Grow beds

In between wet days and working off site most days I’ve managed to get some digging done.

One trident row completed.







The trees that I’ve dug have had a rough trim and are now heeled in until I can get time to assess them properly. Some will go back into the rows, some will be potted up ready for you. There are also plenty of bits I pruned off ready for the mulcher.




Another row almost done – Chinese elms in the centre of these 2 rows are next to come out


Those roots

Some of you may have noted the evenly spread roots on the trident maples in the previous post. Those of you who have been following for a while or who have been back through earlier posts will already be aware that nebari like that is not just a coincidence.



Here’s the same trident maple from below. The original trunk that was threaded through the hole in the aluminium plate is still visible and functioning. As it grows a little thicker, circulation will be further restricted and it will gradually die off but the new roots above the plate are now strong and healthy enough to support the tree.


More pictures and a full description in the 12-Aug 2017 post – Develop great nebari #2

I often see other bonsai enthusiasts promoting similar methods using different plate materials.

Some use metal washers but I think those are far too small to be effective but if a large washer is all you can get why not try it out.

Others have talked about planting seedlings through the hole in a CD or DVD. These are cheap and easy to obtain now but the central hole is relatively large so it will take some time before the trunk is constricted sufficiently to initiate new roots above. CD plastic is also relatively flimsy so I think the developing roots may actually break the disc. My earliest attempts at this technique used ceramic tiles which were hard to drill without shattering. I also tried cement sheet (building product). After a couple of years both these materials had been reduced to tiny pieces by the force of growing roots and so had not really achieved the best outcomes in terms of nebari.

Although there is lots of advice about using both metal washers and CDs in various places there seems to be very few pictures of the results. Although not all of the trees I grow this way produce perfect nebari I have found this to be the most effective and repeatable method I have used so far.

Trident winter pruning

Cold weather has finally come to Shibui Bonsai and many of the deciduous bonsai have lost leaves. I always find this a great time of year because I now get to see the underlying structure of branches and twigs that make up my bonsai. I now get the opportunity to assess the branch structure that has been hidden by a dense canopy of leaves for several months and to begin winter pruning and refinement. Continue reading

Another twisted shimpaku

The recent workshop with Joe Morgan-Payler has re-inspired me to keep developing these small, contorted junipers.

While not everyone appreciates this style of bonsai, especially here in Australia where our relatively mild climate does not produce such trees in the mountains, they seem to be valued by Japanese bonsai artists. These trees simulate the types of trunks that the severe winters and harsh growing conditions in the Japanese mountains naturally produce.

Continue reading

JBP first styling

Today I worked on a Japanese Black pine. It was grown from seed about 10 years ago and I kept it because it has a really good 360 degrees root system that should develop into great pine nebari. Despite having such a great root system the top has not developed particularly well so I have not given it much attention so it is a good candidate to show how I go about making initial styling decisions. Continue reading

Autumn at Shibui Bonsai

The warm weather has gone on way longer than normal in our area this year but many of the deciduous trees at Shibui Bonsai have finally decided it is time to shut down for the winter so we finally have some colour.

Autumn colour is best with cold nights and fine sunny days so this year’s leaf colour is nowhere near as strong as usual but still worth sharing some photos with you. Continue reading

Layering for bonsai

Layering is the term used when we grow new roots on the stem of a plant so that we can produce a new plant.

There are 2 main methods: Air layering and Ground layering. There are also many variations of each of these methods.

Layering has many uses in bonsai:

  1. It can be used to propagate a new plant that you can then train as a bonsai. Because you can layer large branches you can start off with a nice thick trunk.
  2. It can be used to grow new roots at a point on the trunk that is better than the current root level.
  3. If a bonsai has poor nebari, a modified version of layering can be used to get new roots to fill in, and improve the nebari.
  4. When you have a bonsai with a really nice top but poor base you can layer and remove the good upper part as a new tree.

Continue reading