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Bonsai Focus (English Edition) - May June 2018

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3/2018 May/June
English edition
Edición Español
Edizione Italiano
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Deutsche Ausgabe
Nederlandse editie
Noelanders Trophy
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EDITORIAL
Bonsai Focus
5
Who we are
Publisher
Bonsai Europe Publications
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English edition: Ann Scutcher
French edition: Patrick Bosc, Matthieu Mavridis
German edition: Jörg Derlien
Dutch edition: Hein-Dik Barentsen
Italian edition: Erika Lakin
Spanish edition: Ana Ricart
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The rock
The bonsai season has opened with a big
bang. The Nöelanders Trophy XIX is the
biggest bonsai event in Europe and still
going strong. A strong line-up of bonsai
Masters, with Kunio Kobayashi and Bjorn
Bjorholm as the big stars. It was the first
performance of Bjorn at this event and
for lots of people a unique chance to
see him at work on stage. Not forgetting
Kunio Kobayashi, who is a huge natural
star and bonsai personality. In this issue
a full report of the Nöelanders Trophy and
the winning trees, the impressive olive
of Christian Przybylski and the
refined spruce of Donato
Danisi. Bonsai always
have a history, so in
the photo gallery
we added a short
story of both
winning bonsai.
Rock plantings
are fascinating,
Master Kimura
himself has a long
history of creating
many rock plantings.
He has stretched the
boundaries of what is possible
with this style. First using stone slabs or
ready-made Ibigawa rocks, he later went
on to create his own with soft volcanic
rock. Working like all true sculptors he
used chainsaw and chisel to create rock
landscapes that are inspired by the yellow
mountains of Huangshan in China. Enjoy
his amazing creativity, but be inspired
to make one of your own, too. With our
‘school of rock’ you have a most helpful
guide with all the techniques needed to
get your hands dirty.
Handy as well is the series on maples by
Andrea Meriggioli; this time he shows
how to defoliate trident maples
and to improve budding and
vigour balance.
Harry Harrington shows
how to improve the
ramification on native trees. It's all
about timing and the
method you apply.
Thor Holvilla travels
to the ancient pottery
town: Tokoname, Japan.
He was invited by one of
the largest bonsai potteries to work for a month and to
learn about their techniques.
Enjoy the read.
© Copyright 2018
Bonsai Europe, world rights reserved. No
part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without the written
permission of the publisher.
Bonsai Focus has a co-operation with
Kinbon magazine, Kyoto, Japan
Translations:
Peter Warren
Farrand Bloch
Chief editor
6
THIS ISSUE
Our Icons
Bonsai Focus
On the cover
Beginner
Winner of the Nöelanders Trophy XIX
Olea europaea by Christian Przybylski
Video available
bonsaifocus.com
Advanced
Scan the code
with your phone
Expert
Photo: Bonsai Focus Studio
6
6 News
Bonsai events, Bonsai Angels, the bonsai LAB
8 Report
The Nöelanders Trophy XIX
11 Gallery
A selection of bonsai from the Nöelanders Trophy XIX
16 Tokoname
Thor Holvilla travels to the ancient pottery town
32
22 Design sketch
Bruno Wijman sketches options for
Giuseppe Ginnastica's pistachio
24 School of Rock
How to create rock plantings: a basic guide
32 Maintenance
Defoliating trident maples by Andrea Meriggioli
38 Step by step
Janine Droste with satsuki kinsai
76
73
42 Rock classics
Masahiko Kimura's famous rock plantings
54 Styling satsuki
A field-grown azalea made into moyogi style
60 Native bonsai
All about the leaves, with Harry Harrington
64 The Phoenix
The pots of Bruno Auvinet
42
67 Tony's column
Tony Tickle looks at whether there should be a qualification for
teaching bonsai
68 The challenge
Gardenia: how to create bonsai from scratch
73 Satsuki feast
The Kanuma Satsuki Festival
76 The bonsai olympics
Jörg Derlien travelled to South Korea to join the winter bonsai
olympics
64
24
8
NEWS
Bonsai Events in Mulhouse, France
October 2018 will see a host of great
rocks) in France, in partnership with the
events happening in Mulhouse, with 240
French Bonsai Federation. Ikebana (Floral
bonsai, 100 suiseki, lots of exhibitions and
Art by the eminent Sogetsu School).
demonstrations over 3 days. Included are
BCI world congress
Bonsai World Convention (BCI), French
The second event, the BCI world congress,
National Bonsai Convention, European
from October 12-14: Demonstrations and
Suiseki Symposium and the Bonsai Euro
lectures by: Mitsuo Matsuda (Japan), Budi
Top 30.
Sulistyo (Indonesia), John Wang (USA),
events take place in 3 different locations:
Gudrun Benz and Dirk Dabringhausen
Parc Expo (Exhibition Centre), Mulhouse
(Germany), Julian de Marco (Spain), Enzo
Parc Botanique and Zoologique and the
Ferrari (Switzerland), Jean-François
Fine Arts Museum. Shuttle buses take
Busquet, Soazic Le Franc, François Jeker
visitors to all three places.
(France), Othmar Auer (Italy).
Bonsai Euro TOP 30
At 2 pm the creation of a large Ishitsuki
The first event, Bonsai Euro TOP 30, with
with Scots pines by Mitsuo Matsuda, John
two additional exhibitions, the Ishitstuki
Wang and Budi Sulistyo. A special guided
and Ikebana, open from October 4-12 at
tour of the suiseki exhibit by Gudrun
the usual price for access to the floral
Benz. The festive dinner at the Auberge
show, Folie’Flore (7.50 Euros).
du Zoo
The following will be presented:
The 30 most beautiful bonsai in Europe.
Info: www.world-bonsai-mulhouse.fr or
The most beautiful Ishitsuki (planted in
www.parcexpo.fr
For more international shows and
events visit our
website: www.bonsaifocus.com > Events
August 17-19:
Midwest Bonsai Society 41st Annual
Mid-American Bonsai Exhibit
A large juried Bonsai competition held at Chicago
Botanic Garden. The exhibit includes vendors from
across the US, workshops, and demonstrations. The
largest Bonsai Exhibit in the US Midwest
Where: Chicago Botanic Garden
Info: www.midwestbonsai.org
or midwest.bonsai@yahoo.com
September 8-9:
National Bonsai Exhibition
Demos: Taiga Urushibata, Mauro Stemberger,
husband and wife team Lindsay and Glenis Bebb,
Michael Ryan Bell, American Container Authority,
Sean L. Smith, American Suiseki Authority
Where: Total Sports Experience (TSE) 435 West
Commercial Street, East Rochester, NY 14445
Info: www.internationalbonsai.com
September 21-22-23:
Workshop with Imai Chiharu
Where: Othmar Auer, Brixen, Italy.
Info: info@bonsai-auer.com tel: +39 3355 884464
September 12-14:
BONSAI BASH 2018
To mark 40 years at Greenwood we will welcome
Sean Smith from USA. This bonsai artist and
suiseki expert will be holding workshops and
demonstrations
Where: Greenwood Bonsai Studio, Ollerton Road,
Arnold, Nottingham UK. Info: www.bonsai.co.uk
September 14-16:
2018 NW Bonsai 'Rendezvous'
VII Bonsai Habana Biennial
Bonsai Habana Biennial will take place between
September 17th and 23rd 2018. You can participate
as an exhibitor, speaker, performer, or simply a
tourist.
If you are up for some adventure you can visit
this event in Havana, Cuba and you can admire
their tropical bonsai. The event is supported by
Black Scissors and FELAB. More info: Pedro Arias at
roynelmolinero@gmail.com or on Facebook:
www.facebook.com/GrupoBonsaiHabana/.
Pacific Northwest Bonsai Clubs Association and
Bonsai Society of Portland, Oregon. Ryan Neil,
Michael Hagedorn, Joe Harris III, and Matt Reel,
joined by nationally recognized local artist Scott
Elser, David DeGroot, Bobby Curttright, Dennis
Vojtilla.
Where: 5440 Southeast Kellogg Creek Drive,
Milwaukie, OR, 97222, US. Info: contact https://
portlandbonsai.org the 'Rendezvous' website at
https://www.bonsairendezvous.org
September 21-23: Bonsai Trienalle and
Annual CBA Congress 2018
Bonsai Trienalle is the common project of three
National Bonsai Associations - Czech, Polish and
German. 100 trees of all 3 partner organisations
shall be displayed, workshops, demos, critique sessions and traders' area. Info: info@cba-bonsai.cz
NEWS
Bonsai Focus
getting the award
Bonsai Angels
Award
Recognising those
individuals who
promote bonsai
worldwide
In 2017 'Bonsai Angels' was set up by Tony
Tickle to recognise those individuals who
work tirelessly to promote and further the
art and horticulture of bonsai, whether it
be at the club, national or international
level. 'Bonsai Angels' is a not-for-profit
undertaking supported by donations. Last
9
they asked me how I
did it. I could answer
with one word and
that is ‘passion’.
When someone does
what he has to do
whatever club level they operate.'
with passion, he will
succeed.'
Bonsai Angels receive a silver pin lapel
badge with real gold wings and silver
So, do you know somebody who has,
bonsai scissors, created and donated by
perhaps, helped you develop your skills,
Frank Mihalic, USA. Featured on a roll of
or someone who organises a club, soci-
Honour at www.bonsaiangels.com and
ety or study group, an event or show? Do
they receive a certificate to display. To
you value a friend who selflessly gives up
date 35 nominations have been received.
their time to support you? Bonsai Angels
is a way of recognising and telling the
The first recipient of the award was
bonsai world how great they are. Anybody
Christian Vos from Belgium for his tireless
can nominate someone so long as that
worthy of being a 'Bonsai Angel'.
devotion to promoting the Nöelanders
person promotes bonsai and all of its as-
Trophy and for his support for the Bonsai
sociated art forms. You can do this via the
Tony created 'Bonsai Angels' because
Association in Belgium. This took place at
website:
The Trophy gala dinner in February 2018
bonsaiangels.com/nominate-an-angel
trees. Tony said: 'They do it for the joy
Christian Vos on receiving the Award
By donating… even a small amount, we
of spreading knowledge and they give of
said 'I have a prize for my bonsai, but
can spread the love and distinguish these
their expertise freely. I know that many of
this award is something special, nothing
wonderful individuals. This can also be
these people go almost unrecognised at
to do with money. I am proud of it. After
done via the website.
The Bonsai LAB
Or the pot? Where can these makers take
Museum, Federal Way, WA
the art of bonsai if they allow themselves
The project kicks off in 2018, continuing
year Tony invited the bonsai community
via Social Media to nominate individuals
so many people he met on his bonsai
journey helped him to create beautiful
Pacific Bonsai Museum’s LAB (Living Art
to be influenced by one another in an
of Bonsai), an experimental collaborative
throughout 2020. The artists will each
entirely new way?
for bonsai design innovation.
work in their respective studios and then
The 2018 inaugural LAB design team will
This multiyear endeavour kicks off in
include three renowned artisans and a
2018 with its inaugural LAB project
facilitator:
investigating sequence. The project will
Stand maker: Austin Heitzman, Austin
reimagine traditional bonsai practices
Heitzman Furniture, Portland, OR
by resequencing the order of influence
Ceramic Artist: Ron Lang, Lang Bonsai
between the bonsai artist, ceramicist and
Containers, Southport, NC
stand maker.
Bonsai Artist Stylist: Ryan
Rather than starting with a styled tree
Neil, Bonsai Mirai, St Helens,
and asking both the pot and stand maker
OR
to respond (as traditionally practiced), the
Facilitator: Aarin Packard,
LAB asks: What if the stand comes first?
the Curator, Pacific Bonsai
come together in presentation sessions.
The first Session 1 will take place August
5, 2018 at the Chauncey L. and Johanna
Griggs Residence, Lakewood, Washington.
10
Noelanders Trophy XIX
“
The bonsai season opened with a big bang: The Nöelanders Trophy XIX
Text and photography: Bonsai Focus Studio.
The 19th edition of the Nöelanders
Trophy was held in the enormous
hall in Genk, Belgium, during the
weekend of 3 – 4 February 2018.
This amazing show and a large trade fair
keeps on expanding every year. There was
an international line up of demonstrators
with big stars Bjorn Bjorholm and Kunio
Kobayashi. Impressive trees in various
sizes were exhibited and a spectacular
set of demonstrations took place on truly
mouth-watering trees emphasizing that
This show was perhaps the
most beautiful in all years.
