Peter Chan Repotting

Hey Bob. I just watched those two videos, and wow. I’d heard Chan talk about and demonstrate his 100% sphagnum growing medium technique (for sick trees) in other videos and found it very interesting. But to nurse this poor juniper back to robust health through twelve years using the technique is remarkable.

Ultimately, the work of the Italian “master” (I use that term in quotations because of how reckless his work appeared) served as a harsh “force of nature” that has resulted in a truly wild-looking specimen, now that it has been revived. I would love to see what Ryan could do with this very unique juniper at this stage in its development.

1 Like

Today he posted a “Bonsai for free” video and I had to comment. I love Peter. There is no mistake that he is not Ryan, but who is? I find Peter to be very Bob Ross like, folksy and whimsical. He is always in good spirits, joyful and sharing. His point of view is what I appreciate most. “You can do it, it’s not so hard, it’s actually easy in time.” The encouragement and the passion to get others to try bonsai and his penchant for goofy shirts are welcoming. The two men are just different books on the bonsai shelf. I am truly thankful to have them both in the library.


@joe_d My take on the Italian bonsai guy was that he was doing a demo. He wanted to make an impression on those that came to watch him work, and really didn’t care if the tree survived or not. Still, the fact that it did thanks to Peter, is amazing.

@moon I definitely agree. :slight_smile:

Ryan has mentioned a few times how his methods have developed over time and that he used to work trees in ways he would never do now. Looking back he (and we) can be surprised at the success of poor technique. Ryan’s point in his current method is to have the highest possible chances for survival and esthetic. I think contrasting Peter to Ryan shows that you dont always need to go 100%. I know I cant afford Ryan’s toolbox, and yet my meager attempts have all been successful so far.

“You can never stop learning” is indeed powerful. But don’t let that pedestalize Ryan. Innovation takes inquisitive daring and the experimentation

Definitely this, this and this:

“he is always in good spirits, joyful and sharing”
“his point of view…” (mind, he’s got two lifetimes on most of us, not fair, but it’s a good one!)

The last is definitely how I feel when I get out and touch a tree. One bit of my brain is Ryan (do this, look at this, take time on this, do do this, this is right, this is better…) Another is Peter (do this and this, but generally, that’s enough, sit back and have fun). Another is all the people I’ve ever seen or listened to (Kaizen in the UK for example, people on this forum at large… oooooh I am a terrible stalker :slight_smile:

All to the good!

1 Like

I’m similar to a lot pf people on this thread, started off watching Peter’s YouTube videos and i live fairly close to his nursery and have visited it a number of times. I love his general philosophy on bonsai and i like the fact that he always seems relaxed and enjoys what he does.

He definitely appears more slap-dash in his approach as compared to Ryan who seems much more technically sound and methodical but that may just come from decades of experience. I know in my work, if an outsider was watching me, it would appear that i wasn’t being very thorough or too relaxed but that is just because i’ve done it so many times that i know what needs special attention and what doesn’t.

I have seen a few odd things on Peter’s videos though, for example, partially cutting candles on JBP’s in May time. Now i’m no where near experienced enough to tell someone like him that he’s wrong, and don’t know if anybody has done similar with good results, but that seems like a bit of a no no, not a nuance of practice (as per Mirai’s teaching).

Can’t argue with what he’s done for UK bonsai though!!

I started watching Peter’s bonsai for free video. Great stuff. :sweat_smile:

Have you guys seen the American version of Peter? I love this guy. He’s living the dream for sure.

1 Like

I’ve never heard of this guy before, but this is awesome. I’ve also been trying to do some experiments with LAB lately so I have a few new videos to watch.

1 Like

Very well put. I was the same exact way but with the Soils lecture. Never have I consumed such a lengthy and informative video with that level of ease. I was so excited to have found my step up. Peter really pushes the “anyone can do it” Mantra and that is what he is for me and many others, a step in the door in order to get us to start thinking about what can be. I see Peter as the old guard of bonsai and Mirai as the innovative new wave.

And all the videos are free.

When I first started in bonsai, there wasn’t a great deal of information other than books and magazines. Shows were seldom and few. there was no, LOOK AWAY MILLENIALS :wink: :wink:
There was clubs but usually the senior members were self taught and passed on their knowledge to the rest of us.
I have some of Peter’s books, including his ‘Masterclass’ which was considered the best book on Bonsai and everyone wanted it. His books are extremely informative right down to how to treat various types of seed from collecting to sowing. I still refer to it when trying to grow from seed a new variety.
They may be a bit dated now but a lot of the information is still relevant today.


I think you have said it best.
He was a door for me. Mirai is the pathway I walk on once though the door.

I do not mean this in any disparaging or snarky way because, like many others, his Youtube clips were the first ones I watched. His BONSAI: THE ART OF KEEPING MINIATURE TREES was one of the first books I bought and I remember it being informative at the time but that was a while and many books ago. But these days he helps me sleep. I don’t mean he’s boring. When I have trouble sleeping (which I often do) I can go into the living room, turn on the TV, and watch the latest video he’s posted and pretty soon I’m asleep on the couch. I have shelves full of bottles of things that promised to help me sleep. None did. Again, I want to stress this is not in any way snarky. In fact, I’ve grown disproportionately fond of him for someone I’m unlikely to ever meet. Since covid every time I watch one of his videos, i think, … I hope he’s OK. Also, if anyone knows where I can get a copy of MASTER CLASS for less than an arm and a leg, please let me know.

1 Like

Chelsea Flower Show wouldn’t know a good bonsai if it poked them in the eye


No it probably would not but the judges do. Mendip Bonsai has superb displays each year as does the FOBBS display. Peter Chan also did excellent displays for 20 years.

1 Like