Shohin skål / Shohin pot

En ny skål fra Takao-Koyo er tilføjet samlingen. / A new pot by Takao-Koyo has been added to the collection.


Det er den anden skål jeg har fra Takao-Koyo, og begge i blå nuancer. Det er vigtigt at have skåle i forskellige farver når der laves opstillinger med Shohin bonsai. Skålene tilføjer variation i opstillingen, og understreger løvets og blomsternes farver. Derfor anvendes de glaserede farvede skåle traditionelt til løvfældende træer, eller træer med blomster og bær. Jordfarvede uglaserede skåle er specielt gode til nåletræer. / This is the second pot from Takao-Koyo I have purchased. Both are in blue colour variations. Coloured pots adds variation to the shohin display, where they are traditionally used for deciduous trees, and for flowering and berries where they enhance the impression and underline the colours of the fruits and flowers.

Læg mærke til at potterens mindste mærke (Hanko) i bunden af skålene er lidt forskellige på de to skåle, selvom det er fra samme pottemager. / Please notice that despite this is from the same potter, the smaller potter marks (Hanko) are slightly different.

/ Morten Albek – December 2014

Bonsai oase / Bonsai Oasis

Ude på landet ved Changzhou ligger der en lille oase. Outside Changzhou a small bonsai Oasis is found.


Kina er overraskende på mange måder. Shanghaiområdet er fladt, og der ligger konstant en varmedis over landskabet. Efter fire timers bustur ,der var sat til 1 time, ankom gruppen til en lille oase ude på landet, hvor der for en gangs skyld var sparsom trafik og langt mellem husene. Et lidt fattigere område end der hidtil var set på turen. Nede ad en smal vej hvor bussen ikke kunne komme, forbi en sø med badeforbud (som ikke var nødvendigt for den så på ingen måde hverken levende, sund eller badeindbydende ud), lå der en lille plet med sønhed. China is surprising in many ways. The Shanghai area is lowland and constantly a haze covered for the sun. A four hours drive, that should have been one hour, brought our group to a small oasis at the countryside. For once without dense housing and only few cars on the road. A poorer area that we have seen until now. Down a small narrow road where the bus couldn’t go, passing a clearly poisoned lake with bathing prohibition (not necessary because it didn’t look inviting at all), and behind that a small peace of beauty was present.


Traditionel kinesisk musik modtog os i haven, som fik en særlig magi over sig. Meget store bonsai, mellemstore og endda Shohin kunne ses i den lille have. I butikken var også et stort udvalg af tekander. En meget fin oplevelse som kontrast til de meget stor gartnerier med tusinder af bonsai. Traditional Chinese music welcomed us inside the garden, which gave the place a special and magic mood. Very large bonsai (as usual in China) mixed with medium sized and even Shohin bonsai. In the shop also a large variety of Tea pots was present in fine qualities. A great experience as contrast to the very large scaled nurseries we have seen so far with thousands of bonsai.

Alle fotos kan ses på All photos avaliable at


Shohin flowers

Today’s flowering shohin-bonsai in the garden are a English Hawthorn and Slender deutzia. Flowers welcomes spring and summer, and the colours are good for a shohin display showing the seasons.


The Crataegus laevigata, English Hawthorn has been trained now for 14 years. Shohin, 20 cm heigh, pot: Tokoname.

Another beautiful specimen is the Deutzia gracilis, 15 cm heigh. Japanese pot by Bikoh Horie. The flowering period is long, with the bright white flowers opening after some weeks.


Flowering Shohin in spring

One of two spring  flowering shohin is a Quince, Chaenomeles x superba `Crimson and Gold`, which is a bit of an old tree in my collection. I have trained this tree since 2001 (thirteen years to save you from counting), and the tree is app. 25 years old. Originally a garden nursery specimen. I love these spring flowering trees, who welcomes spring. The past two years it has not been allowed to flower, because it was in need of restoring week branches. It is a simple tree but working well in a spring display. The pot is a wonderful Japanese pot by Yumeko. Height of the tree is 11 cm.



The second shohin shown is a new tree in the collection. A Deutzia gracilis that is strong growing specimen. Therefore it is grown in a narrow pot, to reduce its growth, keeping branches shorter. Because it is still a young tree, the growth is too long, but this will reduce with time. The pot is a Japanese pot, by Bikoh Horie. Height of the tree is 16 cm.


Raku shohin pots

Sometimes people surprises you. In this case, the surprise is about bonsai friendship. Marianne Thomasson from the US, shipped four of her very well crafted and beautiful shohin raku bonsai pots to me. Why? Because she appreciated my work and wanted to show it by giving away some of her work. I therefore want to show my appreciation of this kind act. I look forward to find some plants that will go well with the pots, and many thanks to Marianne for her dedication.

Pots by Marianne Thomasson (US).
Pots by Marianne Thomasson (US).


The shohin heat is on

Shohin-bonsai plazedin semishade from larger garden trees at Morten Albeks residence, Albek Bonsai Studio.
Shohin-bonsai placed in semi shade from larger garden trees at Morten Albeks residence, Albek Bonsai Studio.

The sun is burning and the heat is certainly on here in Denmark. This makes it a little harder to keep shohin-bonsai healthy. The warm weather is one thing, the sun adding heat to the pots is another. Trees transpire to cool down the temperature in their cells. Therefore sufficient watering is essential on these hot days. Watering during the hottest part of the day sprinkling the trees will on shorter terms cool down the trees a little, but it only lasts short. It wont harm the trees at all being wet with leaves exposed for the sun. Old stories about leaf burns because of water on the leafs acting like sun through a magnifying glass are not true. This is tested and proven wrong, so just go ahead cooling the trees with a little water sprinkling in the sun.

On the longer term, that means all day long, cooling the trees are also possible in other ways. Hanging up a shadow net to diffuse sun light is one method. Or, as I do, placing the trees in partly shadow provided by larger trees is another. Garden trees are placed on purpose to make some semi shade during the hottest part of the day, helping the trees from being over heated.

One more factor of importance is the pot and the clay quality and fabrication. Japanese pots often seems thinner in their construction of clay walls than many western pots. This is to avoid the roots being overheated by a thick pot which doesn’t cool down as fast as a thinner pot. Also the transpiration of the clay on non-glazed pots for conifers are an element of importance. Especially conifers prefers unglazed pots because they like their roots in a cooler environment. Deciduous copes with glazed pots a little better, and glazed pots are not transpiring through the glazed clay walls of the pot, therefore unable to cool the same way as unglazed bonsai pots.

Japanese maple, shohin, protected for the sun at the hottest part of the day, placed in semi shade.
Japanese maple, shohin, protected for the sun at the hottest part of the day, placed in semi shade.

Gafu-ten book 38

The book from the 38th Gafu-ten exhibition in Japan (the largest Shohin exhibition taking place every January in Japan), just landed on my desk. And ohhh how happy a boy I am. Not only by watching the marvellous photos of fantastic Shohin-displays,  buts also the great improvement of having a part of the texts in English too. A small part in the back of the book (the start of the book, if you are not familiar to the Japanese reading from right to left), also guides how to set up a display. Very nice to see how the Japanese Shohin Association reach out to Western enthusiasts too, helping us to understand the complexity of displaying Shohin bonsai.