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News from Sakura Bonsai Gallery

I hope to find the time to add some news on cleaning up my neglected collection.

Japanese Black Pine-02 - into a Bonsai Pot

This is the second Kuromatsu that I acquired on my last trip to Sydney. This is only the start of a very long journey for this pine.

Note the sacrificial branch half way up on the right hand side of the trunk.  It will be allowed to grow, un-pruned, to thicken the bottom half of the trunk and nebari.

kuromatsu large stock02 first styling repotting

Old Kuromatsu and Tokoname Pot come together.

This old Kuromatsu was a generous gift from a very accomplished bonsai artist many years ago. Ian Hearn is probably one of the best black Pine bonsai growers in Australia and I was privileged to have been gifted this tree after it had been developed and shaped by Ian more than 10 years ago.

This bonsai had started from seed in 1970 and now has been re-potted into a pot that will do it justice.... an old Tokoname pot from the Yamayuki Kiln, by Kiyohiro Yamamoto.

Yamayuki Kiln Kiyohiro Yamamoto

Bonsai Gallery old 'yamadori' Ficus has just been sold. 

Going to a good home in Sydney.... A perfect reason to isolate and work on something special over these testing times.

This old Ficus was collected in 1981 in western NSW.  At close to 40 yrs old it has been developed into a very strong 'Formal Upright' style with a very attractive 'nebari'.

Some arial roots give this bonsai some added interest with a lot more starting to form.  In our very cool climate it has been difficult to develop good arial roots on our ficus.  Some have been grafted successfully from other wild ficus.

ficus 09 nebari


Japanese Black Pine-02 - structural development

This is the second Kuromatsu that I acquired on my last trip to Sydney. This is the start of its transformation.

Still a lot of development work ahead of this one as well.

Japanese Black Pine branches can be bent to very acute angles. With the combination of branch 'v-cuts', thick copper wire, and 'guy wires', I can eliminate the need for raffia wrapping and other cumbersome techniques.

kuromatsu large stock02 first styling

Japanese Black Pine - structural development

Last month I featured this and one other Kuromatsu that I acquired on my last trip to Sydney.  This is the first time in more than 40 years that I have aquired large stock like this; and I was very keen to start their transformation.

 Still a lot of development work ahead of this one.  There are parts of the tree that can be refined this season.

Japanese Black Pine branches can be bent to very acute angles.  With the combination of branch 'v-cuts', thick copper wire, and 'guy wires', I can eliminate the need for raffia wrapping and other cumbersome techniques.

kuromatsu large stock first styling 

Where is this Black Pine Now

I have been going through some old Bonsai Australia magazines - The, then, "Official Journal of the Bonsai Society of Australia". These old magazines had some really useful information.! 

The following image is an article detailing a demonstration by Mr. Nakajima & Mr. Komatsu in 1985; from Bonsai Australia - vol.3 number 4.

I am only assuming that the pine was one of the original Koreshoff pines, as it is from 1951 seed.

If you recognize this tree I am sure that the bonsai community would like to see some recent images.!!  Please, if you have any information, I would like to publish and share.

nakajima komatsu 1985 demo pine

Softening Copper Wire for Bonsai Use

Every year, at this time, I prepare my copper wire for use in the coming year. I buy 'annealed' copper wire but it is never soft enough so I go through the annealing process myself, in Winter when it is safe, and cold enough, to sit around a fire.  I have always heated the prepared coils to a 'dull red' and quenched the coils in water. Quenching in water is not necessary for the softening process but helps blow off some of the oxide that forms during annealing;  giving the wire a really natural look that blends well with the bonsai.

I generally use 1.22mm, 1.63mm, 2mm, and 4.1mm copper on my bonsai.  After softening even the 4.1mm wire is easy to apply. !!

australian bonsai gallery copper wire700mtrs of Copper Wire ready for the annealing process

Kunio Kobayashi - Bonsai School

Now wouldn't it be a dream-come-true to be spending a season at Kobayashi san's Shunka-en Bonsai Museum.

I posted a story almost two years ago about the opportunities to enroll in the International apprenticeship system at Shunka-en.  I still have this on the top of my 'Bucket-List' and it is great to see that the cost of these apprenticeships is still very low.!!

The Shunka-en website, has all the details.  HERE

I snapped this shot of the workshop at Shunka-en in 2016..... still wishing.!!!

Kunio Kobayashi workshop

Locally Made Akadama

The Australian Bonsai Gallery has been making it's own Akadama for some time now.  We have found that it passes the Dispersion Test and can be used in mixes for all species of bonsai. 

We make two sizes and use the smaller size in our Swamp Cypress soil mix.  Our Swamp Cypress never suffer from leaf burn and actually thrive in our Akadama.

The old Swamp Cypress forest, pictured here, is planted on a rock slab and grows rapidly with little fertilizing and in full sun.

Anyone who has access to volcanic soil in their area should experiment with soil taken from varying strata...... give it a go. !

