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

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Chung Hwa Bonsai Exhibition 2017

Meeting in the Middle

This past weekend saw 52 countries outside Taiwan come to admire Taiwan's best bonsai.  The bonsai exhibition was held just outside Taichung at a place called Chung Hwa.  I have visited Chung Hwa many times before, either buying trees or pots, or getting my supply of bonsai soil.  It is a great area, full of friendly people and brilliant bonsai.  Chung Hwa is found in the middle of Taiwan, where the growing weather is extremely favorable.  

As we entered one of the parks that displayed these amazing trees, my eye caught my country's flag in amongst many others.  Bonsai has a habit of bringing people of all nations together.  It is able to break through cultural barriers, and connect people who would otherwise never talk to each other.  It didn't matter where you travelled from, these particular trees were the reason everyone met. They were top level trees that have been well cultivated over many, many years.  
There are quite a few photos of Taiwan bonsai in this post.  I wanted to share with people the trees on display.  I hope you enjoy scrolling through them and getting some inspiration for what you do in your gardens.  Here we go...

Proud to be an Aussie?  
Annie got in on the action as well.  I had to pull her away from the New Zealand flag.  Easy mistake.

Juniper.  The best features of a juniper are the dead and live wood contrasting each other.  You will see this feature in almost all high quality juniper bonsai.

This rock is actually solid jade!  Considering that a jade bracelet in Taiwan can cost about a thousand Australian dollars, I shudder to think of its value.

The sun was shinning, and cameras clicking.

An extra large, I'm in charge, kind of tree.

When I was looking at these trees I really aimed to 'study' them.  I wanted to look underneath the leaves and see how the branches were developed.  This twisting branch would have been wired this way to create a more compact tree.  It is a great way to 'shorten' your branch.  It only looks good and matches the feel of the tree, that is if the trunk also has plenty of nice twists and turns.  Having a straight trunk and twisty side branches will look odd.

Taiwan junipers are famous around the world for their amazing dead wood.   

You can see why.  


The white dead wood is painted with sulphur to bring out the striking white, but also to protect the tree by hardening that area.

Clouds of foliage.

A close up of a branch pad.  You can see it was cut underneath the branch because it would have been growing too long.  A smaller branch would have been growing above, which is now the new branch tip.  To create a full looking pad many smaller branches were allowed to grow.  There was no concern about bar branches or even some that were growing up from the middle.  Perhaps at another time some of these branches will be pruned to allow for more light.

A nice little pond along the way

Little masterpieces around every corner.

The next sequence is mainly pine trees.  This particular style is called literati.  These trees are difficult to get right.  The best ones evoke a feeling of hardship and sparseness, combined with persistence and elegance.

Simple, direct, and full.  I like this tree.

This pine is designed in the clump style.  I have never considered shaping my trees in this style - it would have to be done early in its development.  It is possible to develop a tree like this and then choose only one lead trunk, cutting the others at the base.  By doing that, you will have thickened up the base of the tree, creating taper.  

A closer look inside.

Some exposed roots that look like they have become the trunk.

One of the easiest ways to tell the age of a pine is by looking at the bark.  This one looked quite old, with plates that were cracking.  I'm not particularly crazy about the trunk shape - especially the base - too straight.  Nice apex development though.

An elegant bonsai.  If it was me, I would do something with that first left branch.  Perhaps move it  further to the right or trying to cover the beginning of the branch with green foliage.

I really like the base.  The top part of the tree looks too thick.  Hiding it with foliage would be my next move.  Part of the fun of bonsai is having thoughts about what to do with your design.  Keep my opinions to myself?  Fair enough.

A big bad boy.  A nice taper and cool base.

I like the trunk but not a fan of the long leggy branches.

A great example of a literati style bonsai.  Lots of character.  That top dead branch makes a big difference to the feeling of the tree.  It provides evidence that it was once taller, but because of hardship it died - however, this tree still found a way to survive.  

Interesting - a rather flattish top.

Not your typical bonsai tree!


Mother and Son.

The only tree I saw with a figurine.

That right hand side branch twists around and becomes the tree's apex.

A close up.

I wanted to show you that most people will say cut that branch growing up at the forked juncture, however, this branch was left to create a fuller looking pad.  

A strong fellow.

Powerful.  The trunk is always the king.

For me, this tree has an uncomfortable feel.  That first left branch and the continuation of the trunk are pulling my eyes in different directions.  

A full tree.

Not an ideal trunk, however, the owner stuck with it and produced a worthy tree.

White pine.

A large garden tree carefully pruned.

The ancient figs have arrived.

Taiwan have quite a few fig trees that are native to this area.  I didn't take as many photos of these guys.


A quiet section of more fig trees.

Another impressive chunk of jade.

Behold the behemoth!  You can buy this giant fig for 420, 000 Australian dollars.

A sneak peek up into the branch structure.

To give you some perspective.

Plenty of dead wood to give the tree a very aged look.

This tree has found a way to survive.

Same tree.

Trees everywhere.

Looking healthy and strong.

Leaning over to take a closer look.

Just a really nice tree.  Excellent trunk and full foliage.  

Crazy dead wood.

In bonsai, you are always trying to shorten your branches, creating a more compact tree.

