Iwasaki Japanese White Pine

I’ve been looking for a Japanese White Pine for a while, but something a little different than the usual shaped pines we see everywhere. Back at the start of the Winter I was offered one that fitted the criteria.

Peter Warren of Saruyama Bonsai had imported some JWP that had been part of the Daizo Iwasaki collection. I had the pleasure of wiring one of them back in January 2017 whilst studying at Saruyama Towers. I think this was the catalyst to my desire for one. Peter had sold one in the Autumn of 2016 but it just come back into his hands as part of a swap deal and I jumped at the chance of buying it.

This is it back in Japan where Peter first spotted it.

The tree arrived with me just before Christmas, along with Mr Warren 🙂 This is a few angles before we started work.

Getting down to work with the professional.

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and afterwards……

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I love this tree, a spreading multi apex image and out of the normal cookie cutter Pine image. A few branches are a little behind development wise, especially around the back were we brought up a back branch to make the highest part of the tree. A few branches will be removed within a year or two. The last video clip is probably the best way to view it. It helps give a view of it’d funky quirky style and shows the real age and character in the trunk and branches. I look forward to developing this tree further, it should be a fun journey.

Thanks as always to Peter Warren, the most genuine bonsai professional out there, and, as the music playing in the last video says, ‘Go your Own Way’. 🙂 Let’s not run with the herd.


Iwasaki Japanese White Pine

I posted on this last week but I wanted to revisit the tree here and get all the photos in one place. As stated, this tree was part of the Iwasaki Collection in Japan. I have pinched Peter’s text from his Facebook page explaining a little about how he came to have the trees.

Last May I took a very short trip to Japan as I was invited by Mr. Morimae of S-Cube Bonsai to have a sneak preview of the sale of the Iwasaki Collection.
As you may or may not be aware, Mr. Iwasaki was one of the premier collectors of bonsai in Japan over the last fifty years and he amassed a huge collection. He passed away several years ago and after lots of issues were resolved the collection was put up for sale and it was purchased by S-Cube

Due to my long standing relationship with Mr. Morimae, he let me get into the collection before 95% of the Japanese Bonsai world, let alone anybody from outside of Japan. As a result I got to choose a number of very special trees for a number of clients as well as some for myself to sell or style them and keep until someone wanted them. Finally, they got back here after a long process of quarantine. As they are trees with history and pedigree, some of them will be for sale, some of them not. There are a couple that I want to restyle this year but most of them are suffering a little from the importation and there are a few blind buds and branches so major work will wait until next year.

What you can’t tell so easily from the photos is the depth of character in the bark, the struggle these trees have been through giving them genuine old school bonsai flavour. These aren’t average pines which have been grown quickly and made to look pretty, these have age, character and class.
There are another bunch of trees that didn’t make it into the van this time but I should have them by the end of the week, as well as some non Iwasaki collection pines.
As with most of the trees that I put up, 95% of them are for sale but not to somebody I do not trust to look after them and not until I am 100% happy with their health.

On arrival at Peter’s last week I was given the task of clearing out the dead twigs and branches on this tree. Some had been lost during quarantine perhaps due to the fact that they were over due a repot and maybe watering was difficult to get right. Peter has turned the health around and there were many strong shoots on the tree.

This is it as I started.



Here after I cleared out the majority of the dead branches. Some left for jin as required.



Peter then informed me that I would be working on this tree for the first few days. A great honour to be trusted with the work on such a tree. My first job was to go through the tree removing shoots that were too strong, mostly towards the apex and then do some bud thinning. This is it before.


And after that process.


I then worked my way up the tree wiring each branch after discussion with Peter. So many little tips were given during this process. Information on JWP, wiring, branch placement, health etc. Below is the tree as we finished the work. This was not styled to look it best now, but shaped for the health of the weaker lower branches and gaining better structure in the next 5 years. A new front was selected due to brach removal but Peter was keen to point out that it must look good from all angles and we constantly spun the tree during the whole styling process.


Final tweaks





Structure from underneath.


A happy me, tired but happy 🙂


Covetous eyes…


Check out the video clip…

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Shohin Japanese White Pine

Yes, I know, I’ve been very slack with my posting on the blog of late. A very busy period in my life with business, personal and bonsai elements going full tilt. I am hoping to have a quiet few months coming up and look forward to having more time for my own bonsai and pushing forward with my own education in this wonderful art.

I have still been taking photos and I’ll try and get a few more out over the coming weeks.

I’ve been up to my eyes in the prep required for Bonsai 30, the biggest Bonsai event Ireland has seen so far and have been prepping a number of trees for the exhibit. I would rather leave most of them until the event before sharing here though.

However, here’s a little Pine that was gifted to me by my friend Mariusz. It will be getting a new pot in the Spring but has just had a rewiring in case we need it for the shohin display at the exhibition.



Deflowering a Pine

Sounds slightly perverted but I was really just removing the flower buds from the Japanese White that was covered with them this year. Needs to be done carefully but

better for the tree than it wasting it’s energy and creating a long extension that is of no use.





Mario’s White Pine

Looking nice and healthy Mario 🙂



Watched it, then watched it again!

A great video I watched over on the Capital Bonsai Blog with Ryan Neil talking about pines. A very interesting approach and an easy explaination about why you do it this way or that. Well, not that easy, I had to watch it twice 🙂 It never does any harm to refresh the memory.

