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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.

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Trident Maple Major Branch Removed

I felt that this root-over-rock Trident Maple lacked movement and did not feature the rock and the trunk dynamics enough so I made the decision to remove the large RHS branch.

To me this is a major improvement in the overall quality of this bonsai.  The movement in the trunk, and in the overall style, has created more drama and has highlighted the best features of the design.

Bonsai is all about recognizing the best features of your bonsai, building on these features, and going about showing them at their best.

With the 'Root-over-Rock' style it is essential to allow the tree to grow into the style and scale of the rock.  I have seen far to many trees 'out-grow' the rock, making the composition look completely out of scale.

This, and all others in the gallery collection, have been grown from cuttings.  One year old cuttings have been selected for their long roots and placed around 2/3rds the way up the rock, and allowed to grow into the scale of the rock.

Personally, I have an aversion to planting bonsai on the top of a rock.  In old Chinese landscape paintings you see trees growing on the tops of mountains BUT notice the scale.... the 'rock' is a mountain and the trees are small.... and to scale.  Many bonsai planted on the top of a rock can never reflect this scale and look 'contrived' (un-natural).

I would be interested in your opinion.!!!

trident maple root over rock style

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Directory of Japanese Art & Culture in Australia

The Directory of Japanese Arts and Culture in Australia is a reference site created by The Japan Foundation, Sydney to introduce currently active Australia-based artists and practitioners of Japanese arts and traditions, as well as organisations. Their aim is to showcase their works, practices and activities to further their recognition and to promote excellence in Japanese art and culture.jad logo

 For all other 'Japanophiles' out their the Japan Foundation website is a 'must visit' for a range of Japanese inspired arts & culture.

I have recently updated my profile on the website:

"John started his bonsai journey, at an early age, in 1976.

As a self-taught bonsai artist John has developed his knowledge of the cultivation and refinement of bonsai through a long study of art, philosophy and horticulture, turning his hobby of bonsai into a life long passion.

John has had a selection of his bonsai on show at the National Bonsai & Penjing Collection of Australia, at the Canberra Arboretum, on a number of occasions.

Observations in Japan, through an introduction to a number of Japanese bonsai masters, have been inspirational and instructive. These experiences have served to further John’s knowledge and have heightened the realisation that the elements of time and dedication are not only essential but go far beyond a single lifetime of achievement.

John holds Workshops, Demonstrations and ‘Bonsai Tours’ at the Australian Bonsai Gallery in Dorrigo, NSW."


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Old Bonsai going to a New Home

Sad to see this old bonsai go.  We have developed this bonsai from a tiny seedling/tube-stock purchased in 1981.

At just over 1mtr high, it presented a bit of a problem for the new owner to transport.  Thankfully, the new owner was resourceful enough to custom-build a protective enclosure for the journey to it's new home.

swamp cypress ready fro transport

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The Australian Bonsai Gallery Website is now SPEECH ENABLED

Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is developed through the W3C process in cooperation with individuals and organisations around the world, with a goal of proving a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organisations, and governments internationally.

wcag screen reader

The Australian Bonsai Gallery is proud to announce that our website now has 'Screen Reader' content speech availabled, for all website content, that complies with the WCAG standards.

Simply highlight the text you wish to hear and click on the 'play' button on the bottom of the screen.

screen reader

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History of an Old Cedrus Atlantica Bonsai

At over 110cm tall this old Atlantic cedar is a prominent feature at The Australian Bonsai Gallery.  We have been refining this old cedar for the past 12 years.  

Before the Bonsai Gallery acquired it, this bonsai had been in the care of Ian Hearn for over 30 years. 

Originally a twin trunk tree purchased by Ian from Owen Melmeth in approximately 1978 on the Central Coast.  Owen acquired the Cedar from a Returned Soldiers Home near Mt Ousley where it grew on the grounds, in a concrete pot, for many years.

In 1989 the lower branching was removed.  Ian then grew it on in an old wine barrel for a number of years before transferring back into a bonsai pot.

