Welcome to All in One Bonsai

Bitten by the Bug


Welcome to All in One Bonsai...a blog that aims to remind me of what I have forgotten. Over the years I have been finding out as much as I can about the art of bonsai. I hope the information in this blog will shed some light to the beginning bonsai enthusiast out there.


I saw some bonsai trees at a corner market one night in Taipei and asked the guy if he was willing to teach me how to create these miniature trees. He directed me to a night school where all the instruction was in Chinese. My Chinese ability is very ordinary at the least so although I was learning bits and pieces, I really wasn't getting all I wanted from the course. The best parts were when the teacher would start pruning a beautiful tree or when he showed us how to repot a bonsai. The mystery was still out there but my interest wasn't waning, if anything it fueled my motivation to find out more. And so I did.


Let the adventure begin...


Recently I have discovered the joy of pottery. Bonsai and pottery are close friends so it was only a matter of time before I was introduced to her. Welcome to All in One Bonsai...and pottery.


Feel free to visit my site where you can purchase some of my handmade pottery. Quite a few pieces have been wood fired as it is the prefered method here in Taiwan:

AllinoneCeramics



Monday, 10 December 2012

From the Root to the Fruit

From the Root to the Fruit

Yamingshan mountain is located in the north of Taipei.  The mountain is an old volcano dating back hundreds of years.  Being volcanic, the soil is rich and vegetation grows extremely well.
Escaping the busy streets of Taipei and venturing up in the mountain is a weekly routine for my girlfriend and I.  We were lucky enough to be given a small patch of dirt to experiment growing bonsai stock.
Humble beginnings

Waiting for the sun to work its magic



















After buying 60 small juniper trees that were around 30 centimeters in length, I decided to plant them with the goal of thickening up the trunk.  Planting these junipers in the ground is the quickest way for them to grow thicker trunks and branches.  However, the trees will not develop intricate and fine branch tips.  This will only happen if the tree's growth is slowed down.  The slowing down of the growth happens once the tree is placed into a bonsai pot.  More on that later.  For now we want to experiment and see how quickly these small trees will grow .  At the moment it has just turned from Autumn into Winter.  I planted the trees in the last week of Autumn....on a cold and rainy day.

The idea is to plant them on an angle so there will be a first bend in the juniper's trunk.
You can see juvenile growth down the bottom where tree does not get as
 much sun compared to the top, healthy growth.

Attempting to wire a tree as it grows in the ground.
Apparently this is not the best thing to do as it inhibits the
rapid growth of the tree.

So far so good!

Healthy new scale like growth at the upper most tip of the tree. The chop sticks are used to stabilize the tree during strong winds.  The roots do not like being moved around at all!



Thursday, 29 November 2012

Recommended Bonsai Books

Recommended Bonsai Books

I remember how frustrating it was trying to get a straight answer to my hundreds of questions.  I had too many questions and not enough answers.  I still do.  There is still so much that I do not know but throughout this blog I will attempt to explain what I know in a simple way that hopefully makes sense.  

I have bought over 20 bonsai books and I like them all.  Each book gives me some new information that the other books do not.  Or they explain something differently and then it suddenly makes sense.  
I continue buying bonsai books because I love looking at the pictures and reading someone else's thoughts on the art.

If I had to recommend only one bonsai book it would probably be Debrorah R. Koreshoff's book titled Bonsai Its Art, Science, History and Philosophy.  
It is quite detailed and a lot of it won't really sink in until you begin experimenting with trees yourself.  I find myself rereading chapters that made no sense to me in the beginning but now things have begun to click.  

The other two are from the same author, Robert Steven.  He has a nursery in Jakarta.  I was lucky enough to track it down and took some great photos of a few of his trees.  He is regarded as an excellent bonsai artist around the world.  He is not so traditional and has created some magnificent trees.  

Vision of My Soul by Robert Steven

Mission of Transformation by Robert Steven



A Robert Steven's bonsai.  I took this picture in July 2012
My next recommendation are two books written by John Yoshio Naka.

Bonsai Techniques I by John Yoshi Naka
Bonsai Techniques II John Yoshi Naka

These books are excellent.  Some of the best aspects of these books are how the author follows trees throughout many years and the pictures clearly show the different stages of development.  

The last one of my favourites is an old bonsai book that I bought on ebay for $5.  
The title is Bonsai Culture and Care of Miniature Trees.  It is published by Sunset Books.

