Potomac Bonsai Associations Winter Newsletter

The winter edition of the PBA Newsletter is out and features Museum volunteer turned bonsai apprentice Danny Coffey. Danny breaks down his approach in restyling a really cool shimpaku. Get the complete article here.

Danny Clippings winter

You can also follow Danny’s journey as an apprentice on his blog “Tree the People“.

2014 Winter Silhouette Bonsai Exhibition

The National Bonsai and Penjing Museum, located on the East Coast of the United States, has been having its annual Winter Silhouettes exhibition for nearly 20 years. We’ve recently gone to a biannual show to generate more interest as winter is our slow season at the Arboretum.
IMG_0058Japanese Maple-Kiyo-hime, In training since 1946, Donated by Akiko Matsudaira.

IMG_00603 point display with Trident Maple, In training since 1895, Donated Prince Takamatsu, Mt. Fuji scroll, and Japanese Blood Grass.

IMG_0064Branch silhouette.

IMG_0063Japanese Blood Grass, container by MC2.

IMG_0061Triptych of Root-over-rock Chinese Elms, Donated by Yee Sun-Wu.

IMG_0070 Chinese Hackberry, In training since 1946, Donated by Shu-ying Lu.

IMG_0071Winter Suiseki.

IMG_0072 Chinese Elm, In training since 1946, Donated by Yee-sun Wu.IMG_0073 Bald Cypress, In training since 1972, Donated by Vaughn Banting.

IMG_0074 Chinese Elm, In training since 1970, Donated by Marybel Balendonck.

IMG_0075 Branch detail.

IMG_0077 Year of the Horse shohin display.

IMG_0078 Rabbit foot fern, container by Lang,  with horse figurine.

IMG_0079 Chinese Elm, Age unknown, Donated by All Japan Shohin Bonsai Association.

IMG_0080 Trident Maple, In training since 1918, Donated by Prime Minister Obuchi.

IMG_0081 Hut Stone.

IMG_0082 Trident Maple, In training since 1986, Donated by Doris Froning.IMG_0083 Smooth-leaved Elm, In training since 1982, Donated by Keith Scott.

IMG_0084 Pomegranate, In training since 1963, Donated by Alice Naka.

IMG_0085 Japanese Cedar, In training since 1905, Donated by Eisaku Sato.

IMG_0086 Chinese Elm, Age Unknown, Donated by Stanley Chin.

IMG_0087 Trident Maple, In training since 1916, Donated Takeo Fukuda.

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Chinese Elm, In training since 1961, Donated by Shu-ying Lui.

Winter Tokonoma 2014

Happy New Year! For the first post of 2014 I wanted to showcase the current display in our tokonoma.

For this display I wanted to try and use some objects that are not my immediate choices for a winter themed arrangement. This would not only show off more of the Museum’s collection but also challenge me to be more creative with them.

From the start I knew I wanted to use a scroll we have of a white hawk on a pine branch.

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The scroll makes me think of a remote snowy mountain where this white hawk remains vigilant through the falling snow.

The second object I wanted to use is one of my favorite stones at the Museum because of its name. 30,000 Foot White Beard is the name of this figure stone donated by John Naka. The stone’s name comes from a white strip of minerals running down this otherwise black  figure stone which John envisioned as a very long flowing beard.

The white “beard” reinforces the feeling of winter as its shape also reminds me of an hanging icicle or perhaps a frozen waterfall on a distant peak.

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John collected the stone from the Kern River in Northern California and I assume the daiza was made by himself and that he collected it in 1966 as both his name, the year 1966, and the date 10-29-66 appear on the bottom of the daiza.

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The biggest challenge I encountered was finding a stand that would work within the display. Like picking a bonsai pot you never have enough options and none are ever perfect. I wanted the stone to be elevated enough to be properly viewed and to further enhance its verticality. I also needed the stand to be limited in it’s width so that stone was not visually lost when placed on it.

