’t miss an episode.

I will finish this post with pictures from a day that was spent with a small workshop group at a friend’s place.  🙂


Bonsai workshop night

We actually worked more than speaking (gossiping). That’s true. Concentrated on giving my Pinus mugo the first initial styling after six years of focusing on back budding. I will get back with the story of that tree later. Torben working on a Scots pine and some more.

Shohin trimmed and getting ready for the first spring growth. The Lonicera nitida already set fire on spring with new long growth. As it always does as the first tree in the collection. Most trees are repotted now, so I just want that spring heat to arrive, and see it all out on the benches again. With warnings about night freezing I have to control my self a little longer.

Raffia used to protect branches needing severe bending at the Pinus mugo. Originally a garden container grown plant.

Our small study group was reduced this night because of the third member being on holiday at the other side of the world. Therefore it was just Torben and me this night. The good thing about being a small group is the intensity of the work done. Discussing each others trees freely. The good thing about larger meetings is meeting friends and working together, being inspired by others work.

A few picks from the night. 

Bonsai winter storage and styling a Yamadori pine

Winter storage

This winter has been very unchallenging when thinking about bonsai survival. Little freezing and only in very short periods when it finally decided to drop by. So far so good. Despite that, trees are stored in a cold part of the house with good natural light. Why store them protected from almost nothing then, knowing that a little freezing will not kill any native trees?

Juniperus procumbens with signs of a nights cold.

The answer is divided in two parts. First and foremost rain is an enemy in the cold period spanning from midd autumn to midd spring. Wet soil that doesn’t evaporates stays wet. In the dormant period trees do not use much water, and therefore rain and cold weather is a bad combination. Rooting roots might be the case and weakened trees the result.

Second part of the answer is cold roots. Despite what you might think, roots are less frost resistant than needles and branches. Roots in a bonsai pot are exposed for the cold from all sides living as a bonsai. Roots on free living trees and plants in nature will be in a warmer climate. Protected by the depth they are growing in where frots doesn’t reach, and with leaves laying on the ground adding a layer of insolation.

Crataegus in naked winter dress.

After moving to our house two years ago, it is now time to build a new studio for winter storage and bonsai workshops. It will also be the studio for filming new videos when the weather isn’t good for my well being. Talking about filming 🙂

42:55 minutes bonsai styling of a Yamadori Scots pine styled by Morten Albek. New video uploadet and free to view. View the full work of changing a raw material to the first stage as a bonsai. Including styling thought processes and techniques explained.

More videos are up coming and it is a joy to share the knowledge and inspiration of the bonsai spirit. To view other videos please sign up for a paid subscription available at three different paying options.

Click the subscribe button and read more about the different subscriptions offered. We will be happy to see you join and serve you with new content every month. Improve your skills. Improve your bonsai.


From the latest video released. Free to watch.

Bonsai winter pruning

It is winter, and the bonsai season may seem a bit far ahead here in Northern Europe. But soon winter is over. We begin repotting and things starts to grow again.

Juniperus chinensis with frosty needles.

Winter time is also bonsai time. Styling trees are perfectly done during the dormant season. Especially evergreens can be wired and formed, and if protected from frosts some pruning will be fine for both conifers and deciduous. Although scars heal over better in the growing season the advantage of winter pruning is that the trees are less stressed when the sap flow is low and bleeding is at a minimum. Most important is to keep the trees protected from rain and free air where fungus might spread and infect open wounds. Therefore it is advisable to keep the trees in an unheated greenhouse or alike, and cover wounds with a cutting paste to close any possibilities for fungal attacks that will harm the tree.

Scots Pine collected in Sweden. First styling midd way status. Watch the full styling process in upcoming video midd January.

Next bonsai video on its way is the styling of a Swedish Yamadori Scots pine. It is styled in two steps, and the video shows the full process of the first initial styling. Available for both subscribers and nonsubscribers of the Bonsai Video Studio soon.

If you want to join and watch all videos available please sign up for a subscription and get new videos ongoing. Sign up here.





Chuhin crabapple case story

In one of the recent posts I showed a medium sized Chuhin bonsai displayed in the garden Tokonoma. This is the 12 year story of the bonsai up til now. Early spring 2005 I got the tree, that was dug up from a garden. It was a leftover from a bonsai friend who couldn’t use …

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VIDEO: Shohin bonsai introduction

In this first episode in a new video series, I explain some basics about Shohin Bonsai.

Ready for Noelanders / EBA2017

Finished all the cleaning up, details and applying moss on the soils surfaces i.e. on the bonsai that I will bring to the EBA 2017 exhibition at Noelanders Trophy this upcoming weekend. Today tables are cleaned and packed for the ride. Will be there from Friday and all the way to the end at Sunday. …

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Bonsai works in India

At my recent travel to India I did a lot of work during my stay. One of the tasks was to refine or totally restyle some already established bonsai. Also a few Shohin was made from raw material. Here I will show some of the trees I have done, with the kind assisting by my …

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