Eejit Artwork

A big Thank you to ‘Jurgen’ 🙂 at Makisada Ceramics for sending me the original Artwork for my Bonsai Eejit logo. I was delighted to receive this in the post. Just need to find the right frame now.

Make sure you check out Robyn and Veerle’s fantastic pots at

The Difference Between Plant Hardiness and Chilling-

Michael Hagedorn

Chillin’ isn’t just for teenagers…plants need it too. Spelled a bit differently, though.


For plants, this is serious, un-boring business. Without chilling, the plant won’t be able to grow in the spring. Without hardiness, the plant may be damaged by cold weather. Let’s break this down a bit.

There are two things at work here. Hardiness. And Chilling. 

  • Hardiness: The ability of the plant to survive cold. Light frosts improve the ability of a plant to withstand deeper cold. Once plants begin growing in spring they gradually lose their cold hardiness.
  • Chilling: Time, in hours, needed in the 33-50 F range before the plant will grow in spring. Freezing has no effect on chilling, and time spent below freezing is not ‘logged’ in the plant’s countdown. Temperatures above 60 are detrimental to chilling. Unmet chilling requirements are what prevent a plant from growing too soon in the spring, and if…

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2015 Japan Autumn Bonsai Exploration– Part 7, Final

Valavanis Bonsai Blog

Tokoname is the name of a town known for centuries for producing ceramics. Although westerners associate Tokoname with good bonsai containers, it is most famous for producing tea bowls, sewer tiles and toilets, not bonsai pots.


About 20 years ago there were over 100 potters producing bonsai containers. Today there are only about 10 because of the Chinese imports. It’s important to realize that the inexpensive Chinese pots known in the United States is not what comes to Japan. There is a finer grade exported to Japan, so good, I’ve seen them at the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition. There is an extensive color catalog issued every few years. The newest and current catalog is smaller, but still hefty. All the potters use the same catalog and the prices are consistent throughout Japan. You can’t get pots cheaper by coming to the factory, only one price.

One of popular tour extensions Kora…

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2015 Autumn Japan Bonsai Exploration– Part 6

Valavanis Bonsai Blog

1Daiju-en Bonsai Garden

We took the bullet train from Kyoto to Nagoya where we boarded our private bus for the day. First stop was Daiju-en Bonsai Garden of Toru Suzuki, third generation proprietor of the garden. I was fortunate to have known all three artists beginning with Saichi Suzuki over 35 years ago. Mr. Suzuki lived near a temple in Okazaki where a special cultivar of Japanese wisteria was growing. It had individual beautiful purple flower racemes, which can reach a length of SIX feet! Really. My chopstick size cutting gift from Mr. Suzuki is now thicker than me covering my “great wall” bonsai display. So far I’ve only been able to grow ONE flower to 56 inches, but I’m really not a size queen and truly appreciate those flowers of any length. He was one of the pioneers of pine bonsai and is most well known for the introduction…

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2015 Autumn Japan Bonsai Exploration– Part 5

Valavanis Bonsai Blog

6P4A5361Genko Kai Exhibition

On November 21-22, 2015 S-Cube sponsored and produced a special exhibition for the Genko-Kai, a small group of bonsai collectors with high quality bonsai and suiseki. Held in the Hoshu-In Buddhist temple, established in 1608, the complex is normally not open to visitors. This temple is in the Daitoku-Ji complex of numerous smaller temples of the Rinzai School of Japanese Zen including the popular Daisen-In on many garden tours.

The Genko-Kai is headed by Seiji Morimae comprised of his clients who want to share the beautiful bonsai and suiseki collections. He has superb taste in bonsai, suiseki and display.

Seiji Morimae designed the displays in the individual 11 rooms of the temple, each holding one to several bonsai or suiseki. Along with the help of his S-Cube staff Mr. Morimae presented an excellent selection of bonsai and suseki. They all suggest seasonality.


