Hi!

I’m Zach Smith and I’m here to help you acquire, style and maintain the finest collected native bonsai available anywhere.

Years Experience

Bonsai Articles Written

Bonsai Created

Bonsai Demonstrations

Fine Quality Bonsai and Pre-Bonsai For Sale

Water oak (p7)

Water oak is one of the very best oak species to work with.  They take to pot culture well, grow fast and you can get the leaf size very small as they ramify beautifully. 

I lifted this Water oak in early spring, 2018.  I’ve been watching it grow on my property now for several years, and I chopped it once in the ground.  Great trunk character and nice movement in an upright tree.  Trunk base 1.75″, 11″ to the chop.  I would expect the finished height for this tree to be about 16-18″.

Ships in late July | Standard Shipping Included in Price

$125

crape myrtle (B6)

Crape myrtle is a great species for bonsai.  They root fast, grow very well in summer, and bloom like crazy.

I wrote a blog about this neat little literati bonsai in April 2018.  It has since resumed growing and I’ve had to pinch it a couple of times now.  If you’re looking for a small but nice Crape bonsai, you may want to give this one a try.  Even thought it’s a small tree, I predict it’ll try to bloom later this summer.  Trunk base 3/8″, height 12″.  Beautiful Chuck Iker pot.

$85

crape myrtle (P4)

Crape myrtle is a great species for bonsai.  They root fast, grow very well in summer, and bloom like crazy.

I’ve been field-growing this nice Crape for the past four years, after I’d made it from a cutting which I grew for another few.  This one is from an old tree that was along our drive when we bought our house 23 years ago.  Wired and styled today (6/2).  Purple flowers.  Trunk base 1.5″, 10″ tall.  Crapes are super-rooters, so though I lifted it last month it’ll be ready to travel by the end of June.

$95

crape myrtle (B6)

Crape myrtle is a great species for bonsai.  They root fast, grow very well in summer, and bloom like crazy.

I wrote a blog about this neat little literati bonsai in April 2018.  It has since resumed growing and I’ve had to pinch it a couple of times now.  If you’re looking for a small but nice Crape bonsai, you may want to give this one a try.  Even thought it’s a small tree, I predict it’ll try to bloom later this summer.  Trunk base 3/8″, height 12″.
Beautiful Chuck Iker pot.

$85

cedar elm (b10)

If you love group and forest plantings, it’s hard to go wrong with Cedar elm.

When I was collecting Cedar elms this February, I made sure to get some to make small forest plantings out of.  This is one of those groups.  Very nice composition in this Chuck Iker round.  The main tree has a trunk base of 1″, and it’s 16″ tall.  Ready for pinching, pruning and some light wiring.  But it already looks great, doesn’t it?  Update: I wired and trimmed the trees today (5/17/18).

Ships in late June | Standard Shipping Included in Price

$225

cedar elm (B9)

If you love elm bonsai, you need to have a Cedar elm bonsai.  That’s all there is to it.

Another February 2018 collected specimen, this little tree has amazing trunk movement and character.  It’s also barking up, which means it’ll look really old in about two years.  I did the initial styling and potting on 5/4/18. True to the toughness of the species, it never blinked.  Trunk base 1″, finished height will be 12″.  Nice Byron Myrick oval.  Age about 10-15 years.

Ships in late June | Standard Shipping Included in Price

$145

This Is Either Going To Be Great Or Awful

The seasoned bonsai enthusiast often takes on projects that, at least in the beginning, seem full of promise but later on go a bit sideways.  That's another way of saying that trees usually do what they want, and it's not at all unusual for you not to appreciate what...

Watch Me Wire The Big BC – It’s Progress!

Last week I defoliated this very large Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum).  Not surprisingly, the tree is already showing new buds.  The wiring needed to be done now! Here's the step by step work I did on this tree.  When you defoliate any tree, it gives you the...

How About This Great Progress With A Sweetgum

I lifted this Sweetgum last year and put it in a nursery container to recover and gain strength.  It was sluggish for most of last year, but I just fed, watered and otherwise ignored it.  As I knew it would, it finally kicked growth into high gear this spring, which...

Have You Ever Defoliated A BC? Here’s How To Do It

If you grow or plan to grow Bald cypress bonsai, it's vital that you learn an indispensable development technique - defoliation.  It may sound challenging at first blush, but it's one of the easiest and most beneficial techniques you'll ever use in growing bonsai....

