Black Pine Traditional Styling Critique Background

Hi Mirai members - I own the JBP used in the recent critique and have some background for those who are interested. I purchased the tree from Michael Levin at Bonsai West - a great guy with a fantastic garden - I highly recommend stopping by if you find yourselves in the northeast - in August of 2014. It had been with another client and was kind of let go style-wise.

A visiting Japanese bonsai pro by the name of Crazy gave it it’s first styling in March of 2015.JBP Crazy initial style March 2015 After working with it for a year with no coherent knowledge of handling JBP (pre-Mirai for me obviously) a Japanese master named Akio Kondo came to the US in August of 2016 and re-styled it, including removing 2 main branches from the apical region that were causing structural issues. After joining Mirai in 2017 I executed decandling and shoot selection Mirai-style and the tree began to come into focus. I handed it off to Ryan at the National in 2018 so he could drive it back to Mirai so I could fly out and work on it with him. We slightly changed the potting angle and did more structural work. Finally after the Ryan restyle and repot. Hope this is useful to you all.


It is a monumental piece of work that displays your dedication. It just makes me happy when I look at it.

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Thanks Les - I am trying to improve all of my trees and Mirai has been a monumental game-changer. Before I joined I floundered around trying to make sense of a bunch of different and conflicting black pine techniques/methodologies and it was just not working. Ryan distills it down into something effective and repeatable.


You ARE preaching to the choir Bob!
I have not lucked into a good Japanese black pine.
All my pines are better now, though.
The inclusion of organic fertilizer IS part of the method!
Best money Ive ever spent on bonsai…My wife thinks of it as a cheap date…

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I was a liquid chemical fertilizer guy before Mirai. It was hard mentally to make the change since I had such control. I would rotate Miracle Gro, Miracid, Peter’s and fish emulsion using a siphon system. There is much truth to the notion that vigor had health are different things.

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You NEED to listen to the third Ian n Ryan fertilizing podcast…

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I am in the middle of it–fascinating.

Im a Chemist / Biochemist ( good in-depth understanding of microbiology and viruses) with many moons of bonsai experience… makes my head hurt.
The water / soil pH issue of Ryan’s trees last summer is enough to make it spin.
Calcium, magnesium. Excess potassium. Nitrogen bound up. Kelating with amino acids. Boron! Etc , etc.
My trees are healthier than they have ever been; just with organic fertilizer, fish emulsion in spring, and seaweed emulsion once a week…
Akadama, pumice, and lava (with a little organic mulch for decideous…)
I have been trying to ignore the pH and calcium/ magnesium issue.
Now I will need a full soil chemistry and microbe analysis.
I need more red lava next spring, too. BORON! Gaaah!
Actually, I’m good here! Mostly under control.
Being amused… this need not be rocket science. (That I understand,; it’s quantum field theory that I slow in… Ooh! I want a Warp field!)
Don’t make major changes (to all of youf trees) without trying small SINGLE steps first… Only changd ONE thing slowly at a time. Think them through…
Bonsai On!


Great info Kurt - My Satsuki has been on Biogold with supplemental alternating fish emulsion and seaweed on advice of Peter Warren. It is doing extremely well. I am trying out adding the liquid supplements to a coulee of targeted trees that can benefit from a gentle boost. I could see this becoming a bigger part of my regimen based on results. Health over vigor.

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What liquid supplement, if you dont mind me asking?
(—What general region are you located?)
I’m sold on the microbiom addition. Dr Earth. I’ve ALSO gone out and collected ponderosa specific live mycellium for my ponderosas… Seems to be going good.
I’ve seen white truffles in my oak forest… they seem healthy.
Great tree by the way.
I would have to see it in person to analyze. Do a backdrop photo and post on the forum QA for Ryan to see.
Though, it would look BETTER in my back yard… dang now I need a big Japanese black pine

I’m in upstate NY.
Neptune’s Harvest 2-4-2 (tomato&veg) or 2-3-1 fish & seaweed
Dr. Earth seaweed concentrate 0-0-4.5
Collecting species-specific mycelia - love it.

If you mean the pine the tree is at Mirai so Ryan can see it every day!

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Short term, maybe I can see it sometime!
Have you visited the National Arboretum in DC?
It WAS AWSOME. My visit hilights included Goshen and the obligatory tornado with rain. Took cover in the visiter kiosk. The cashier was real nervice when water started coming under the door. Don’t get many tornadoes in eastern Wa., but we do get some gullywashers.
Though, I thought Mr. Degroot’s term at Werhouser in Seattle was better.!

My family went when we were kids - made a huge impression on me.

It looks so much better, less symmetrical, less manicured and less boring in the last picture :grin:.