torek, 24. oktober 2017


I met this Pinus sylvestris for the first time in Rok's garden in spring 2015. It was potted in to a plastic container, full of weeds, branches were all leggy and badly twisted to achieve a 'virtual' compact look. The first step was repotting to check a root system. Tree reacted with strong growth and good health.

Pinus sylvestris, spring 2015, before re-potting

The same tree after re-potting, on the table also small Pinus thumbergii

A year later, in summer 2016 the tree was styled for the first time. I bring it into TORA shop, where we fully wired it. As you can see - after re-potting the tree really reacted well. We corrected all unnaturally twisted branches and made a new design. We cut the big right branch and turned it into a jin. 

Pinus sylvestris, summer 2016, after wiring

Right branch turned into a jin

Same tree after styling in summer 2016

The tree was returned to the owner; but instead in good shape one year later returned into the shop in neglected state: wire biting deeply into the bark, branches overgrown, the whole season was lost. This is another example of how quickly bonsai can do two steps back instead one forward. Well, we put it back to the right path! 

This is how wire is NOT supposed to cut in

Pinus sylvestris, October 2017

TORA apprentices Samo and Socrates cuting needles

Gašper Gabrijel working on details

Author working on the tree

The tree has a really great bark!

This is the final image for now

The tree now needs a better pot and of course a better care in next growing season!


A short video about atumn work on JPB, Pinus thunbergii. Sorry, only in Slovene :-) :

sreda, 04. oktober 2017


Once I already wrote about the dilemma - buy or not to buy a bonsai. Let me explain: for some people the only way of doing bonsai is collecting trees in the nature and then develop them into bonsai. Buying is not an option for them and they even consider this way as 'cheating' in some way. Let me be clear: for me buying bonsai is almost the same as collecting - one must find a tree that he or she likes and then somehow bring it to his or her garden. And now the proper work starts. If you don't know how to work with trees, then even the most expensive bonsai will be turned into the bush in relatively short amount of time. Here is one example:
I wired this nice Pinus thunbergii three years ago and prepared it for exhibition. It was not quite ready yet, but customer wishes to exhibit it.

Pinus thunbergii, 2014

Pinus thunbergii, 2014, after first wiring

The same tree in the tokonoma in TORA studio

The tree has really great nebari and is poted into nice japanese pot

Ramification ....

Great bark

So the pine was on the right way and with proper care could be in top form right now. With top form I mean: great ramification, the same amount and length of the needles all over crown. But when the tree was returned to the owner it was neglected: it lost one branch (luckily not so important one), some areas on the tree are too strong, the others too weak, also with wrong cutting of the candles some damage was done. Now the tree will need at least two seasons to be back on the right way .... Anyway, Pine was back in our atelier, graduate student of TORA school Gašper Gabriel did an excellent job wiring and styling it.  

After two growing season in owner's garden it was totaly neglected ...

Gašper working in the studio


Pinus thumbergii 2017, back on the right path, but it will need some time to gain the top form 

I just did a minor correction on the top - I closed it a little bit, sorry Gašper, I couldn't help myself :-)

I just did a minor adjustment, the result for now

Even though you buy a bonsai, you'll need a lot of knowledge to keep it in proper form. Or, in a season or two, you'll end with a bush on the shelves....

torek, 03. oktober 2017


It is unbelievable how quickly the time flies! It is almost 6 months since my last post here ... Meanwhile so many things happened, so many trees went trough my studio! TORA international bonsai school is on more than ever, If you want to became a part of bonsai life don't hesitate to join us! 
Today I just want to show the story about the spruce from Peter's collection. He brought this tree into the shop in 2014. It is no easy material as all branches grow from upper-left side of the tree. The main feature is shari on the trunk which we want to incorporate into the final design.

Picea abies, August 2014

After first styling the tree didn't look attractive, it had a leggy branches, also the green was too far from the trunk.

Picea abies, August 2014, after first styling

Three years after Peter came back. Now it was time to push the tree at least one step further! :-) So we turned the tree for a few degrees for better front, did a selection on branches for better structure and started wiring. The result was quite pleasant, but we weren't satisfied yet. So we decided to cut the lower part of right branch.

Picea abies, September 2017

Picea abies, September 2014, after second styling

Peter cutting the lowest branch

Picea abies, September 2017, after styling

With that the tree gain some dynamic, and we also managed to incorporate all nice elements of the tree into nice and logic design. So this is the result for now: elegant, dynamic spruce with an interesting story to tell. The spruce will rest over the winter and in spring Peter will re-pot it into the first bonsai pot!

