April 24, 2020

Three Bonsai Buds on a Branch...

          You've heard of the phrase "As close as three peas in a pod", but what about "three buds on a branch?" It has a nice ring to it too, doesn't it? Introducing "Bonsai Buds" - another idea of mine born out of quarantine boredom. Bonsai Buds will be a bonsai-themed talk show through which I look forward to getting to know other up-and-coming members of the bonsai community. I have no idea how frequent Bonsai Buds will be, but I look forward to using this show as an excuse to interview prominent members in the bonsai community, pick their bonsai brains, see what projects they're working on, and get styling advice for you all. So, if you are stumped by any trees in your garden, please submit a few photos or your questions here!

EDIT: This idea has now transformed into the Bonsai Time Podcast! Find all our episodes (including the one with Julian and Andy) here.

April 17, 2020

Bonsai Seed Myths

          For people new to the art of bonsai, the idea of growing your own bonsai tree from seed is often irresistible. In theory, growing a bonsai from seed can be a rewarding journey that allows you to give birth to your own ideal image of what a bonsai should be, but unfortunately, in practice, seed-growing is a journey which is fraught with frustration for the vast majority of beginners. It has been said that it takes 10 years of experience in bonsai before you understand how to grow from seed well. I share this not to discourage you, but to brace you for the challenge ahead. If you're a new reader, I would encourage you to check out the first post in this growing from seed series, "The Root of All Bonsai." In that previous post, we talked about the various alternative ways to start your bonsai and the advantages and disadvantages of each method. However, if you are dead-set on growing from seed, you're in luck! Drawing on my own 15 years of bonsai experience and the 60+ years of experience of my bonsai teacher Dan Robinson, today we're going to cut through the BS and dispel common myths about growing bonsai from seed before we proceed to analyze the essential concepts that will help you realize your bonsai-from-seed dreams in the subsequent weeks. 

         If you're looking to buy seeds for bonsai - full disclosure - I am writing this series with the intent to sell my own seeds for growing bonsai (see here). At the risk of sounding too sales-pitchy, I am sending an exclusive hard-copy version of this blog series to all my customers. The hard-copy guide will simply guide you through the complicated 10+year challenge of growing bonsai from seed. If you can't wait for our weekly release of future blog articles in this series, you will receive the full guide right away with your purchase of seeds. Thank you in advance for supporting my bonsai work!


Stay tuned to this series to learn how to transform these...
Left a Japanese black pine, and right a European beech. Both 2-3 years old. 

April 10, 2020

My YouTube Debut - Mo' Roots, Mo' Problems

          Hello blog readers! In traditional Ryan Huston Fashion™, I always have a few other side projects to distract myself from what I really should be doing... Luckily for you, today that means you get more bonsai content from me! I should be working on that Seed-Growing-Guide, but I'll get back to that this weekend and you'll still get the rest of that series as scheduled, I promise.

April 7, 2020

The Root of All Bonsai

          Many people don't know this but bonsai are actually made by magical, elven wizards disguised as humans. The best of these wizards channel the universe's energy into their green thumbs to create unbelievable works of art and captures the essence of a century-old tree into one small pot. Although millions of people around the world appreciate the art of bonsai, the methods of these bonsai wizards are somehow a total mystery to outsiders. Luckily, with dedication (and a little time reading my blog), you can learn their secret methods too.
          To illuminate these magical methods for creating bonsai, I'm excited to announce that today's post is the first from my five-part "How to Grow Bonsai From Seed" series (yes, this is what I've been keeping myself busy in quarantine!). Before we can even discuss how to grow from seed, it is only logical to discuss alternative ways to jumpstart your bonsai addiction, as growing from seed might not be suitable for everyone. Each source of prebonsai material has its own advantages and disadvantages, and each will challenge you to build your bonsai skills differently.

         If you're looking to buy seeds for bonsai - full disclosure - I am writing this series with the intent to sell my own seeds for growing bonsai (see here). I plan to send a hard copy guide to everyone who buys seeds from me and supports my work in bonsai. As I'm still drafting the final parts of this series, sales will probably not open until next week when I publish the next article in the sequence. Stay tuned! Even if you collect your own seeds, I hope this series will be a widely useful resource to all!


Here I am with one of my first collected trees. Of course, some bonsai owe their origins to natural environments! I estimated the age of this pine at about 30 years. Whitebark pines retain their needles for 3 years, so I was able to count using bud scars on the branch for this estimate. If you start humbly like this, collecting from wild, legal places can be one way to accumulate prebonsai trees.