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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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Back to Japan - in your dreams

Just some wishful thinking.  Cannot help going through the thousands of images we snapped on our 2016 trip to Japan.

As a learning experience this is second to none.!  The inspiration, dedication and the attention to detail make Japanese bonsai what they are.... the absolute benchmark in the bonsai world.

 We have posted a small sample of what we have seen... HERE

More wishful thinking to hope for a speedy end to the COVID-19 pandemic.!

Hatsuji KATO hiryu Shikpaku


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Mugo Pine - Amber Gold Transplanted

Finally got to dig this 'Amber Gold' from our field beds today.  At 130cm high it was a back-breaking task; but hopefully worth the effort.

This variety is an amazing and unusual form of the 'Dwarf Mountain Pine' in that the normally deep green needles turn a bright gold colour in winter.  It was discovered in a batch of seedling Pinus mugo.!

Looking forward to working on this monster once it settles into its training pot.

mugo amber gold dug 2021 08 20

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 Old Azalea First Bonsai Pot

 Very old Azalea, alba superba, dug from an old garden over 40 years ago. Been a very long process but now in its first bonsai pot.

Flowers are pure white and a little larger than what is preferred for bonsai but the scale of this bonsai will make up for this.

Lots of design work in the future but the wonderful movement in the dead wood of this tree will make a good design easier to achieve.


australian onsai gallery azalea alba superba


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Old Swamp Cypress - Formal Upright

This old 'Swampy' had been for sale on our website, for some time, as a rock slab planting.  I decided to give it a make-over as a formal upright; more in keeping with the traditional styling for this species.

The bonsai is For Sale Here, but will not be released until it has settled into its new pot. 

swamp cypress winter 2021 

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Cedrus libani 'Hedgehog' Bonsai

Cedrus libani 'Hedgehog' is a dwarf selection of Lebanon cedar.  This one was on sale on our website as a stock plant for some time so I decided to transition it to a bonsai pot.  

It was allowed to grow un-pruned for about six years and has, now, developed a good nebari and lower trunk.

Once it settles into its bonsai pot I will start the design process.  



cedar of lebanon hedgehog 02

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What a Pleasure to Work On

What a great day in the Bonsai Gallery working on some of the best quality bonsai I have ever worked on.

I purchased these bonsai from the collection of Ian Hearn late last year.  They were, already, well established, high quality, bonsai and the notion of taking on the legacy was/is an intimidating thought.

japanese black pine mikawa ian hearnJapanese Black Pine - 'mikawa' from the Ian Hearn Collection

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 4 Years made such a difference to this Kuromatsu

 Just came across an old (4years ago) pic of this Kuromatsu and could not believe the difference.!  It is easy to loose perspective when your focus is on continuous improvement of your bonsai.

More than a cursory 'look-back' is required to fully appreciate the fruits of your labors.

Looking forward, I will be concentrating on improving the branch ramification.  More branches, more buds, and therefore smaller needles.!!!

For those interested in the process I use in development and refinement of Kuromatsu please see the slideshow HERE

kuromatsu 1970 seed japan 2017 to 2021

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One Year on this Large Japanese Black Pine is looking Better

One year has passed since the image on the left was taken.  Another year of careful pruning and wiring has resulted in a marked improvement in the design.

As with most things in life, "you only get out what you put in".  Where bonsai is concerned I, increasingly, get so much more out of developing and refining my trees.


large japanese black pine australian bonsai 7 20 to 7 21


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Winter Pines All Set for Spring

The Japanese White, Red, and Black pines at the Australian Bonsai Gallery are all set for a good Spring flush.

After regular fertilising over Autumn and Winter, needle thinning, bud selection, and wiring we are looking forward to another successful 'first flush'.

Many of the older pines have been pushing out a very even first flush, over many buds, resulting in smaller needles and negating the need for a second flush.

Not having to rely on a second flush, every second year, seems to make the older trees stronger.!

 pines winter 2021 03

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1970 Japanese Black Pine Winter work

Now at 51 years old this KuroMatsu has been in the Australian Bonsai Gallery collection for about 15 years.  Each Winter our Black and Red pines see some improvement with annual needle thinning, bud selection, and wiring.

Originally grown and styled by Ian Hearn, this JBP is starting to show some aged 'mikawa' bark as well as some branch refinement.  One of the best bonsai in our collection.!!

If you would like to own a bonsai similar to this one Ian has a number of 'Mikawa' Japanese Black Pine for sale HERE.


kuromatsu 1970 seed japan

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Shūgakuin-rikyū - Niwaki

Niwaki avenue of Japanese Black Pines connecting the upper and lower pavilions at the Shūgakuin Imperial Villa, Kyoto.  Don't think I have seen so many Black Pine Niwaki in one place.!

The walk along this avenue was stunning.!  The work that has gone into this garden is outstanding.

niwaki shugaku in imperial villa kyoto

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A Genesis of Design

Today I received a text message from a bonsai friend.  This well respected bonsai friend has been practicing the art of bonsai for well over 50 years, has a large collection of high quality bonsai, and really didn't need to develop any more bonsai.  So i was supprised when he texted me with two images of trees he has just started to develop as bonsai.!!

