One week at Bonsai Mirai

Oh for a full week at Bonsai Mirai!

Capital Bonsai

Earlier this year I had the amazing opportunity to spend a week with Ryan Neil at his bonsai garden just outside Portland, OR.  The week consisted of being surrounded by some of the most awesome native material I’ve ever seen.  Each day was spent in the workshop with Ryan and his French apprentice JP, styling one ancient tree after another.  Here are just a few of the photos from my week.

Day 1: Amazing bonsai and rain, welcome to Portland.010A combination of jet lag and excitment led to this first photo taken at 4 a.m. The workshop was filled with tress with many others on-deck.

008012 A massive California Juniper (right) and Sierra Juniper (left) dominated the workshop. The Sierra Juniper became my main project tree for the week. 011The dead wood on the Ca Juniper was unreal.

Day 2. The Garden


Day 3: Project tree

033Before we started working on our…

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Mother and Child Hawthorn

I’ve had this tree for about 10 years and have never done much with it. I pruned back now and again, I think I even wired it at one point a few years back. I toyed with the idea of layering off the top at one point last year but opted against it. I brought it into the garage on Friday night past for a look and after some tilting and thinking I decided that it was time for a little work and a repot.

This was it just off the bench. A big lump of wood.

Some nice movement in the trunk line, not a lot of taper but I still like the image.

I changed the front slightly to show the movement off better and tilted the tree into a slightly more upright position.

The root at the right hand side was possibly dead. I wouldn’t know until I repot.

I did some basic wiring and removed some of the unnecessary branches.

Transferred over to the repotting table.

Tools at the ready.

Mix at the ready too.

During the repotting I was able to get a good look at that root and although it was partially alive, it was extremely weak and I was able to remove and do a little basic carving. This can be refined at a later date.

This was the problem root.  I needed to twist the tree about 20 degrees to a new front. This root would not allow me to fitr the tree into the pot at the new position.

I was able to remove the fine root from the last few inches without impacting to much on the health of the tree.

This allowed me to remove this portion to facilitate the new position.

About 2 years ago I remember nicking the underside of the baby trunk in an attempt to get it to root. Not a great success but it did root.

Outside for a watering. I had to get my eldest son to assist with the repot as it would have been impossible to do this on my own. He snapped a few shots while I was watering it in.

This is the new position. Pot is not ideal but the only one I had that worked. I now have a basic structure to work with and must admit that I rather like the mother and child image that is created by leaving the small secondary trunk. Not for everyone but I like it. I looks as if Mum is protecting the child. I wouldn’t mess with her, she bites like Suarez 🙂

Now tucked away in the tunnel to keep it out of the wind for a few weeks until it settles down. I see a few flower buds on the tree as well.

Gift of Roses

It must be love. Phil gave me this little dwarf rose when I was at his house last weekend. I popped it into this little pot.

Nishinihon meihin-ten

Some more excellent Japanese Exhibition photos from the bonsai Days blog. This time from  Nishinihon meihin-ten.

Sorbus Reducta

I’ve had this little fellow for about 18 years.

Another Maple Layer

This time it’s a mame Trident Maple. I have a stump of maple that is far from attractive. I opted to layer off the little apex.


This Escallonia is now back out on the bench too. It got some work done during the Winter on the deadwood. Peter Snart kept me right with the carving and I took some time to preserve the inner deadwood. Just opening up now and in a few weeks it will be extending everywhere as usual.

and outside in the sun.

Rescue Maple Air Layer

After spending the last few years getting this maple back to health, it was time to make a decision about the rotting wood at the base and slight inverse taper. The tree has obviously had a hard life and large areas of the trunk have died back. After consideration I am opting to try an air layer.

I marked out the best spot for stripping the bark. Not easy as the deadwood always breaks the circumference of the trunk at some point.

Sharp tools at the ready and some Sphagnum Moss at hand.

Strip removed and a clean upper edge created. Lots of evidence of a hard life in the heartwood of this tree.

Instead of doing the usual air layer with cling film I opted to use a flower pot as it can sit at the base of the tree. Pot sliced and a portion removed to allow the trunk to fit through the bottom.

Taped up and ready for the moss.

Filled with moss and cling filmed over the top to help retain moisture.

Here we go. Update in the Autumn.



Korean Hornbeam

Back out on the benches with most of my trees. I will take a gamble that the weather has now turned. This Korean Hornbeam has been slow to bud this year but is now covered with tips of green.

Nice Blog, Now in English Too

Every now and again I post a link to one of the blogs I follow.

This Finnish Blog is along similar lines to my own and due to the number of hits from English language countries the blogger has now started to post in English too. Well worth a visit and follow.  Click on the image below to visit and say hello 🙂

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