Kinbon Photoshoot

The nicest weather I experienced during the trip was on my third day in Japan, the rest of the trip was either cold and windy, cold and rainy, or cold and snowy. This day however was sunny and pleasant, which was great since the bonsai magazine Kinbon, was coming to do a photo shoot of the trees that were headed for Kokufu-ten.

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These trees had already been photographed once before when they were judged a few weeks prior to my arrival. It was interesting to find out that all the bonsai in the Kokufu exhibit are judged and photographed almost a month before the actual show.

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Since then they were being kept in the workshop, protected from the elements. This meant that my sempai Takuya and myself would be lifting trees for most of the day.

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This needle juniper had some of the tightest foliage pads I’ve ever seen. This tree was from Gashoen, another bonsai nursery nearby, and Mr. Suzuki was taking it to the show for them.

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Not the best picture of a very nice japanese black pine. For whatever reason the photos I take with my iphone don’t capture the whole image as it appears on the view finder.

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Even from the back this semi cascade white pine looks awesome.

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More trees were also being kept in the reception area which is where the photographer set up his backdrop. Since this beech was the closest tree it was the first one to be photographed.

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Once things were set up the photo shoot did not take as long as I thought. The displays had been thought out by Mr. Suzuki long in advacnce and it was simply a matter of us removing the tree, Mr. Suzuki changing the stand and then we were there with the next bonsai to photographed. Very effecient.

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The next one up was one of my favorite trees. A bunjin white pine which had beautifully old shari.

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Since this years Kokufu was a double show, meaning there were two sets of bonsai exhibited, each set was judged and awarded. This already famous Kichou, (Important Bonsai Masterpiece), root-over-rock JBP won “Best Conifer” of the second group.

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In addition to the big trees there were several three-point-displays photographed.

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Japanese White Pine with kumquat shohin and small fern. The kumquat was kept warm in a small plastic greenhouse inside the Suzuki home along with a few houseplants.

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Another killer japanese white pine smiles for the camera.

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The same semicascade white pine from above, but now paired with a shohin root-over-rock japanese maple, and perhaps the most famous accent plant ever.

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I really liked the character of this tree, great trunk. It is a procumbens juniper or sonare in Japanese, with foliage as tight as your ever going to see.

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Once photographed each tree was set out to catch some much needed rays. After we set this tree down I noticed something white around the nebari. It looked like the tree had some fungal issue.

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Concerned, I asked Takuya about it, he smiled and said “Strong tree”. I am no stranger to mycorrhiza but I’ve never see it as abundant as this, it was growing up the nebari! Not only is this a strong tree but its another kichou bonsai.

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This quince was one of the shohin used in another three-point-display. Not only is this tree top shelf, but check out the patina on its pot. Kokufu trees are transplanted into antique Chinese and Japanese pots for the exhibit then put back into their “growing” containers after the show.

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The very last thing I did was give each tree a much needed watering. If you have the chance pick up a copy of Kinbon to see the actual photos. As always, thanks for reading.

 

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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.

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“.

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.

GSBF Collection at the Huntington

Any trip to the Huntington Library should include a visit their renowned bonsai collection. On my recent visit to the Huntington Gardens to see the annual Aiseki Kai exhibit, I made sure to stop by the Golden State Bonsai Federation’s (GSBF) bonsai collection despite a rare cold and rainy day in Southern California.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABonsai Courtyard entrance.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalifornia Juniper donated by Mas Moriguchi.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACork Oak donated by Tom Chan.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAProstrate Juniper donated Harry Hirao in memory of Alyce Hirao.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJapanese Black Pine donated by Ed Murakami.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJapanese Black Pine from the Toshinori Matsuanga collection donated by Mayumi Shiira.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACork Bark Japanese Black Pine donated by Ayako Tanita.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalifornia Juniper donated by Ray Blasingame.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalifornia Juniper donated by Ben Oki in memory of John Naka.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalifornia Juniper donated by Harry Hirao in memory of Andy Vu.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShimpaku grafted onto California Juniper donated by Tsuruo Takata.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShimpaku Juniper donated by Ayako Tanita.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShinpaku Juniper donated by Dr. Howard Waldman.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOlive donated by Jack Miller

