Welcome to All in One Bonsa

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:

Esty Shop: AllinoneCeramics

Monday, 17 June 2013

A Small Elm Forest

Three years ago I was given a few small elm cuttings that I attempted to plant as a forest style.  I was just learning but became an instant fan of this style.  It seemed quite simple and I thought the end result always looked good.  It is not too hard to mess it up.  However, some look better than others.  Why is that?  Well, there are a few aspects to a forest style that makes your final composition look more natural and artistic.  
If you are going to create a forest style planting it is important that you have a good number of trees.  The traditionalists say that an uneven number of trees is more desirable.  In bonsai you are definitely not going for that symmetrical look.  So an uneven number such as 5, 7, 9, etc would be ideal.  The hard part is finding enough good looking trees to fulfil your quota!  That is why even though my elm forest does not possess quality trees at least I could get my hands on some thin cuttings that would eventually satisfy my need to create a favorite style of mine.
This is after about a year since I was given five thin elm cuttings.  They are not award winning trees but it is still fun planting them.
The other important aspect of a forest planting is to have a the 'trunks' to be of varying thicknesses.  The idea is to plant the thicker, taller ones more towards the front of the thin pot and the medium ones towards the back a little and the smaller thinnest ones to the outside a touch.  This 'pattern' makes for a pleasing look and creates good depth.  But of course you can plant them anyway you want!  In the above picture I have 5 very thin elm cuttings.  I would have liked to have more but it still does the job.  

I believe the hardest part when making a forest planting is to secure the trees in the soil.  I did this by using thin wire that I pushed up through the drainage holes.  It was a little tricky but you can do it.  It is important for the trees to be secure in the pot for them to grow well.  If they are unstable and wobbling around everywhere they will die.  The roots need stability and a good degree of stillness to grow.

In the meantime I was just playing around with a single elm cutting in a small pot.  I now wanted to add this guy to the others.
 For these small trees to grow well you have to place them on a tray of sand and make sure they do not dry out too quickly.  The small trees are the hardest to look after because the wind and sun will dry them out so quickly.  If without water for a few days, especially in the Spring and Summer then they will die.

During the Spring time here in Taiwan I decided to change the soil and repot my forest.  
                                Taking them out of the old pot.  The roots are doing well.
              Laying them all down and thinking about the order and what would look good.
My bonsai teacher suggested that we use a wire netting that will help us tie the trees down securely.  I liked the idea.

 My teacher securing the trees to the wire netting with bonsai wire.
It is also important to try and space the trees out in such a way that as you look from the front and from the side no two trees will be blocking each other.  Go for space!  That is the other benefit you get from using the grid wire netting.  The wire squares on the net allow you to arrange the trees in a pleasing position before you place them in the pot.
In they go.
 Add soil.
 Be careful to leave no air pockets.  We want the water reaching all the roots.
 Moss and rocks add a feeling of age.  
 A thorough watering to settle the trees and roots in place.
 A few months after re-potting.
 At the moment I am trying to ramify the small branches.  Here you can see they are growing nicely.  Oh, yes one did die so now we are left with four!  I need to find another small elm tree to add to this group.  Your bonsai work will never be done!  And there is an attraction in that fact....at least for me.

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