I especially liked the harmony
between the trees and their
surprisingly beautiful and
creative pots.
André Callaert
this is the biggest event in Europe.
The winning trees
This year's judges (and demonstrators)
were Kunio Kobayashi (JP), Bjorn Bjorholm
(USA) Giacomo Pappalardo (IT), last and
by no means least, Milan Karpisek (CZ).
The big winner, an Olive (Olea europaea
sylvestris) by Christian Przybylski, who
was awarded the Nöelanders Trophy XIX.
Best conifer bonsai was the spruce (Picea
abies) of Donato Danisi. The best kifu
(mid-size) award went to German Gomez
Soler with his Olive (Olea europaea). Best
bonsai from a BAB member is the Olive
(Olea europaea) by Christian Vos.
20th edition of the Trophy
Some changes are going to be made for
next year's edition. At the Saturday night
dinner during the event, an important
statement was made about the future
of Bonsai Association Belgium and the
Trophy. After the appointment of Marc
Nöelanders as president of EBA, he has
decided to step back as president and
even as member of Bonsai Association
Belgium. However the board will continue
and declared that there will be a special
show next year.
Christian Vos (Public Relations BAB) said:
‘We've had spontaneous professional
support to stage a top quality exhibition
as before: an overview of 20 years of the
Trophy in Europe. Danny Use will make
the selection of the bonsai and set up the
exhibition. It is our goal to bring the best
REPORT
Bonsai Focus
Giacomo Pappalardo applies jin fluid after hard work on a sabina juniper.
“
Overview of the impressive show.
Master Kunio Kobayashi in action on a large yew.
Bjorn Bjorholm on the Saturday
with his finished tree
Most impressive was the quality of the
trees.
Bjorn Bjorholm very clearly explained his
choices during the demo.
Mr Kobayashi: great to see this man on
stage.
Roy van Luubeek
Overview of the show: large, medium and shohin sized trees and all of very good
quality
11
12
“
REPORT
Bonsai Focus
What concentration.
What refined
techniques from all
the Masters during
the demos.
Silvia van Wagtendonk
Milan Karspisek (left) at work during his demo on the Saturday
Kunio
Kobayashi with the
final result of his spectacular demo
Results of the
XIX Nöelanders Trophy
Best bonsai in show:
Olea europaea: Christian Przybylski
Best conifer bonsai:
Picea abies: Donato Danisi
Best kifu:
Olea europaea: German Gomez Soler
Best BAB tree:
Olea europaea: Christian Vos
Nominated trees:
Kifu:
Myrtus communis
German Gomez Soler
Juniperus chinensis 'itoigawa'
Mathias Deininger
Pinus & Acer buergerianum
Guido Pozzoli
Deciduous:
Olea europaea
Erasmo Garcia Fernandez
Acer palmatum 'shishigashira'
Wilfried Nieswandt
Prunus cerasifera
Andrija and Marija Zokic-Hajdic
Conifer:
Juniperus chinensis 'itoigawa'
Frédéric Chenal
Pinus sylvestris
Andres Alvarez Iglesias
Juniperus chinensis 'itoigawa'
David Benavente
We had Renate Lussenburg on our Bonsai Focus
stand creating fantastic sketches of bonsai
Overview of one of the halls with the trade fair.
trees of Europe together in one show. The
older generation, for at least one more
time, together with the next generation.
All this, combined with demonstrations
by Ryan Neil, Masayuki Fukiyawa, Václav
Novák, and a surprise. We are sure the
next event will again be a great success.'
'Best of 20 years Trophy'
Powered by Bonsai Association Belgium
Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th, February
2019.
13
Bonsai Focus
Noelanders Trophy XIX
Photography: by Willy Evenepoel – Pictures made available by the Bonsai Association
Belgium. Copyright © Bonsai Association Belgium.
Olea europaea
winner Noelanders Trophy XIX
Christian Przybylski
75cm | 29½"
Christian Przybylski on his tree:
'It took only 3 years to achieve this result. The
preliminary work was done by Gabriel Romero
Aquade, in my opinion one of the best bonsai
designers in Spain, even the actual best. My job
was only to preserve the tree in its beauty, to define
the foliage pads a little more and to get a proper
pot. These wild olives really adjust very well to our
cooler climate, although it’s quite a challenge. We
lack the amount of sun needed for them to develop
such refined foliage pads like those growing in
Mallorca. What I like so much about the olive is its
amazing deadwood.'
14
GALLERY
Bonsai Focus
Noelanders Trophy XIX
Photography: by Willy Evenepoel – Pictures made available by the Bonsai Association
Belgium. Copyright © Bonsai Association Belgium.
Picea abies
Winner Noelanders Trophy XIX
Donato Danisi
65cm | 25½" Pot: Alberto Vigoni
Donato Danisi on his tree:
'It has taken a lot of effort, but it is my passion to
work on trees with character. I was struck by this
magnificent spruce. A huge potential. Exciting points
are the mighty trunk with pronounced veins, the
stumps at the base to create a striking nebari, the
rare compact and short foliage. It was in September
2010 that I began to work on the tree. I discovered
that the deadwood at the base was very soft inside,
so the inside of the trunk has been carved completely
hollow, giving the tree more originality. Finally,
after many years' work, the bonsai was ready to be
shown.'
Olea europaea
Best bonsai of B.A.B.
Christian Vos
40cm | 16" Pot: Ceramica Praha
Carpinus betulus
Bonsai Art Award
Jürg Stäheli
87cm | 34" Pot: Jürg Stäheli
16
GALLERY
Bonsai Focus
Prunus cerasifera
Nominated deciduous
Andrija Zokic & Marija Hajdic
120cm | 47" Pot: Lubos Skodovi
Myrtus communis
Nominated Kifu
Germán Gómez Soler
35cm | 14" Pot: Tokoname, Ikko
Olea europaea
Winner Kifu
Germán Gómez Soler
35cm | 14" Pot: Tokoname, Ittoen
Pinus densiflora & Acer buergerianum
Nominated Kifu
Guido Pozzoli
Pot: Tokoname
18
TRAVEL
Tokoname
Bonsai Focus
Thor Holvila travels to the ancient Japanese pottery town
Text and photography: Thor Holvila
Bonsai pot maker from Sweden, Thor Holvila has become one of Europe’s most well respected potters. In 2017 Thor
was invited to work for a month with Hidemi 'Shuho' Kataoka in Tokoname, Japan, along with other great Japanese
bonsai potters
From Tokoname ceramic sinks and pipes were sent in
large quantities all over Japan. The step from sinks
and pipes to making large bonsai containers was not
so great for many potters
Why me?
It was in the late summer of 2017 that I
was contacted by Yukiko Kasai, owner of
Yukimono bonsai pots. We had met for
the first time at the EBA show in Wroclaw,
Poland, 2014, where she showed a great
interest in my, and European, pottery.
We stayed in contact over the years and
now she asked me if I was interested in
coming to Japan to meet up with bonsai
potter Hidemi Kataoka of the Yoshimura
kiln and work with him side by side for
a month. With no hesitation, nor second
thoughts, I gathered my tools together,
wrapped up the studio and flew over at
the beginning of November. Sitting on the
plane, the question I pondered on was
why me out of all the talented potters?
Yukiko later told me that the interest for
bonsai and pottery is declining in Japan.
In her quest to modernize and secure the
survival of the pottery of Tokoname, and
This is an old print showing two Tokoname potters
working with smaller earthenware. The conditions
were simple in the pre-industrial age
Everywhere you
go you find old
vessels put to
new use, like
these made into
a rainwater
fountain
Large ceramic vessels
used for household
storage were made in
Tokoname
The Maneki Neko,
or the good luck cat,
which Tokoname is
now famed for, along
with the so-called
'pottery walk'
Stored at Yoshimura Studio, pots in
various stages of manufacture
TRAVEL
Bonsai Focus
Today it's silent in the Yamaaki kiln and the old molds will probably
never come into use again
19
Mr Tanaka CEO of Tokoname Ceramicware Cooperative, shows us how one of the
13 Tokoname clays are refined. The bonsai potters usually use a mix of 3 - 4 clays
to get the right properties
to raise interest for pottery beyond Japan
she saw a clash of 'East meets West' as an
interesting art project. By writing about it
in the Japanese bonsai magazine 'Bonsai
World' she hoped to achieve just that.
This also gave me the inspiration to write
on the same subject, but from my angle.
My hope is that, by sharing this story and
increasing the knowledge of this little
fishing village south of Kyoto, I will play
my part in promoting the Tokoname clay
that is the valuable resource that put it on
the map of bonsai.
“
Old pipes along the streets of Tokoname
The interest for bonsai
and pottery is declining in Japan
Firewood
Imagine we are sailing on a boat loaded
with firewood, along the Japanese east
coast. We steer into a wide bay lined with
white beaches and steep green hills. We
meet individual boats, heavy of cargo,
that have just set sail and are heading to
the open sea and their destinations. On
the horizon we see smoke rising to the
sky and the closer we come, we hear the
noise from the harbour and the seagulls.
We enter the river that flows out from
the flat landscape. Along its banks, the
boats are lined up. The logs and thick
branches we carry are quickly loaded on
to small carts that disappear quickly into
One of the few old
potteries still in
business
20
TRAVEL
Bonsai Focus
a crowded stream of people and traffic on
the small streets, all leading up to the big
hill that rises high behind the rooftops
and hundreds of smoking chimneys. It is
crowned by a temple and the whole village
seems to cling on to its slopes to avoid the
seasonal flooding. The chimneys belong to
small ceramics factories that manufacture
large containers and ceramic pipes. The
vessels, used for water storage and food
are sold all over Japan to every household.
Wrapped in hay they are now loaded on to
the boats that have just arrived. The houses are carbon black with soot. So, too, are
the trees, even the birds. The smoke that is
heavy over the village causes windows and
doors to be closed and the laundry is dried
indoors. In addition to the family who
“
Along the streets of Tokoname old
town you can still find old broken
bonsai pots
owns the shipping company, and a few
foreman and merchants, the conditions
for the simple people who work and live
in and around the small factories are very
hard. The environment is terrible, and
competition is hard. In addition, those
who work with ceramics for everyday use
are considered to be far below the status
of those who work with ceramics for
tea ceremonies, etc. Ceramics that have
contact with soil are considered dirty,
therefore, it is deemed suitable that the
people making pipes to be laid in earth
also make flower pots, so a smaller
production of pots are also made here in
Tokoname village. That production takes
place just here in Tokoname is because
At Yoshimura kiln, pots are drying
Those who work with
ceramics for everyday use
cannot make ceramics for tea
ceremonies
The world's largest
stoneware bonsai pot
made by Mr Yamada
Yamako in 1988. It
is seen outside the
ceramic museum
of the great supply of clay that comes out
from the old rice fields surrounding the
village.
This is how life could appear here back in
the 19th century.
The crisis
The first crisis that reaches Tokoname is
in the 1950s when the big containers and
pipes are replaced by water pipelines and
materials like metal and plastic. Most
ceramic factories then shut down and the
workforce moved to the nearby city of
Nagoya. Those who remain have to adjust
and choose to manufacture the popular
red teapot of the iron rich clay, which is
considered to cause health-promoting
properties, or pots for plants and bonsai,
which have grown in popularity in Japan
during the post-war era.
This happens while wood is being banned
as an energy source for the kilns and now
replaced by oil in an attempt to improve
the environment. It is how production of
pots for bonsai takes place seriously in
Tokoname. About 100 factories started
producing unglazed pots after exclu-
TRAVEL
Bonsai Focus
21
Red clay the most common here. It is a low fire clay and has to be
mixed with stoneware clay from Seto to enable it to fire at higher
temperatures
Most mix 3 - 4 different Tokoname
clays to get the right properties for
bonsai pots
sive Chinese models. The Japanese pots
Hidemi 'Shuho' Kataoka is mixing his own blend of
clay at the Yoshimura kiln
are considered cheap and were quickly
sought after. In the sixties they start
to glaze the pots. This period is today
referred to as the 'golden days'. It is said
that the buyers from all over Japan stood
waiting for the kilns to cool so that they
could load the still warm pots into the
small trucks. Yoshimura pottery, three
floors of warehouses, manufacturing
and offices had 7 employees at this time.
When the price then rose on oil in the
1980s one had to start using gas and
the margins for most became too small.
