Maple groups

Some people refer to these as forest style bonsai. Groups can look really great even when they are made up with quite young seedlings.

These groups were put together last winter from seedlings I dug from our garden beds. Already they have recovered and put on masses of new shoots and plenty of growth. Now they are ready for some detailed pruning to simplify the structure.

trident group 20-1 $200 (24 trunks)

Prices reflect a rate of around $10 per tree in the group.

trident group 20-4 $180

All these starter groups are in nursery seedling trays that measure 35cm x 29cm x 6cm and could be transferred to an appropriate sized ceramic tray next winter or allowed to develop a bit longer in the current tray.

This year I have also started a couple of Japanese maple groups. Only 2 available.

JM group 20-10 $100

Please see the groups catalogue on Shibui Bonsai catalogue page or download the file below.

BSV February meeting

Bonsai Society of Victoria has invited me as guest speaker for the February meeting on Monday Feb 22. The topic is to be developing native plants as bonsai.

BSV members who would like to purchase trees from Shibui Bonsai can order as usual and I will bring them down to this meeting without the usual postage costs. Check out the catalogues to see what advanced field grown trees are still available this season. Shibui Bonsai also has plenty of smaller starters. If you are not exactly sure what you may want get in touch and we can talk about something that will suit your experience, needs and budget.

For those who are not members of BSV they welcome visitors to club meetings so you too can pick up orders and hear some of my thoughts and experiences developing and growing Aussie natives as bonsai.

If you are not able to attend the Monday evening meeting I may be able to manage a quick drop off on the way into Melbourne on Monday afternoon or on the way home via Yarra Glen on Tuesday morning.

email me: to discuss your bonsai stock needs and delivery options.

Field Grown Shimpaku Junipers

Slow to grow but first class as a bonsai specimen, advanced shimpaku are hard to find. These trees were grown in pots for 3-5 years to establish good roots and some low bends and twists in the trunks.Here are some photos of the process I use to get interesting trunks on shimpaku junipers.

Shimpaku cutting wired ready to bend
after bend and twist
potted up – note roots spread evenly to start good nebari
a tray of shimpaku whips. On the left wired and bent, on the right some ready for you to make your own.

The trees shown above will be ‘set’ in a couple of months and the wires removed before they scar the trunks. Next summer new long shoots will grow and they too will be wired and twisted to match the lower part. It can take 3-5 years to develop enough trunk with character. Some will be sold at that stage, others will then be transplanted into the grow beds where they will grow and thicken for another 5 years or more.

Junipers have a reputation for being difficult to transplant. In initial trials a number died but with experience and adapting techniques suggested by other growers survival rate of Shibui Bonsai shimpaku transplants are now much higher.

One of the frustrating attributes of junipers is that they take ages to show the signs of trauma. They can look fine for months after transplant then suddenly turn brown. Investigation shows the tree has no new roots and has been surviving, sometimes even growing, using resources stored in the trunk and branches. Here at Shibui Bonsai junipers are not offered for sale as freshly transplanted trees. I hold all transplanted junipers until after mid summer to make sure they have really survived the transplant process.

This year’s transplants have grown well through spring and are still looking healthy so I am confident they are well enough to offer them to you.

General bonsai wisdom says that junipers that have been recently transplanted should not then be subjected to more stress of pruning and styling so even though these trees have survived they should be allowed to continue to recover until at least next spring before any more major work.

Unlike deciduous trees where we can see the structure during winter junipers are densely branched evergreens so finding the bonsai among all that foliage can be challenging. These trees would make ideal candidates for workshop specimens.

The dense foliage also makes these difficult to photograph to show the internal structure. If there’s one you would like to see more of please feel free to ask for more photos and I will try to take some shots of particular features as far as it is possible.

All these junipers have long branches and trunks. They are still flexible enough to wind round to fit into a box for transport but most are still quite bulky so you should expect delivery costs to be up to $80 for some trees to some areas.

New Field grown stock

Pines and junipers can be tricky to transplant. From experience they can look healthy for months after transplant then suddenly decline and die because no new roots have grown. For this reason I am reluctant to sell freshly transplanted pines and junipers. i hold on to them until mid summer and I have seen plenty of healthy new growth showing good roots have developed after the transplant.

It is now time to show you the trees I have transplanted from the grow beds.

Start with Japanese Black pine. I dug 4 of these last winter. One I have decided to hold for further development and growth as it has an interesting trunk.

2 have already been snapped up by eager clients before I had the chance to show them.

That leaves just one field grown Japanese Black pine available from Shibui Bonsai this year.

JBP 20-2

JBP 20-2 is in a 30 cm orchid pot. You can see that new growth has been profuse and the trunk is stable in the pot indicating good root growth since transplant.

JBP 20-2

Nebari and trunk base on this one is very good.

JBP 20-2

There are several leaders to choose the best trunk line, some giving nice bends to the future trunk.

Most of the branches are quite young with plenty of healthy needles close to the trunk so it will be easy to prune and get new shoots suitable to build ramification and foliage pads.

Pines of this caliber do not come up every day. They are slow to develop. This one has spent several years in pots prior to planting in the grow bed then at least 5 years growing. List price is $300 from Shibui Bonsai nursery. As it is a larger tree please allow for post costs if you need delivery.

For more info or further photos of JBP 20-2 please email

Next up, Field grown Shimapku junipers……