June 18, 2024

A Visit to Bebop Bonsai & His 3 Tips for Alberta Spruce Bonsai

Source material: June 8, 2024

            Last weekend when I was vending at the Pittsburgh Bonsai Society's excellent show (more pictures to come from that in a later post), their club president kindly invited my Columbus Bonsai Society associate and I over to his place after the first day of the show to chat and see trees. Needless to say, we had such a good time talking that I almost didn't think to take pictures of his trees until it was getting dark and time to go. Here are those few shots at Bebop Bonsai located just south of Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Ian Evans is their club president and the curator of this cozy backyard garden. Ian also has a long history as a jazz drummer hence the name of his bonsai business, but more recently he has launched into bonsai through offering services in his area such as maintenance tasks, tree boarding, and assistance selling/moving trees. You can read more about Ian's bonsai work, see pictures, and find out more about his bonsai services on his website here. Read on for more pictures and 3 species-specific tips for Alberta spruce found in bold in the picture captions below of Ian's Alberta spruce bonsai.

In Vivo Bonsai / Columbus Bonsai Announcements

  1. My next workshop is Saturday 6/29, Kevin Faris and I will be teaching beginner-intermediate bonsai styling and care for junipers and yews. For the intermediate level, the junipers we have are unique, aged material (20 years old+), meanwhile for the beginner level we have some nursery stock yews which are flexible to a variety of styles. Sign up and see pictures and full details here and contact me with any questions! There are only 3 spots left and observers are welcome.
  2. If your local bonsai or garden club is interested in having me talk to your group in 2025, please contact me and we can discuss options. There are now 3 talks on my YouTube channel and a few other subjects I've given but not recorded. Even for subjects I've done before, I always update them with new information as I learn more and develop as a teacher! We can also brainstorm for workshops or an entirely new lecture subject.
  3. The Columbus Bonsai Society's next meeting is 7/20-7/21, our 52nd Annual Show. This year it will be held at a new venue - Chadwick Arboretum at Ohio State University near downtown Columbus. More info will be coming this week and can be found here.

Ian's biggest Alberta spruce. This tree is probably 4' tall. I think he said it was a former landscaping tree. Luckily for me, Ian has a number of Alberta spruces he has styled due to their widespread and cheap availability especially around Christmas. I say luckily for me as I just acquired my first one. Ian's main advice on these is to (1.) let the wire bite in hard on the branch before removing it to make sure the branch stays, then with vigorous growth the following year these scars tend to heal well. Many people report that wiring this species is a pain as they go back to the way they were too easily. This seems like a good solution though!

May 15, 2024

Intro to Wild Bonsai / Yamadori in Ohio and Beyond (Full Lecture)

            Last year I put together this talk for my home club of the Columbus Bonsai Society, and then over winter I finally made time to edit it to share with you all who could not be there in person. I hope it helps you try out some yamadori digging when the time is right! At this time of year in the northern hemisphere, it is probably best to practice on "now or never" digs as summer is approaching and the ideal early spring window is behind us. I also have a previous article / "Simplified Protocols for Yamadori/Wild Bonsai Collection, Aftercare, and Initial Bonsai Training..." which you may find helpful too. These resources I provide are just a starting point but you will have to be willing to try it out and fail along the way. Not every species is tolerant of being dug and some prefer certain times of the year or certain aftercare practices. If there are local people to ask for advice, they can give you a head start or you can take my general advice and see what works in your area!

In Vivo Bonsai / CBS Announcements

  1. If your local bonsai or garden club is interested in having me talk to your group in 2025, please contact me and we can discuss options. There are now 3 talks on my YouTube channel but every time I give them I always update them with new information as I learn more and develop as a teacher! I also have a few talks that did not get recorded that I could give or we could develop something entirely new.
  2. If you are in Columbus, OH, or are in the surrounding states, check out my barberry bonsai for sale and the delivery options there. I have many other local yamadori and bonsai from seed projects if you have something specific you are seeking, I just don't have time to post them all online.
  3. The Columbus Bonsai Society is hosting Hugo Zamora - a Mexican-born, Japanese-trained bonsai artist - THIS Sunday 5/19/2024 for a morning workshop and afternoon demonstration. Come see an expert in action! I believe the afternoon demonstration is focused on a Shimpaku juniper styling. More info here.

See more of my bonsai lectures on my YouTube channel "In Vivo Bonsai".

