The Artisans Cup Website is Live

We’ve all been waiting for it and today it’s here! Check out the new Artisans Cup Retrospective website. Below are some words from Ryan and the great video.

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The Artisans Cup, the premier showcase of American bonsai that took place at the Portland Art Museum September 25-27, 2015, today launches a new site experience offering a comprehensive look back at the event. The site will feature facts, photos, and audio & video content highlighting the concept and creation of the show, as well as details and audio critiques of every tree exhibited.


Visitors of the new website will get a detailed look behind the scenes at the immense community effort that brought the exhibition to life. The countless hours of planning and hard work by the show’s dozens of collaborators and participants will be displayed through photos, videos, and notes from the organizers. In addition, for a one-time fee of $65, users will be able to purchase access to special in-depth content with insights into the competition and how it was run. This content includes audio from all three panel discussions held during the event: “The Future of Bonsai,” a forecast of the art of Bonsai with founders Ryan & Chelsea Neil; “Ask The Judges,” a chance to get inside the minds of the professionals who judged the exhibition; and the “Collaborators Panel,” a look at how the principles of Bonsai translate into art, design, and culture, featuring key creative collaborators that helped to bring The Artisans Cup to life. Subscription content will also include studio portraits of all 71 trees, along with detailed audio critiques of each tree from all five of the event’s judges.


As an organization, The Artisans Cup is dedicated to celebrating the beauty of time and the balance of nature, showing American Bonsai for the art form it truly is. A steadily growing subset of the millenia-old tradition, American Bonsai honors the past while pushing the artistic boundaries of what is possible. The Artisans Cup seeks to highlight the artists who are leading the way, while simultaneously inspiring a new generation of Bonsai enthusiasts to join the movement. On the heels of an overwhelmingly positive reception to its inaugural event, The Artisans Cup is looking ahead to its next event in 2020, and laying the groundwork for a show in one of New York’s finest art museums in 2025.

Very Tall Hemlock Clump Styled

I love tall trees so this is right up my street, a stunning image. The second video close up shows some unusual branch selection and placement which would have been removed by many but works perfectly here in the tall image. Excellent work 🙂

Michael Hagedorn

This photo essay ends with a couple of movies…don’t miss those. They’re too short for popcorn, but long enough to sit down for.

DSC_0259 Mountain Hemlock before branch removal or wiring. Here are some pre-work branch close-ups:


Last week this Mountain Hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana) was styled with pruning and wiring. It’s an unusual front, as the apexes all flow 45 degrees to the back and to the right. For me it was a haunting tree to find the wild, as if felt like the wind was literally at my back, and so I was determined to keep a windy feeling in the styling. Given the surrounding trees, it was not a naturally wind-influenced tree, and the identical movement of the apexes was happenstance.

IMG_2438 Bobby progressed from standing on a crate…

IMG_2448 …to standing on a ladder.


I loved the height of this Hemlock. Although it’s more than twice the height of…

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Bonsai Empire’s Noelanders Trophy Video

Great video from Bonsai Empire.

My trees at the Nolanders Trophy 2016

Noelanders Trophy 2016

Possibly the best photo taken over the whole weekend.  However, it’s obvious by looking at facebook and Instagram etc, that very few paid a blind bit of notice.


I think I’ve probably seem the majority of trees exhibited on social media. Will this mean I won’t buy the book? No of course not. Did this impact numbers attending? Sure doesn’t look like it!

Anyway, if you want to see the winners check out this blog post over on Bonsai Empire. Another great post from Oscar.

A big well done to Warren Radford from the UK for being a joint winner this year. His tree shown below along with the tied for 1st tree from Luis Vallejo


Some Day’s Are Made For Collecting

Managed to get out with Phil collecting yesterday and amazingly the sun came out!

To be honest the day was more about getting permissions to collect in place and preparing some trees for collection in a few years time, but it was a successful day all the same with a few new additions to the garden. We have a rather special Hawthorn site that we haven’t used for a few years. The owner has since passed away and we were seeking permission from the new owner. After calling and speaking to his wife we were hopeful of getting back on the site. I was then left a voice mail saying we couldn’t collect. We were gutted! 😦 Then today out of the blue, he rang back to say yes, collect away!!! 😀 I think in all my years collecting I’ve only been turned down once and that was a tree from a garden. I was really gutted to think we’d never get back on this special site. Being able to take your time collecting, being selective and legal is the only way to go.

In case you are wondering, these snaps are not the site 😉

Talking of Sperling….

I’ve had some people asking me about the Sperling Keramic pots after my last post.

As most of the bonsai world, except me, seems to be heading to The Noelanders Trophy at the weekend, you can catch up with them there. Here are some of the pots making there way to the Exhibition.






Shohin Yew

Yes, another Yew, no fancy yamadori this time. I grew this one from a cutting!

This was it earlier in the year in a training pot.

While over at Bonsai Europa I fell in love with some of the great pots on the Sperling Keramic stand. I had never even heard of Sperling before! A very friendly service with some amazing pots. I picked up this little pot for another tree but wasn’t happy with the match so I’ve decided to use it for this little Yew.

This is it just potted up. A thinning out required this year and some extra shari work.

This was the tree back in 2011 after initial styling.

A few other pots from Sperling Keramic in case you want to see what else came back to Northern Ireland.

Trying Tibolar-RS

Going to give Tibolar-RS this year on a few trees to see how it compares. Only hearing good things about this feed.

Hawthorn – Initial Styling

A totally raw Hawthorn from the sales bench taking it’s first steps.