A Couple Of Quick Progressions I Like

Bonsai is a pursuit that works best when given enough time.  This is fairly obvious once you've studied enough.  It's the old trees that have been in training for decades (even centuries) that command our attention.  Now, with that said I'm a big proponent of bringing...

A Terrific American Elm Bonsai-To-Be

I love elm bonsai.  Among my favorite elm species to work with is American elm, Ulmus Americana.  I found this one almost by accident in early May.  Though I would normally prefer to collect American elms in January or February, I thought it would be worth a try to...

Here’s The Kind Of Progression I Like To See

In the ideal bonsai world we'd collect a tree, watch it bud out and then push nice shoots for us to work with, we'd wire and pot the tree, and it would have developed its complete structure by the end of the first growing season.  Ah, if only.... Well, this looks like...

Do You Know The Best Thing About American Hornbeam For Bonsai?

American hornbeam, Carpinus caroliniana, is one of my best deciduous species for bonsai.  It has many stellar characteristics as a bonsai subject, including relatively small leaves that reduce in size readily, smooth greenish-gray bark, and the easily recognized...

Another Cedar Elm Gets Styled

This Cedar elm, Ulmus crassifolia, is now strong enough for an initial styling.  I know this because it has undergone its second round of growth following the initial recovery period.  Notice in this photo the growing tips of the shoots.  There's roots below ground!...

Bonsai Odds & Ends – Tulip Poplar, Hackberry, And Is This A Catbird Grape?

Everybody knows that you avoid trying to make bonsai out of magnolias.  Grandiflora, specifically, with its dinner-plate sized flowers.  No, I don't go there, so this isn't going to be about some valiant effort to overcome the species.  With that said, this Tulip...

The Initial Styling Of A Very Cool Cedar Elm

I collected this Cedar elm, Ulmus crassifolia, in April of 2017. As you can see from this photo, taken in October of 2017, its post-collecting recovery was weak.  You will likely encounter this sort of situation from time to time.  The key is to recognize it and treat...

Designing A Bald Cypress Pairing – Next Step

In early March I created this bald cypress pairing.  On the 31st here's what it looked like.  Not so impressive.  But from humble beginnings.... A month later, the trees had responded like bald cypress responds, and I was able to get the initial styling mostly done. ...

What In The World Do I Do With That?

It has to be the most difficult challenge every developing bonsai artist faces: namely, staring at a piece of material that's all full of growth but which has no clear design in sight.  When I teach workshops the basic issue with every tree we work on is, "What in the...

Let’s See If I Can Add Video To My Blogs

So last year I slip-potted this Cedar elm, Ulmus crassifolia, in September.  It's a nice specimen that looks great with a bit of a slant in its planting angle.  As I've noted before, I need to ground-layer some roots in front of the tree.  This will be a simple task...

A Fun Friday With Cedar Elms

Here's one of the Cedar elms, Ulmus crassifolia, that I collected in March.  It's a smaller specimen, with a trunk base of 1" at the soil level, but it's packed with character.  I've been keeping an eye on it now since it first started showing buds a week after...

Starting Over With A Bonsai – You Will, Sooner Or Later

Last year I was working on this Riverflat hawthorn, Crataegus opaca, for a client who had purchased the tree and was anxiously awaiting delivery.  I had collected it in 2015, and began its training that same year.  The primary work last year was to pot it into a nice...

Art In Small Packages

I've posted blogs about this old Crape myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica, that Allen Gautreau and I collected in the early 90s.  He left it to me when he passed.  I've since done some redesign work and put the tree in a different pot.  That's not the topic of this blog,...

My Latest Shot At Swamp Maple

I seldom write about Swamp maple, Acer rubrum 'Drummondii,' not because you can't make nice bonsai with them but because I have had no success collecting larger specimens and maintaining them past a few years.  In about year three they start rotting from the chop...

Repotting Mr. Van Winkle

It's been a couple of years since I repotted my big Willow oak, Quercus phellos.  Last year I named him Rip Van Winkle, because he waited until May to finally bud out.  (I was afraid he was R.I.P. Van Winkle.)  Anyway, when I did the repotting back in 2016 I tried...

Just Had To Share

Chinese Elm - 8/4/14 Chinese Elm - 4/4/18 Not bad for four years' work! The progression has been updated too. Note: Comments are closed. Remember to use the new Insider's Club Form to post your questions and comments. This helps everybody learn and help and this is...

Bonsai South News + Odds & Ends

In the next two weeks we will be launching our updated website.  Cathy has created a wonderful new design, which will be much more functional and easier for you to use.  We'll send out an announcement when we launch. Meanwhile, here are a few...