Ian had developed and refined this bonsai, from 1978, but soon after moving to the North Coast of NSW it was clear that it needed a more suitable environment to grow well.  That is the time, 2007,  that we were fortunate enough to have taken over as the current 'care-takers'....

....... the story continues.


atlantic cedar bonsai history 

old atlantic cedar 2007 1984 bonsai gallery 

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Old Swampy Forest Clean-up

Spring cleaning this old swampy forest.  All from tube-stock I purchased in 1981.  Still growing vigerously after being on this granite slab for over 9 years.!!

I will have to 'bite-the-bullet' next spring and do a full re-pot on it. 

There is a short clip of this bonsai forest on our Video Feeds page HERE.

swamp cypress forest australian bonsai gallery

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Old Swamp Cypress refinement

Spring update on this old Swamp Cypress.  Further refinement, building on efforts over the past few years, is paying off with some well refined branching on this bonsai.  After a recent re-pot this tree is powering on, and will require constant pinching throughout the growing season.  

We use a high proportion of our 'home-made' Akadama in our Swamp Cypress potting mix.  We have proven that our Akadama provides the perfect substrate for optimum growth and a great buffer to prevent Summer burn in this species.

If you are interested in adding this bonsai to your collection Contact Us.

swamp cypress 05 spring 2020 sale

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Swamp Cypress on a Rock

Said we were not going to sell any more Swamp Cypress bonsai..... BUT.... this one is up for sale now.

You will hear and read that Swamp Cypress bonsai should have a tray of water under the pot to allow them to grow properly..... well this is nothing more than a myth.  We have been growing SC for over 4 decades without a single water tray.  It is all about the soil.

Our SC soil contains a very high proportion of Akadama, a little softer that the really 'Hard' stuff.  They grow vigorously all throughout the Spring and Summer and require constant attention during this period.

This one has just had it's first 'pinch-back' for the season.

See it for sale HERE.

swamp cypress 11 australian bonsai gallery

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Some Worthy Natives to Bonsai

Strangely, I have not been very interested in bonsai Australian natives.  In fact I have had some criticism as to 'why not'.  In the past I have focussed on the 'traditional' bonsai styles and tree species.  Now I feel that I have missed out of developing some truly unique bonsai.

All is not lost, though.  I was fortunate enough to have collected many 'Yamadori' Ficus(right in picture) over 40 years ago; and developed, from seed/seedling the Dwarf Heath Casuarina (Allocasuarina-defungens - left in picture) and  Banksia-oblongifolia (centre).

The Banksia, pictured here, has just been moved into its first bonsai pot.  As you can see, it is still in development but should make a very good bonsai.

The casuarina has developed some interesting çorky bark' since the seed was collected in July-1984.

The old ficus was collected from a sandstone outcrop in 1981 where it had naturally stunted.

A word of warning about some Australian Natives......... Some species are very short lived so do your research before selecting trees for bonsai.  The last thing you want to happen is to spend 20 years developing a native bonsai and to have it die of old age in your lifetime. !!!

australian native bonsai 02 

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A Look Back over the past Year

We have a collection of video clips covering some of our work in the bonsai gallery in the past year.  See all clips

With the COVID-19 restrictions we have had to adapt to using 'Zoom' to conduct  workshops and tutorials. Soon, we hope, this will give way to some 'face-to-face' workshop events. Our Zoom workshops and tutorials have been very successful but there is no substitute for the real thing. 

 The gallery can accommodate up to 10 workshop participants. If you would like to register your interest please Contact Us.

large kuromatsu australian bonsai gallery 

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Spring Bonsai Sale

The Bonsai Gallery has just listed more bonsai For Sale.  As promised, we are notifying all of our customers and Bonsai club members. 

See what is on offer

japanese black pine for sale

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Classic Bonsai Sold

This beautiful old, and classic bonsai is ready for its new home after being sold to a very fortunate buyer.  Once COVID-19 border restriction are lifted this bonsai will start a new chapter in its already long history. 

If you are interested in more of the same please visit our Bonsai for Sale.