The clay is mixed and ready for use;
it dries quickly, which makes it very
suitable for fast production
The entrance of the Yoshimura studio
Only those who had earned themselves
a name for their unique style and quality or price survived. Yoshimura kiln was
then handled by a few of the Kataoka
family, but today only Hidemi Kataoka is
left. He works alone wall-to-wall with the
huge Yamaaki kiln that had to close just
a few years ago. Hidemi doesn't want his
son to be taking over. There will be no 6th
generation bonsai potter, Hidemi is the
last Shuhou.
Today, there are about 15-20 professional
bonsai potters in Tokoname from which
the youngest is 45 years of age. Of these,
only four have an open store and gallery
for visitors.
After production of pipes and vessels died out, for
most potters the choice was making red teapots or
bonsai pots
22
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24
DESIGN SKETCH
Bonsai Focus
Spoiled by choice
Bruno Wijman sketches options for
Giuseppe Ginnastica's pistachio
Pistacia is a genus of flowering plants in
the cashew family, Anacardiaceae. It is
native to Africa and Eurasia, warm and
semi-desert areas across Asia, and North
America from Mexico to the warm and
semi-desert United States. Pistacia is
adapted to desert or summer drought
typical of Mediterranean climate and can
survive in temperatures ranging from −10
°C in winter to 45 °C in summer.
Have your bonsai material
judged on its qualities and
Pistachio as a bonsai is somewhat rare,
especially in the quality shown here. For
me it is a real challenge because I do not
often dealt with this kind of material.
Examining the tree from all sides makes a
final choice even harder, most sides show
interesting options which seem to be
equal in quality. Even after making some
design sketches I cannot make a final
choice.
I can visualise moyogi (informal upright),
han kengai (semi cascade), and kengai
(full cascade) as very suitable options.
When I analysed these styles I discovered
many good elements.
If you choose moyogi style it will show its
deadwood and the tapering of the trunk.
If han kengai is the choice, then you get a
compact tree with lots of movement. Very
dynamic. A full kengai will give an even
more dramatic change because the tree's
trunk will stand out even more. Together
with the deadwood it will make a very
interesting tree.
So many options, all equally good, but I
had to make a choice and so after some
thought I elect the moyogi style because
it is the closest to how you will see the
tree in nature. From an artistic point of
view I would have chosen semi cascade
because it is so dynamic, but whatever
the choice is, you will end up with a very
dynamic bonsai.
future potential. The design
sketches will help you visualise the potential of your tree.
A full cascade can result
in a very striking bonsai
Details
Pistachio (Pistacia lentiscus)
Owner: Giuseppe Ginnastica (IT)
Origin: Italy
Height: 40 cm / 15¾"
Estimated age: 80 years
25
DESIGN SKETCH
Bonsai Focus
A semi cascade making use
of the long branch to the
right
a
b
This dead area adds movement
and dynamism
Semi cascade (a) or a full
cascade (b)
The moyogi option
Leave these long dead
branches
Shari and hollows give the trunk
movement
My personal choice, the moyogi planted in an oval pot
Want to send your bonsai
picture, too?
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original sketch. Send via e-mail a jpeg (minimum
size 1mb) of your bonsai.
Photographs should
be taken against a
light background
and from all sides.
Add in your e-mail
a note of the age,
height and the variety.
Bear in mind that publication can take a long
time. Bonsai Focus has the right to make a choice
without further notice. The submitted material
will not be returned. Send your e-mail and attached jpegs to: editor@bonsaifocus.com
26
TECHNIQUE
Bonsai Focus
School of rock
How to create rock plantings: A basic guide
Text and photography: Kinbon Magazine, Japan
The possibilities for material are increased by planting on rock. Although we call
them rock plantings, there are many variations on the theme
Examples of different rock plantings and styles
As you can see from the photos,
there are some that are planted
on a rock, others use rock as a pot,
and those that grow over a rock,
but have roots in a pot. Each gives
a different image depending on
the balance between the rock and
the tree. Even having a small rock,
where the tree has grown over it
gives a feel of strength and life
force, as well as a sense of age.
There are no limits to the number
of possibilities when using rocks
for plantings in bonsai.
If the character of the rock is
utilised to the maximum, even the
cheapest material can be made to
look very impressive and it will
be appreciated much more than a
planting in a pot. When looking at
trees and material always consider
the possibility of creating a rock
planting, you may find previously
unseen potential in the material.
Root over rock style
The exposed roots are growing over the top of the rock, clasping it
tightly. Trident maples have long been grown in this style and with the
root tips growing in the pot, they can be transplanted in the same way
as a normal tree
Planted on a rock
Similar to an exposed root kusamono planting, the
entire root ball has been exposed and planted on a
rock. Often displayed in a suiban, it is a very useful
method of creating a powerful image
Flat stone planting
The stone has been used as an alternative to a pot. In this style, flat
stones or slightly curved 'boat' stones are utilised. The cultivation is
little different from a tree in a pot, but the final image is completely
different
27
Bonsai Focus
Making the most of the material
a
Even young trees can be used to make something interesting
A young white pine. It is still thin and as it is, cannot
be fully enjoyed
b
Consider a rock planting where the rock stands in the
pot and the tree is planted near the top
An interesting image, recreating a severe natural
scene, similar to where a white pine would be found
in nature
The weakness in the base of the tree can be hidden with a rock
The outline of the tree is finished but there is some
inverse taper at the base of the trunk where it bends
A rock could be tucked into the space at the bend in
the trunk
Preparing keto soil to protect the roots
Keto is soil that has formed
in wet environments such as
reed beds where, year after
year, the decomposing plants
form layer upon layer, turning
into a dark black mud. It has
many fibres running through
it, making it very adhesive as
well as water retentive. The
flip side is that the drainage
and aeration is very poor. If
it dries out it becomes hard
and water repellent. For this
reason it is not used in normal
transplanting, it does, though,
become very useful for rock
plantings, bonding roots and
soil to the surface of the rock,
covering roots and keeping
them moist.
Keto soil by itself will dry out
quickly and crack, so adding
sphagnum moss, Akadama
or something to retain more
moisture is the usual practice.
Good quality keto will have plenty of
fibres running through it as well as
being good for water retention. Even
so, it won't be sufficient for bonsai
cultivation and so small particles of
Akadama can be added to the mix to
increase water retention. After using
put the keto in a sealed bag and keep
out of direct sunlight
After finishing. The power and presence of the rock
disguises the issues with the lower trunk
Improving the water retention of keto
Cut up or grate the sphagnum moss into smaller
pieces. Ensure it is wet before using
Mix the keto soil in a tray. If the keto
is tough, add a little water
Take the sphagnum moss and wring
out the excess water
Place the moist, but not soaking wet sphagnum
moss in with the keto and mix thoroughly. Should be
roughly equal parts
Add the smallest Akadama particles, essentially the
dust, in equal parts
Combine all three components together well thereby
ensuring a consistent mix
When keto is to be placed directly on to the rock, it should be a little softer and more pliable
Form into small handy-sized balls once it becomes the
consistency and hardness of squeezing your earlobe
TECHNIQUE
Bonsai Focus
29
Using keto with different stones
With vertical stones
Once the tree's position on the rock has
been decided, a fairly thin layer of keto is
placed to sit the tree on.
With a flat stone
Place the tree on the keto and fix in
position. On top of the exposed roots
you must add another layer of keto to
ensure that the roots and in between
them are covered with it
Prepare the fixing wires
Once the planting position has been
decided, create a wall around the area
with keto, a little taller than the top of
the root ball
Place normal soil mix on the inside of
the wall. You can plant the tree with
this or you can cover the whole root
ball and soil with keto. If covered with
keto, the water retention will improve
Various methods of fixing wires
With one piece of
wire, you can create
an anchor point to
which adhesive can
adhere
Epoxy glue: A two part epoxy resin glue that will adhere to the rock. It will take
half a day to cure completely. Easily available at DIY stores
Attempting to stick the tree to the rock
using the adhesive power of keto alone
will not be enough and even the slightest
movement could cause the tree to fall off.
When planting in a pot, we use wires that
pass through the holes so that we can tie
the tree down tightly. With natural rocks
we do not tend to have these holes and so
it is necessary to prepare tie-down wires
Epoxy putty: A two-part adhesive putty that, once mixed together, can be formed
before hardening. Mix thoroughly and then mould around the wires
in advance, once the planting position
and angle have been decided.
Using the rock: If there is a natural protuberance
or hole use this for the wire to grip on to. Once
the tree has been on there for many years and
the roots are fixed to the rock, visible wires can
be removed
Create a rock planting
Planting a tree on the rock
Spread keto on the rock where the tree is to be planted. If it is too thick it looks
like the tree and rock are separate, so ensure it is only spread thinly
Place the tree on top of the keto. Depending on the species it may be possible to
break up the root ball and spread the roots over the rock
Tie down the tree using the wires which were prepared previously. Ensure that
the tree cannot move at all
Once the tree is fixed in position, cover the rest of the roots with keto. Once the
root ball is covered, it is a good idea to add green moss to cover the keto. This will
add another layer of water retention as well making the planting more attractive
Plant in the same way as a normal pot. Seat the tree,
then tie down with wires that were previously fixed
in readiness
Once tree is fixed in position, add soil, working it in
well between the gaps in the root ball with chopsticks
Any areas of exposed roots or soil that may wash off
should be covered with a layer of keto to protect them
TECHNIQUE
Bonsai Focus
31
How to protect keto
When keto is subjected to direct sun it tends
other plants on top of the keto so they take root
to dry out and crack very easily; even if it is
is one way to prevent this from happening. Not
watered, it is likely to repel water and become
only does it protect against drying out, but it
impossible to absorb. Placing green moss and
also makes it look more natural and attractive.
Place the moss or accent plant firmly
into the keto using a small U-shaped
piece of wire, fix in position
Long roots are trained down the
rock, but will not reach a pot
Keto is placed all the way down the rock
where the tree roots are going to grow
At the base of the rock, a small accent
plant is placed to grow into the keto.
This will help the uptake and retention
of water so that the tree roots will have
moist keto to grow into. If the tree roots
can grow down and then into a suiban
or a pot, growing the rock planting will
be much easier
Tips for cultivation and health
Watering rock plantings
For some rock plantings the day-to-day
cultivation is the same as normal bonsai.
For example those with boat shaped or
flat rocks where the rock is being used as
a pot, or root over rock style where the
absorbing water once it becomes hard, it
humidity around the rock planting.
is essential to understand this point and
One point to consider is the amount of
water accordingly. Never allow the keto
water given directly after creating a rock
to dry out and the tree will be healthy.
planting. Until the roots have grown into
Planting moss and other plants outside
the keto, there is danger that excessive
the keto will keep it from drying out as
watering could wash the keto away.
well as making it look attractive.
Immediately after creation, keep the rock
roots actually grow down into a pot. The
Another effective method of moisture
planting in semi shade and out of the
more difficult types are those where a
retention during the summer is to keep
wind, watering very carefully until it has
tree is planted directly on top of a rock.
the rock planting in a suiban filled with
settled down. In a few weeks it can return
With these the tree is growing mainly
water. The evaporation of the water will
to the benches and after six months there
into keto soil only. As keto has difficulty
reduce the heat and also increase the
will be no need for concern.
The keto is wrapped in the net
The net is then covered with a second layer of keto so
there is no danger of the inner layer falling off
Prevent keto from falling apart
If the keto dries out it may fall off the
rock or cause the development and
health of the tree to suffer. At one bonsai
nursery, the keto is wrapped in a fine net
and another layer of keto is then placed
on top, creating a structural mesh to keep
everything in place. If the upper layer
of keto dries out and falls off, the layer
inside the net will remain in place and
stay intact.
Hints for using rocks to their full potential
Combine several rocks
together
Quite often the starting point for creating
a rock planting is to consider the rock first
and there is no rule that says it has to be
a single rock. It is possible to combine a
number of rocks to improve the character,
change angle, or stabilise a composition.
There are many different options that
open up when rocks are combined.
Carve the stone to fit the tree
If a stone has a particularly interesting character feature, but doesn’t really fit well,
or it is difficult to seat the tree, then it is possible to grind away or cut sections of the
stone to fit the tree.
Above: Before working Above right: after working, the stone has been heavily modified
A flat stone is tuned on its side and a smaller stone is
to be used at the base to stabilise it
Two stones that individually lack character can be
combined together to make an interesting shape
By carving away at the stone, the balance between the tree and stone has been improved
Growing from the side
of a rock.
In some creations, the tree may grow out
of the rock on a constructed platform.
