Tony R At Work

A really cool technique. Check it out!


I would say recently of course, but twenty five years ago doesn’t really work. Tony had a BBC video converted recently to digital, and personally I found it quite fascinating to watch his amazing techniques.

Quarter of a century later Tony is still making beautiful pots, so please don’t hesitate to have a look through his current selection. Go directly to his site HERE.

Anyway, the point of my post was to share the digital video. So here it is in all its glory.

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A ride in the river valley

Yesterday afternoon I took a ride in the river valley just to get a little one on one with nature. It was perfect. What’s not perfect is that I was hoping to place a sound clip in this post so you could hear the forest I was in and look at the pictures to feel like you were there. Alas, I guess that it is time to upgrade to a domain. So, just a heads up to my readers, that is on the horizon. I’m hoping that you will continue to follow my blog as it will be powered by wordpress but be a separate entity. This way I can still use the interface and see all of your blogs which I love so much!

This is the trail where I ride.


Funky tree along the trail.


Some wild flowers growing along the ditches.


A beautiful twin trunk white paper birch growing majestically in the middle of the forest.


The tailing ponds sponsored by Ducks Unlimited Canada.



These trails and ponds are an old forest. It is hard to tell since birch do not live very long before falling over. The forest bed is covered with old trunks that have fallen over the years. Scientists still have not figured out why birch only last 60 – 80 years. Observations have been made that these trees can die in groups also levelling whole forests. It is still beautiful and I do appreciate how the city has worked hard to preserve the river valley .

Thanks for reading! If you liked this, check out some of my other posts and please follow my blog! Enjoy the rest of your sundays!

We are freaked out

This is quite amazing. A little creepy but so incredible.


Series of Hyperrealistic Sculptures by artist Ron Mueck. The works in the realm of the ultra-real where he spends hundreds of hours perfecting the shape of the human form, the appropriate color of skin, and the most realistic hair texture.Series of Hyperrealistic Sculptures by artist Ron Mueck. The works in the realm of the ultra-real where he spends hundreds of hours perfecting the shape of the human form, the appropriate color of skin, and the most realistic hair texture.Series of Hyperrealistic Sculptures by artist Ron Mueck. The works in the realm of the ultra-real where he spends hundreds of hours perfecting the shape of the human form, the appropriate color of skin, and the most realistic hair texture.Series of Hyperrealistic Sculptures by artist Ron Mueck. The works in the realm of the ultra-real where he spends hundreds of hours perfecting the shape of the human form, the appropriate color of skin, and the most realistic hair texture.Series of Hyperrealistic Sculptures by artist Ron Mueck. The works in the realm of the ultra-real where he spends hundreds of hours perfecting the shape of the human form, the appropriate color of skin, and the most realistic hair texture.

Series of Hyperrealistic Sculptures by artist Ron Mueck. The works in the realm of the ultra-real where he spends hundreds of hours perfecting the shape of the human form, the appropriate color of skin, and the most realistic hair texture.

Photos by Thomas Salva courtesy Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain

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Muscari kusamono

Good morning everyone! It’s so beautiful out this morning. The smell of fresh rain is in the air and the dew drops are out in full force. A while back when I posted about Remaining Picea glaucathe people I took the last of the trees from also had some interesting bell type wild flower growing in their front yard. After commenting on them I was urged to take them as they seemed more of a nuisance to them. They stem from a bulb like root and I thought they would make a perfect kusamono to one of my conifers. They are called Muscari, more commonly “Grape Hyacinth”. They prefer acidic to neutral soil, grow well in shaded areas and bloom early in spring. You can see why they would accent a conifer well. It would also have significant meaning to me personally if I used these flowers as kusamono with the trees that were gifted to me to remind me of the people I got them from. 


Sorry this image is kind of blurry. I threw the two I got into some potting soil and I’m hoping they will come back next year, maybe if I am lucky I will have a second flush of growth this season and I will get to see these beautiful flowers once again.


Maybe I’ll cultivate these under our large spruce we have in the yard, I’ve been looking for something to put there. Have a good week!


Cotoneaster dammeri nursery stock

Today I went out on the hunt for Cotoneaster dammeri that I’ve been looking for for the past two weeks. Wal mart of all places had the largest stock plants I could find so I picked myself up one.


This cotoneaster was severely root bound so I used up the last of my soil I prepared for this season and repotted it. Initially I wanted to root prune it back hard but I can’t yet. It needs another couple of years before I can get it into a pot. The trunk is very well developed and I am looking forward to watching it produce berries in the fall. Hopefully it will although I am somewhat doubtful since I pruned it back quite hard. We will see. After some pruning and a repot it’s already on it’s way.


