Japan Satsuki Bonsai Tour– Part 4

Valavanis Bonsai Blog


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We had a long and enjoyable today, well, every day is full of beautiful bonsai, highlighting Satsuki azaleas. We took a subway and four taxis from our hotel to the Shunka-En Bonsai Museum of Kunio Kobayashi. He is well known for his award winning Japanese black pines and Satsuki azaleas. In fact, this is the first time we have visited him when he was not at his museum. He was judging a Satsuki exhibition in Yokohama and his senior apprentice Hiroyuki Suzuki was setting up another Satsuki exhibition at the Ueno Green Club– that’s one we will miss. Mrs. Kobayashi did a great job, as always welcoming us and serving us green tea.

Since Peter Warren is teaching in Florida and Hiroyuki is at the Ueno Green Club we had Jin Yasufumi, who speak English, translate for us and give us a grand tour of the tokonoma displays all featuring…

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A final walk through Imai’s garden

Off to see the wizard …………………………. of Norn Ireland ?


Current front


Slight adjust at next repotting



Itoigawa Workshop: Start to Finish

Bonsai Prelude

Itoigawa before photo Itoigawa before photo

The workshop I chose to participate in this past weekend was the Itoigawa juniper workshop with Ryan Neil. In this post I hope to point out some of the things I learned, guiding us through the process of styling just as we did in the workshop. So get your notebooks out, this is going to be a long one.

The first step of the styling process (assuming you’ve already chosen the tree) is to identify the following, in order of importance:

1. Find the best base for your tree. By this I mean view your tree from every side, the idea is to find stability. Trees that have an unstable appearance (generally caused by a very thin trunk entering the ground) create an unstable feeling in the viewer. In most cases you’ll want to pick the view where your tree looks the widest at the point where…

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Japan Satsuki Bonsai Tour– Part 2

Another great post, I love these virtual tours.

Valavanis Bonsai Blog



Saitama City





Our first stop today was at the private garden of Masahiko Kimura where we saw magnificent, mostly large size bonsai. Nearly every tree was an evergreen, many with dead wood, but not all. Three were numerous famous masterpieces as well as Important Bonsai Masterpieces and award winning trees from the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition.


Mr. Kimura was a gracious host and all of group were served tea and Japanese cookies. Of interest to most of our members was not a large size tree, nor evergreen, but rather a small tropical tree. A few knew the name was “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” but could not think of the botanical name. So, I took out my iPhone and searched and discovered the name is Brunfelsia pauciflora, a small plant native to Brazil. I’ve seen it in Florida and it’s beautiful with purple, white and pink flowers on the…

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Decision to Make

This root over rock Cotoneaster is up for a make over. The bottom branch is very low and although it looks fine in it’s bare winter image, it has been bothering me in leaf. It doesn’t get much light and can get a little weak and leggy. I was looking at it a few days back with a view to removing it. One of the benefits would be to show off the root over rock portion a little better. I took this photo and then photoshopped the branch away. I then extended the branch above slightly and think we have  found the way to go.




Japan Satsuki Bonsai Tour– Part 1

Valavanis Bonsai Blog



In order to share the beauty of Satsuki azaleas with friends and introduce a bit of rarely seen areas of Japan, Kora Dalager and I introduced a new tour to Japan this week– The Satsuki Festival Tour. Our group includes 14 people from across the United States as well as Australia who want to see colorful Satsuki azalea bonsai as well as some of the finest bonsai Japan has to offer.

We arrived on Sunday evening to visit the private bonsai garden of Shinji Suzuki who lives north of Nagano on Monday. After a two hour bullet train ride we took a local train for 30 minutes. Upon arrival in Obuse, the town where the Suzuki garden is, we walked around and had a wood fired lunch in an old sake factory. Obuse is a quaint town where many wanted to simply walk around to absorb the sights and culture…

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Pruning – Hawthorn



After some extension removal. A very fine branch and leaf on this one.



Berberis Cleanout

My newly acquired Berberis clump got a cleaning out on Saturday. It has grown strongly since being lifted and I wanted to get rid of the congested shoots on the inside and shorten some leggy branches.

This was it before




And after, two options for a front.