The composition here sits on horizontal
pieces of metal bar that are fixed into
holes drilled into the rock. The root ball
and all of the mechanics are hidden by
keto so it appears natural. This opens up
further opportunities for rock plantings.
On the left there are metal rods protruding from the
side with mesh on which to plant the tree
The tree was planted in the space on the left side
of the rock, but once it is finished, it looks perfectly
natural
TECHNIQUE
Bonsai Focus
33
Maintain the structure
It is often said that trees planted on rocks
thicken very quickly, due to the retention
of warmth, but the actual reason is not
certain. The only issue is that, though
the tree will grow and become bigger,
the rock will stay the same size. For
those species that grow very rapidly and
thicken, consider being more aggressive
with shoot pinching and thinning out to
reduce the vigour of the tree. With some
species it will be necessary to cut back
hard once every couple of years.
A large concrete suiban filled with water, on top of
which the rock plantings are placed. Rock plantings
are more difficult to water than regular bonsai and
so ensuring that the humidity around them is high
during the summer makes cultivation easier
During the heat of the summer, the rock will absorb
and retain heat, potentially damaging the tree. By
covering with shade cloth or a wet towel it will
reduce the temperature
The top soil is removed with a rake and the roots
exposed
The outer root ball is broken up carefully with a
bamboo chopstick. The base is also broken up a
little
Long roots are pruned back around the circumference
of the root ball and on the base
Root pruning is finished so that the roots do not
grow out from the rock, the soil is refreshed and
new root growth is stimulated
Repotting rock plantings
The techniques for transplanting trees on
rocks are the same for trees in pots; trees
planted directly on top of a rock, though,
will root prune themselves naturally
when the root tips grow out of the keto.
They will not need to be repotted. Trees
that are planted on flat rocks should be
removed, transplanted as normal and
then reattached to the rock.
Fertilising rock plantings
The only issue with fertilising is for rock plantings where
the tree is planted on top of a rock, especially those that
are upright. Fertiliser cakes placed on the side of a root
ball will fall off easily so that the tree can suffer from
malnutrition. A good solution is to place fertiliser in a tea
bag and fix it to the root ball, or use liquid fertiliser.
Ensure that fertiliser cakes cannot fall off
from the side of the root ball, especially on
standing stones. Secure with a U-shaped wire
staple, or pop it into a tea bag and fix that to
the root ball
With solid fertiliser there's a tremendous
amount of wastage as the fertiliser is
washed away. Liquid fertiliser is a very
effective alternative
34
MAINTENANCE
Bonsai Focus
The inner self
Defoliation is applied to promote back budding
on trident maples
Text and photography: Andrea Meriggioli
Partial defoliation is, along with pinching, one of the
routine operations applied to trident maple, or kaede, for
maintenance of mature trees
New budding
When partial defoliation is carried out it
serves a twofold purpose: it encourages
new budding and balances the vigour of
various areas of the tree. Furthermore,
by removing the outer foliage, a very
important maintenance operation is
executed on the weaker inner branches,
which would otherwise die back due to
the absence of light. On a trident maple,
partial defoliation is carried out from the
end of April until the end of September,
every time a reduction of the outer foliage
appears necessary. Kaede are vigorous
trees that can reach up to three vegetative
periods in one single year, if adequately
Andrea Meriggioli: 'This is a special
preview, specially for Bonsai Focus,
of my new book, 'Bonsai Maples'.
So far, books published (in Europe)
on the genus Acer have handled
the subject only in a partial way,
if not inadequately. Here you can
find — for the first time, in detail
and covering all possible topics —
everything you need to know about
growing and nursing bonsai trees
of the species Acer palmatum and
Acer buergerianum.'
More info:
info@hiryuen.com
www.hiryuen.com/negozio/en
Removing the leaves one by one using a leaf trimmer on a mature canopy is rather time-consuming; therefore,
we generally use long-handled scissors, holding the apical leaves on the branch between forefinger and thumb,
and cutting them along the petiole. This operation must be executed with precision, to avoid damaging the
buds at the base
Acer buergerianum
MAINTENANCE
Bonsai Focus
In May, once the new
leaves are mature, partial
defoliation is carried out in
order to balance the vigour
between outer and inner
areas of the canopy. Left to
right: before and after the
operation
Seen from the top: before and after
the operation
stimulated through defoliation (different
from Acer palmatum). Generally, the most
important defoliation session is carried out in May, once the new leaves are
mature.
The inner ramification
As well as producing a higher number of
branches over one single year, defoliation
is fundamental to the maintenance of inner ramification, which would otherwise
grow weaker and weaker. In the course of
this operation, any shoots that appeared
in an incorrect position in spring are
eliminated, and those which are becoming too vigorous (in the outer canopy) are
pruned. Besides, thanks to the absence of
leaves, this is the best moment to execute
the 'meosae', the wiring of any minor
branches that need to be corrected.
Above left and left:
before and after the
partial defoliation
was executed on a
shohin trident maple
35
36
MAINTENANCE
Bonsai Focus
a
An example of a scarcely invasive operation on a
back branch.
Practical procedure from left to right.
The branch, before the shoot with longer internode
(a) is pruned off, at the same time re-establishing
the correct bifurcation; finally, only the apical shoot is
defoliated
New buds
Following the operation, the tree will start
to activate many new buds (including
back budding as well), thus preparing for
the new vegetation, which will start after
about 10 days. At this moment it is vital
to intensify routine checks, immediately
eliminating useless buds that appear
in incorrect positions and pruning the
longer branches if new, useful back buds
appear (back pruning and improvement
of the ramification).
Total defoliation is executed on trees that
are being formed, or trees that present
excessive vigour, which must be slowed
down; while on mature trees, already
presenting a number of finer branches
and showing a more placid vigour, partial
defoliation is applied.
Heavy and light
Trident maples may well produce new
vegetation, three times in a single year, if
pruned twice. The operation is planned
for trees that prove more vigorous and
provided the local climate permits it.
Generally, the two defoliation sessions are
carried out in May and July. As a norm, a
Partial defoliation and pruning of a trident maple ishizuki
Any old wire applied at the
end of winter is removed
before it starts biting into
the bark; you need to be
careful while cutting it,
not to break the numerous
buds and not to damage
the bark. If you're afraid
of cutting the branch when
using a wire cutter, wire
may be removed from the
finer branches by simply
unwinding it
MAINTENANCE
Bonsai Focus
Total defoliation of a tree being shaped. In the top two images, the tree is seen
after defoliation. The two lower images show the tree after pruning and meosae,
wiring and bending. In about two weeks, the new foliage will start to grow
37
First of all, the vigorous shoots are pinched and pruned
more invasive operation is executed in
May when foliage is completely removed
and a lighter one at the end of July, that
is, partial defoliation. What follows is the
documentation of the work carried out in
May on a trident maple shohin.
Once the tree has been defoliated, its
ramification can be well scrutinised. The
new shoots are then carefully pruned.
This operation is very important as it is
aimed at improving the ramification and
balancing vigour in the outer and inner
canopy.
Then the tree is defoliated
Before and after the elimination of shoots. Below left: shoots (a) growing vertically near the main bifurcation
are removed. Below right: After restoring the correct bifurcation, maintaining the two lateral shoots
a
38
MAINTENANCE
Bonsai Focus
Back pruning a branch after defoliation: the apical shoot, which is too vigorous, is pruned off in favour of back shoots
“
Back pruning aimed at improving ramification and restoring a correct structure
At the same time, any new shoots appearing in an incorrect position along the
trunk, or growing in the axil of other branches are pruned
Trident maples can produce new leaves three
times in one season
Far left: back pruning, when a useful
pair of buds is found. Immediate left:
detail of a branch
MAINTENANCE
Bonsai Focus
Detail of the work carried
out on the apex. Practical
procedure, left to right: the
apex before: elimination of
the branches is not useful
for this styling.
(a) Pruning a branch that
started in the wrong place.
(b) The other thick part is
removed, too.
The apex at the end of the
operation, after wiring and
setting the continuation of
the trunk and the external
branch
b
a
a
b
10 days later, new vegetation starts
to appear; many new back buds
begin to develop
The trident maple at the end of all operations
The tree 15 days later; it will soon be time to pinch the new shoots
39
Satsuki
40
STEP BY STEP
The not so difficult tree
Bonsai Focus
'kinsai'
Text: Janine Droste, Bonsai Focus Studio Photography: Mark Florquin, Janine Droste, Bonsai Focus Studio
Satsuki azalea has a chip on its shoulder, saying 'oh, how difficult'. Janine Droste guides you step by step to convince
you that they are, in fact, very easy going
Seen from above
1
The Satsuki 'Kinsai' before
any work was done.
The flowers of the
'Kinsai' are narrow,
fine and shaped like
water reeds
A few years ago, I dis-
flowering.
The front
covered this raw material
Pruning and styling Satsuki will usually
growing in the open field. Not exactly
occur from mid-winter to the beginning
beautiful, but well worth it for its wonder-
of spring. This gives the tree enough time
fully impressive root base.
to develop new shoots of a certain length
comes towards the viewer.
In February 2016 I started styling the tree.
and thickness.
Removing most of its leaves will not
It is a Satsuki 'Kinsai'. The flowers of the
The front chosen shows the best side of
the root base and the top of the trunk
cause stress or damage when the tree
'Kinsai' are narrow, fine and in the shape
Training
of water reeds, bow-shaped.
Young material is pruned twice a year:
They do have the habit of developing
before the growth and after flowering
into ordinary five-leaf flowers, rather
(late May, early June). During the training
than narrow petals. So, to prevent the
pruning the flowers should not play any
narrow petals from becoming ordinary
role, the shape is more important than
note that the top of the Satsuki shows
five-leaf flowers over time, the branches
the flowers. Your focus must be fully on
weaker growth than at the base, so leave
with these flowers must be removed after
the styling.
enough shoots and branches.
is very healthy and has healthy roots. It
will recover quite fast and will even grow
stronger and healthier new shoots. It will
bud easily on old wood as well. However,
2
Bonsai Focus
Pruning
First, all superfluous and dead
branches are pruned.
I remove all the twigs and branches that grow downwards and
upwards, even those that grow on
the trunk or on the branch axils.
the trunk is cleaned with water and a
soft brush. In branches that cross or
grow from one point, one or more branches are cut away.
STEP BY STEP
41
Satsuki - HUSBANDRY
Propagate:
With cuttings. This is quite
easy.
Placement:
Place in full sun, but do
move to the semi shade
during hot summer days.
Protect from heavy frosts. The bark
is very fragile and will be damaged if
frozen.
An overview of so-called bad branches: Branches that cross, reverse, or grow
downwards. Wheel spoke branches or rod branches
Pruning:
Pruning the whole tree can
be done without problems.
The best time is after new growth in
spring or after flowering Create open
spaces between the branches and
ensure that sufficient light and air,
essential for the health of the tree,
can enter the interior.
Shoots which grow underneath the branch are
removed
Crossing branches, the so-called karami-eda, are also
removed
The choice of front is decided by the root base, the branch setting
and shape of the trunk
The long shoots and small branches are
being shortened
Thicker branches are cut with concave
pliers. The advantage is that you can cut
the branch close to the trunk's surface
and make clean cuts
Repotting:
The best time to repot is
early spring (mid-March to end of
March) before growth of new buds
starts or after blossoming (June –
July)
Young trees still in training can best
be repotted every two years. Older,
more matured trees can best be
repotted every three years.
Satsuki need an acid soil mix like
Kanuma. When the soil becomes
too compacted and water cannot
penetrate into the soil it will need
repotting. Leave the core of the root
ball beneath the trunk. It is essential
as Satsuki are dominant basally so
the tree can weaken if those roots
are pruned too heavily
42
STEP BY STEP
Bonsai Focus
Satsuki - HUSBANDRY
For the larger wounds
I use cut paste, smaller
wounds are covered
with fluid wound seal.
(Yogozai)
Clean the wounds by smoothing the wound surfaces
with a chisel to encourage them to heal over more
quickly without leaving ugly scars
Repotting
The tree is taken out of its pot. Cut the roots by a third, but don’t
3
cut away too much root directly underneath the trunk. These
roots are connected with the top part and are essential for
nutrient uptake. Some roots were too thick and distorted and
needed to be removed or shortened to promote the growth of
fine roots.
Watering:
Satsuki is a very thirsty
shrub and needs plenty of water. But
try to avoid over watering by using a
very well-draining soil.