The first few stands were more traditional in style but weren’t the right size. I then pulled out a stand that seldom gets used here as it has a very narrow range of objects it would work with. However, once I put the stone on it I knew this was the one. Its size was the closest to what I wanted but more importantly it turned a static display into a story I could imagine.

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Now, the display became more than just a stone on a stand but a white bearded man walking over a bridge among snow covered trees being watched by a white hawk.

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Takahashi Shotei, “Bridge in the Snow” ca. 1910

The addition of a winter grass in a cream colored pot completed the setting as I could hear the cold wind rustling their dried stalks.

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Haiku by Matuso Basho

First snow
Falling
On the half-finished bridge

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Hope you enjoyed the display. Thanks for reading and for accompanying  me for walk in the snow.

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Hamano, “Evening Snow at Edo River”1932

I am also very excited to say that I will be making my first trip to Japan next week. I will be studying at the historic Daiju-en nursery for 3 weeks in conjunction with the upcoming Kokufu-ten exhibition. I look forward to sharing my experience here and will be also be posting pictures to my Instagram feed @capitalbonsai

2009 Golden State Bonsai Convention Show

In conjunction with my last post about Peter Adams at the GSBF convention in 2009,  I wanted to share these photos I took of the bonsai on exhibit . Please forgive some of the blurry photos, when I took these 4 years ago, I didn’t expect to be posting them online. Also I normally attribute the owner but again I failed to capture that info. Enjoy.

IMG_4145California Juniper

IMG_4146California Live Oak

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There were also a number of viewing stones on display.

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Brazilian Pepper

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Olive

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Viewing stone, most likely from the Eel River.

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California Juniper

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Chinese Elm

IMG_4156Eleagnus

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Chinese Juniper

IMG_4159California Juniper

IMG_4160Olive

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Redwood

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Japanese Black Pine

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Boxwood

IMG_4164California Juniper

IMG_4166Twisted Pomegranate

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California Juniper

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Shari detail

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San Jose Juniper

IMG_4174Virginia Creeper

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Sierra Juniper

IMG_4176California Juniper

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Dead wood detail

Peter Adams at the 2009 Golden State Bonsai Convention

After hearing about the passing of Peter Adams I went back and pulled some photos of the workshop I took with him back in 2009 at the Golden State Bonsai Convention in Southern California.IMG_4111

The workshop focused on bonsai design with trees brought in by students. There was some confusion with the description of the class since only a few people brought in trees. Once it became clear that Peter was going to do an original sketch of your tree, people quickly went to the vendor area and bought something.

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What immediately struck me about Peter was his artistic ability. Its one thing to see his beautiful sketches in Bonsai Focus but to see him create these amazing drawings in person, and so quickly, was really inspiring. In one instance he was sketching upside down so the class could see what he talking about.

IMG_4121The other thing that was hard to ignore was his sense of humor. Even though he called the US his home he still had that dry Britsh wit. Rather than a formal classroom environment, Peter was cracking jokes and making everyone enjoy themselves, he said “after all, bonsai is supposed to be fun.”

IMG_4134 IMG_4138IMG_4141 IMG_4118IMG_4117 IMG_4115IMG_4187 IMG_4188IMG_4192 I think the distinguishing factor of a true bonsai artist is represented in someone like Peter Adams. His had the ability to see the true potential within a piece of material and then have the skill to bring those designs to life through his sketches. I am very thankful I was able to have spent time with Peter Adams, if ever so briefly, because I am now challenged to look for all the possibilities within a bonsai, just like he did.

Video of John Naka Repotting Goshin

The National Bonsai Foundation in collaboration with the U.S. National Arboretum have digitized several VHS tapes taken over the years here are the Museum. It only seems fitting to have the first be of John Naka re-potting his world famous “Goshin” here at the Museum in 1995. It was filmed by the late Dr. Bill Orsinger, a dedicated museum volunteer who had the foresight to capture this event on tape.