• Sunday, January 19th, 2014

The Joy of Bonsai – yes. It is the name of a great “show” put on by the Kawa Bonsai Society in Bunnell in mid-January where Orlando Bonsai is a vendor selling our tools and supplies. There are great speakers such as Sean Smith, Mike Rogers and others giving demonstrations and workshops, and there is an outstanding exhibit.

But the Joy of bonsai is also the great feeling one gets when working (playing) with bonsai. It’s a passion that evokes the emotions one feels when the tree responds with new growth, flowers, fruit or when the wire comes off and the desired movement is achieved. Or when a new root or branch grows in just the right place. Or when the newly repotted tree looks just perfect in its new pot. When new leaves burst out after winter, there is a certain joy that brings a smile to our lips. On days when it may be hard to find a little joy because of life getting in the way, it might be a good day to work with our bonsai and let a little joy in. Or maybe a lot! Find your passion and feel the joy — The Joy of Bonsai.


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• Friday, July 19th, 2013

Not talking about what happens at the friendly neighborhood bar… This is about remembering to take before and after photographs of your bonsai as well as the work in progress so you and your bonsai friends can feel adequately impressed after all the work (er… drinking) is done. Well, maybe not done as in finished since the growing continues but you can always take follow up pix too.  Taking photos help you to remember what the tree used to look like, to really LOOK at your tree, to see things that can be improved, to remember what you planned to do next, gives you a journal for future reference on similar trees, and either make you humble or give you bragging rights.  Heck, you might even enter a photo in a contest or use it for an exhibit entry. Most of all, the pictures help you to learn about the tree.  I don’t have a fancy camera so I use my phone and the pictures are only adequate right now and usually just make me humble.  So here are a few humble photos of two very different trees I worked on recently.

This is how it looked when purchased.  Lots of foliage, branches to choose from, healthy looking and look at those small leaves – sweet!

Dwarf Ligustrum – Before


Below is a close up shot. You can almost see the original outline of the tree before all the outrageous, straight up growth!

Dwarf Ligustrum – before – close up

Below is the tree after the first styling.  Definitely starting to look like the makings of a bonsai.  Will let it grow in the pot for a year to increase the trunk size.  These trees make nice little forests too. Needs a little tweaking yet and will find a nice pot for it before next year.  Have to remember to take OFF the WIRE!  The photo file date will help with that.  Time to set a reminder!

Dwarf Ligustrum – first styling

Here’s the Ficus Microcarpa that was worked on last summer – see where the lower branches were tied down.  Also used a wedge cut to lower the upward tilt of the two lowest branches to a downward angle.

Ficus Microcarpa – before second styling

Ficus Microcarpa – post defoliation

Brother can you spare a leaf? (Sorry – bad recession joke).  It was best to defoliate to see the branches and when repotting.  The leaves will sprout quickly; especially since it is a ficus.

Ficus – defoliated

It’s been less than a week and the new leaves are already sprouting!  Lots more branch pruning to be done then it can go into a pot.

After some drastic root cutting, I like the banyan-style in the new home. A few branches and banyan roots need adjusting but it’s coming along nicely and the new growth is already starting one week later. The new angle in pot is helping the bar branch look and next year, we will be able to maximize the angle after the roots adjust.


• Monday, June 24th, 2013
    1. Bonsai is global. Friends are world-wide.
    2. Bonsai is beautiful. Beauty is priceless.
    3. Bonsai Trees give off oxygen. People need oxygen to breathe.
    4. Bonsai teaches us. Knowledge is important.
    5. Bonsai is art. Art is enlightening.
    6. Bonsai is living art. It keeps on giving.
    7. Bonsai attracts people. Being social is healthy.
    8. Bonsai is nature. Nature is good.
    9. Bonsai provides an outlet. People need outlets.
    10. Bonsai is creative yet structured. Good for right and left sides of the brain.

If you want to add reasons to the list, go to Orlando Bonsai’s FaceBook page and add more.


Enjoy Bonsai!


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• Monday, May 06th, 2013

Not sure about you, but we’ve been pretty busy here at Orlando Bonsai so far this spring.  Filling orders, doing paperwork and tax reports, preparing soil.  Re-doing the pond, weeding, trimming trees. Fertilizing, insect maintenance, acquiring new trees, selling trees. Attending bonsai meetings, demonstrations and garden shows, visiting suppliers, and volunteering at Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Show.  Help, I need a time out! Of course, there was National Grilled Cheese Day, and a mini time out for a grilled cheese lunch. Yummy! And we did go see a movie – another mini time out. That was fun!

Have you been busy? Need a time out too?  Come join Orlando Bonsai from May 24 – 27 at the 2013 Bonsai Societies of Florida (BSF) Annual Convention to be held in sunny Lake Mary, FL at the Mariott. It will feature bonsai artist, Suthin Sukosolvisit with Sean Smith and Michael Feduccia teaching workshops and demonstrations. Orlando Bonsai will be selling bonsai tools and supplies in the vendor area.  And also check out the Exhibit area for a beautiful display of bonsai by many Florida artists. For more info, go to the BSF web site, www.bonsai-bsf.com.

…Back to working in the bonsai garden. The fastest ways to a great bonsai:  start with good stock, take a good look at the roots, pick a front, pick the apex (top of tree), cut the correct branches, trim hard – trim early, proper maintenance, trim new growth, and pay attention! Nutshell version:  do the right things at the right time! How do you know what the right things are?  1. Education. Read a book, join a club, go online, ask questions, find a mentor, take a class. 2. Experiment scientifically.  For example, cut a secondary branch, take a picture, journal it (date, tree name, photo, notes, etc.) wait for new growth, see where the new growth occurs, look back at your picture to see the difference.  Soon you will learn the growth habits of that tree. By the way, the fastest way to a great bonsai takes time. Is that an oxymoron? Or just buy a good-looking tree in a pot and then maintain it. That’s pretty fast! Either way, it is worth it.

Aspiring bonsai enthusiasts often ask “How do I know which branch to cut”? Well, it takes a little time and sometimes a mistake or two, but there are some general guidelines to help.  If a branch is growing straight down, typically you would cut it off. If a branch is growing on the inside curve, it should come off.  Look at the picture of the branch I took off with standard concave cutters from an inside curve. It’s a little fuzzy but you can get the idea. Another guideline is to avoid bar branches – branches directly across from each other. Notice the branch I was about to cut off was also a bar branch and there is another branch directly above it that has secondary bar branches so I cut one of them off too. There are other guidelines to learn as you go.

Inside Curve cut

The right tool is needed for the right job. Four tools I use all the time are standard concave cutters, shears, wire cutters and tweezers. And there are lots of other great tools that really come in handy and some that are more specialized. Feel free to send an inquiry to sandy@orlandobonsai.com if you are unsure what tool is needed or how to use it.

So take a TIME OUT! After ‘working’ in the garden, get a refreshing beverage of your choice,  sit back and ENJOY your bonsai.