P.S.: It was also time to enjoy a good weather - this is a part of my garden with trees from personal collection.

četrtek, 02. marec 2017


Sabina junipers are a very popular species in bonsai; this European native juniper has even more interesting growing pattern than Japanese Itoigawa. Twisted old trunks are really spectacular,  the foliage isn't so compact and hard as Itoigawa's, but nevertheless one can achieve a really good definition also with Sabina. This is a Sabina juniper from Rok's collection, virgin Yamadori which came to the TORA atelier for the first styling. As usual, first step was a study of possibilities that the tree can offer:

Brini vrste sabina so v bonsajskem svetu zelo popularni; ta avtohtona evropska vrsta brina ima celo še bolj zanimiv vzorec rasti kot japonska itoigawa. Zvita stara debla so res spektakularna. Zelenje sicer ni tako kompaktno in trdo kot pri itoigawi, toda vseeno se da tudi z sabino doseči zelo dobro definicijo. Ta sabina je iz Rokove zbirke; nedotaknjen jamadori, ki je v TORA atelje prišel na prvo oblikovanje. Kot običajno sem se najprej posvetil analizi možnosti, ki jih drevo ponuja:

Future front

Future left side

Future back

After step one, the real work began. First, I cleaned the trunk searching for live veins. The work was like an archeology, but the final result was spectacular: live vein twisting and turning around dead-wood. However - the fact, that the live vein in nebari area isn't visible from the front was a little disappoitment.

Po prvem koraku se je začelo pravo delo. Najprej sem očistil deblo in poiskal žive vene. Delo je malce podobno arheološkemu izkopavanju, toda rezultat je bil spektakularen: žive vene se vijejo okrog mrtvega lesa. Vseeno pa je bilo dejstvo, da vene v območju nebarija ni videti s sprednje strani, manjše razočaranje. 

Part of the trunk before cleaning

The same part of the trunk after cleaning

Live vein twisting and turning around dead-wood...

After cleaning the styling of the crown started. Some raffia, detailed wiring and placement of the branches. The result is great cascade juniper with a great future!

Po čiščenju se je začelo oblikovanje krošnje. Nekaj rafije, podrobno žičenje in pozicioniranje vej. Rezultat je lepa kaskada s svetlo prihodnostjo!

The result after wiring

Further analysis showed another possible step - cutting the lower part of the cascade crown would be great, because with minimal crown the spectacular trunk would be even more emphasized. But this will be the owner's decision...

Nadaljna analiza je nakazala mogoč korak - rezanje najnižjega dela kaskadne krošnje. Zminimalno krošnjo bi bilo spektakularno deblo še bolj poudarjeno. Toda odločitev bo prepuščena lastniku ...

The current styling ...

... and possible step in virtual

torek, 28. februar 2017


It is always a great pleasure to monitor a development of a tree, especially if the owner take a good care of it. This is a story about Pinus sylvestris from the Roman's collection. I saw this tree for the first time in October 2014 at one of workshops with Prekmurje group. From the distance I thought that this is a Pinus nigra: dark, harsh bark with layers and layers of flakes developed in a long time that tree grew in a tough conditions. Also character, the feeling emitted by a tree was typically Pinus nigra. Rare finding and a worthy to work on!

Vedno je užitek spremljati razvoj drevesa, še posebej, če je zanj dobro poskrbljeno. To je zgodba o rdečem boru iz Romanove zbirke. Prvič sem to drevo videl oktobra 2014 na eni izmed delavnic s Prekmursko skupino. Od daleč sem mislil, da gre za črni bor: temna, groba skorja z sloji luskin, ki so se tam nalagale dolga desetletja rasti v težkih pogojih. Tudi karakter, občutki, ki jih človek dobi ob pogledu na drevo, so bili tipični za črni bor. Redka najdba in več kot vredna obdelave!

This is the oldest photo of the tree I have: we already did some bendings with raffia, but still almost rough yamadori: October 2014

Roman working on his pine during first styling

We ran out of time that day, the sunlight was fading, so the photo after first styling is not so good. Sorry for that. But one can see what was the idea and where we want to go with this pine in the future.

Tisti dan je bil prekratek, svetlobe je zmanjkovalo, tako da fotografija prvega oblikovanja ni najboljša. Prosim za razumevanje. Toda ideja in v katero smer si želimo s tem drevesom v bodočnosti, je dovolj dobro vidna. 

After first styling, October 2014

One year later, well a little more than one year, the tree was on the table again. Meanwhile, Roman did a great job with re-potting, feeding and watering, the tree reacted extremely well, and it was really a pleasure to work on the old friend again.