Remaining Picea glauca

If you recall last summer I posted about 5 sad little trees that a friend of mine had along the side of his driveway. My plan was to transplant two in the fall and the remaining this spring. Over the winter I was in contact with Peter Tea and he gave me some great recommendations. His thoughts were to get the trees out of the ground and into grow boxes as soon as possible and to trim away any dead material to open the tree up to air and light and possibly get some back-budding going. The two that I took in the fall of last year had to go back into the ground because I simply did not have big enough grow boxes. As well, they were probably the two that were in the worst shape which is why I chose them first. You can read more about those here.

This weekend I had the chance to take the rest of the trees. Two small ones and one big one which had the most growth and seemed to be in the best health. After carefully observing all of them, I came to the conclusion that this was not going to be an easy journey. All trees were weak and suffering from some sort of scale which I will have to treat later on this season.

This one is in a little worse shape than it’s twin. However there is some back budding that I see going on. It’s like it knew I was coming to get it in the spring and got all excited and decided to back bud to look its best. 😀 You think I’m crazy but trees are people too!


Not sure if you can see the little flashes of green but thats the back budding that is going on. My guess is that the tree will either bud more or stop budding from the transplant. If I’m lucky and treat it carefully this summer we might see this again next year.


It’s also got a nice thick trunk on it. My guess is that these two trees are 8-9 years of age.


This tree is in better shape. Upon first glance it is a twin trunk that turns triple. I’d imagine in the future once it is strong enough I will be reducing it back to two. It also is back budding and hopefully will perform well this year. I would put it at about 8-9 years as well, although it is hard to tell because of the multi-trunk.


t8 T4

So that’s those ones.


The last of the five trees is this one. This tree is probably about 15 – 20 years old. The trunk is about 3 inches in thickness.


l6 l5

At some point this tree back budded at the trunk creating this multi trunk configuration around one main trunk. The main trunk is mostly dead with some old growth about half way down from the apex. As you can see the tallest pads of growth are slightly brown, these are growing highest up on the main trunk. Any suggestions on what I should do about these multi trunks?

After pruning back most of the dead wood you can also start to see this trees potential to be a truly great bonsai. This tree has truly tested my phobia of spiders, since I started working on it Sunday morning, I probably squished about 30 spiders by the end of the day. Some dangling down in front of my face, some crawling up my tools or down the branches I’ve got a grip of. Yuk! Yuk! Yuk! Needless to say I scrubbed this puppy clean with some soapy water and a soft toothbrush.

After pruning a full garbage bag of dead material off, I also decided to do some initial styling with guy wires.

l3 l4

I really like the contrast between the dead wood and the flash of green that makes up the new growth. Just a tip if you are going to collect conifers in the spring, do it just before the new growth has fully come out. If you are going to prune don’t prune any live parts of the tree until fall and until you know the tree is strong enough to handle it. When I began pruning these trees, the way I gauged where the tree was still alive was if I had pruned an area and seen sap flow, I know that is where I needed to stop. For this large tree it was about half way down the trunk. The two smaller trees were a lot harder since they had both dead and alive branches all over. So watch for sap flow.

Another thing to consider is styling and wiring should typically be done in the fall/winter. In my case I styled a little bit with guy wires, not for aesthetic reasons but to open the tree up and let light in to promote back budding. Since the new growth is so vigorous and the tree is weakened, I didn’t want to prune away any new growth. By pulling the pads down, I was able to allow light and airflow through the tree.

About a month from now I will start to lightly fertilize to gain strength. Come fall, I will spend extensive time wiring and will leave the wire on for a considerable amount of time. Picea glauca is very stubborn. Their branches are practically rubber and will take several years to set. Yes yes, I know what you are thinking. These are the “trap trees” of bonsai. To be perfectly honest with you, what else have I got to grow up here in zone 3b, work with me here. Peter seems to think they have some potential so I’m not giving up!

Thanks to all of you for reading, I would love more advice on these trees and suggestions so please feel free to let me know what you think!!!

Hit the jackpot

This weekend, by recommendation from one of my local readers, I ventured out to a great little garden centre on the other side of the city called Apache Seeds Ltd. On first glance the business looks as though it has been here many years and has that comforting musky smell of vegetables and soil. The real reason I went there was not for the character or personable staff but rather the pots! Bonsai pots all over the place! I struck a gold mine! They’ve got the largest collection of pots for sale than any other business in Edmonton.


I ended up picking up two pots. This one that I fell in love with because of it’s taper and low profile.


and this one because I just couldn’t help myself. Just thought I throw some moss I had that has been needing a home.