Wiring:
Wiring can best be done
during March, October and
November. Place the tree
in the shade for three days before
wiring and slow down on watering.
This will make the branches more
flexible. After wiring the branch use
jin pliers to hold the coil and bend
carefully.
Bend the branches in a slight upward
curve. After wiring and styling, it
is best to place the tree in a shady
place. Mist the foliage on a regular
basis.
Satsuki - AFTERCARE
Cut disks from the underneath and sides of the root
ball with a sharp saw
With a rake or root hook, untangle the roots and
loosen the soil along the side and base of the root ball
Scrape away dirt and some soil on the sides of the
thicker surface roots so that they become more visible
again
After untangling the roots, prune the root ball with
root scissors
•
After potting the tree, water till it
runs clear again, indicating that all
the soil dust has flowed, with the
water, through the drainage holes.
•
Cover the surface of the soil with
sifted sphagnum moss to prevent
dehydration. Sphagnum moss is
like a sponge, it is able to absorb
its weight of water thirty times
and gradually releases it again.
•
Place the bonsai in the shade for
two to three weeks. Then slowly let
the tree adapt to the sun again.
•
Don’t fertilize the tree for two to
three weeks.
•
Mist the tree on a regular
basis.
STEP BY STEP
Bonsai Focus
43
Planting the Satsuki
Satsuki are planted in deeper pots to keep
them moist for longer. Use drainage mesh
to prevent soil washing away through
the drainage holes. Aluminium wires
are pulled through the drainage holes to
anchor the tree to the pot.
Make a mound of sifted Kanuma soil on which to place the tree. Use
the large diameter size for the base. Then use the medium size for
filling up after placing the tree in position
Use a chopstick to gently push the soil between the
spaces of the root system
Finally
The result after pruning
After potting the tree, the initial styling is
done, the whole process being repeated
in the coming years so as to develop a
branch setting that is well ramified.
The tree a year later in 2017
The tree from above
After planting the tree. The root ball is
anchored with the wires
The root base of the tree
44
MASTERCLASS
Bonsai Focus
Rock Classics
Masahiko Kimura's famous rock plantings
Text and photography: Kinbon magazine, Japan
Conventional rock plantings are fascinating in their own right and have been explored
greatly, but Masahiko Kimura has taken them to another level, creating much interest well
beyond Japan. Here we will look at some of Kimura’s famous rock plantings as they are
now and explore his new skills in this area.
Use these as inspiration and, once you have a basic understanding of the principles, go
forth and enjoy creating one for yourself
MASTERCLASS
Bonsai Focus
45
Juniper rock planting with a Kurama stone
The rear, showing the trees thriving
30th November 2016
Juniper rock planting. Height:
43 cm / 17" Width: 75 cm /
30". (14 years since creation)
It was originally part of the
Oguchi collection and the
trees have been in place for
many years
September 1993, standing the Kurama stone on its edge!
Mr Kimura flipped the stone on its side to create
something completely new
Seen from the rear. The roots are entirely at the back
The initial creation used Ezo spruce
A wonderful scene emerged. Width: 39 cm / 15¼"
46
MASTERCLASS
Bonsai Focus
20th November 2016
Hinoki (Yatsubusa) rock planting. Height: 87 cm / 34¼"
Width: 95 cm / 37½" (22 years since creation)
The evolution of the rock planting adds more character
as it matures. Although the trees have grown more
than the tenjin, the main shape remains. This is an
outstanding work
Here is the source of life.
In 1994, the Hinoki were planted on the
rocks and a new frontier opened up
Connecting the two Kurama stones
Two Kurama stones were prepared, with notches
made in them to join them together
The same creation in 2006
Once the two rocks were
fitted together, a unique
image was created
MASTERCLASS
Bonsai Focus
47
30th November 2016,
juniper rock planting.
Height: 97 cm / 38"
Width: 52 cm / 20¼" (21
years since creation) The
unstoppable Mr Kimura
originally created the
planting with six vertical
Kurama stones, but he
subsequently added three
more stones to create a
sheer vertical cliff of nine
layers
“
The back. Water cannot pass through and there is
hardly any possibility of fertiliser, exactly as you
would find in the natural world
Kimura has an almost obsessive
fixation with perfection
January 1995, the vertical cliff face was created
First six flat stones are layered on top of one another
The stones were fanned out and cut in two
The three smallest pieces were removed and from the
remaining nine, the sheer cliff face was created.
At the end of the initial creation
48
MASTERCLASS
Bonsai Focus
A forest on a slope of real rock
A rock created from a round piece of material — yet more exciting creativity.
Height 46 cm / 18" Width: 80 cm / 31¼"
Hinoki material. The trunks have already been straightened
Mr Kimura has a limitless imagination for rock plantings
After planting on the rock. The rock has been placed in a pot
for ease of care. Total height: 82 cm / 32¼" Pot: Japanese oval
30th November 2016,
Tsuyama Hinoki rock
planting Height: 77 cm /
30¼" Width: 68 cm / 26¾"
This is a new creation, which
looks very similar to the other.
However, the big difference is
that the roots grow down into
the pot making cultivation
much easier
MASTERCLASS
Bonsai Focus
49
Carving from one lump of rock
to create a harsh cliff face
The work here is not from this project, but the
techniques are the same. The material is not as
heavy as it appears, being a light volcanic rock. It
has great gas and water permeability and is very
The prepared volcanic rock measures 60 cm / 23¾"
in height
easy to carve, as well as being strong and stable.
An original tool designed and created by Mr Kimura.
The unnecessary parts of the rock fly off as he carves
away at the surface
In order to split the rock in two, a hole is drilled and a
bar inserted into the hole
One of the two pieces was carved into the prototype
of the piece you see here
The front after carving. A
natural representation of a
cliff face has been created,
complete with raised and
depressed areas, generating
light and shade
The stone stands on its end. What image
does Mr Kimura have in mind?
Using a jigsaw as his paintbrush, Mr Kimura has
created the image of a sheer cliff face
A drill is used to make fine adjustments
A two-peaked cliff is carved
roughly
50
MASTERCLASS
Bonsai Focus
A new rock planting with Hinoki
Front. Height: 107 cm /
42¼"
As you can tell from all works previously
shown, the unparalleled genius and the
creativity of Mr Kimura is obvious. This
has been built up over his many years of
experience as well as an innate ability.
An example of this was his changing from
the Ezo spruce to junipers on the first tree
we introduced here, the Kurama stone
that was placed on its side. After many
years of careful cultivation, Mr Kimura
The material is Tsuyama Hinoki in varying heights,
all of them are straight trunked, but will be corrected
with wire
realized that spruce was not suitable for
Here is one of the
Hinoki. They are
not too expensive to
purchase
growing on rocks and therefore switched
to junipers.
The experience of growing rock plantings
over many years also lead Mr Kimura to
realize that the best long-term results
came from allowing the roots to develop
down into a pot, as shown by some of
his more recent works. Although some
of the species will manage without a pot,
namely junipers and Tsuyama Hinoki, as
they're very robust trees, they will always
thrive over a long period if given the extra
room to grow.
Here we will see that experience and
creativity in action as he creates a new
work with Tsuyama Hinoki.
Back
A line up of material is created as the root balls are
broken down
Right-hand side
Starting from the top, the material is scrutinised
carefully before being lightly fixed in place
The tree is removed from the pot and the root ball
broken down
As they are only held in place lightly, the work moves
quickly, but the trees can be replaced or moved, if
necessary
MASTERCLASS
Bonsai Focus
51
“
The uncompromising spirit of
the artist
Masahiko Kimura has actively pursued
creative bonsai and rock plantings such
as these for well over 20 years. One of
the reasons for this was the scarcity of
new material, so alongside reworking
and rejuvenating older trees, he began to
explore the limits of rock plantings.
Fully using his knowledge of plants, their
Kimura explored the
limits of rock
natural environments and growth habits
as well as his artistic and technical talent,
he found the perfect way of expressing
himself.
At the beginning he used existing Kurama
stones, or artificially created stones as
The image that Mr Kimura wanted to create has
been visualised
the foundation for his creations. However,
his desire was still not fulfilled and so he
visited many stone merchants looking for
the next possible material. Eventually he
came across the light volcanic rock that
we see here.
Using both the jigsaw and a specially
designed grinder, Mr Kimura was in his
element, carving away to create various
different mountain-like shapes.
More recently he has found it increasingly
difficult to find the material to plant on
the rocks, something which is beginning
to concern him.
In terms of the rocks, no matter how
artistic he may be the trouble, Mr Kimura
freely admits, is that he falls into the trap
of becoming stereotypical. The variety of
expression that using different rocks and
trees gives has evolved throughout his
career, an embodiment of which is the
piece he has made here. But before this,
however, another was created as practice.
Mr Kimura places the trees on the rock one by one,
considering all the time, the image he has drawn in
his mind
52
MASTERCLASS
Bonsai Focus
Kimura’s artistic sensitivity is uncompromised
Approximately one month after the initial creation of the rock planting, we can see a
Detail as seen
from the left
few differences. Comparing the two pictures we can see a variation in the planting of a
couple of trees. Asking Mr Kimura about this, it seems as though he changed it around
immediately after we left after the first photoshoot.
The lines of the rock and the new foliage on the Tsuyama Hinoki, the straight trunks of
the trees, all come together to form a beautifully balance piece. The obsessive fixation
with perfection is a testament to Mr Kimura’s artistic sensitivity.
24th May 2016,
approximately one month
after fixing the plants to
the rock
As seen from the
right
The front. Covered in keto and
shredded sphagnum moss
Same as seen
from the rear
MASTERCLASS
Bonsai Focus
53
A piece of solid rock
is joined to the lighter
upright rock with a bolt so
that it can be fixed into the
pot easily and also to give
it more stability. Once the
roots reach the soil in the
pot, it can be repotted as a
normal tree would be
A rock planting of Tsuyama Hinoki. Height:
90 cm / 35½" (different work)
A reference example: Tsuyama
Hinoki Height: 113 cm / 44½"
Width: 36 cm / 14" Pot: Japanese
oval
This work was one created as an
experiment before the photoshoot
we just documented. Branching
on this has developed more and
is closer to Mr Kimura’s final
image. Upright trees growing in
pockets on the rock have created
a wonderful scene that is well
balanced and refined. Yet another
different style of rock planting,
giving it a fresh new feel
During the World Bonsai Convention in Saitama, Japan,
Masahiko Kimura created a rock planting on stage
54
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55
Satsuki
56
STYLING
Bonsai Focus
Creating the moyogi style from a field-grown satsuki
Text and photography: Kinbon magazine, Japan
Skills: Masaki Yoshii (Muzu-en)
Tougenkyou is a variant of the well-known Kinsai
flower, showing a white base to the flower. It is a
relatively new variety, having been registered
20 years ago. With that in mind, this is a
very thick specimen, even though it has
been field grown. There is evidence of
several large scars from the field-growing
process, but as with other varieties in the
Kinsai family, the wounds heal very quickly
with a vigorous growth. There are a number
of branches that have to
be removed and there is
the possibility of a dramatic
change.
Before work: Tougenkyou Height: 48 cm
/ 18¾" Width: 60 cm / 23¾"
Seen from the right-hand side. The movement in the
lower trunk is not bad
Seen from the rear, it appears pigeon breasted
Seen from the left-hand side. The lower branch looks
leggy, typical growth of Kinsai varieties
STYLING
Bonsai Focus
57
The planting angle
The planting angle when grown in the field. The
lower trunk drops down slightly on the right side
Seen from the left. The movement in the top section is
better, especially the apex
By lifting up a little on the right hand side it gives the
lower trunk a more powerful appearance
Front after changing the angle. The lower trunk is
more powerful and the upper trunk movement more
prominent
As seen from the right. It has also been lifted a little
at the back, making the movement towards the front
better
Consider the angle and thin the branches
Looking at the movement in the lower
The branches are very dense and it is not
trunk and up through the big bend, the
possible to see from where they originate.
character needs to be maximised. Mr
During the field-growing process, many
Yoshii first looks at changing the planting
branches were left on to help thicken the
angle in order to achieve this. As it has a
trunk; they now need to be thinned out,
good nebari, a dramatic change of angle
after deciding which will be used and
is not possible, but lifting it up slightly on
which will be removed. At this time of
the right-hand side brings the movement
year, satsuki can be cut back hard, with
to life and the lower trunk appears more
the understanding that new growth will
powerful.
burst out in the spring.
