Although Bonsai is a millennia old art-form, it would take until the early 17th century for Westerners to discover these miniature creations on their voyages to Asia. And only at several world expositions held in the late 19th century was the art introduced to the general public.

Most of the techniques, specialized tools and styles we know and appreciate today were developed in Japan. For decades most of the trees found at European and American shows were imported Japanese trees. But with the art of Bonsai maturing and the skill-levels of Western artists ever increasing, chances are you will see 'local' trees win the main shows.

In this article we showcase two recent, all European, winning trees. A Juniper and a Pinus Sylvestris. Both are stunning trees and we are very thankful for the support of both owners to supply us with photos of the progression of both trees. Enjoy these inspirational stories!

 

 

European Bonsai; a Juniperus Sabina

Photos and text by Gabriel Romero

The Juniper was collected in Spain (see the title photo above) in April 2006 by its owner and my student, Francesc Vilaret. In March 2008 I asked for help to transplant the tree because of its large size. We transplanted it from a wooden container to a terracotta pot and removed all the original soil from the field.

The tree grew well and in March 2012 the owner brought the tree to my workshop for the first arrangement of branches and the live vein. In Feb of 2013 it was transplanted in its first bonsai pot.

In February of 2015 he brought it back to me to make the second arrangement of branches and to continue work on the live vein. In April of 2017 it was transplanted again to a larger pot to increase the vigor of the tree. And in October of 2017 I made the third arrangement of branches and change to final pot; a Yamaaki container imported from Japan.

 

Bonsai san show

A year after collecting the tree is placed in a wooden container (2007), and some work on the deadwood has been done

 

Fertilizer covers

The tree was planted in a smaller container in 2008

Liquid Bonsai fertilizer

March 2012; first mayor styling is done

 

Bonsai san show

This is in 2015, work continued on refining the structure and improve the deadwood features.

 

Fertilizer covers

Before work on the deadwood

Liquid Bonsai fertilizer

After

 

Bonsai san show

 

Bonsai san show

October 2017, the tree was Best of show at the Bonsai San event: Juniperus Sabina by Francesç Vilaret, work by Gabriel Romero.

 

 

European Bonsai; Pinus Sylvestris

Photos and text by Andres Alvarez Iglesias

Originally the tree was collected in the French Alps, around 2006. The pine was worked on by Jorge Campos since 2007; he cultivated the tree and made its main design. 

The most important work was to compact the tree, but retaining its creative form and character. After the main compacting was ready, around 2013, the tree was purchased by Andres. Since 2014 he worked on the final shape and optimized its care to get fine needles: “I think is very important to have a balanced tree and not only a beautiful tree”. It was planted in a Yamaki (first generation) Bonsai container, imported specifically for this tree from Japan.

 

Bonsai san show

The tree some years after collection, not much work has been done yet.

 

 

Fertilizer covers

Compacting the tree, by bending the main branches

Liquid Bonsai fertilizer

Compacting...

 

Bonsai san show

After the main design work has been done, this photo was made around 2013.

 

Bonsai san show

 

Bonsai san show

The tree in October 2017, Best of Show at the Bonsai San event (as well as best evolution, best artist and best conifer). The Pinus Sylvestris by Andres Alvarez Iglesias, also worked on earlier by Jorge Campos.