One comment in his text inspired me to write this article... 

"I've forgotten how much I get out of starting a new tree."

 I agreed whole-heatedly with his comment and remembered an article I read in an old Bonsai Today Magazine titled "The Art of the Future".  The article was about the 're-birth' of a neglected 'Aka-Matsu' named 'Tako'.  Unfortunately I cannot reproduce the entire article here but it was the closing paragraphs of the article that resonated with me and which relate well with my bonsai friend's comment.

Here is that extract:

"Our trees are a metaphore for the history and the future of an inspiring bonsai culture.  This culture, largely unknown to those living outside of the community, represents a collective effort in dedication to things old and timeless - to living creations passed on from generation to generation.  Although Tako is an immature bonsai in need of many years of strategic feeding and applied technique, it is a collective work and, in this context, represents a bonsai heritage - the artistic leanings and horticulture care of the many who have touched its roots, trunk, limbs, and spirit. 

The evolution of our designs is one of the protean and exciting elements characterising our living asthetic.  Our bonsai beginnings are filled with sparks of creation and high expectations for the selective material.  In this instance, the styling of the small Japanese Red Pine has imbued me with a sense of a new beginning  -  a rebirth - and vaguely realised dreams."
Bonsai Today - 56, 1998 - 4, page 46.

 This is a true and concise description of the satisfaction felt when starting a tree, and ourselves, on the bonsai journey.

 caklin elm bonsaiInitial styling of two Catlin Elms

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Second Generation Oak - from Seed

This old English Oak bonsai was grown from an acorn collected from an oak (that I had also grown from an acorn over 35 years ago).

As with the majority of bonsai in the gallery collection it was field grown for a number of years to develop a reasonable nebari and lower trunk.

The ongoing chalange is to encourage more buds to improve ramification and smaller leaves.

bonsai english oak 2021 06 25

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Colour Persisting in this Winter Swamp Cypress

This old  field grown Swamp cypress is holding on to it's Autumn colour.  

One of our favourite bonsai in the gallery collection, this 'swampy' was developed from small tube-stock over the past 43 years. 

Swamp cypress grow rapidly in most climates and can be developed quickly if field grown.

A great species for those starting out in bonsai.!

swamp cypres winter 2021

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Workshop Progress on Black Pine

Some great progress on this Japanese Black Pine. Student wired and shaped over the course of the day applying some advanced wiring and shaping techniques.

It was satisfying to see this tree taken to the next level.  This bonsai will continue to be refined over many years.

Winter is a time for working on the refinement of most bonsai species.  Set your bonsai up for a productive Spring by enrolling in one of our Winter workshops HERE

workshop black pine RH

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Some Autumn Colour in this Old Momiji

This old 'Fuyu Momiji' has some late colour after a very wet season on the Dorrigo Plateau.

This one was purchased, as a small nursery plant, from The Koreshoff Nursery in Castle Hill in the mid 1970's.  We liked it because of it's Autumn colour.

It was field grown for many years and only 'transitioned' to a bonsai pot ~9 years ago.

Now, with a nebari of over 30cm, it is showing some real character..... BUT..... as you can see from the large leaves, there is a great deal of refinement to be done.

momiji winter 2021

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Ian Hearn Bonsai - Canberra Arboretum

On our recent trip to Canberra, to deliver purchased bonsai, we included a visit to the Bonsai collection at the National Arboretum.

I managed to get Ian to stand next to some of the trees, he had developed, that are on permanent display in the collection.

Ian has number of bonsai for sale on the website HERE

ian hearn bonsai arboretum canberra

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Black Pine Bonsai Simplified

We hear so many comments about how difficult Japanese Black Pine bonsai are to develop and refine.  So many novices are told not to start with JBP as they are difficult and not suitable for the beginner.!

In an effort to dispel this myth we have put together this short presentation to demonstrate how easy it really is to deal with this great species.

Now that your second flush growth has hardened off, it is a great time to start your foliage balancing, bud selection, and wiring. 


A pdf of this presentation is available for download HERE.

Slideshow kuro matsuClick image to open slideshow

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If you missed last month's workshops we have just added more dated for June - 2021. Our workshops allow you to tap into more than 45 years of experience in the development and refinement of bonsai.

The Australian Bonsai Gallery is offering a number of Bonsai Workshops for Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced levels.

All of our Bonsai Workshops are held in The Australian Bonsai Gallery among our collection developed over the last 45 years.

Our Bonsai Workshops are held over one day, from 10:00am till 3:00pm and numbers are limited to 3 students per workshop, (Due to COVID-19 restrictions).

Extended, 'one-on-one' Advanced Workshops can also be scheduled by appointment.  See all available workshops HERE.

australian bonsai gallery workshops banner

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Spend the day working on & promoting BONSAI

The World Bonsai Friendship Federation established this international day of celebration to pay homage to bonsai Master Saburo Kato's mission to promote peace and friendship through the art of bonsai.

The day is celebrated on the second Saturday of May each year, which this year is TODAY.!!

Kato byAlbek 200506Master Saburo Kato


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