Seen from the right
Front after thinning out branches a little. The main
branch structure is yet to be decided, but it can now
be seen easily so that decisions can be made
Seen from the left
58
STYLING
Bonsai Focus
Lower branches are
double branches
Double branches, such as those here on the
lower left and lower right, are sometimes seen
in field grown material where two branches
growing close to one another fuse together
at the base. In most cases it is easy to decide
which of the two to keep, but as this tree has
them on both sides, their relationship to one
another must be considered.
Can you see the double branch?
There is one here too!
It is clear that both the left and right lower side branches have become double. Although they are not bar branches, they are very close to one another in height. To
increase the apparent separation between them, the upper branch on the right is removed and also the lower branch on the left. This was done by Mr Yoshii to
accentuate the angles at which the branches emerge from the trunk
The lower of the pair is removed on the left-hand side
The upper branch of the pair on the right is removed
Dealing with cut areas
The lower branch on the right side
is left, whereas the upper branch on
the left remains.
At this stage it is essential to
ensure the cut branches are dealt
with correctly. As it is a variety that
heals easily, it can be cut right at the
base, rather than leaving a small stump
which will destroy the line of the branch.
Using a knife or chisel to clean up the
base of the cut branch is an important
task.
The
lower
branch of the pair is left, giving preference
to the angle
Upper of
the pair is
left as it will be
easier to work with
Wiring branches on the right side
The first branch on the right-hand side
has been given good movement. It then
splits into two relatively thick secondary
branches. These will be held back and
given movement rather than be allowed
to extend.
The
branch
before wiring.
The important points are how long the branch
should be and how much character to give it
The
right
side
branches
after wiring. The intention is not to grow
the lower branch longer, but to keep it
relatively compact
The apex before wiring, which will have
unnecessary branches removed while
wiring
The left-hand side branches
before wiring. There are still
unnecessary branches left
there, which will be removed
as the branch is wired
Left-hand branches after wiring. Each of the
branches is laid out flat and unnecessary branches
have been removed
The apex after wiring.
Strong upward growing
branches were removed,
remaining branches have
been pruned back to keep
the outline.
60
Bonsai Focus
Final consideration of the planting angle
The first idea for the change of angle. The right side and rear have been raised
slightly and, considering the apex and trunk movement, the character branch will
be the first branch on the left, meaning that the right-hand side branches should
be shortened
The second idea is to make the right-hand branches the character branch by lifting
the tree up on the left-hand side, creating an overall flow to the right. As a result,
the left-hand side branches would need to be shortened
Before and after
Right side before wiring
Back before wiring
Left side before wiring
Seen from all sides
Right side after wiring
Back after wiring
Left side after wiring
STYLING
Bonsai Focus
Tougenkyou Height: 37 cm / 14½" Width: 58 cm / 22¾"
Trunk diameter: 25 cm / 9¾" (Pot is photoshopped)
Plan of work after styling
Another example of a mature
Satsuki Kinsai. Tree height: 72
cm / 28¼" Pot: Chugoku daen,
Chinese ellipse
After wiring it will be necessary to pot the tree into
a suitable container and soil. Unfortunately, we did
not have the opportunity to document that here, but
it should be done between January and the start of
March. As it has been lifted from the field, all of the
field soil needs to be washed off, especially directly
under the trunk. At the first planting of the tree, the
root washing in particular is absolutely essential and
should be done with great care not to leave behind
any field soil.
Once planted and the angle decided, the length of
the branches can be altered to suit. Within two years
the tree and a further styling, the tree will be close to
finished and will present a structure to enjoy.
Detail of the trunk.
Diameter: 28 cm / 11"
61
62
NATIVE BONSAI
Bonsai Focus
All about the leaves
Harry Harrington shows how to improve ramification in
deciduous trees by partial defoliation
Text and photography: Harry Harrington
Defoliation in mid-summer is a well-known technique for improving the
ramification and density of the branches of a deciduous bonsai. Defoliation
of leaves from a branch results in new shoots appearing where previously
there were just leaves
This method of improving density of
the branch structure is not without
its limitations. There are some trees
and tree species, which react poorly
to complete defoliation with die-back
of weaker branches. Others will typically
return fewer, but larger leaves.
Over the years I have found that partial
defoliation can give far more satisfying,
predictable results in a large number of
tree species used for bonsai.
Partial defoliation, as the name suggests,
involves leaving some of the leaves on
the branches as 'sap drawers' to allow the
tree to continue to photosynthesise and
protect its vigour while it responds to the
removal of others, leading to better, more
predictable results.
European beech (Fagus sylvatica}. Current height of
bonsai: 55cm / 22"
Originally collected by Craig Coussins and Peter
Adams during the late 1970s, and grown as part
of a forest planting for many years. It was finally
purchased as a single tree by myself in 2001. Pot by
Victor Harris of Erin Pottery
Partial defoliation of a linden (Tilia cordata} This
very vigorous species suffers from large leaves in
spring, requires partial defoliation in mid-summer to
increase ramification and reduce leaf-size
Timing and method
Defoliation is traditionally carried out in
mid-summer in the lull of active growth,
when deciduous trees 'rest' after the
initial spring flush. A deciduous tree will
be harvesting the sugars produced by
the process of photosynthesis in spring,
repairing damage and growing new roots
Therefore, this is also the ideal time for
creating new airlayers.
By removing the leaves in mid-summer,
we spur the tree into a second 'mini'
spring when it returns to vegetative
growth.
To find the ideal timing, look for a lack
of new shoots on the tree, all the leaves
have turned to their summer colour. This
should occur in mid-summer (last week
in June), but there can be a variation of a
few weeks depending on the tree species,
the weather and individual specimens.
Leaves can be removed using scissors
where the species has a petiole, that is a
stem that connects the leaf to the branch,
as on maples (Acer species) or linden
(Tilia). Where the leaf connects to the
branch directly as seen in elm (Ulmus) or
privet (Ligustrum), the leaf can be taken off
the branch by hand, pulling backwards to
ensure a clean break.
After defoliation, unless sun damage in
your location is a real possibility, place
the tree in a position with plenty of direct
sunlight. The more light given to the tree
NATIVE BONSAI
Bonsai Focus
63
as it returns into leaf, the smaller they
will be. Be aware that the tree maybe very
thirsty for a few days after defoliation.
Partial defoliation
This European hornbeam (Carpinus betulus} has been partially defoliated. Note that a leaf has been left
at the end of each shoot to draw the sap. Larger leaves have been cut in half to reduce their dominance over
weaker branches with a smaller terminal leaf, though this is not essential.
Where necessary, cut leaves can be removed once replacement leaves have appeared
Although relatively gentle in comparison
to complete defoliation, Partial defoliation
is still taxing to a tree and it is important
to ensure that the tree is healthy and has
vigour. Defoliation of any kind on a weak
or sick tree should be avoided.
Partial defoliation will involve leaving
in place a terminal leaf, that is, a leaf at
the very tip of a branch, and removing all
other leaves on the branch.
The remaining leaf acts as a 'sap drawer'
continuing to pull sap along the length
of the branch and ensuring its health.
Where there are multiple leaves at the tip
of the branch, remove all but the smallest.
As the tree comes back into leaf, the tree
does not simply replace the leaves that
have been removed with another leaf;
rather they are replaced with a new shoot
that in itself can carry multiple leaves,
greatly increasing ramification.
A number of species such as hornbeam
(Carpinus), oak (Quercus) and beech (Fagus)
react poorly to complete defoliation, often
The same linden six weeks after the partial
defoliation, with a fresh set of smaller of leaves
Pull or cut?
•
When the leaf is connected by a stem to the branch, a
so-called petiole, use scissors to cut.
•
When the leaf is closely connected to the branch, pull
off gently backwards.
Privet leaves are very
close to the branch
Maple leaves have
long stems
64
NATIVE BONSAI
Bonsai Focus
producing a smaller number of larger
leaves. However, with partial defoliation
they react very positively and I believe
this is an essential technique on these
species to create good ramification and
allow light into the branches to encourage
growth of inner branches.
Partial defoliation of evergreen
broadleaf species in winter
Some broadleaf species such as olive
European hornbeam (Carpinus betulus} bonsai that was sent to me by a client
during 2016 for styling and refinement. Here the tree is seen before leaf burst in
spring after initial styling
(Olea), Pyracantha, box (Buxus) and privet
(Ligustrum) can be partially defoliated in
the winter any time between the growth
stopping in autumn and early spring.
Winter defoliation
• Oleo
• Pyracantha
• Buxus
• Ligustrum
Partial defoliation is possible
during dormant period
Not only does this give a healthy tree the
chance to back bud and to increase its
ramification twice in a year, it also allows
us to study the branch structure and wire
The crown of a privet bonsai
(Ligustrum ovalifolium}
after its partial defoliation
during the winter. All leaves
but the smallest at the tips
of the branches have been
removed. This allows light
into the canopy, promotes back
budding and also allows the
branch structure to be pruned
and wired as required
and prune as necessary.
Same European hornbeam bonsai at mid-summer
after partial defoliation, leaving a terminal leaf at the
end of each shoot
NATIVE BONSAI
Bonsai Focus
65
Defoliating the privet (below) and showing the size of the leaves, I leave normal
sized leaves like those seen in the backgound
The increased ramification of the hornbeam can be seen after leaf fall in the
autumn of the same year. Such has been the increase in the number of shoots, a
second styling was carried out to further refine the branch structure
Partial defoliation of
weaker species
Some species and individual specimens
require defoliation to ensure that light
The common privet
(Ligustrum ovalifolium}.
Height 37 cm / 14½"
Developed from an old
hedgerow tree collected in
2004. Pot by Victor Harris
of Erin Pottery.
can reach the interior of the branch
structure. As a for instance, without some
defoliation, heavily ramified, congested
maple bonsai (Acer species) will begin to
lose weaker, interior branches as light
fails to reach them. However, complete
defoliation on some specimens can be
too taxing on their vigour and defoliation
of the weaker inner branches can cause
them to die back.
In these cases, it is recommended that
the leaves on the interior branches are
left in place and all of the leaves on the
strongest branches are removed.
My Pyracantha being partially defoliated (removal
of the largest leaves) by my son Jake last summer
to enable light to get into the interior and to prompt
back budding
Firethorn (Pyracantha} in summer. Height 45 cm
/ 17¾", trunk diameter 20 cm / 7¾". Originally
collected by Faisal Waheedi. Restyled in 2015. Pot by
Thor Holvila
66
POTS
Bonsai Focus
The Phoenix
Bruno Auvinet was challenged to make his
own pot when none fitted his maple
Text: Bonsai Focus Studio Photography: Bruno Auvinet
In May 2017, the house of Bruno Auvinet located near Nantes, France, was destroyed by
fire. Fortunately, he and his wife were not injured, but his ceramic workshop, his glaze
recipes, and some of his bonsai were lost in the disaster. Even today his house is not yet
rebuilt, however, Bruno has already restarted creating pots
The phoenix is rising from its ashes . . .
Who was your teacher?
A friend, a pharmacist and
passionate ceramist, trained
me how to make pots, then
he helped me to discover the
alchemy of enamels. This was the
revelation.
What is your philosophy of
bonsai ceramics?
How did it all start?
In 2007, at a congress organized by Michel
Sacal in Versailles, two UK potters, John
Pitt and Bryan Allbright had been invited.
I asked Bryan Allbright to create a pot for
a maple forest of mine, but unfortunately,
the maximum size he could create was
less than my request. So, Michel Sacal
challenged me to make my own pots. And
he was the first to buy my first pots a year
later. They were not very beautiful, but
the bet was upheld.
What was the most important
thing you learned?
Work, work, work! And never ever let
go. Ceramics for bonsai ceramics are so
personalized they can only be designed
by enthusiasts. Developing techniques for
creating unique pieces like these requires
engineering and imagination.
A man, a tree, a pot.
Every individual, every country in the
world, has a different vision of bonsai.
Ceramics, therefore, need diversity. In
Europe, we travelled from the soulless
container of the 80s to a very personal
style, because potters have responded to
this demand with their creativity. These
are the demands of the enthusiasts and
the talent of ceramists that allow it, even
if some requests are not always feasible
Do you use a gas oven, electric
kiln, or fire with wood?
I started with a home-made gas oven
with salvage materials, but the results
could be extraordinary or completely
failed. I did not have the knowledge
because I had no opportunity to program
my firing. My only goal was to go up to
1250° without understanding the effects
of the high temperatures.
