This turned out to be a big year in the garden for repots. Together with Adam, Steve, Christian, and JC, we repotted around 195 bonsai and pre-bonsai plus 14 flats of young trees – far more than the normal routine.
In hindsight, this wouldn’t have been possible without an efficient workstation. I’ve taken different approaches to repotting based on the space I have to work in but only feel like I got it right this year.
The first thing I did was move the repotting station out of the workshop and into an adjacent shed. I didn’t want to fill the workshop with dust as in past years so I set up a space dedicated to repotting that could get dirty.
I placed a turntable next to tables with ample space for tools, supplies, and trying out pots. Just having extra table space nearby proved invaluable as I could easily set the tree aside while prepping or trying out different pots.
I kept tie-down wire, drainage screen, a receptacle for wire scraps, a can for organic waste, and a bin with the tools I relied own all within arm’s reach.
These are the tools I used most this year.
(not pictured – lots of bamboo chopsticks!)
I kept soil mixes right behind the workstation. At any given time I maintained no more than one or two buckets each of the basics: a drainage mix, a medium mix, and a small mix (see “What kind of mix should I use for my bonsai?” for details).
Bonsai soil mixes
For trees going into show pots, I kept a turntable open in front of a white sheet so I could stand back and make sure the planting angle was right where I wanted it.
Of course, simply having a spot with good light that allowed me to work when it was raining was key as we ended up recording one of the wettest years on record.
After finding such a useful setup, it’ll be hard for me to go back to the old way of doing things (namely, stopping what I’m doing every time I need to look for something or find a place to set something down).
On that note, I’m already dreaming about a new and improved repotting station for next year!
News and updates
- This weekend is the American Bonsai Association Sacramento’s 63rd(!) annual exhibit. Come see Todd Schlafer demos Saturday and Sunday and shop at the members’ sale and vendor booths. The event is held at the Shepard Garden and Arts Center in Sacramento’s McKinley Park at 3330 McKinley Blvd. Hours are 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM Saturday, April 8th and Sunday the 9th. Learn more from ABAS.
- If you’ll be in the Seattle area next month, plan to stop by the Pacific Bonsai Museum’s BonsaiFEST! on Mother’s Day weekend, Saturday, May 13 and Sunday, May 14. In addition to seeing the garden at a beautiful time of year, there will be demonstrations, tree sales, an exhibit by the Puget Sound Bonsai Association, and the opening of the garden’s latest special exhibit, “Avant-garden.” Learn more about the fun-filled weekend from the Pacific Bonsai Museum.
- Pre-orders are now available for an exhibition book for the forthcoming “Bonsai as Fine Art” event from the Blue Ridge Bonsai Society and Blue Spiral 1 Gallery. Learn more about the event here. Pre-order the book from the Blue Ridge Bonsai Society.
- Also in June is the American Bonsai Society’s 2023 Learning Seminars presented by the Rocky Mountain Bonsai Society in partnership with Denver Botanic Gardens. The event is one of the premier Norther American bonsai events with workshops, seminars, demonstrations, vendors, and exhibition. A lot of effort is going into this year’s event – learn more at the ABS Denver 2023 website.
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Sam Crowell says
This is fascinating.
Recently I started writing an article on applying mise en place concept to bonsai work – to have the necessary tools and materials laid out to facilitate the work in an efficient manner.
Reading your article was an interesting experience of a sort of synergy.
I love this. After working in the restaurant industry (and being kinda type A) I’ve always tried to bring “mise en place” to my bonsai setups.
One thing I utilize is a bowl of water to clean my hands and a towel to dry them off, from a tactile standpoint I’m a little strange though so that may not be for everyone. I find it nice to be able to keep tolls clean as well.
Nice writeup as always Jonas.
Jonas Dupuich says
I keep alcohol nearby for removing pine sap for the same reason – thanks, Jeremy!
BOB F HENDERSON says
I’m from northern California and will be in Sacramento in May. Who are the quality Bonsai shops to see in Sacramento? Thankyou, Bob
Jonas Dupuich says
Maruyama Bonsai Nursery is the closest option – there are several more just a bit out of town. You can find a list of Northern California bonsai resources here: https://bonsaitonight.com/bonsai-resources/