Olive tree design ideas

Hi there i recently recieved this olive stump, it was a produce of a field cleansing or prunning process.

I shaped a bit the dead wood and poted it into a pretty small vesel. It was a though preocess it was wobling arround and couldnt stop it only with the hel of wires from the bottom so i decided to go with some wedges. I hope they won’t slip any time soon.

Anyhow what are your thoughts for the desing?

By the way this is my proposed front, with the future foliage playing with the waving wood

1 Like

Nice tree, it looks top heavy now but as you reduce the stump it will be amazing! Nice find.

1 Like

I wouldn’t be too dedicated to the front as it can change with this type of material.
I’d suggest getting a chisel and just work away at the threads of the deadwood and a tree will reveal itself.
I went to work on a big olive and also just chipped off pieces creating depth for shadows and following the lines of the tree’s. I still would like to sandblast it but don’t currently have the equipment


yes, that’s right but For olives you can desguise it with a proper distribution of foliage… i guess.

Thanks for your tips.
I would like very much you show your tree. I already have reduced quite a large chunk of wood from the top left but it took to much hamering with the chisel and I was afraid to damage the roots as it was quite loose in the previous pot. Any how I’m also afraid of beeing to quick to reduce as there is no way back.

How it started

Work started after angle change

Whittling away

Detail of rough work. Needs time to now either age or if I can get a sandblaster it will really bring out more details. In the half year it’s already toned down to more of a grey

1 Like

It has a nice proportion and a powerful base witha lot of caracter. Woodwork is pretty intimidating I do fear it to appear artificial but sure with sandblast you get great results.

The woodwork is one of the reasons I got into bonsai. I really enjoy it.
One thing I have found is that the wood will guide you.
When there is a bit of depth lean into it. Make that deeper as it will create the shadow that is important for creating a more interesting play of light and shadow.
Also look at creating depth in the wood itself of foreground, mid and background
This will help also give the eye something to move through.
You don’t want to have just a flat piece of wood that has been carved.
And take your time, this work was done over a week.
Take breaks and step back to look at the area you worked on and how is it still connecting to the rest of the tree.
I’m really focused on following lines, take the rest out and just look at lines.

1 Like

You can be so creative with carving olive wood. It’s HARD and keeps its shape over time.

I like your idea of shaping the foliage around the dead wood. I have 2 olives with a chunk of deadwood. One a dolphin and the other a whale tail. I’ve been working the foliage around them for the last year or two


woow that’s insane! it really opens the door for fantasy!

1 Like

Nice chunk of olivewood.

If it was my tree, I would probably put it in a really big pot or preferably, put it in the ground and get the tree established with live structure that is at least partially proportionate to the size of the deadwood.

Working deadwood Bonsai is an art.

I don’t claim to be good at it, but my best suggestion is to practice on scrapwood Before going at anything you value that is meant to be kept.

The tree is currently disproportionate and I see the need to develop a significant amount of live tissue as the first goal, but that’s just my thought.

I included a picture of Peter Tea’s basic bonsai development recommendations.

The second link is from a talk he gave at the Sacramento Society meeting.

I recognize the video is a bit long, but if you can sit through the whole thing, it points out some really important basic concepts that can save people a lot of time to get better trees by doing the correct steps at the correct time.

I think I’ve watched a video four times and every time I look at my trees, I now go back to his basic formula which is always focus on number number one before going to number two etc.

Perhaps you’ll find his concepts helpful as well.

The ability for Olivewood to root is quite spectacular.

I’ve had fairly big segments of Elm grow roots the way Willows can.

Have fun working the deadwood!!!

Great tips, for sure i will potet in a more proportionate pot when it grows, any how now it has very little roots and it is counterproductive to keep the balance water and oxigen.

For the foliage I would like to grow up a branch over everything. And develop it from there. This is a tree from the spanish master German Gomez I recently started doing workshops with, this is the winner of the 2024 Trophy , .

There is a long way to get that mastery.
I also like what this guy did :wink:

I have immense respect and Appreciation for what the masters are accomplishing and adding to the world of bonsai.

I think when bonsai get to the level of those who studied in Japan the work and understanding is quantum leaps above my level. The more I learn the more I realize how little I know. The trees drive me to continue.

I’m too old to do an apprenticeship. I did that for 13 years in my primary profession.

I know many people think of Ryan Neil as the American Master. In the end when judged by the experts inc Ryan, Bjorn and company Peter won more awards at the Pacific Bonsai Expo, I think he had five winning trees.

Ryan has without question done the best job of branding himself and presenting outstanding work in presentation, marketing and self promotion. Without Ryan there would be overall far less interest and people involved with this art form.

Ryan seems to be at a level where I don’t think I could visit his garden without some invitation.

My hat goes off to him and everything he has accomplished.

All of these guys are spectacular in their own way.

Peter is much more of a private person. He is more than anything available to teach and work with one on one.

This becomes more difficult as those with raw talent gain “super star” status.

My first teacher Jonas Dupuich no longer offers work shops or teaching to individuals.

I am so grateful for these people sharing the knowledge.

I can’t imagine what it was like pre internet. People literally did not know there were bonsai clubs in the next town over.

Bonsai is by its nature competitive. This can bring out certain personalities and the ego can be put on display.

The ability to connect with so much talent should never be taken for granted.

I wish you and your growing all the very best.

Perhaps I should have introduced myself before I blurted onto your post.

My name is Mats Hagstrom. I’m from Sweden and have lived most of my adult life in California. I am hoping to visit growers in Europe soon.

I think in many ways Europe has had an upper hand in bonsai development because of the severe tree import restrictions in the USA. Having access to mature trees from Japan to work on and learn from has allowed European bonsai to advance. I think this is the case despite California being physically and socially closer to Japan.

No need to respond.

I wish you all the best,


Didn’t want to sound disrespectful, sorry if I did. I saved peters video to wach it this weekend, thanks!

I love Ryans personal approach to bonsai and i’d wish there were more artist willimg to take that risk.