Archive for August, 2016

Eighteen Year Larch Progression


This tree was collected ca. 1995 by John Biel in preparation for the IBC ’97 convention in Toronto. Dozens of cedars and larches were collected to be used as workshop material for that event, and afterwards they were dispersed around North America with their new owners. If you’ve seen or heard of a thuja or larix in the USA that was “collected in Canada some time ago”, there is a fair chance that it was collected by Reiner Goebel or John Biel in the early ’90s in preparation for the convention. John and Reiner are two of the old guard of the Toronto bonsai scene.

Marc Noelanders styled this larch during a workshop at IBC ’97 and the new owner took it home. Unfortunately the owner passed away a year later and Reiner Goebel inherited the tree.

Here is the oldest picture I have of the tree in 1998.



The tree developed quickly in Reiner’s hands – here it is in 2004:



In 2006 it was potted into an outstanding Horst Heinzlreiter pot. At this point the tree was near its prime, with dense ramification.



Reiner is doing well, but as of this year is completely retired from bonsai. I bought this tree from him in 2015 and it was in a state of decline. It had not been pruned for a few years and most of the interior growth was dead. The tree was also quite weak – I don’t think it had been repotted since the previous image in 2006 (9 years prior).


May 2015

The best features of this tree are the stunning old bark and the exceptional nebari (collected larches with good nebari are very rare). To highlight the elegant trunk and delicate bark, I removed the majority of the old low branches which had gotten too thick. This was a difficult decision as the branches had incredible character and old bark all the way out to the secondary branches. However, major changes were necessary in order to come up with a design that brings out the key features of the tree and is sustainable for many years into the future.

2015 Summer

July 2015

A few weeks ago I sat down with this tree and did some rough wiring. This is the best solution I could come up with. I’m pretty sure it isn’t better than the original design, but the important thing is this tree can be maintained in this image for a long time. I would really like to add a secondary trunk on the left side to make it a twin trunk, however it will be difficult to find a small larch which has comparable bark characteristics. Next year it will be planted either in a nanban-style container or on a flat stone.


July 2016

Nebari and bark detail

Nebari and bark detail

Delicate old larch bark

Delicate old larch bark

August 2016

August 2016

Only 15 Days Until The Finest Exhibition Of Bonsai In The United States — Valavanis Bonsai Blog

The 5th US National Bonsai Exhibition is just over two weeks away. I’ve been to every USNBE so far, and I can say with confidence that they keep getting better.

And of course I have to mention – a small number of trees from Québec and Ontario will be exhibited under the categories of “Special Exhibitors”, including two of my own and five other outstanding trees from my local club (The Bonsai Society at Royal Botanical Gardens).

Come out and support North American Bonsai! And if you can find the time to attend the awards banquet, I highly recommend it. It is a great time.

Hope to see you there.

Plans are finalizing to display over 300 bonsai in the 2016 5th US National Bonsai Exhibition on September 10-11, 2016, in Rochester, New York. We have truck loads of fine bonsai from the Pacific Northwest, Bay Area of California, Texas and Florida. They will all be carefully transported to Rochester where each specimen will […]

via Only 15 Days Until The Finest Exhibition Of Bonsai In The United States — Valavanis Bonsai Blog