Kennett Collection Sale

For any serious bonsai enthusiast on the Eastern Seaboard, there was one place to have been on March 14th. Gateway Garden Center in Hokenssin, DE was host to over 400 bonsai being sold from the legendary Kennett Collection.IMG_9006

Almost all the trees had been imported from Japan and were being sold at amazing prices. I actually passed on buying things last month in Japan in anticipation of this sale.

Museum Curator Jack Sustic, myself, and Museum volunteer Ted Pickett drove up that morning and arrived an hour early. People had already began to muster, circling the perimeter trying to locate the trees they wanted.

There were buyers from Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and even Houston, Texas. Let me know if I missed any.

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IMG_8995A tent had been set up with cashiers, heaters and best of all free coffee and donuts.IMG_8998

IMG_8991The rules were simple and as fair as possible so that everyone got a chance to get a tree.

IMG_8988Each person pulled a wrist band out of a box and that determined when you could go in.

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Peter Warren MC’d the event, going over everything in detail and bound everyone to a gentlemen’s agreement to abide by the rules.IMG_9004

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IMG_9002In what we can hope will become as iconic an image as the original, Peter pumped up the crowd with the shout of “Bonsai Power!”.

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Jack at the starting gate waiting for his group to go. No one dared to try anything funny with what I assume were the first bouncers ever at a bonsai sale.

I was in shortly after Jack and was able to photograph the trees. Enjoy.

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The first group went in at 10 am and apparently this maple was the first tree purchased, by 11:30 over half the bonsai were sold.
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It was a great experience, even for those who didn’t get exactly what they wanted. Thank you to Mr. Paul and everyone involved in orchestrating this event. It’s exciting to know that so many fine bonsai have been distributed around the U.S. and I assume we will be seeing many of them in upcoming exhibitions.

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Falling into Winter, part 2

As the trees on exhibit move past their peak fall color we replace them with trees that are just beginning to shine. Here are the new additions as well as a few from the first post that look better than they first did.

IMG_9815Trident Maple, Donated by Stanley Chin, Age Unknown

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IMG_9818Closeup of netsuke

IMG_9819Japanese Maple, Donated by Shintaro Abe, In training since 1946.

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Red Maple, Acer rubrum var. Drummondii, Donated by Vaughn Banting, In training since 1974.

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Cedar Elm, Ulmus crassifolia, Donated by Arch Hawkins, In training since 1981.

IMG_9822Close-up of trunks and branch structure.

IMG_9823Bald Cypress, Donated by Vaughn Banting, In training since 1972.

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Ginkgo biloba, Donated by Masayuki Fujio, In training since 1896.

IMG_9829Japanese Privet, Ligustrum obtusifolium, Donated by Seiko Koizumi, In training since 1968.

IMG_9826Trident Maple, Donated by Ted Guyer, In training since 1975.

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Japanese Maple, Donated by Ryutaro Azuma, In training since 1906.

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Liquidambar, Donated by Vaughn Banting, In training since 1975. The photo doesn’t do the tree justice regarding its actual color. Its almost a neon red. When you see it in person the tree seems like it is glowing.

IMG_9833Close-up of fall leaves.

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Golden Larch, Pseudolarix amabilis, Donated by Shu-ling Lui, In training since 1971.

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Thanks for reading. I will be posting the final installment of this years fall exhibit next week. This coming weekend will be your last opportunity to see this special Fall Exhibit, so if you live in or near DC stop by the Museum and enjoy the trees before all the leaves are gone.

Falling into Winter, Autumn Bonsai Exhibition 2013

IMG_9747Thankfully things in Washington got sorted out in time for our annual fall exhibition. The exhibit runs from October 26 – November 10. Trees will be rotated in and out as they come into peak color and I will post addition pictures as we change them.

IMG_9712Bradford Pear, Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford’, In training since 1976, Styled by the first curator Bob Drechsler.

IMG_9713Three point display: Pomegranate bonsai, scroll with gourd and calligraphy, and contorted mondo grass.

IMG_9714 Pomegranate, Punica granatum, In training since 1963, Donated by Alice Naka.

IMG_9715 Contorted mondo grass, Ophiopogon chingii.

IMG_9717Trident Maple, Acer buergerianum, Age unknown, Donated by Stanley Chin.

IMG_9719 English Hawthorn, Crataegus oxycantha,  In training since 1955, Donated by Bertra Bruenner.

IMG_9720 Close-up of trunk and fruit.

IMG_9721 Three point display: Crabapple bonsai, scroll of Mt. Fuji and rising sun, and Japanese forest grass accent.

IMG_9722 Toringo Crabapple, Malus seiboldii ‘Toringo’, In training since 1905, Donated by Shyuichi Ueda.

IMG_9723 Japanese forest grass, Hakonechloa macra.

IMG_9724 Japanese Maple, Acer palmatum, In training since 1906, Donated by Ryutaro Azuma.

IMG_9725 Close-up of trunk and nebari.

IMG_9726 Chinese Elm, Ulmus parvifolia, In training since 1906, Donated by Yee-sun Wu.

