Dan Yamins's Bonsai Blog

November 26, 2014

New website

Filed under: Uncategorized — dyamins @ 5:37 pm

Please have a look at my new website, at http://web.mit.edu/yamins/www.

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May 4, 2010

Japanese Black Pines

Filed under: Uncategorized — dyamins @ 12:26 am

Two years ago in 2008, Bonsai West (in Littleton, MA) obtained a large collection of reasonably-priced high-quality Japanese black pine (P. thunbergii) pre-bonsai from a retiring California-based bonsai-growing family of Japanese origin. In late April, 2010, I spent several hours going through the entire collection — perhaps 100 plants — and purchased the three trees that most appealed to me.

Tree 1:

Tree 2:

Tree 3:

For the current growing season, my goal is just to keep the trees healthy and learn their growth pattern, doing some late-season candling in June/July to encourage backbudding insofar as I can. Then, come November, I’ll probably decide on clearer goals for each tree, and do initial branch pruning and wiring.

May 3, 2010

Tamarack (small)

Filed under: Uncategorized — dyamins @ 10:06 pm

Tian picked out this small tamarack from Allshapes Bonsai in late April 2010:

It has nicely-curving branches — I’m planning to wait for her to return from Taiwan to see where to go with this tree (plus its quite small, probably too young to style yet).

Tamarack (medium-sized)

Filed under: Uncategorized — dyamins @ 10:03 pm

I purchased this tamarack (Larix laricina, aka “American Larch”) pre-bonsai from Allshapes Bonsai in late April, 2010:

I gave the tree a simple initial style to straighten out the branches and place them neatly. Currently, the tree is about 14″ tall, and the trunk is about 1/3″ in diameter. My plan with the tree is to keep it roughly in its current proportions but thicken the trunk to about 1″, ultimately producing a medium-large formal upright. This will probably entail planting in the ground next year before the growing season, and leaving it in the ground for at least several years.

May 2, 2010

Blue star juniper

Filed under: Uncategorized — dyamins @ 9:19 pm

Tian picked out this blue star juniper (juniperus squamata) for $5 at a small garden center near Lambertville, NJ. It has nice branch structure, though appeared to be in poor health:

We did an initial styling of it in mid-April 2010, but may have made some technical errors in the pruning (e.g. pruning too far back from the growing bud tips — this was the first juniper I’d worked on).

Here were the results, in May 2010:

Mystery conifer — my first styling

Filed under: Uncategorized — dyamins @ 8:57 pm

I picked up this conical conifer (probably a spruce) at a road-side farm stand in Pennsylvania. I liked the trunk, but of course had a lot of pruning to do.

Here were the results:


Honestly, I can tell the results are a bit weird. This was my first-ever tree styling, and it shows. Perhaps something a bit more aesthetic can be made of the tree in time.

Large Dwarf Alberta Spruce

Filed under: Uncategorized — dyamins @ 8:56 pm

In early March 2010, I purchased a striking 30″ dwarf Alberta spruce at Chase Rosade’s bonsai studio. Here’s the tree as it looked when I first got it:

The trunk is nice and thick, the foliage is luxuriant and dense, and the branch structure is generally good, though there was a branch gap in the rear.

In late April of 2010, I repotted the tree into an appropriately larger plain brown container, and wired the lower branches to open up the foliage and show the tree’s size properly. After the work, the front view is a little bit more “majestic” and the gap in the rear has been partially ameliorated:

The tree now needs to be cleaned up — which I’ll do as soon as this year’s shoots are ready for pruning, perhaps in early June.

Large Cork-bark Elm

Filed under: Uncategorized — dyamins @ 8:54 pm

I picked up this interesting broom-style cork-bark elm with three main trunk divisions at New England Bonsai Conservatory, in early March 2010:

I liked the trunk immensely, but felt that while the branch placement itself was good, the individual branches were mostly too upward pointing and straight. I decided to restyle to open up the tree and make its shape fuller:

Since opening up the crown of the tree and letting much more light in, the branches have been back-budding like crazy:

I’m mostly happy with the results, but of course need to have a lot of foliage growth in the crown to get to proper density. I’ve been pruning to achieve greater density, and my plan is to do this for a year, after which I’ll neaten things up. My ultimate goal is to make a tree with the elegance of the those I see every day in Madison Square park, along my walk to the office.

Large cedar of lebanon.

Filed under: Uncategorized — dyamins @ 8:52 pm

Here’s a comparatively large Cedar of lebanon (C. libani “green knight”) I purchased from Martin Viette in March 2010. The tree had a long single branch curving upward (it was hard to capture in a single image):

I decided to turn the upward-curving branch 180 degrees, making a semi-cascade. Since the branch in question was fairly thick, I needed extremely strong stuff (gauge 4 copper write, from Home Depot) to achieve the bend. Here’s how the results looked a couple of weeks after the work was done — lots of new budding occurring in the right places:

Large Japanese White Pine

Filed under: Uncategorized — dyamins @ 8:50 pm

Here is a comparatively large Japanese white pine (P. parviflora “arakawa”) that I purchased from Martin Viette nursery on March 19th, 2010.