Little JWP

Alan, a relative club newbee, emailed me a few days ago asking if I could have a look at a Japanese White Pine for him. I am bored out of my head not being able to do much with my dodgy shoulder. I was delighted to have him down on Friday afternoon.

This is the Pine he brought, a typical JWP that you see on the market.  Bought 2 years ago by Alan’s good lady wife as a present.

He has done a great job in keeping it healthy. Too much rain here in the UK to be ideal for JWP which I find like it on the dryer side. The growth was too strong at the apex and weaker on the lower half of the tree. A common fault when the owner doesn’t know the correct steps to take to balance the growth. I decided to make an afternoon of it and help Alan do two things. Learn about Pines and JWP in particular and learn how to set about evaluating a tree before styling.

We must have spent an hour talking through the needs of a pine and what we need to do at different points to achieve results, and also why it actually works!

I have a particular process that I try and teach beginners to follow when evaluating a tree. This was drilled into me years a go by Robert Porch, one of the most underrated bonsai artists in the UK. I have adapted it for my own needs and have probably missed some important steps in the process! I’ve never put this in writing but some might find this of interest. Aspects of it can also be applied to tree critiques and judging.

#1 When you look at a tree, even if it’s one of your own and you’ve had it for years, try and look at it with fresh eyes every time. Hard with your own trees I know, but how many times have you looked at trees at a show and just whizzed past not really taking in the image and missing learning opportunities.

#2 When you look at the tree decide what it is that first catches your eye. Is it a positive or a negative feature in your opinion. Where does your eye go from there? Is your overall opinion of the tree good or bad.

#3 look through the tree from it’s ‘front’ as displayed. Assess what good points the tree has. Always be positive when possible, especially when publicly critiquing a tree. Anyone can poke holes in a trees design, for some, that’s all they do!!

#4 Now do it again but looking for negatives. Make sure you assess the pot during this process. If you don’t like it, why? What pot would you put it in?

[Points 1-4 can also be done when looking at photos of bonsai in books or on screen, never just flick on to the next image without evaluating how it was done.]

#5 If you are offering advice on styling options, now is the time to look for other options in the tree. Spin the tree around on a turntable, and using the points above, select alternate fronts. This can be fun to do in a group. Make everyone mark their front with a piece of wire stuck in the pot. At the end each person has to explain why they picked that front. This can be entertaining 🙂 Always remember that the tree can be tilted etc, you are not stuck with it’s current position or style in any way.

#6 Having made several front selections, work through each one to assess which one is the best option. How many positives does each option have and how can you show these off? How many negatives is there and can these be removed hidden or even ignored?

#7 Most important, if it’s not your tree, then remember the owner is fully entitled to their opinion and to chose the option that suits them best.

#8 You should now have a clearer idea of where to go with the tree but if available, get another experienced eye to have a look for other options. Sometimes, what you have missed is the biggest part of the learning experience.

Back to Alan’s JWP. We went through this process and came up with 8 viable options for the tree. These were discussed and Alan decided what he wanted to do. Most options involved a front change and even a slight angle change. This is the front selected to best show off the root base, which can be improved when repotting, the trunk movement and make best use of a lower apex.

I put Alan to work removing old needles before he wired the tree.

This is the final image.

A few points: This tree has a long way to go and will required proper care to produce ramification. Tthe overall height of the tree have been lowered, after a wiring the image is far more ordered and pleasing to look at. The nebari, once repotted and cleared will now be wider and show more interesting lower trunk movement. The graft mark has been hidden by the lower branch. The apex, although light now, is leaning towards the front and will fill quickly.

The trunk line is still somewhat straight in the middle but less noticeable than before. Apex needs time to fill again and several branches will need to be extended to add interest to the overall image. A few branches at the lower level should have been removed but have been left to allow for a future option of a shohin tree. This was my personal preference on the day but this isn’t the best time of year to be removing 4/5 of the foliage on a JWP and watching it bleed to death. This is the lower area where the shohin option is still available down the road.

I think Alan’s major worry about the shohin option was the reaction of his wife when he took the tree home 🙂

I had a very enjoyable afternoon and Alan is one of the keenest members I have had the pleasure of spending time with. This was typical beginner material but was a great tool to be used to help Alan gain knowledge in Pine care and styling decisions. As usual, I always learn a little myself in the process. I even sent him home with homework 🙂

Mario Update

Another Mario tree update. If  you haven’t got a clue why I’d be doing this, CLICK HERE

First up is his Satsuki Azalea. It’s a variety called Subaru, so I’m told. I always thought the flower colour was equal throughout this tree, as you can see, I was wrong. Nice shades of pink.

Next up is his Japanese White Pine that has budded strongly this year.

His Korean Hornbeam that got a major haircut to produce back budding on some leggy branches. It’s working.

This is his Japanese Black Pine. It had been in a small pot and I thought that while he was away for a while we could get faster development from this tree by putting it in a bigger pot. I opted for a pond basket to improve the roots.

There you go Mario, that’s your tree fix sent all the way to you out in the sands 🙂

Mario’s Japanese White Pine Update

Part of the fun in looking after Mario’s bonsai while he’s working in Dubai is that I can put them up here to show him what he’s missing 😀

$1,000,000 Bonsai, Don’t drop it!!!

How many people does it take to lift a $1 000 000 bonsai?

I make it 7 Japanese and Peter Warren 🙂