Making a branch shorter and at the same time adding movement.

Cutting thicker branches and using the smaller to 'fill' in areas.

An unusual character.

People are always fascinated with the age of bonsai trees.  The art of bonsai is to make the tree seem older than it really is, however, there are some that have been collected from the mountains that are just really old.  I have no idea how old this particular tree is, but my guess would be well over 100 years.  

Green, brown, and white.  Not a bad color combination.

A close up of the dead wood.  

Interesting trunk movement.

A lot going on here!

Mystical dead wood.  Water finds its way up through the live veins, the areas that are covered in bark.

A strong branch that has been trained to grow downwards, leaving part of the foliage below the rim of the pot.  What would you do?  Leave it, or cut it, creating a jin?  I would cut it, opening up a little bit of space.  

Life and death, working together.

The background makes it difficult to see the tree clearly.  The jin to the right is pretty interesting.

Almost looks like painting.

Coming right at you!

Twisted beauty.

We walk past this jade mountain once again.  They tell us it has healing powers...sore back and shoulder, be gone.

I spied this branch and wanted to show you how you can move branches around to position foliage in areas where you want it.  I think because these trees are huge, your eyes get drawn to the impressive trunk and you pay less attention to the smaller branches.  If you had a smaller tree, every branch becomes a vocal point, making it difficult to hide crossing branches.  In this regard, creating quality smaller trees may be more difficult.

We almost have three branches growing from one juncture.  The conventional wisdom would say cut one of these branches (probably the thicker middle one).  The reason behind cutting it would be to add more sunlight in, also that juncture could swell creating a bulge, and finally for aesthetics - looks a little ugly and busy.  However, these branches were allowed to grow and all is fine.  The tree's owner wanted more green!

Hang in there!

Like a martial arts move.

An amazing base.

Standing tall.

A nice deep pot to keep this old fellow stable.

Stretching.  The best bonsai have movement, giving the tree energy.


The live vein.

A lot happening here.  If you are ever going to remove a branch from a juniper, never cut it completely off. leave signs of its existence. 

Last one on the way out of this park.  Thank you very much.
A fleet of Harley Davison bikes were parked in the parking lot.  There must have been at least 30.

                               Our next stop was a short scooter ride to an indoor display area.

Backdrops were used for some of these trees.  It created a nice atmosphere.

Very angular.

Go this way and then that.

I remember seeing this tree in Taipei a few years ago.  It has filled out a little since then.

A powerful boy.

This was a favorite of Annie's.  

Twists and turns.

The branch looks stretched.  Creating some tension is good.

I don't like it, but it did take some dedication.

I love this shape.  Nice tree.

Fantastic ramification.

Brother in arms.

A very cool tree. 

Living art.

This tree just looks so old.

The base.

An interesting straight trunk at the base, jutting out to the right!

This particular elm forest made the cover of a postage stamp here in Taiwan.

Looks kind of windswept.

Lone survivor.

Dream like.

This one was a small shohin bonsai.  You can hold this in one hand.

You have to like the trunk.

I bet this guy could tell a few stories.

So clean!  I'm not sure if I like the jin jutting out to the left.  Everything else has plenty of movement, however, the jin is straightish.  What do you think?

A cool composition all round.

I really like the trunk how it is hollowed out.  I'm not sure if it was done on purpose or if it is natural.


I thought that second trunk was interesting.  Most people would have cut it off many years ago.  It might look even better if it was a jin?


My old teacher, Mr.Yen was demonstrating a penjing planting.

I love old things...old living things are even better.

Nice strong pot for this little beast.
Meet Trevor Bond, a New Zealand bonsai chairman.  He and I started learning about bonsai here in Taiwan many years ago.  Trevor now lives in New Zealand and decided to make the trip back for this exhibition.  

This was the last tree we saw as we walked out the door.  I think this tree may have won an award.

Time for lunch and a quick visit to a few small nurseries around the area.

This particular one was closed, but I was impressed by how neat and organized it looked.  

Another shot of the workhouse.

Trees of all shapes and sizes were everywhere.

I turned around and this guy was staring at me.

Some character.

We visited a favorite nursery of mine called Dragan Bonsai.

Tree in training.

The base of an old cascade style pine tree.

Here is the owner, his son, and Annie.  The last time we were here they had an ancient tortoise that walked around the nursery.  I asked where it was and he told me that he ate it.  Joking of course.  

I like their trees and friendly environment.

An example of removing a large section of a thick branch to work on tapering it.

This is the bad boy here.


Nice benches and plenty of small, to medium, to large trees.

A fun little guy caught my attention.

I could have spent more time here taking more photos, but I thought I had enough for one day!

If you took the time to look at all the pictures, I hope you got something out of them.  It was a great weekend adventure, seeing Taiwan's best bonsai, and catching up with some friends.

Take care out there.

Etsy - AllinOneCeramicsTW

1 comment:

  1. Wow! what a feast of photos and some great trees. You know that I'm probably most impressed with the fleet of Harleys, but that gigantic fig was something else as well. Your photos are so clear for fairly small files....how do you do it?
    Anyway, very impressive: I can't quite believe how many magnificent trees were at the exhibition and how you managed to find fault with the vast majority of them (haha!!)