Upon entering Hoshu-In a dramatic…

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2015 Autumn Japan Bonsai Exploration– Part 4

Valavanis Bonsai Blog


The 35th Nippon Taikan Bonsai Exhibition runs from Saturday through Tuesday. I was fortunate to have the privilege to watch the judging all day on Friday, before the exhibition officially opened, and attend all day on Saturday and Sunday. A few of the trees changed a bit with the autumn coloring and some dropped their leaves as well. I learned a great deal during the past three days and saw many long time friends, both from around the world and Japan.



Japanese rose! I’ve never seen such a large s ize beautifully trained Japanese rose bonsai, and I’ve seen a lot. But was also surprising is that this award winning bonsai, (best deciduous bonsai) did not have a “proper” display table. OK, so someone made a wooden box and covered it with purple cloth, I can understand that. However it is too SHORT for the long cascading branch which is touching…

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2015 Autumn Japan Bonsai Exploration– Part 3

Valavanis Bonsai Blog


The 35th Nippon Bonsai Taikan Exhibition takes place at the Miyako Messe in Kyoto, Japan on November 21-24, 2015. This is probably the second most popular and one of the largest bonsai Exhibitions in Japan, at least in Western Japan. Over 250 displays contain many more bonsai since some have two or possibly three trees, plus the shohin bonsai compositions. Only four shohin bonsai compositions were displayed, probably because the Gafu Bonsai Exhibition will take place in the same room in early January which is the top shohin bonsai exhibition.


The quality of bonsai selected for the exhibition is not as high as the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition in February. But rather, professional bonsai artists select trees from their clients. Mr. Kimura told me that actually the judging for this exhibition is much more difficult than the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition because only one tree per category must be selected, while…

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2015 Autumn Japan Bonsai Exploration– Part 2

Valavanis Bonsai Blog


Thursday morning was spent at the Shunka-en Bonsai Museum of Kunio Kobayashi in Tokyo, Japan. The beauty of bonsai displays here is unparallel in Japan.


Mr. Kobayashi’s apprentice Jin speaks English and explained the many displays and bonsai in the museum to our group. He mentioned we were lucky, normally about 15 bonsai are on display, but today there are over 50 trees because of an autumn exhibition with client’s bonsai.


Every time I visit Shunka-en Bonsai Museum there are more and more bonsai, mostly larger sizes which Chinese clients like. Also there were a great number of suiseki all packed up, complete with display tables for next February’s Nippon Bonsai Suiseki Exhibition. Mr. Kobayashi is the current chairman and the accepted stones are collected to be photographed for the album in his garden. I hand carried Mike Pollock’s and my suiseki for the exhibietion which will be in February…

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Seasonal Care for Cold Weather…

Michael Hagedorn

Every year I try to wrap a blog post around the snarly issue of protecting our trees from cold. This year we’ll try a new approach, and take it in a few bite sized chunks, in a couple of blog posts.

Firstly, we need to bear in mind that the top of a tree or shrub is much more cold hardy than the roots. When we read about the ‘cold hardiness’ of a plant in a garden book, that designation is assuming the darn thing is the ground, where it’s supposed to be. The designation takes no heed of silly bonsaiists who will put it up on a bench. Roots are much more tender than their tops!

funny-ice-sculptures-scary A lot of people don’t know this, apparently even a few snow sculptures…

Nextly… on the ground is a good first place to put a bonsai in cold weather, generally when it is dropping…

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2015 Autumn Japan Bonsai Exploration– Part 1

Valavanis Bonsai Blog


Kora Dalager and I brought 18 people for our exciting annual autumn bonsai tour to Japan. We have friends from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, Kentucky, California, Washington, Puerto Rico, New York, England and Australia. A diverse group from around the globe with a wide range of climates for growing bonsai.


On Wednesday we took our private bus to Hanyu to visit Seiji Morime and his S-Cube Uchiku-tei Bonsai Garden. The name comes from respecting his teacher Uhaku Sudo and the garden where he studied for about 20 years Chiku fu-en Bonsai Garden.


As soon as we arrived he was anxious to show us his newest “prize” which is not open to the public. A few months ago he purchased the ENTIRE bonsai collection of the great bonsai philanthropist and promoter, Daizo Iwasaki. Mr. Iwasaki’s garden “Takasago-an” on Shikoku Island was one of the major highlights of our autumn tours. The garden…

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