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Big, Big Bonsai and Small Ones Too
August 17, 2017

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Big, Big Bonsai

When I began creating bonsai, I was taught "real bonsai" couldn't be over 3 feet tall. Later I learned about Dai bonsai, up to 40 inches (101.5 cm)in height. (Just a few inches taller.) Then, I began to see references to the Imperial size, 60-80" (152-203 cm.)

Years later, introduction of the internet had an impact on everything, including the bonsai world.

Although they are often called by different names, we can now see "bonsai" from China, Korea, Europe, Australia, South American, Thailand and even tropical islands, with unfamiliar names.
This picture of Chase and Solita Rosade in Thailand is a good example of how very large bonsai are appreciated in some countries.

Below is Bill Valavanis in China checking out a pretty big tree also ... way beyond even the Imperial size.

Now that's some pine!

(Note: It's tiny, but if you look closely you can see a gun-toting guard (soldier?)in the top right corner of the photo.)

Many countries have different names of sizes and "rules" for their trees in a container, but in essence they are still replicas of trees they are familiar with. Some seem to especially enjoy big bonsai. I suspect there are still those who do not consider these "real bonsai."

Wikipedia describes bonsai as "small trees that mimic the shape and style of mature, full-size trees" grown in pots. I guess the question is how small?

Next is one of my favorite photos.

Kunio Kobayashi is a Japanese bonsai master and has created the exquisite Shunkaen Bonsai Museum in Tokyo, Japan for the world to enjoy. This photo of him climbing in a Chinese "bonsai" proves he must also have a wonderful sense of adventure!

U.S. National
Shohin Bonsai Exhibition

Speaking of tree size, the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, North Carolina recently hosted the 1st U.S. National Shohin Bonsai Exhibition. (June 23-25, 2017)

I have no doubt this will become an annual favorite. There were 30 exhibitors this year and almost 200 shohin and other small bonsai.

This photo is from Bill Valavanis' posting of the event. From the background, you may recognize the venue is also the home annual Winter Silhouette Bonsai Expo ... coming again soon.

BonsaiMary Gets Mail

Pete L. - Mountain Home, Arkansas
Can you recommend a monthly or bi-monthly Bonsai magazine that would be beneficial for beginners?

Response: To be honest, I haven't been keeping up with the current bonsai magazines. However, I will post your question in the next issue of Bonsai Banter and see if some of my readers have some suggestions to share. OK Banter readers, give Pete your magazine recommendation! Send it to me and your responses will be published in the next issue.

Dave Piemme - NE Georgia
I was just reading your article about how the summer heat can stress your bonsai. One thing I think people may not be aware of is just how hot a bonsai tree can actually get when it is sitting in the full summer sun even for just a few hours ... I think the photo I've attached drives the point home pretty well!

Response:Dave, you're right. Most people have no idea! ... Thanks so much. Notice the air temp was only 87 F, here in Mount Dora Fl, it's been in the 90s F!

John K -
I'm loving this information! As a new enthusiast (just 5 years in, with only a few plants older than 10), this is extremely valuable information from seasoned experts. Plus a little Bonsai porn like these images always gets my "xylem flowing", as it were. THANKS!!

Response: Glad to hear we can keep you excited about bonsai!

Drew L - The Villages, FL
Just wanted to drop you a few photos of my mini Japanese bonsai garden. I belong to the Villages bonsai club... Enjoy your banter e/mails tremendously...

Response. - Thank you Drew. It's always fun to see how others are displaying their bonsai. Looks like you have a small place, but have managed to have several favorites. I can tell you enjoy them!

Until Next Month

As I was writing this issue of the Banter, I saw a blog posting that said "With the repotting season just starting ..."

Before you start root pruning, keep in mind summer in one part of the world, means it's winter in another.

There are very few general comments on bonsai care that apply to everyone!

Repotting depends on more than the month. Where do you live? What species of tree are you planning to repot? How long has it been in the container?

Enjoy your bonsai, and don't be afraid to ask questions!


Mary Miller

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