May 5, 2024

About Barberry Species as Shrubs, Invaders, Fungal Host, and Bonsai Trees

            Barberry aesthetically makes a delightful bonsai due to its small, colorful leaves, flowers, and berries. They are frequently used in landscaping which means that they are readily available to those who keep their ears to the ground for unwanted plants to salvage like myself. Today I want to share some information on these plants, good examples of successful barberry as bonsai, and some brief comments on techniques for this species.

I am also listing some of my barberry prebonsai/yamadori for sale. Help me downsize my collection so I can focus on my PhD thesis! Pictures, prices, and delivery options in Columbus, OH, or surrounding states are listed here. I am open to hearing offers!


  1. Barberry Growth Habit
  2. Barberry's Invasive Potential
  3. A Disease of Concern for Barberry Bonsai - (Wheat) Black Stem Rust
  4. American Barberry - Berberis canadensis - as Bonsai
  5. Barberry Bonsai Technique Commentary & More Examples

Here is one stunning example of Japanese barberry bonsai by Ed van der Reek in Europe. They do get a great fall color! Source - Ed-Bonsai.blogspot.com

April 5, 2024

Winter Invasive Plant ID at Turtle Cave in Athens, Ohio - Honeysuckle, Multiflora Rose, and Privet

            For New Year's Day, 2024 I was lucky to have a partner and dog willing to put up with some winter nippiness and muddiness to hike a nearby trail that promised a cave at the end. While there, I documented several things including the abundance and distribution of invasive plants, the plants with wild bonsai ("yamadori") potential, the details of the natural deciduous deadwood decay patterns here in Ohio, and some rock formations that were interspersed in the forest. In today's article, I share the observations from there focused on Ohio invasive plant identification ahead of our upcoming CBS invasive digs. In the near future, I'll follow up with more pictures from the other observations.


I. Invasive Plants in Ohio
    IA. Why do invasive plants matter?
    IB. History of Columbus Bonsai Society's involvement with invasive plants
    IC. CBS INVASIVE Alliance (see previous post)
    ID. Invasive plants at Turtle Cave in Athens, Ohio - Winter Identification
        ID1. Invasive Japanese (Vine) Honeysuckle
        ID2. Invasive Multiflora Rose
        ID3. Invasive Shrub Honeysuckle
        ID4. Invasive Chinese Privet

Blog/Central Ohio Bonsai Announcements:

  1. I now sell pure pumice and pumice-pine bark pre-mixed bonsai soil in central Ohio. Check out here for more information and prices. This is the mix I make and use for myself to good results with my trees!
  2. CBS Club Dig Days for 2024 are out! - See the list and RSVP here to be sent the addresses of the events. Options include 4/6, 4/13, and 4/14/2024. All are welcome. Contact me with any questions.
  3. See my recently published lecture - "Introduction to Wild Bonsai in Ohio and Beyond" for some tips on how to get started digging yamadori.
With the density of these privet berries, it's easy to see how they can invade our forests! If you look closely you will also see an invasive Japanese Honeysuckle vine still hanging onto its leaves.

March 7, 2024

Announcing the CBS INVASIVE Alliance / Yamadori Study Group

 Integrating Native Vegetation And Stopping Invasive VExations

aka the Columbus Bonsai Society INVASIVE Alliance. The next evolution of our CBS Yamadori (Wild bonsai) Study Group. 

Read on for the origins and goals of this idea.

In Vivo / Central Ohio Bonsai Announcements:

  1. CBS Japanese Brush Painting/Scroll-Making Workshop on 3/17! Sign up here. You do not need to be a member to sign up.
  2. CBS Club Dig Days for 2024 are out! - See the list and RSVP here to be sent the addresses of the events. Options include 4/6, 4/13, and 4/14/2024. All are welcome. Contact me with any questions.
  3. I now sell pots! I received a special shipment to sell on behalf of Blue Nose Trading. See the pieces of her work I have available here or schedule an appointment to visit my nursery in Columbus, OH via the contact form here. These are mainly for local pickup/delivery only.
  4. I now sell pure pumice and pumice-pine bark pre-mixed bonsai soil in central Ohio. Check out here for more information and prices. This is the mix I make and use for myself to good results with my trees!

My educational display from the CBS 2023 Annual show featuring invasive Tree of Heaven and Spotted Lanternfly. I will do a more detailed write up on these one day for the blog...