IMG_9727 Close-up of hollow trunk .

IMG_9728 Three point display: Gingko bonsai, viewing stone, and sedum.

IMG_9729 Indian Blanket Stone donated by Melba Tucker, and sedum.

IMG_9730 Three point display: Sweet Gum bonsai, scroll with bird and nandina, and Japanese bloodgrass.

IMG_9731 Sweet Gum, Liquidambar styraciflua, In training since 1975, Donated by Vaugh Banting.

IMG_9732 Japanese blood grass, Imperata cylindrica, pot by Sharon Edwards-Russell.

IMG_9733 Chrysanthemum Stone, Donated by Kemin Hu.

IMG_9734 Detail of chrysanthemum.

IMG_9735 Star magnolia, Magnolia stellata, In training since 1986 , Donated by Kazuo Moriyama.

Autumn Tokonoma Display

The first tokonoma display of fall is traditional three point display made up of a stone, a scroll, and an accent plant. A typical three point display contains a primary element  that holds the visual weight of the space. This is typically a bonsai or viewing stone but can also be a scroll. The second element has less visual weight and can also be a bonsai, stone, or scroll.
The third component can be an accent plant, small stone or some decorative art object like an okimono.

The primary element in this display is a Chrysanthemum stone from Sado Island donated by Ralph Johnson.This close-up view of the stone shows the various mineral deposits within the stones matrix.

The second element is a scroll depicting a moon with falling maple leaves, possibly from the tree in the summer display. This scroll was painted by Matsumura Keibun 景文 松村 (1779 – 1843)  “He was a leading figure in the Shijo school established by his half-brother, Matsumura Goshun (1752-1811). Their father, a fourth-generation official of the Kyoto gold mint, died when Keibun was two years old, making it likely that he would follow Goshun, 27 years his senior, into an artistic career. Keibun mastered the techniques of painting taught at Goshun’s studio at Shijo-Sakaimachi in Kyoto. He studied the work of Maruyama Okyo (1733–1795), whose blend of realism and decorative beauty exerted a major influence on him. Keibun’s numerous sketchbooks reveal his lifelong adherence to Okyo’s dictum to draw from nature. Additionally, he was familiar with Chinese literati painting (Bunjinga) and art theories of the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) periods. In his later years he associated with Koishi Genzui (1793–1865), a leading figure of Confucian literati circles in Kyoto. In 1797 Keibun’s work was chosen for exhibition by the leading literati scholar and painter, Minagawa Kien (1734–1807) who from 1792 sponsored twice-yearly exhibitions of new works of painting. By 1801 his designs were being included with those of Goshun and other Kyoto artists in woodblock-printed picture-books (ehon). After Goshun’s death in 1811 Keibun shared the leadership of the Shijo school with fellow-pupil Okamoto Toyohiko (1773-1845), and the two became the most popular painters in Kyoto. Keibun was particularly noted for his bird-and-flower (kacho) compositions.(MyJapanesehanga.com)

Signature and chop of Matsumura Keibun.

The third and last component is an accent planting of Sumac, Rhus copallium, in fall color with fern, Selaginella sp.

This display was only installed for a few days as the Sumac quickly dropped its leaves. Fall is a wonderful time to create displays as trees and plants are changing color on a daily basis.

On that note, our annual Fall bonsai exhibit opens tomorrow, Saturday October 20th and continues through November 4th.

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Post exhibit clean up

All good things must come to an end. The bright reds of autumn have faded into drab browns signally the approach of winter. Once a bonsai has past its peak of fall color it needs to be cleaned up before we put it into winter storage.

This Japanese Maple is one of my favorite trees and always looks great in the fall. To keep it looking good, the foliage needs to be cleaned up. The leaves on the main trunk are already brown and falling off, while some of the leaves on the secondary trunks are still green. With mutli-trunked bonsai its common to see this variance between the trunks.

The leaves on the main trunk are brown and dry. Leaves at this stage can be plucked off with very little effort.

The leaves should come off by gently plucking them with your fingers.  If you encounter any resistance while pulling you will need to cut them off with scissors.

Within a few minutes the main trunk is devoid of leaves.

Some of the leaves on the other trunks are green and cannot be plucked without the risk of breaking branches or buds. They will need to be cut off instead.

When cutting the leaves make sure to leave a portion of the petiole or leaf stem.

A finished branch. The petioles will fall off in a few days

All the leaves have been removed and now we can fully appreciate this tree’s branch structure.

The soil surface of each bonsai exhibited was covered with moss in accordance with proper bonsai display etiquette. Once the exhibit is over, the moss is removed so that the soil does not stay too wet during the winter.

With the moss removed, the tree is almost ready to be placed into our Chinese Pavilion where we overwinter the majority of the bonsai. The last thing to do is scrub off any green algae with a toothbrush and water.

Removing old leaves and moss from trees before being put in winter storage is a good habit. This level of care will help reduce the risk of harmful pathogens during the winter and give your bonsai a head start going into spring.