Learning to candle Japanese black pine in slimmer days

My name is Chris Johnston. After studying bonsai for about eight years on my own and with the local club, I founded Sashi-eda Bonsai in 2000. I offered what I now know were the most basic of classes, and sold trees and tools. I met Boon Manakitivipart in 2001, as my frustration with the dearth of solid teaching in the Midwest was beginning to take its toll. Boon came to Kansas City for what I thought was going to be just another “Master Weekend,” where he would quickly style a couple of raffle trees, critique member trees, give a Master Class, and go away. What really happened is that I learned more from his workshop than I had ever thought possible. He spent the time teaching, not showing his technique with shears. The next year, he came back. Here I am decandling an exposed root (neagari) Japanese black pine to increase its density. I wanted to work on this tree the first year he was there, but it was too weak. He told me how to make it strong again, and the next year I had the pleasure of having accomplished that goal. It was a first small victory. When Boon told me about his Intensive classes, I knew I had to be a part of them.

Since then, I have attended as many of the Intensive classes as time and budget will allow, and will finish the course in the next couple of years. I knew nothing about bonsai when I met Boon. Almost everything I thought I knew about bonsai was either wrong or on the most basic of levels. With that in mind, my personal collection is undergoing an extensive culling and refining as I learn how to find better trees. It’s not a quick process without unlimited funds.

Detail work

So here I am in October of 2004, wiring the sashi-no-eda, or primary branch, of a Japanese black pine at Boon’s Fall Intensive. I feel very fortunate to have met Boon at just the right time in my bonsai search to take advantage of the opportunity. I am thrilled to be part of the Bonsai Boon family.


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  1. Joe

    Hi Chris,

    I have been reading your blog for some time now and have just noticed that you have started to set up this site…. It looks great so far!

    I have just set up a blog myself http://nichigobonsai.wordpress.com/ and was wondering if you would mind me linking to you site in my links column. If you feel that my blog is something that you might like to in turn link to from your blog that would be much appreciated. Having said that it is no problem if you don’t.

    I will add your new site to my RSS feed so i don’t miss a post.

    ps. Sorry to have contacted you via the comments but i couldn’t find an email address.



  2. bonsaikc

    Thanks for your kind words! Of course, feel free to link here, as I will to your blog. Great stuff! Always nice to make a new bonsai acquaintance.

  3. Joe

    Great, thanks.

  4. Frank K

    Hey Chris,
    Looks good, at the top of my bookmarks. About time for another workshop.

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