Leto kasneje, no celo kakšen mesec več kot eno leto, je bilo drevo spet na mizi. Med tem je Roman poskrbel za presajanje in zelo dobro zalivanje in gnojenje; bor je reagiral izjemno dobro, tako da je bilo res užitek spet delati na starem prijatelju. 

February 2016, before second styling

A lot of new growth allowed much more refinement, we also rotate the tree for 10 degrees clockwise. Still a lot of work to do in the upcoming years, but a nice bonsai is starting to emerge.

Veliko nove rasti je dovoljevalo veliko več definicije, prav tako smo drevo zavrteli za 10 stopinj. Še veliko dela je ostalo za prihodnja leta, toda lep bonsaj se je že začel kazati. 

February 2016, after second syling

Another year passed and it was time for a complete re-wiring. Tree becoming more and more mature rather surprisingly quick, so we can expect that it will be show-ready in next two or three years. For pine that is really quick. Of course the tree needs a better pot and the aluminium wire will be changed to copper one. 

Minilo je še eno leto in prišel je čas za novo žičenje. Drevo presenetljivo hitro postaja vse bolj in bolj zrelo, tako da lahko pričakujemo, da bo za razstavo pripravljeno že v naslednjih dveh ali treh letih. Za bor je to zares hitro. Seveda drevo potrebuje boljšo posodo in aluminijasta žica bo zamenjana z bakreno. 
Roman and Gašper working on pine during the last re-wiring

Just some minor adjustmend more ...

And this is a result for now, February 2017

Again: two and a half years before we started with this ...

So, the care for the tree is extremely important. If the tree has everything it needs, then the development could be really fast!

Skrb za drevo je torej zelo pomembna. Če ima drevo vse, kar potrebuje, potem je razvoj lahko res zelo hiter!

nedelja, 12. februar 2017


In one of my previous post I was already writing about how different species are regarding time needed for development. Juniperus species is not quick but it isn't slow neither. This particular tree, Juniperus virginiana (some of the blue cultivars), came to my garden eight years ago as urban yamadori, collected out of a concrete block in the city. Andrej collected it a year before, then we made a trade - I gave him a Fagus sylvatica from my collection and Juniper came into my possession.

V enem od mojih prejšnjih prispevkov sem že pisal o tem, kako različne vrste potrebujejo zelo različno količino časa za razvoj. Brini niso niti hitri, niti počasni. To konkretno drevo, virginijski brin (eden od modrih kultivarjev), je v moj vrt prišlo pred osmimi leti kot urbani jamadori, izkopan iz betonskega korita v mestu. Andrej ga je izkopal eno leto prej. Potem sva napravila zamenjavo - jaz sem mu dal bukev iz moje zbirke, brin pa je postal moja last.

Juniperus virginiana, April 2008

The bonsai journey started in November 2008 at demo in Rajko's place. Since then, this tree has come a long way. In the meantime, I changed the front completely, but then returned to the original idea. Here you can see a photo journey trough all this years:

Bonsjsko potovanje se je začelo Novembra 2008 z demonstracijo pri Rajkotu. Od takrat je to drevo napravilo že dolgo pot. Vmes sem že povsem zamenjal prednjo stran, a se kasneje vrnil k originalni ideji. Tu je foto-potovanje skozi vsa ta leta:

November 2008, before demo

November 2008, after demo

Jun 2009

September 2009 - the new front

October 2012 - back to original path

Jun 2013

August 2014

August 2015

August 2016

February 2017 - ready for show?

This tree was never exhibited yet; when the tree is ready for exhibition? When its owner is! :-) With the development of the artist also his or her bonsai is a subject of more strict quality check. Eight years ago I would exhibit a far less mature trees then today. But for this particular one I felt, that the time for showing it to the public has come. So, the aluminium wire was changed with copper one and I think, you'll soon see this bonsai at some of the exhibitions!

To drevo ni bilo še nikoli razstavljeno; kdaj je drevo sploh pripravljeno na razstavljanje? Ko je pripravljen lastnik! :-) Z razvojem bonsajista je tudi njegovo ali njeno drevo podvrženo strožjim zahtevam. Osem let nazaj sem razstavljal mnogo manj zrela drevesa, kot jih danes. Toda za tega sem začutil, da je prišel čas, da ga pokažem javnosti. Aluminijasta žica je bila tako zamenjana z bakreno in bonsaj boste lahko kmalu videli na kakšni razstavi!