Message from the Editor

Message from the Editor

There have been many times throughout my bonsai journey when it was difficult to create better bonsai trees no matter how hard I tried. These were periods of stagnation and set backs, largely due to the difficulty, if not impossibility, of finding good teachers and mentors in my region.


Another reason for my lack of progress is not spending enough time practising. An old Papua New Guinea proverb states, “Knowledge is rumor until it lives in the muscle.” Knowing about the proper wiring techniques is one thing, properly wiring a tree and making it look beautiful is another. We learn how to apply wire by watching others, whether it is a formal lecture or a casual demonstration. Applying this knowledge to our bonsai requires hours of mindful practise so that we can experience for ourselves all the nuances and strategies for using wire to set and bend branches. Another ancient proverb states, “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.”  

The two proverbs are very similar; they both argue for the value of learning by doing. However, achieving excellence in any endeavour requires a balance of the two; learning and doing. In this issue of Bonsai & Stone Appreciation we take care of the first step by presenting a variety of articles by noted professionals that will contribute to your knowledge of bonsai and help you create better trees. This is your opportunity to read, study, get some inexpensive starter trees and practise, practise, practise.


Our feature article is by bonsai artist Jian-Liang Chen who cultivates Juniperus chinensis to look like thousand-year old wild Juniperus squamata from the mountains of Taiwan using a variety of techniques such as stripping the bark to create natural looking deadwood effects. Massimo Bandera explains in detail the Yamadori technique and the steps required to successfully harvest and transform wild Araki into works of bonsai art. Danilo Scursatone explains the process and bonsai techniques to restore the wild form to a Juniperus sabina that expresses its true nature. Danilo also introduces us to the charming Wisteria and how to care for this flowering and fragrant bonsai. Adam Johnson from the Rocky Mountain Bonsai Society and I teamed up to introduce you to two websites that are using the latest technology to deliver superb bonsai education. These two sites are helping us make better bonsai.  

For those of us with little or no access to wild trees suitable for bonsai or without the time to create a masterpiece bonsai, Glenis Bebb reports on a book by BCI Vice President Nikunj Parekh and coauthors Jyoti Parekh and Chand Kejriwal where the authors discuss how inexpensive nursery-grown trees and shrubs can be combined with rocks and other elements to create expressive and poetic Saikei plantings.


Paul Gilbert shares with us his love of viewing stones that offer a calming and meditative experience. Jerry Meislik, introduces us to a tropical resort with a world-class bonsai collection in a tranquil and relaxing atmosphere where you can chill out on your next holiday. Gudrun Benz reports on the winners of the Noelanders Trophy—beautifully photographed trees and stones that represent the results of knowledge, experience and practice.  
—Joe Grande, Canada (editor@bonsai-bci.com)