torek, 28. november 2017


Rok is an important bonsai collector; I am working on his collection for a little more than three years now. Some of his trees were already exhibited at major domestic and foreign exhibitions, some will be in the future. This two Japanese black pines are still in development ...
Pine No.1 came in to Rok's garden bare-rooted in March 2015 and it was planted in to a wooden box. During transport the top was broken, so the first task was to grow a new one.

March 2015 - Pine was planted into a wooden box and started with acclimatization

Pine responded very well, it showed no sign of stress and after one growing season was gaining strength.

October 2015

It is always difficult to take care of the trees in someone else's garden: trees aren't under control all the time, they become overgrown or in the worse case weak. But this pine was doing just fine - after two years it was in full growth, time for first intervention - some needle cutting, minor branch selection and other usual stuff:

April 2017

April 2017, after first intervention

Green mass that was cut off

After first work on this tree it reacted vigorously, so in November was time for first styling. So, after three growing seasons of acclimatization we took this tree from Rok's garden and brought it to the TORA atelier. As always on big projects TORA's graduate student Gašper Gabrijel was a big help, and together we wired this beast:

October 2017

Gašper doing final adjustments

November 2017 - after first styling in TORA studio

First styling is done. Next spring it will be re-potted in to the first bonsai pot, and then the work on the crown will began. We must work on ramification and needles reduction, but one can see what a big potential has this tree!

And there is another tree with big potential - another big Japanese black pine. If the above one was imported directly from Japan, this one came to Rok's garden from German collector. In April 2014 the tree arrived in TORA atelier: not in the best condition, but with Gašper (he was an apprentice at that time and this tree was one of his first big projects) we managed to set a good future for this bonsai:

November 2014

Gašper even climbed on the table during wiring :-)

Wiring done, November 2014

November 2014, after first wiring in many years

The two crowns of this bonsai nicely complement each other, the ichi-eda is thick and already has old bark ... We also correct the planting angle a bit and gave the tree back to the owner. In April 2015 we re-potted it in same pot at the correct angle.

April 2015, after re-poting

After that, the tree was mainly in it's owners care, we just did a minor adjustment at our regular visits at Rok's garden. And this is the main reason, that tree still has a long needles and some minor faults. As I wrote above - it is very difficult to control the tree if it doesn't live in your garden. But nevertheless, the tree was healthy and strong - and this is the most important thing! 

October 2016 - pine in Rok's garden

Three years after first serious intervention, it was time for another step. Because of vigorous growth the pot became root-booted, but the re-potting in to a wider pot will be done in spring. For now we have done a complete re-wiring, we improved the structure of the branches and cut a lot of needles!

November 2017 - the tree is back in the TORA studio

Gašper during work on the tree

The ichi-eda, important first branch and great bark

November 2017 - after work

The tree did a step further. Is more compact as it was, the needles are shorter, branches are in place. Now we'll wait for the spring and re-potting!

360 degrees video of big Japanese black pine styled in TORA studio. But intro made by Gašper is hilarious :-)

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, 4. 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, 3. 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, 2. 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