Wednesday, December 31, 2008

beech coming nicely

Many will remember that I ruthlessly hollowed this beech in spring of this year. By now the wound has developed very nice callous. This beech will shine enventually.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

wild cherry

This is a wild cherry, Prunus padus. This species is common all over northern Europe. But it is quite problematic as bonsai. It hates to be wired, actually it hates to be a bonsai. Branches die without warning. Anyway, the nebari of tis one is very good.
It is the tree of my childhoodl. I used to sit in the wild cherry trees which smelled so strong when flowering. I brought home branches with flowers and my mother would throw them away immediatly because of the strong scent. She said 'they stink'. Well, such is life.

hornbeam broom

This European hornbeam, Carpinus betulus, was hanging around for many years. In March of 2008 iI styled it seriously and now it looks like it's getting somewhere. Last image of March 2008.

Cembra pine forest

This is a cembra pine (Pinsu cembra) forest. it is huge, the pot is 150 cm long! I am not aware of any other cembra pine forest. This is still in development, of course. it will need about ten to twenty more years to look really fine. They are extremely slow growers.

hornbeam doing fine

This Europeaan hornbeam, Carpinus betulus, is show ready by now. It took more than ten years to get here. Second image of 1995.

Chinese elm shohin

After ten years of development this little elm is now show ready. It is a dwarf cork bark variety, probably 'Seijou'.

Hilliari elm

Afer this tree had lost many of it's large branches a couple of years ago in an accident it is coming bakc again. In five years it will shine.

European beech

I'm very happy with this European beech (Fagus sylvatica) after fifteen years of training.

my garden at year end

This little guy is one of the smallest birds in Europe. I found it dead after it bumped against one of the windows.
It is quzite cold these days. But the trees can stand this easily. They are from the mountains, where the climate is much rougher than in my garden.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas and happy 2009

I almost forgot to wish this to the patient readers of my blog. Between 500 and 1,000 people read this blog every day! Many of those are coming frequently. In one year there are somewhere between 15,000 and 25,000 DIFFERENT readers here. This means that only the most popular bonsai fourms come close to the hit rates of this blog. Very similar numbers are true for the gallery.

flowering ash

Flowering ash, Fraxinus ornus, collected in Italy. this year it looks like it has a dozen flower buds. I look forward to see the flowers finally on this tree in the beginning of May.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

two shohin Japanese maples

These two Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) are both shohin size, meaning they are below 23 cm. The big holes ae a main feature of these two treees. In Japan this is frowned upon. They don't want holes on deciduous trees. I love them. I think these would be much more boring without the holes.
As long as we cuold import maples from Japan (we cannot anymore since November 2008!!!) I always looked for the ones with big holes. They were rated second or third quality in Japan and very cheap. i think this is a big mistake. Big holes can make a maple very interesting.

BTW. history has proven that fungi will NOT attack maples with big holes more than they will attack maples anyway.

Maidenhair oak

This maidenhair oak (Quercus pubescens) is also doing fine. It still neeeds more ramification and the lower branches have to get much thicker. This will take more than 20 years though. A good reason to grow old for me.

European beech

This European beech (Fagus sylvatica) is coming very nicely. I was tempted to bring it to the Noelanders Trophy. But then it's a tough choice for me. There are about 50 candidates for this showl. So this beech might be on in 20010. The main problem is that I still have to find the right pot for it.

David's collection

David has some time over Christmas and workes on his collection. Here two linden and one hawthorn.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas market in Dietramszell

Take a look at this Christmas market near my home here: Dietramszell Christmas market

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

still more substrate stuff

my answer to the Bonsai Talk thread:


your interesting remarks explain why re potting and root cutting is necessary as soon as the roots at the bottom of the pot become too dense. How soon this happens depends on many factors. The main factors are plant species, age of plant and watering and feeding scheme.

A root ball that it too dense is detrimental, regardless of what substrate or soil you are using.
I believe in aggressive watering and feeding. Therefore my trees often get root bound pretty fast. I re pot old trident maples and Japanese maples every two years. Most old deciduous bonsai have to be re potted every three years. Conifers are not so problematic, especially very old collected specimens. They usually have only few roots and it takes very long until the are root bound. I leave very old collected conifers in the same pot for five to ten years and longer.
But make sure you know what you are doing! The substrate must be very well draining and aerating. Often collected trees still have the debris of their natural habitat around the rot ball. This debris decays in a surrounding which is moist and warm. This organic matter uses up oxygen and creates very fine particles which clog the substrate. The owner does not understand why his tree is going down hill while it in the correct substrate. Well, it is not anymore, it has clogged the substrate. Therefore I demand that the original soil from the habitat must be removed as soon as possible. When this is done one can leave the tree in the pot for a very long time. At leas this is what I am doing with very good results.

