Spring flowering – Crab Apple

Spring seems to have started slowly here at Shibui Bonsai. Lots of rain keeping temps a little lower than usual but the trees have responded to the warmth and started to grow.

Here’s a photo of my one and only crab apple bonsai taken today.

Crab apple September 2016

Crab apple September 2016

It is not actually a very good bonsai usually but when it flowers in spring the display draws the eyes away from any other problems.

Flowers in this variety are followed by tiny apples that eventually mature to yellow fruit.


Late winter is typically busy at Shibui Bonsai. Trees in the grow beds must be dug, pruned and assessed. The best are potted up for you to purchase. Others are replanted to continue developing. A few that don’t look like measuring up are consigned to the scrapheap. Continue reading

Autumn pine work

The new shoots on Black pines have matured so it is time to thin out all the new shoots that have grown since decandling.

It is important to know that this is part of the technique used to REFINE MATURE pines. Younger, developing pines should be allowed to grow freely to gain strength and size and cut back hard every couple of years. Decandling is used to ramify the branches on trees that are closer to being mature bonsai. Continue reading

More from Pavel Slovak masterclass

As is usual at a bonsai workshop I came away with a few new ideas and techniques.

Pavel is noted for working with and, in particular, bending larger collected conifers. During the workshop he mentioned that bends are easier if you twist the branch while bending. Twisting as you bend allows the fibres in the wood to bend further without breaking.

He also mentioned that he often wraps electrical tape over the wire and raffia when making extreme bends. This serves to keep the moisture in a branch if it cracks while bending which he feels aids in healing the cracks and breaks.

Something I had not experienced before was removing ALL old needles from a pine in order to wire and shape the material. I have always attempted to retain as many old needles as possible hoping that some will produce new buds to help ramify the branching. It is certainly much easier to wire the branches without the older needles.

If anyone else has something from the recent NBPCA bonsai week feel free to let me know and I can add it here.