For some further information go to the video clip HERE

akadama soil mix australian bonsai gallery




Few High Quality Bonsai remain For Sale

swamp cypress 03 winter 2020The Australian Bonsai Gallery has very few High End bondai left for sale. 

There has been an unpresedented demand for our bonsai, particularly over the past few months.

This old Swamp Cypress, developed by us from 1981 tube stock, has been waiting for the right buyer for some time now !!

We have just completed Winter pruning and wiring - ready for the Spring flush.

It is availabe on our   For Sale page.






Fig Bonsai are selling well.

This old ficus 'Yamadori', collected in 1981 and rock planted in 1998, has gone to a good home today.  The Gallery has sold quite a number of our old ficus, particularly over the past 2 weeks.!!


fig bonsai australian bonsai gallery

Important Winter Bud Selection on Deciduous Bonsai

japanese maple australian bonsai galleryThe Japanese Maple in this clip was purchased from The Koreshoff Bonsai Nursery in 1977.  It was only a basic nursery stock plant back then but the Autumn colour was very good.  It has been re-worked to improve the basic branch structure and to facilitate future ramification.

The Liquid amber is from 1985 nursery stock and, like the maple, was field grown for many years.  I have been working on the ramification for a few years now.  The results have been good with the resultant leaf size being reduces significantly. 

Bud selection should be done well before the Spring so that growth can be directed only to important structural bud-points on the tree.  Selecting two buds from each terminal will help to accelerate good ramification.

Large Kuromatsu bonsai Stock

I was adamant that I was not going to start any more new bonsai projects...... that was until I saw these two large Japanese Black Pines.! .

At just over 20cm at the base, they are fantastic material to start with.  Looking forward to the transformation to bonsai.   'Fatty', it's your fault !

large kuromatsu bonsai stock


old swamp cypress winter work 2020At the risk of repeating myself, I like to wire and shape my deciduous bonsai in early Winter.  The branches are bare and it is easier to make design changes.  Branches are still pliable enough to make significant bends.

Swamp cypress branches are particularly pliable and easy to shape.  They are a great subject for both the novice and professional bonsai artist.  Quick to develop some character and very forgiving of mistakes.  They can be significantly carved without many problems. They will bud very well on old wood.

All the Swamp Cypress bonsai in the gallery have been developed in the open ground.  They grow rapidly in the ground so you must keep a close watch on them when developing a good nebari. 



swamp cypress 03 autumn 2020Time to work on refinement of our deciduous bonsai.

I like to work on our deciduous tree refinement late Autumn to early Winter.  The branches are, generally, still pliable enough to wire and it is easy to bud select and prune

What a difference a year makes. 

This old Kuromatsu has been in the collection since the mid 1980's.  It was field grown for many years.  We have finally had time over the past year to start some serious refining.  It is only now starting to show some results with better branching, bud development and very small needles.  It will be re-potted in the following Spring..... and will require many hands. !!

large kuro matsu australian bonsai gallery

Swamp Cypress - Autumn Colour

This old Swamp Cypress bonsai was developed from 1981 tube stock.  It was field grown for 5 years before transferring to a 'training pot', and finally into the bonsai pot in this image.
Overall dimensions: H:80cm | W: 70cm | D:65cm. Nebari: 28cm. Trunk: 13cm.  -  Pot: W:58cm | D:47cm | H:10cm.

It is available for sale HERE.

swamp cypress 03 autumn 2020

 The Pine Section of the Bonsai Gallery is looking a little more respectable now that the Autumn work is almost complete.  Needle thinning, bud selection, and wiring done; all that is left to do is to make up my Autumn/Winter fertiliser bags.

australian bonsai gallery autumn pinesAustralian Bonsai Gallery - Pine Area

As of 1-June-2020
The Australian Bonsai Gallery will be OPEN !

australian bonsai gallery opening soon

It has been very easy to 'self-isolate' here over the past few months.  Bonsai work has a habit of making 'hermits' out of us.! 

Over the isolation period we have had the opportunity to trial a number of 'ZOOM' Workshops.  I must say that they have been surprisingly successful.  All participants were very satisfied with the content and methodology we had adapted.  It is certainly true that "necessity is the mother of invention".  So, for those who are willing to make the journey to Dorrigo, you are more than welcome to visit the gallery..... For those who may not be able to travel we are keen to continue our ZOOM Workshops.

Please Contact Us if you would like to visit the gallery, or book a workshop.

I attracted some 'scathing' criticism last October when I restyled this old Kuromatsu from an Informal Upright to a more 'Literati' style.  Personally, I am sure that I am on the right track with the changes.  Some refinement this Autumn(2020) has made some improvement to the overall style.  

I will be allowing the tree to 'rest' over the cooler months, fertilising moderately so that I can transfer the tree into a much smaller round pot next Spring... more in keeping with the Literati style.

This image shows the progress from last October.

japanese black pine bonsai 04a literati

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