Monday, December 8, 2008

more about over-watering

The Rhine in Germany as many rivers here gets the usual spring flood in May or June or both. The water is very high for a few days and then pretty high for many weeks. There are quite a few forests and hundreds of thousands of trees alongside the river which are under water for weeks. Many are almost swamp-trees like willows, but many others are just ordinary trees which will grow in the forests on the hill too. According to conventional bonsai wisdom they all MUST die because they are standing in water for weeks. Why don't they die? Well, the water is full of oxygen and the banks of the river are of pure sand and grit. The tree standing in this sand will get a constant flow of fresh water UNDER the soil surface right where the roots are constantly. All this water is full of oxygen. while there are lots and lots of organic matter which decompose and use up oxygen they don't do harm because the water is moving.

Can we learn a lesson here for bonsai culture? it is NOT about water in the soil or substrate. it is all about oxygen getting to the root tips or not.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The over watering root myth

To a thread at bonsai talk overwatering myth

I wrote this:

The subject is close to my heart since many years. Bonsai don't die of root-rot. The roots of bonsai die because of some problem, then people continue to water as before. The roots cannot take up the water because they are dead. The soil or substrate as a consequence becomes more moist than before. The tree shows signs of death. The bonsai is taken out of the container and it is clear that the roots are rotting. One can see it and one can even smell it. Also it is obvious that the soil is too wet. So the gardener comes to the conclusion that the tree was overwatered and died of root-rot.
The roots have rotted because they were dead. Trees don't die of root-rot like people don't die of FEVER. Fever is a symptom of a disease. It can be many different diseases but the symptom is the same. Root-rot is a symptom and can have many different reasons.

In general bonsai are UNDERWATERED most of the time. Our literature warns so much of overwatering that most bonsai folks underwater their darlings. Many trees suffer or even die because they are not watered enough.

Modern substrates have created a very different situation than what is described in most bonsai books. What is a modern substrate? Well, anything like akadama, pumice, crushed lave, baked loam, turface, Styrofoam flakes, coconut crush, seramins and hundreds of other materials. They all have a couple of properties in common: small particles of even size which don't decompose or decompose slowly; ability to work as water buffer - take on water and and release it alter; due to the coarseness drainage is good and aeration; OXYGEN gets to the roots easily.

Consequences if you use modern substrates:

1) You MUST water aggressively and frequently. Meaning everything must be wet whenever it is time to water. During the main vegetation period this is EVERY day. Overwatering is not an issue! It is not possible to overwater. Whatever is too much will flow out of the pot through the drainage holes. Underwatering is very well possible.ANY FOOL CAN WATER WELL! Al that one has to do is to maike eveything dripping wet. If al trees are in modern substrate ther is no such thing as individula wateing anymore!
2) Yo MUST feed aggressively and frequently. During the active vegetation period this means about every ten days to tow weeks. You should feed much more than you used to. I feed about 30 (thirty) times more than I used do in the old days when we used soil instead of substrate. You can use chemical fertilizer. The danger of chemical fertilize (namely burning roots) is not present when you water aggressively. Whatever is too much will be washed out soon. You should use organic fertilizer a couple of times during the vegetation period besides chemical. Organic is everything that smells. (BTW: it is absolutely NOT necessary to use feed cakes and to mix you own feed. Any agricultural store has everything you need for bonsai.)

As a result your trees will grow much better than they used to.
I treat all my trees including ALL my world famous trees exactly in this way. I water about 500 trees in 30 minutes. Or my wife does when I am not there. She has no clue what she is watering. And she does not need to have a clue.

Don't trust you literature! Most bonsai books were written long before we started to use modern substrates. The information in bonsai books about watering, feeding, soil is antiquated most of the time. The information is even very dangerous if you use modern substrate.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

new images of the quince

Chinese quince, Pseudocydonia sinensis, 80 cm, about 100 years old, imprted as raw material from Japan, originally collected in Korea. The third image is a virtual. The second crown has to get more voluminous.