After seeing what Chase Rosade did to my small white pines, I decided to be just as bold with the large one, and took off the top 1/2 of the tree, as well as large portions of too-long lower branches:

Small Cork-Bark Chinese Elm

Filed under: Uncategorized — dyamins @ 8:47 pm

Here is a small cork-bark Chinese Elm (U. parvifolia “neri”) that I purchased from Bonsai of Brooklyn, in February 2010.

I gave the tree a light styling in May 2010, mostly just leaf pruning and wring some branches into better places:

Small Cedar of Lebanon

Filed under: Uncategorized — dyamins @ 8:44 pm

Here is a small cedar of lebanon (Cedrus libani “green prince”) that I purchased at Martin Viette nursery on March 19th, 2010.

I subsequently gave this tree a simple first styling, removing the top 4″ of growth and wiring the trunk and some side branches. Here’s how the tree looked in May 2010:

Japanese Maple

Filed under: Uncategorized — dyamins @ 8:40 pm

Here is a Japanese Maple (Acer Palmatum “ukigomo”) that I purchased at Martin Viette nursery on March 19th, 2010.

As Spring arrived, I did a little wiring and leaf pruning. Here’s the tree in May 2010:

My goal for the tree is to keep it comparatively small and elegant — I want to thicken up the trunk a bit, perhaps to 1″ or so, perhaps a little more, but not too much — with well-delineated branch structure, about 15″-20″ in height.

2010/05/11: Pruning leaves, especially at apex to prevent over-dominant apex. Also began wiring a bit more to encourage better branch placement. I’m thinking of planting this tree in the garden next spring, for a few years, to achieve my 1″ trunk goal. Just read Peter Adams’ “Bonsai With Japanese Maple”.

Little Dwarf Alberta Spruce

Filed under: Uncategorized — dyamins @ 8:37 pm

Here is a three-year-old Dwarf Alberta Spruce that I purchased at New England Bonsai Conservatory in March 2010. This photo shows the tree after a repotting that I did a week after buying the tree.


My plan with this tree to grow it slowly over the next 5 years into a rounded conical shape, about 15″ high, with a roughly 1″ diameter trunk, and well-developed sparse branches.

Fukien Tea Tree

Filed under: Uncategorized — dyamins @ 8:30 pm

Here are various photos of a Fukien Tea Tree (Ehretia Buxifolia, or Carmona Microphylla) that I purchased from Brooklyn Bonsai in February, 2010.

After purchase, I began placed it in a sunny corner of my home  — the plan being to keep it there until the weather improved to point where it could be moved outside.   When I first purchased the tree (for about $200) it looked to be in great health.   However, after several weeks, the tree began to shed leaves, and acquired a nasty aphid infestation.   Over the next few months the tree shed most of its leaves and has gone through several additional infestations.

Here’s how the tree looked on May 2, 2010:

Hinoki Cypress

Filed under: Uncategorized — dyamins @ 8:25 pm

In mid-March 2010, I purchased a dwarf hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa “nana gracilis”) at Martin Viette nursery on March 19th, 2010.   Like most garden center hinokis, the tree is very bush-like and has multiple comparatively thin branches — but happily, it does not have the typical ugly graft at the root base.

I gave the tree an initial styling on May 1, 2010.  Here it is just after the work was done:

Mugo Pine

Filed under: Uncategorized — dyamins @ 8:21 pm

This is a medium-sized Mugo Pine (Pinus mugus “gnom”) that I purchased from martin Viette nursery on March 19th, 2010.  

Close-up. Note the well-developed trunk (though there is an ugly graft).

I gave the tree an initial styling, taking off about %80 of its foliage.   This is how it looked on May 2, 2010, a week after the styling:

Obviously it’s quite far from being a bonsai, but hopefully something will come of it over time.

Two small Pinus Parviflora “ibo-can”

Filed under: Uncategorized — dyamins @ 8:17 pm

Here are two small Japanese white pines that I purchased from Martin Viette on March 19th, 2010.

Tree 1:

In the above photo, you can see that the lowest needle group is not Japanese white pine — instead, those are needles from eastern white pine (P. strobus), which must have been the root stock on which this tree was grafted.

Tree 2:

The plants were subsequently branch-pruned by Chase Rosade.  With a few quick cuts, he took off the top 1/2 – 2/3 of each tree. These is how the results look (early May , 2010):

Two small Ulmus parvifolia “yatsubusa”

Filed under: Uncategorized — dyamins @ 8:05 pm

I purchased two three-year old Chinese elms (Ulmus parvifolia “yatsubusa”) in mid-March 2010. Front views:

Close-ups:

I repotted both trees and did some initial branch pruning in late April, 2010.

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