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Excellent Cultivars for Bonsai

Satsuki azaleas are highly sought after for their vibrant colors and suitability for small spaces, making them a popular choice for bonsai enthusiasts. One particularly beloved variety is the 'Chinzan' Satsuki azalea, which originated as a sport on the 'Osakazuki' azalea in Japan. Imported by Barry Yinger from Kairyo Nursery to Brookside Gardens in Maryland, 'Chinzan' has gained immense popularity over the years. With its striking deep pink star-shaped blooms, ranging from 1.5 to 2 inches in size, 'Chinzan' adds a burst of color to late spring and early summer gardens. Each bloom showcases a darker pink-red blotch, and some may even possess a light pink-purple hue. With its compact growth habit, 'Chinzan' reaches a height and width of 2 to 3 feet over a span of 10 years, making it a perfect choice for small gardens or bonsai cultivation.

 

Azalea 'Chojuho'
'Chojuho' is an extraordinary azalea variety with vibrant orange-red blooms that are small and uniquely shaped. The star-like blossoms have thin petals, giving them a distinctive appearance. The stamens are notably long, adding to the beauty of the blooms. This azalea blooms from May through June and the flowers last for a considerable period of time. In fact, the name 'Chojuho' translates to "Treasure of Activity," reflecting its long blooming effect. As the blooms age, they turn into a lovely chartreuse green color. This particular azalea is highly sought after for bonsai cultivation. Over a span of 10 years, 'Chojuho' can grow to a height of 2-3 feet and a width of 3-4 feet. It is truly a special satsuki azalea that will enhance any garden.

 

Azalea 'Wakaebisu'
'Wakaebisu' is a vibrant coral pink azalea with a distinct deep pink blotch and a mesmerizing green eye. Its unique hose-in-hose 2 inch blossoms, with their rounded lobes, make it a standout in any garden. Belonging to the Satsuki azalea variety, 'Wakaebisu' gets its name from the fact that most Satsuki azaleas, including this one, bloom around 30 days after the first day of spring, which aligns with the fifth month of the year, hence the name 'Satsuki'. In Japan, Satsuki azaleas are highly valued for bonsai cultivation, a trend that is gaining popularity in the United States. The name 'Wakaebisu' translates to "Young Goddess," adding to its allure. In terms of size, 'Wakaebisu' can grow up to 2-3 ft in height and 3-4 ft in width in a span of 10 years.

 

Acer palmatum 'Shishigashira'
'Shishigashira' is an exceptional Japanese maple cultivar with an upright growth pattern and vibrant green leaves. The leaves are crinkled, enhancing the tree's unique architectural shape. As the tree matures, it develops dense branching with a widening effect midway up. In early spring, the leaves exhibit a deep green color that persists throughout the summer. In autumn, 'Shishigashira' dazzles with a stunning display of deep yellows, golden shades, and hints of red and orange. This cultivar is commonly known as Lion's Head in America, owing to its resemblance to a lion's mane. It derives its name from a female lion character in Japanese drama. 'Shishigashira' thrives in both sun and shade, although it tends to grow larger in filtered light. Over time, it can reach a height of 8-12 ft. Due to its unique growth habit, it is highly sought after in the bonsai trade and is also suitable for container growing on porches or patios. If you're looking for something interesting and outside the box, 'Shishigashira' is an excellent choice.

 

Acer palmatum 'Mikawa Yatsubusa'
This particular variety was awarded the first prize when the Maple Society's North American Branch initiated the Maple of the Year Program. 'Mikawa yatsubusa' is a small-sized, tightly layering dwarf green Japanese maple. Its leaves have a vibrant chartreuse green color in the spring, with a red sheath on the petiole. This unique combination gives it a beautiful appearance, resembling shingles. The growth rate of 'Mikawa yatsubusa' is exceptionally slow, making propagation challenging. However, it rewards with a brilliant fiery red fall color. Over a period of 15 years, it can reach a height of 4-5 ft. This variety is known for its high heat tolerance and overall hardiness, making it suitable for container plants, small garden spaces, fairy gardens, and conifer troughs. One of the largest specimens of 'Mikawa yatsubusa' that I am aware of can be found at my uncle's home in Hill Stone Arboretum, where it serves as a captivating addition to our display gardens.

 

Acer palmatum 'Shin deshojo'
'Shin deshojo' is a stunning Japanese maple variety that showcases vibrant red foliage in the early spring. The intensity of its bright red color is truly remarkable and unmatched. As the season progresses, the leaves transition to a deep green shade for the summer. However, when autumn arrives, 'Shin deshojo' transforms once again into a brilliant fire engine red, creating a striking contrast with its smaller leaves. This unique combination of color and leaf size makes 'Shin deshojo' a beloved choice for landscaping. In fact, it was awarded the prestigious Maple of The Year Award by the Maple Society in 2018. Additionally, 'Shin deshojo' is highly sought after for bonsai cultivation. With a growth rate of approximately 10 feet in 10 years, it offers both beauty and manageable size.

 

Pinus thunbergii 'Kotobuki'

'Kotobuki' is a compact variety of Japanese black pine originating from Japan. It features an erect and densely branched form. Unlike other Japanese black pines, the needles of 'Kotobuki' are notably shorter, giving it a distinctive appearance in any garden. This characteristic also contributes to its popularity as a bonsai tree. Over a period of 10 years, 'Kotobuki' can grow to a height of 4-5 feet and spread 3 feet wide.

 

 

 

Juniperus horizontalis 'Wiltonii'
The Blue Rug Juniper, also known as 'Wiltonii', is a beautiful and compact ground cover that stays low to the ground, reaching a height of 6-8 inches and spreading up to 6 feet in width over a period of 19 years. Its blue color adds aesthetic appeal to any landscape. This versatile plant can be used to soften the texture of walls by draping over them or as a mass planting for quick and extensive ground coverage. It is also a popular choice for bonsai enthusiasts due to its small size and attractive foliage.

 

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