Juniperus Media Blaauw

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The 'perfectly imperfect' pot for a very old Trident Maple

FINALLY, after more than 40 years of development, this Trident Maple 'çutting' has been 'matched' with this Japanese Yamaaki pot by Mr.KATAOKA Sadamitsu.

I have been looking for the 'perfect' pot for this Trident Maple in the collection...... now this is it.!!

Colour, texture and shape of the pot selection is of great importance to the overall feeling of this union. 

  • The oval shape complements the overall soft/rounded silhouette of the foliage. 
  • The strong and 'stocky' shape of the 'lip' of the pot complements the strength of the nebari and trunk.   
  • The colour and patination will also complement the mottled bark and Autumn foliage colours of the tree.

All of these factors have 'come together' here to create, well what I think, is something special.


trident maple in yamaaki pot

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Selling my Hedgehog

If you are looking for something truely unique to bonsai ... well this is it. 

"Cedrus libani 'Hedgehog' is a truly choice, attractive, dwarf selection of Lebanon cedar with layered, horizontally spreading branches holding exceptionally long, densely packed, rich dark Blue-green needles.'' -  The  American Conifer Society.

I have been growing on this 'Hedgehog' for many years now.   It is at the point of transition, requiring an initial styling and transfer into a smaller container.

If you are interested in this tree please do not hesitate to  Contact Us.

cedres lebani hedgehog

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A 'slice' of bonsai history

ian hearn bonsai

The Australian Bonsai Gallery is proud to offer bonsai for sale by one of Australia's most respected bonsai artists, Ian Hearn.

Ian is the recipient of many bonsai awards, including the prestigious & inaugural Centenary Bonsai Prize 2013.

Ian has been developing and refining high quality bonsai for over half a century and has, now, decided to offer some of his private collection for sale here.

This is a rare opportunity to purchase a 'slice' of bonsai history.

See what is on sale

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I need an Apprentice !

It is times like this when I wish I had an apprentice. !  This old Kuromatsu is ~1.4 mtrs high and is very heavy.!!  It has not been re-potted for 9 years so it is high-time that it was done.

This tree spent many years in my field beds gaining a height of 2.8 mtrs before it was finally removed and drastically pruned to arount 1.0 mtrs high. It spent another 2 years in a training box before being transferred to the bonsai pot pictured here.

I am looking forward to further development and refinement in the future.

large kuromatsu australian bonsai gallery

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Swamp Cypress on a Rock !! 

 Yes, Swamp Cypress on a Rock.  I have had so many conversations about "how to maintain Swamp cypress bonsai" ...."You must keep a tray of water under the bonsai pot to keep them healthy".

Well, I will say it again... this is absolute rubbish.  A soil mix rich in 2-4mm akadama is perfect for keeping these bonsai in good health and growing well.

Here I have created a border of 'Muck' (a 50-50 mix of 'akadama dust' and well composted cow manure), covered with a layer of ground moss (I find that ground moss is the most resilient). 

This border will last for a number of years.  Over time, roots will penetrate the border and 'air-prune' as they emerge from the border.  This will cause the roots to branch within the thick border.

Although this swamp cypress is over 40yrs old it is still possible to bend the trunk.  When this tree settles in I will be adding a slight bend in the trunk lifting the apex to the left.

swamp cypress rock planting


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Thanks Dominic, for the info on this 'chop'.  Didn't realise that it simply means 'Tokoname'! I have quite a few Tokoname pots but this is the only one with a second, separate stamp of origin.
tokoname textTokoname (常滑)


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Old Tokoname Bonsai Pot

This old Tokoname bonsai pot from Marushi Shigeharu, by Mr. Sawada Shigeharu has the usual pot stamp, pictured here in the centre.

The mark on the right, however, has not been identified.  It is the only pot of this type, that I have found, that has this additional mark.

If anyone has a pot like this with the second mark please let me know.  Better still, if you know it's meaning it would be great to find out.!! 

large cloud feet Marushi Shigeharu Mr SAWADA Shigeharu


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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

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