Since then, I have worked with an electric
kiln where I always carry out the same
firing program in order to stabilize the
enamels.
POTS
Bonsai Focus
67
I would like to use an anagama oven, but
it is complex to implement,
and I have neither the time
nor the know-how to deal
with this construction.
Do you make your
own glazes?
Yes, without exception.
Research is a tedious job,
with few successes and
many failures. But in the
process of creativity, it's
great to discover something
that you will be the only one to achieve.
It's the magic of glazes. A glaze has two
components: fluxes and oxides. The
fluxes or base oxides stimulate a glaze to
liquefy, melt or flow.
The fluxes consist of silica, kaolin, chalk,
feldspar, talc, etc. These are elements
from the earth's crust. By mixing them,
we obtain a gloss, satin, matt, opaque or
translucent coating according to their
percentage. They cover the biscuit ground
at 960°. Oxides produce colours: copper,
cobalt, nickel, chromium, manganese,
iron, etc. The chromatic possibilities are
exponential. Applying common sense and
curiosity, it is the work of the chemist
that I have become.
They can be isolated or mixed, but always
in small quantities. Unfortunately, some
colours are impossible, hence the mass
dyes. The tests I do are an important part
of the time I spend on ceramics. Since
2009, I've created 1200 tests, for a result
of 15-20 preserved formulas. A very low
ratio!
You refer Japanese pottery for
your shapes and colours?
By their antiquity of bonsai practice, the
Japanese ceramists have codified pottery.
Their practice is constantly evolving, they
are influenced by their environment, their
sensitivity to art. Their technical mastery
of manufacturing, shapes, colours gives
them a certain advantage, because we
do not have enough perspective for that.
The shapes and colours that we see at
the shows are pretty conventional. But I
remain convinced that there are also freer
artists. If I had more time, I'd consider
going to Japan to learn from them, I am
more than eager to discover all I can from
anyone knowledgeable.
“
It's all about engineering and
imagination when making pots
What is your opinion of artisan
pots?
Artisan pots replace industrial pots. They
have their unique, personalized touch,
specific to each identity. The offers from
ceramists become substantial, it becomes
easy to find a pot to measure because if
the first bonsai potters did not come from
the world of bonsai, the new generations
are from this universe, and they really
understand this art.
What was the hardest pot to
create?
I was working to a commission from a
very demanding bonsai professional.
The pot was not difficult to make, but
very large. It was about 50 cm / 30" and I
exceeded this size by 1 cm once the firing
was done. The glaze was not suitable. I
had to start again. I made three pots to
meet his request. The clay is sometimes
difficult to tame.
The orders are complex to achieve
because we are not in the place of the
customer and his vision of a pot is not
necessarily identical to mine.
68
POTS
Bonsai Focus
Tell us of your biggest mistake?
Belief that ceramics is an easy thing.
When I started, I did not think that the
path would demand such a technical
mastery. It takes both imagination and
engineering for each pot. For a round pot,
it's already difficult, but a rectangle, or an
oval is a problem every time you have to
make one.
What do you like about bonsai
and pots?
Rediscovering the emotions aroused by
trees during my childhood. I wanted to
domesticate the tree, it's the first thing
that fascinated me. To domesticate nature
is not so easy when I was beginning.
The creation of a pot is like a blank sheet
of paper, a simple ball of clay that you
model with your hands and then you fire
it. It's exciting because the time factor is
very short. This is a huge advantage over
bonsai which requires the passage of
time.
Molds, slipcasts or hand
shaped, which do you prefer?
What do you think is best?
I started with plaster molds, but I quickly
realized the limits that they imposed on
me: the manufacturing of molds, the risk
of always making the same pots, bulky
storage, and so on.
I work exclusively on the plate by simple
techniques, which have taken a long time
to refine. But today, I totally control this
process. I also work on the turntable, to
make small pots.
Do you have other interests
beyond bonsai pottery?
Yes, of course: bonsai and that leads to
another passion: hiking. I hike with my
wife, especially in the mountains, though
there are no mountains near my home.
And I practise paragliding too. I would like
to get my licence, but I'm short of time.
What inspires you?
Everything inspires. From the moment
you are a potter, your brain is constantly
boiling. In the field of bonsai, the old
Kokufu catalogues of the 70s, the Gingko
Awards, the bonsai exhibitions, my
personal delusions, nature, bark of trees.
Recently, I visited a slate quarry where
colours are fabulous. I believe curiosity is
the highest quality for creation.
Bonsai Focus
COLUMN
69
Making sense of sensei
Tony Tickle looks at whether there should be
qualifications if you wish to teach bonsai
By Tony Tickle.
(Assisted by Banquo)
It doesn’t take a lot of searching on the internet to find a legion
of sites that claim to be able to 'teach' you bonsai. YouTube in
particular is peppered with such sources, some of which are
extremely good, but many of which fall very short of the mark
in terms of the tuition given. This is often because the videos
are poor quality, or because the presenter is not good at public
speaking. Even worse, however, are the rather many sites that
give the viewer information that is quite simply wrong.
As with any unregulated industry, bonsai tuition is wide open
to the ill-informed or the downright fraudulent and what this
inevitably means is that the good teachers are often overlooked.
So, how can we separate the wheat from the chaff? How would
anyone – beginner or advanced – know
that they were getting the best instruction;
that the techniques they are being told to
apply to their trees are correct; that the
horticultural aspect of the teaching is up
to scratch and, indeed, appropriate to the
learner’s climate?
Bonsai is an exercise in application, time,
skill and expense and nobody can afford
to waste any of these.
Where, then, does a beginner who wishes
to create bonsai start? The web as we
have seen does appear to be a good way
to begin, but only if you know which are
the teachers to follow. Good bonsai starter
books are few and far between, with the
advice outdated and often incorrect! There
is only one book – ‘Bonsai’ by Peter Warren – that I would give
to someone starting out in bonsai. This is up to date, makes
solid recommendations and offers excellent advice for beginners.
Likewise, a beginner can join a club and, for most, this is the
best way to start in bonsai. But as with individual teachers,
clubs differ. Some are active, inviting visiting artists, having
regular workshops, visiting shows, etc and some are what I
politely call tea and biscuit bonsai clubs that never explore new
ideas or engage outside of their meetings.
If a beginner can access a local bonsai nursery that offers
courses or workshops, they may well progress quickly with their
skills. Once again, the key here to advancement is the ability to
engage with like-minded individuals and/or have access to a
good teacher.
Any person looking to further their knowledge in any field of
education would reasonably expect their teacher to have some
qualification in the subject they are teaching, which brings me
to the nub of the question: what actually makes a good teacher?
If we consider that bonsai is purely an art form, then a student
might well be studying under a particular Master and their
associated style. This, after all, is how most of the great artists
learned before going on to create their own individual styles.
It is not for nothing that styles of art are referred to as schools.
If bonsai is considered as horticulture, then this is knowledge
learned. Yet so many of the world’s greatest gardeners had no
formal qualifications, having learned for the most part under
some form of apprenticeship. Perhaps bonsai is following a
similar line. For many years, Italy has been at the forefront of
teaching bonsai with schools offering certification. That gives on
paper a decent blend of practical and theoretical. And yet some
participants then believe their qualification as a practitioner
allows them to teach bonsai. According to
many of Italy’s most respected teachers/
artists what this has inevitably led to is
that there are more ‘teachers’ than students to teach.
But underpinning this is the question,
does being good at bonsai automatically
make you a good teacher? Taking a look
back to our own schooldays it tells us that
good teachers have that little bit extra,
that teaching is a skill in itself. Very few,
in my opinion, who are good at something
– profession or hobby – are also good at
teaching, whether because they are not
able to communicate skills and theory
well or simply because their ego gets in
the way.
Balance this however, with the equally simple fact that there are
some extremely good bonsai teachers out there, especially in
Europe – all of whom have the genius to create brilliant bonsai
and also the skill to teach. Increasingly, these wonderful people
have become more easily available to us. Over the last few years
some of the world’s most respected, award winning artists have
set up online e-learning platforms and I heartily recommend
them. Using video streaming, they offer levels of teaching and
engagement that can improve your skills and your enjoyment in
bonsai. These e-learning courses cut through a lot of the random YouTube videos and, in doing so, they offer a clear structured bonsai course.
So are qualifications important? I feel on balance they are not.
The bonsai community thrives on word of mouth and, in this
online age, there is enough out there for beginners to be able to
discern who is a sensei and who is just senseless.
70
TECHNIQUE
Bonsai Focus
Gardenia
Gardenia: The challenge is to create a finished tree starting from scratch
Text: Kinbon magazine, Japan. Illustrations Kiyosuke Gun
You can propagate and create bonsai from seed, cuttings and by grafting, especially with unusual and interesting
species. Here we introduce an illustrated guide from scratch to a finished tree. With a cutting we create an informal
upright bonsai
Years 1 - 3
Creating flowers
June - July
Shape of flowers
5-6 cm / 2-2¼"
November - December
White fragrant
flowers
The leaves will
form opposite one
another
Western
gardenia
Orange fruit
Seeds 4 - 5 mm /
1¾-2". Lots of seeds
inside the fruit
Flowers open at the
ends of branches
Shape of the leaves
Fruit form
Oblanceolate or elongated
oval-shaped leaves
Taking cuttings
June - July
Cut at the line
Daruma
gardenia
Veins in leaf are
depressed on surface
and prominent on
underside
Keep and cut the
top set of leaves
Leaf length 5-12 cm
/ 2-4¾"
Remove the bottom leaves
Gardenia jasminoides Ellis
var. radicans
Double blossom
Use new growth for the
cuttings
Cut a V-shape with a knife
TECHNIQUE
Bonsai Focus
71
Gardenia
Method of insertion
HUSBANDRY
Propagate:
With cuttings.
The cuttings
around the edge
are placed at an
angle
Reduce the number of leaves
Placement:
As a warm climate plant,
they are not particularly
Place so that one
node is below the
soil level
Akadama-based
soil mix
strong in cold weather and require
some protection even in warmer
climates. Place under protection
Wire the trunks
In June - July the following
year
when the frost starts to form around
Put movement into the
trunk
1 or 2 degrees. If they are exposed
to extreme cold, the leaves will turn
yellow and the tree weaken. In the
Transplant
summer they will need protection
In April the following year
from the extreme heat and intense
Remove the wire
Wiring:
Only the younger branches
can be wired without the risk
of damage. Use the softer aluminium
wire.
Cut back over long roots
Planting method
Keep the upper
leaves
Remove the lower leaves for
ventilation
Tie in using string
sunlight, so place in semi shade.
Position of where
the cutting was
made
Protection in the winter
Watering:
Use soft tap water that has
a low lime content. Rainwater is the
best choice.
Cover with polythene
Open one side when you
need to water
On the bench in the
growing season
Fertiliser
Soil mix:
Akadama 7
Kiryu 3
Charcoal 0.5
Place under the
bench
Weight
down to
hold the
polythene
in place
Repotting:
Like the satsuki azalea, gardenias are
acid loving plants and need an acid
soil type that's not compact,
but a bit loose. It needs
good drainage capacity,
but must stay moist.
72
TECHNIQUE
Bonsai Focus
Wire the branches
June - July
Place the branches and apex in
desirable directions with wire
Remove one branch of a
bar branch pair
Solid fertiliser once or twice in April to June
Then use liquid fertiliser two or three times
in July, August, September and October
Pruning:
A vigorous tree will withstand a
hard prune and you can cut to shape
in the knowledge that it will shoot
again all over the tree. If this is done
repeatedly over a number of years,
the number of fine branches will
rapidly multiply making it relatively
easy to develop branches. Pruning
can be done in the growing season
from April to October. If protected
well over the winter it can be done at
any time of the year.
The only issue is that if defoliation
or hard pruning is done, there will be
no flowers. If you want to enjoy the
flowers or the fruit; pruning should
be done after they have finished.
If flowers and fruit are allowed to
develop year after year, the branches
will become leggy and the structure
deteriorate. Consider allowing the
tree to flower and fruit every other
year and concentrate on structure
and branch development in the
non- flowering year.
Place fertilizer around
the edge of the pot
Years 4 - 6
Defoliation should be carried out in
July, but don't forget that defoliating
the tree prevents it from developing
flowers, so this should only be done
on younger trees or those still in
training.
Prune spoke branches as required
Removing old leaves
July- August
After removing old leaves
Cut retaining a small
number of leaves.