Hawthorn Gets New Home. Nice!

  If you've spent any time browsing through our site, you've seen my awesome Riverflat hawthorn (Crataegus opaca).  After several years, this tree is really well developed and frankly is one of my all-time favorites. One thing I've come to realize over the past year...

How To Fix Problems When They Happen (For They Will)

As you know by now, we had an unexpectedly cold winter that included two snowfalls that accumulated (inches, which for us is unheard of) and temps of 15F on three separate occasions.  For those of you up north, this is probably balmy spring weather, but down here the...

Spring Work – Potting And Repotting

The beat goes on.  As I mentioned yesterday, spring is the time when you need to do all sorts of things all at once.  One of those things is potting.  Another, related, is repotting.  Here are today's subjects. Here's my Chinese elm, Ulmus parvifolia, that you can...

Spring Work – Parsley Hawthorn

Spring is upon us, and that means a lot of things need to happen all at once and quickly.  This includes developmental work on trees collected in prior years.  The Parsley hawthorn below (Crataegus marshallii) is a case in point. I treated this specimen as I do...

Collecting Season Ends – Got Some Nice Cedar Elms

Spring has come very early to the Deep South.  Things are blooming and budding.  Yesterday Cathy and I were able to collect some Cedar elms (Ulmus crassifolia), and I think we got some very nice material.  Here are a few specimens that I hope to be able to offer soon....

Hackberry Collecting Goes Well – Weather Sucked

So we left home on Friday around noon to travel to North Mississippi, where I was meeting up with a friend to go Hackberry (Celtis laevigata) collecting.  It was almost 80° and sunny when we left.  300 miles later, the temperature was about 45° and it was overcast. ...

For All You Timid Root-Pruners Out There

I regularly cause a lot of anxiety by how drastically I root-prune newly collected trees.  To be sure, it takes some courage to start really chopping on your deciduous trees the way they need to be, but once you figure out they don't mind it does get a lot easier....

I’m Seeing BC Buds!

This winter has been pretty awful.  In addition to being colder than usual, it's also been wetter than usual.  That does not make for a pleasant time. Just over the past few days we've seen temperatures moderate a bit - and by that I mean it gets into the 60s during...

February Sucks, Styling Helps

Every August I think August is the suckiest month, then along comes February and I remember there are worse things than killer heat and humidity.  To help make February less sucky, there is some work that needs doing on trees being developed.  If you have some...

Hornbeam Harvest Part 2

I made a collecting trip with a new bonsai friend today, and we got some really nice American hornbeams (Carpinus caroliniana).  Among the nicknames for the species is "Musclewood."  This is because as it matures the trunk of a hornbeam will produce sinewy-looking...

Hornbeam And Huckleberry Trunks

I posted a blog a couple of weeks ago about new American hornbeam and Huckleberry specimens I'd collected.  That post disappeared when we changed hosting services.  I don't feel like trying to recreate that blog, so here's a replacement to show you a few nice trees...

More Great BC Material – Collecting Trip 3

The weather was dodgy today, meaning we had a torrential downpour all across South Louisiana.  We did have the good fortune to be able to collect a few nice trees before the sky really opened up, however.  Here are a few photos to give you an idea of how we did. This...

I’d Like Your Opinion On This

After posting yesterday's blog, a reader commented that I should include a standard reference object in order to make it easier to gauge the size of certain trees.  Here's a photo of the really big two-tree Bald cypress specimen I showed you yesterday: I've never done...

Great Bald Cypress Material – Collecting Trip 2

So, four days ago we had a couple of inches of snow here, and temperatures around 15°F for a couple of nights.  Today it was 60°.  That could only mean one thing: go collect more Bald cypress! Here's today's haul.  I focused on larger specimens today, which means I...

More Collected BC Fun – Hard Chops And Small Stars

I often get questions about chopping the roots of collected trees, and it seems the question most often asked is, “If you chop the roots back that far, will the tree survive?”  The short answer, of course, is always, “Yes, it will.”  This is from a lot of experience,...

The 2018 Bald Cypress Harvest, Part 1

Once the BC we collect this year start budding, I'll begin sending out advance photos of candidates per your requests.  For anyone not currently on our list who would like to be, just send me an email with the size you're looking for and/or budget and I'll add you. ...

Fascinating Facts About 10 Bonsai Species

There's not much growing at this time of year, so I got to pondering some fascinating facts about 10 of the species I grow as bonsai.  Here they are, in no particular order. This species produces more trunk buds when collected as bare stumps than just about any other...