I love moss. Thanks for reading 🙂

Alberta Forest Week May 5-11, 2013

This week our province is celebrating Alberta Forest Week promoted by the Office of Environment Sustainable Resource and Development (ESRD). Thanks to one of my readers I did not know about this until yesterday. Suffusive to say, i’ll be recognizing this week from now on. The week is actually centered around Arbour Day. This year the Canadian Forestry Association and the Canadian Institute of Forestry have named Whitecourt the 2013 National Forest Capital of Canada in recognition of the region’s thriving forestry sector. Also in anticiaption of Alberta Forest Week this year, close to 70,000 tree seedlings have been delivered to Grade One students throughout the province of Alberta. A long standing tradition for the province that teaches our children about the importance of our dwindling forests and pollution. Back when I was in grade one, I receive one of these trees as well and is now over 25 feet tall. The first week I planted it my dad ran it over with the lawn mower, I don’t know how it survived but it did and grew into a beautiful tree.

If you haven’t already gone to ESRD Main office to pick up some trees, you can still do so. My co worker and I hopped on the train yesterday and headed down town where I was able to take home with me up to 15 sapling trees total. I gifted three White Paper birch and the others I planted last night.



This year trees that the ESRD are promoting are; siberian larch, scotch pine, blue spruce, white paper birch and limber pine which is endangered here in Alberta. I am particularly exctied about the siberian larch since they make fantastic bonsai as well, the limber pine because it is endangered as well it will also make an excellent bonsai and eventually become somewhat of a rarity.

Siberian Larch (Tamarack) – Larix sibirica


Scotch Pine – Pinus sylvestris


Blue Spruce – Picea pungens


Limber Pine – Pinus flexilis




For now they will call the ground home until they mature big enough to go into a grow box. I’ve panted each ~ 15 centimetres apart since they will only stay here for a couple of years. I’m not concerned of crowding sine all of these are incredibly resilient. Ever since I began bonsai the formal upright pine has always caught my eye. That is what I will be doing with these. Anyways, you don’t have to live in Alberta to celebrate forest week, if the area you live in does not recognize such a holiday, plant a tree for me and appreciate all that the worlds forests do for us. Thanks for reading!

This calls for a celebration

For the past year and a half I have been writing this blog. Many of you have shown your interest and I thank you sincerely. The main focus of this blog as you know is bonsai.

Up until recently, I felt like I was really alone up here in my igloo braving the cold harsh canadian winter, growing trees by myself, trying to adapt trees to a climate that seems almost impossible. The way that I look at it though is like this. If trees grow here, so can bonsai. Then I tried it, and my trees grew and that ladies and gentlemen shows that you don’t need to be in the UK, British Columbia, Florida or any other place that sees beautiful weather year round to grow a successful bonsai.

Just recently I received an email from a gentleman living here in Edmonton and then just yesterday I received another email from another individual living here in Edmonton! I’m not sure if it’s just the spring air or if my blog is finally making something of itself but I have to say I feel a little proud of myself for reaching out. Edmonton really is a beautiful city and with all of the new developments going on (arena, bridges, etc.) it makes for a decent place to live for the middle of the prairies surrounded buy nothing.

arena_exterior_west_430x260 Downtown-Skyline-Edmonton-Alberta-Canada-01A

Anyways, I guess all I am really trying to say is that I always appreciate feedback from others. A big thank you to my locals but also a big thank you to all of the other bonsai blogs out there in the world. It is because of you that we can all talk to each other and it is a big reason why I am learning so much. If I was a millionaire I would start a nursery and fly experts in from all over the world to showcase their work and teach. I’m not a millionaire though, so I’ll just keep writing my blog and keep doing what I am doing. With a few more friends now. 🙂

Trembling aspen update

**Just a quick correction, Quaking Aspen is also and more commonly referred to as Trembling Aspen. 

A couple weeks ago I posted an article about my recent collection of the aspen I have added to my collection. Since that time, it has started budding and has really shown vigour despite changing it’s growth conditions drastically. A windswept harsh cliffside environment was it’s previous locale and now it is in a grow box in my yard in different soil with almost no organic properties and probably getting more water and attention than it ever did. It really likes the full sun which goes well with the new bonsai bench I wrote about in my previous post to you.

I just wanted to update you all on it’s progress and report to you that it is doing quite well. It has taken to the shock thus far although it is quite early to tell anything. The buds have flourished and with all the nice weather we’ve been having, I can only imagine it’s going to do really well over the next couple days. I’m going to keep it’s windswept style, it will just be a little more manicured.

This is it saturday morning before the heat.



This is it sunday evening tucking it in before bed.


This is it Monday evening when I got home from work. It was very warm out, 30 Celsius; plenty for the leaves to open up. Time to let it grow like crazy and I’ll do some minor styling later on this year. I’ll remind you that we are having an unusually warm spring, I wouldn’t be surprised if it snows soon.

“Trembling Aspen” Populus tremuloides – May 2013