I love this book as it does a great job of explaining techniques very clearly.  I particularly enjoyed reading this section -


"Bonsai are not exact duplicates of trees growing in the wild.  Rather, they are evocations of the spirit of nature, of the life force of the natural world.  They are man made shapes that suggest nature - as does, say, an impressionist painting - rather than duplicate nature, as a photograph might.  The artist's feeling for balance, form, and line combine with nature's juices to evoke a larger and deeper concept."

Please visit my online pottery shop at AllinoneCeramics for handmade ceramic pieces.


Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Passion

Passion

When I was younger, football was my passion.  I loved training and having fun with my football mates.  When that all ended, I was a little lost.  No more training nights, no more Saturday football, and after moving to Taiwan, no big circle of friends to enjoy my life with.  I needed to adapt.  I took a long time to do that and I believe finding bonsai has given me more purpose, a passion that occupies a lot of my thoughts.

I had always liked hiking and getting out in the Tasmanian forests.  I didn't give it too much thought - the scenery was sensational, as were my friends, and the fresh air was cleansing.  That was enough.  I suppose I have always liked trees.  I remember hugging my fair share in amongst our hikes.  I remember climbing them as a kid with some mates and sitting on their crown, and I remember trying to build a tree house in our backyard - a disaster.

It wasn't until much later in life that I found a way to enjoy trees in small pots - those that are sitting on my balcony now.  I still think I stumbled upon bonsai and I am grateful that I did.  Living in Taiwan was definitely a huge part of why I have taken up this rewarding hobby.  I probably would have never even thought about bonsai if I wasn't living and working in Taiwan.

Anyway, I believe finding a passion is very important.  I don't know if you can go searching for one as much as it finds you.  It either happens or it doesn't.  I feel lucky that I have found a hobby that hasn't lost its appeal after 3 years.  The more you find out the more interesting it becomes.  Once you have found something that you really like and constantly think about it, it is amazing what things open up.



A beautiful bonsai on a rock slab.  I took this picture at Robert Steven's nursery in Jakarta.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Beginnings

Beginnings 

                                     Chinese Elm - My first forest planting
I have to say that I do love the figurines on my bonsai.  It isn't
everyone's favourite as some think it takes away from the imagination but I like how it adds to the illusion of a bigger tree.


As I was watching my elm forest grow for about 2 years I noticed that not a lot was happening.  During the growing seasons of Spring, Summer and Autumn, new shoots would grow long so I cut these in the hope of ramifying the branches more.  I was making some progress but I wanted to speed up the process.  I decided to uproot my small forest and without cutting the roots, place them in a bigger pot.  By doing this the roots have more room to grow and as a result the trunks and branches will thicken up.  




This is the pot I used.  The end result is that the trunk and branches thickened a little and a lot more leaves grew.  Although to be honest I was hoping for more growth.  I think the main reason for this is that on my balcony I do not receive a great deal of sunlight which is vital.  I am in the process of moving to another place because of this reason.  The things we do for bonsai!



Same pot as before but a new arrangement 3 years later.  The small elm on the far right was added because one of the smaller trees died a few months ago.  

Playing around with a group planting.  Two trees that I have had for some years.  The tree on the left is my first bonsai tree that I bought.  I love it and it is as tough as nails and produces nice small red flowers.  The tree on the right was bought at a market.  A fukien tea tree.  Both these trees were growing in separate, smaller pots.  I want to grow them together in a larger pot.  I think they would look better if planted in a slightly thinner pot.  


I plan on uploading more of my own bonsai.  Coming soon.  

Outdoor Classroom

Outdoor Classroom

I believe Taipei to be the gem of Asia.  It hasn't the best of anything but an accumulation of seconds and thirds that make Taipei, Taiwan a magical place to live.

One such place is the local Flower Market found in the city.  It was here that I went about asking every friendly face that I saw about who was willing to teach me more about bonsai.  With some trial and error I met a man named Jack Lin.  Jack had some experience of living in Australia so he was very welcoming and generous with his time.  Over the next year I spent most of my weekends at his outdoor bonsai shop learning all I could.  Jack is a self confessed 'instant bonsai' man.  He knows a great deal about bonsai but his main purpose is buying young trees and then going about twisting and shaping them there and then, increasing the value substantially.  10 minutes later they are put into a nice pot, passed to his wife who then places them on the selling rack.  Jack has an amazing ability to turn a 3 year old tree into something that looks ten times that age in a handful of minutes.

Jack has taught me a lot about bonsai and for that I will be eternally grateful.  This man loves bonsai more than life itself.  I asked him one day if he ever got tired of wiring or shaping a tree.  In 45 years he honestly told me that every time he picked up a tree he felt happier.  Amazing stuff.

Jack Lin and a guy that doesn't want to spread his flu germs.
I have enjoyed many hours sitting at this table.