The Harvest Is Underway

With the new year only nine days away, and with some time to spare today (after wrapping Cathy's Christmas present), I decided to lift a few trees and get a head-start on the season. Estimated Age: 35-50 years A couple of weeks ago I lifted two huckleberries to see if...

Getting Ready For 2018

Now that winter has set in, it's time to begin working on the 2018 growing season.  The "official" collecting season begins on January 1 and goes through about March.  Sometimes the weather throws this schedule off, but most of the time it's a reliable 12 weeks during...

Winter Work – Design Evaluation

We tend to hunker down in winter, since our bonsai aren't growing and the weather is often miserable.  But that doesn't mean we can't make progress with our bonsai.  In fact, once the leaves on our deciduous trees have fallen, we have an ideal opportunity to see the...

Trying Stuff = Getting Better At Bonsai

Unless you are strictly into bonsai as a connoisseur, meaning you collect bonsai and have a visiting or resident artist/curator maintain them for your viewing pleasure, you can't ever ever stop trying and learning stuff.  Now, don't take that to mean you should learn...

Fall Color And Reflection

As the year draws to a close, it's nice to spend some time reflecting on this year's growing season and how it impacted our bonsai.  Was it a good year?  What new things did you learn?  What surprises (good or bad) popped up?  It's for sure that you never stop...

A Few Sweetgums For 2018

It's not time to dig trees yet, certainly not Sweetgums (Liquidambar styraciflua), but it's not a bad time to scout for specimens to dig when the time comes.  Here are a few that I expect to lift in 2018.   This one volunteered four or five years ago, and I finally...

I Love This Tree, It Just Keeps Getting Better

My great Riverflat hawthorn, Crataegus opaca, is finishing up year six in my care. The leaves will be off the tree soon, but just as the deciduous tree gives us different looks throughout the year I like this in-between one too. For those of you who haven't worked...

The Learning Never Stops – Here Are A Few Survivors

I do all sorts of things with trees, some good and some bad but all with the best of intentions.  The ultimate goal is a great bonsai that really makes you think it's a real tree.  My preference is to speed up the process as much as possible.  Here are a few examples...

It’s Showtime! How To Prepare Your Tree

My local bonsai club is having its fall show this coming weekend.  I've been pondering which of my trees I'd like to show, and today this one caught my eye.   This, you might say, is one heck of a hornbeam.  The American hornbeam, Carpinus caroliniana, is one of the...

God Bless The Ever-Reliable Crape Myrtle

Living in the Deep South has some advantages.  Fall color on bonsai trees is not one of them.  So imagine my surprise when I noticed this guy last evening Lovely fall color, right? Crapes tend to produce fall color down here when most other deciduous species just end...

Happy Halloween From Me And The Dragon

Today's Halloween, and Halloween is my birthday, so I took the day off and it turned out to be a perfect day to do some work on the Dragon, my super-duper Water-elm (Planera aquatica). For those of you unfamiliar with this tree, here it is in "stick" form back in...

Don’t Ignore Problems At This Time Of Year

As the growing season comes to an end, we have certain chores we do to prepare for winter.  Deciduous trees are either in full color or already dropping foliage.  Watering needs decline from two or three times daily to once every few days.  Cold frames are getting...

We Do More So You Can Have More

Our trees are collected and field grown … which means we raise them. We choose only the best because we deserve … and you deserve … only the best.

Insider's Club

Insider’s info about what’s going on at Bonsai South

One-Of-A-Kind Trees

Fine quality collected and field grown deciduous trees

Images Sent Directly To You

Advance notice of fine quality, collected and field grown deciduous trees for sale

New Bonsai Blogs

How-to articles that show you, step-by-step, how Zach developes both stock material and finished bonsai

Bonsai Community

We are working to create an exclusive, members-only forum where you can interact with Zach and other enthusiasts

The Bonsai Files

Access to general and how-to articles, the Bonsai Files, that are detailed and filled with bonsai images

Gallery

Tons of pictures detailing the progression and craftsmanship of Zach’s unique bonsai

Workshops

One-on-one workshops and group with Zach held in beautiful St. Francisville, LA

How-To Videos

Instructional videos to help you improve your design skills

Contact Bonsai South

We love bonsai … you love bonsai … let’s talk! Drop Zach a line with your questions and comments; he works to answer every email personally as soon as it arrives in his inbox. Thanks!

Address: 9116 Dorothy Lane
St Francisville, Louisiana 70775

Phone: (225) 784 – 2168