These will drop off
naturally
From one node prune
three branches down to
two, as required
Old leaves
New shoots will form
wherever it is cut
Hard pruning
March
Cut back to desired length
to achieve balance
Thin out congested areas
that are denser than others
73
TECHNIQUE
Bonsai Focus
Tree after old leaf removal
Branch development
Make the tree in
a roughly scalene
triangular shape
Cut off opposing
branches
Flattening branches
June - July
Flatten out the branches so they get
more sunlight
Before wiring
Sunlight penetration and air
flow is improved inside the tree
New shoots form at the base of
branches. Remove these quickly
Sucker shoots form easily
at the base of the trunk.
Remove these unless they
are to be used
Fertilise with liquid fertiliser
once every ten days in July
and August
Fertiliser
Repotting technique
April
Cut off the edge of the
root ball
Cut the surrounding
roots
Cut the roots
Tie down with wire
Place fairly high in the pot
Soil Mix:
Akadama 8
Kiryu 2
Charcoal 0.5
Fertiliser
Cut the root ball at the
base
Gardenia - SPECIES
Common name:
Use an acid soil type like Kanuma
will naturally bear fruit with little
Gardenia
tsuichi.
effort. When the flowers are open,
Genus:
Flowers and fruit:
collect together a number of flower-
Gardenia
Gardenias flower in June/ July and the
ing trees and they will cross pollinate
Higher taxon:
fairly large white 6 petal blossoms
with ease. There are two types of
Rubiaceae
have a distinct sweet fragrance. Once
flower, single and double. Only
Species:
pollinated, the fruit has a distinctive
the single flowers will bear
Jasminoides
shape and takes on a deep orange
fruit. The double blos-
Skill level:
colour as autumn draws to an end.
som varieties make a
Beginner to advanced
The contrast between the fruit and
beautiful display in the
early summer.
Soil type:
the deep green leaves make for a
Medium rich, but well-draining, with
very interesting tree for bonsai use.
40-50% fine gravel added to the mix.
The flowers are self-pollinating and
74
TECHNIQUE
Bonsai Focus
Checking for flower buds
Years 7 - 10
May
Pruning the foliage pads
June - July
Flower bud
Outline of foliage pad
Cut any extending shoots
A plump, luxuriant flower
bud
Leaf shoot
Defoliation
Sharp, pointed leaf shoot
Cut the leaves
Cut here
35 cm / 13¾" to the nebari
Tree with fruit
Orange fruit and evergreen
leaves are beautiful
November - December
If the fruit is evenly distributed the
shape is accentuated
Wire down the branch tips
with fine wire if they start
to rise
Bark: Greyish white in colour
showing obvious lenticels
developing horizontally
Dangerous insects
The trunk is starting
to thicken and shows
a most attractive
movement
Cephonodes hylas, coffee
bean hawkmoth and their
larvae
They can eat all the leaves
in one night
A pot choice to complement
the flowers and fruit
Emerald green larvae
Eggs are laid between May and June, with the larvae
hatching soon after. As they are green, it can be difficult
to detect. If you find them, remove or kill them quickly
75
Satsuki
Satsuki
Kanuma Satsuki Festival
Rhododendron indicum
Osakazuki Kidaka
Shoichi Kojima
71cm | 30.2"
Rhododendron indicum
Photo: Kinbon, Japan
Akira Kira
Tatsuo Kanno
77cm | 30.3"
Rhododendron indicum
yama no hikari
Koichi Okuma
83cm | 32.6"
Rhododendron indicum
Ko-tsuki
Tadao Takahashi
67cm | 25.2"
Rhododendron
indicum
Korin
Hiroshi Tsukahara
56cm | 22'
Rhododendron indicum
Photo: Kinbon, Japan
Koka
Kiichi Iwasawa
71cm | 27.9"
77
Bonsai Focus
Rhododendron indicum
Nikko
Toshiko Omori
64cm | 25.2"
Rhododendron indicum
Yata no kagami
Nozaki Suteri
64cm | 25.2"
Rhododendron indicum
Yebisu
Suzuki Seiichi
66cm | 25.9"
78
REPORT
Bonsai Olympics
Bonsai Focus
Jörg Derlien visits the Bonsai Winter Olympics in South Korea
Text and photography: Jörg Derlien
In February our German editor, Jörg Derlien, went to South Korea on behalf of
Bonsai Focus at the invitation of Sae Won Kim. He was to visit a very special
exhibition on the occasion of the Winter Olympic Games. He was part of an
international delegation of 12 bonsai enthusiasts from five nations. Before
they visited the exhibition opening ceremony in Gangneung, though, they
had two days to admire the country and some very interesting, stunning
bonsai nurseries and collections
Gangneung Station where the Olympic rings stood
proud as a visitor magnet
Above: View at the exhibition of the Gangneung World Bonsai Festival
Below: A 500-year-old palace in Gangneung
Trees and bears in the Park
Immediately after my arrival in Seoul
I met the complete delegation. After a
road trip of some two hours we arrived at
Beartree Park in Sejong, in the province of
Chungcheongnam-do. Beartree Park was
founded by the businessman Mr Jae Yeon
Lee. It started as a park for the family
and an expression of his love of nature.
He spent every spare minute in the park,
and as soon as there was enough money,
young trees were planted, which today
have grown into an impressive forest.
What started as a passionate hobby
evolved over the years to a fulfilling life's
work. Nowadays the park isn´t a pure
family project, but also offers a special
place for other nature lovers. Among
other attractions, there is also a first-class
bonsai collection. As well as the native
and large juniper species, a collection
of quality Japanese and trident maples
from Japan were installed. In particular
the deciduous trees have an impressive
maturity and quality.
Besides cacti and orchids set in large
greenhouses, there is an area on the
During the opening ceremony of the Gangneung
World Bonsai Festival
compound, where ancient trees, collected
from all over Korea, are presented as a
park within a park. This part of the park
of approximately 20 hectares, contains
1,000 different trees and flowers. Overall
there are 400,000 plants. Further along
there is even a small zoo with birds, stags
and, unforgettably, 150 Asian black bears.
The technique of Mister Lee
We continued our way south, towards
Daegu and the next morning, we started
to visit nurseries which specialize in
yamadori red and black pines. Particularly
impressive was the nursery of Mr Jong
Taek Lee, who raises numerous first-class
yamadori pines from field to mature
bonsai in pots. With field cultivated trees
more emphasis is placed on trunk and
REPORT
Bonsai Focus
79
The mayor of Gangneung, Choi Myeong-Hee, during
his opening speech
Rock planting of native red pines
rough branch development, but Mr Lee
takes it one step further and focuses on
fine branching. For partial stem or branch
thickening he uses remarkable sacrificial
branches. Some of them measure longer
than a meter. Also impressive are the
large yamadori pines, which are designed
as garden trees. Even arm-thick branches
were bent with masses of aluminium wire
and brought into the desired position.
In a special enclosure in the park live around 150
Asian black bears
Sae Won was right
At the day's end we visited the private
collection of Mr Jeong Tae Kim. Most of
his trees are yamadori quince bonsai.
On the day before, we had already seen
impressive quince bonsai, but Sae Won
Kim told us that we would see even more
astonishing specimens. And he was right.
Entering the gorgeous winter garden,
we stood before enormous quinces of
unprecedented maturity and quality.
The largest trees had a trunk diameter of
nearly one meter. With such a diameter
one usually expects large cut surfaces,
but with the decade-long care of Mr Jeong
Tae Kim no major wounds were visible.
Olympic fever
The next day we visited the anticipated
bonsai exhibition in Gangeneung that
was dedicated to the Winter Olympic
Games. The city describes itself as Pine
City, referencing the many red pines
here and throughout surrounding areas.
As part of the Winter Olympic Games
indoor activities, such as figure skating,
ice hockey, etc. took place in Gangneung.
The whole city was gripped by Olympic
fever. However, before we visited the
exhibition and its opening ceremony, we
had a very special lunch. When we were
all seated, the elderly, but very friendly
owner came and explained the food. As
The international Delegation with the founder of the Beartree Park, Mr Jae Yeon Lee. From left to right: Karen
Harkaway (President of the American Bonsai Society), Małgorzata Czerniachowski (PL), Jae Yeon, Lee, Glenis
Bebb (President of Bonsai Clubs International), Piotr Czerniachowski ( Akina Bonsai Centrum), Frank J. Mihalic
(Director BCI), Sae Won Kim (Korea Bonsai Farming Corporation), Lindsay Bebb (Chairman, World Bonsai
Friendship Federation), Herbert Obermayer (Bonsai Club Germany)
In the exhibition an indoor
garden with huge red pines
Entrance to the palace
complex, Ojukheon
80
REPORT
Bonsai Focus
Amazing old Korean hornbeam, Carpinus turczaninowii Hance
Impressive ramification of a clump style Carpinus turczaninowii Hance
Quince bonsai from the private collection of Mr Jeong
Tae Kim, who spent decades of care on his trees.
Left: Detail of a massive quince
A row of landscape and rock plantings
Sae Won translated, this extensive meal
and the particular dishes served used to
be reserved for the emperor only.
Pine fragrance
After the lunch it was time to go to the
opening ceremony of the exhibition for
which large greenhouses had been built.
Host of the exhibition was Gangneung´s
resident bonsai club, the Sol Hyang
Bonsai Club (Sol means pine and Hyang
stands for fragrance), echoing the motto
of the city. The ceremony was attended
by the mayor and other officials of the
city, as well as representatives of the local
Olympic Committee. First, all the guests
Part of the exhibition had been dedicated
of honour, including myself from Bonsai
to the landscape. The exhibit consisted
Focus, were presented. It was followed
of large and heavy stones, which were
by a speech from the mayor, who spoke
assembled and planted with a variety of
wearing the traditional Korean garment.
trees. Altogether, I was delighted with the
He was proud that international guests
quality of the displayed exhibits. Most
had found their way to this beautiful
of the trees showed an excellent level of
exhibition. Subsequently, prizes were
maturity and more than lived up to the
awarded, and the exhibition was officially
Gangneung World Bonsai Festival for the
opened. Bonsai Focus also presented a
Winter Olympics.
prize for Best Conifer.
All of us, as well as those responsible for
The exhibition displayed some large, very
the exhibition and the city officials, were
good quality red pines. In addition, many
invited to dinner, which concluded our
admirable Korean hornbeams and quince
beautiful and very special trip with its
of the very best quality were presented.
many impressive experiences.
REPORT
Bonsai Focus
The proud owner, Mr Jong Taek Lee, stands by one
of his garden trees
View of his nursery where he grows not only bonsai, but
also big garden trees
81
A wired tree. It's possible to bend very thick branches
and this is no problem for Mr Jong Taek Lee
Mr Seon Yong Lee, son
of the founder, and his
private collection at the
Beartree Park
Japanese maple along with
two native junipers
Acer palmatum
Above: Stewartia sinensis.
Below: Bizarre trees are seen in the
Beartree Park, like this native Korean
juniper
82
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NEXT ISSUE
Bonsai Focus
83
ISSUE:
153 / 176 - July / August
The secrets of Tokoname
Thor Holvilla was invited to work as a potter during his visit to
Tokoname.
Masterclass
Mauro Stemberger tackles a native pine with a looping trunk.
The moss garden
The amazing world of mosses.
Technique
Wiring is vital for shaping many trees. Master this skill yourself.
84
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Bonsai Focus
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adapted to Bonsaï plants.
Available at your
Bonsai specialist’s.
Register on our website and receive a
FREE Sample
This offer is valid from March 25th to
June 15th 2018, one subscription only
per person and per home address.
Tamahi Gold Organic 553+ :
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New trees are on-line now!
Acer palmatum Arakawa 60cm
€ 1.395,00
Pinus thunbergii 25cm
€ 395,00
Prunus mume 44cm
€ 695,00
Carpinus 22cm
€ 179,95
Prunus mume 20cm
€ 125,00
Jasminum nudiflorum
€ 325,00
Acer buergerianum 10cm
€ 175,00
Ilex serrata
€ 210,00
Jasminum nudiflorum
€ 225,00
Crataegus licht pink 26cm
€ 225,00
Pseudo cydonia 8cm
€ 110,00
Premna japonica 12cm
€ 225,00
Potinia (Kamatska) 15 cm
€ 179,95
Bonsai Focus subscribers: 10% discount
Quercus suber 22cm
€ 219,00
Juniperus chinesis, Itoigawa 27 cm
€ 1.250,00
Gardenia jasminoides 25cm
€ 395,00
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