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShimpaku grafted onto California Juniper donated by Mike Shintaku.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABonsai on pedestals in the main courtyard.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASilverberry from the Toshinori Matsuanga collection donated by Mayumi Shiira.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalifornia Juniper donated by Chuichi Kawahira.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalifornia Juniper donated by Bob Kinoshita in memory of Bill Southworth.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAItalian Cypress donated by Phil Tacktill.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMontezuma Cypress donated by Brian Jackson.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGinkgo donated by Marty Mann.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShimpaku Juniper donated by Mr. and Mrs. Kageo Ohara.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACitrus donated by Dr. Howard Waldman.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPfitzer Juniper donated by Barbara Ajello.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKorean Hornbeam donated by Howard Waldman.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAViewing stones donated by Harry Hiaro.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANewer expansion of the Bonsai Courtyard.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOlive donated by Joseph Cohn.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHollywood Juniper donated Howard Waldman.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPyracanth donated by John Naka.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPomegranate donated by Kathy Boomsma.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalifornai Juniper donated by Bob Kinoshita.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShohin display.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalifornia Juniper donated by Shig Mia.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalifornai Juniper donated by Frank Goya.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalifornia Juniper donated by Bob Kinoshita.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJapanese Black Pine.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJapanese Black Pine donated by Junichi Sebata.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACoast Live Oak donated by John Naka.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABald Cypress donated by Dung Cao in memory of Thu Cao.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalifornia Juniper designed by Masahiko Kimura.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalifornia Juniper donated Grigsby Catcus Gardens.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJapanese Black Pine donate by Kiyoko Yoneda in memory of Kaz Yoneda.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFoemina Juniper donated by Ben Oki in memory of Robert Moor.

Christmas comes early to the Bonsai Museum

Earlier this week a very jolly individual with twinkling eyes and a white beard arrived at the Museum. He had traveled a long distant in a short period of time in order to deliver some very special presents to the Bonsai Museum.

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Gary Wood, (seen here) a bonsai teacher from Muscle Shoals, Alabama had driven from Southern California to D.C. in 3 days with two very famous bonsai recently donated by bonsai artist Ernie Kuo.

For many these trees will be recognized immediately, as both have won international accolades . The tree on the right won the 1994 BCI Ben Oki International Design Award and the 1994 Kindai Bonsai Magazine’s reader’s Sakafuten Award. The tree on the left won the Sakafuten Award in 1995. Ernie also wrote an article describing the creation of these two masterpieces in detail.  The article, which last appeared in Bonsai Today’s Masters’ Series on Junipers, is re-posted here with the consent of Stone Lantern Publishing. Two Studies by Ernie Kuo

Ernie Kuo with 284

For more examples of Ernie’s tree see Bonsai Bark’s Gallery.

Sincerer thanks to Ernie for his amazing gift, to Gary Wood for driving them out here, the National Bonsai Foundation for funding the transportation, and Wayne Schoech, Bonsai Bark/Stone Lantern, for permission to re-post Ernie’s article.

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Ryan Neil @ Nature’s Way Nursery

I first became aware of Ryan Neil in 2006 through Lindsay Farr’s World of Bonsai video series. At that time he was 2 years into his apprentice with Masahiko Kimura. At the close of the video, Mr. Farr said he ” will be watching Ryan’s career with great interest.”

The interest in Ryan has grown considerably since he finished his apprenticeship in 2010. He has become a headliner at European and U.S. bonsai shows and has also started his own garden, International Bonsai Mirai, where he is developing some of the nicest collected material I’ve seen in a long time.

This interest has also created a demand for him as a teacher which is why a few bonsai buddies and I traveled from DC to Harrisburg, PA, to attend a design workshop with Ryan at Nature’s Way Nursery.

Nature’s Way Nursery is owned and operated by Jim Doyle and his wife Mary Kay. In my opinion Nature’s Way is one of the best bonsai nurseries in the Mid-Atlantic region.

There you can find a variety of quality collected material…

… as well as more refined trees, like this Japanese Black Pine…

and a great selection of imported and custom pots.

The all day workshop was a B.Y.O.T. (bring your own tree) with 10 participants and a handful of silent observers. When it is a B.Y.O.T. workshop there is always a chance the material won’t be that good. Thankfully everyone brought some great trees. There was Ponderosa Pine, Douglas Fir, Japanese Black Pine, and three different species of Juniper

Having taught workshops myself,  I’m aware of the challenges when working with a large group like we had. Ryan did a great job of managing his time between everyone while including the group when he was working with each person.

I was amazed by the quantity of knowledge Ryan was able to communicate to the group.  For 8 hours he simultaneously worked on trees while also discussing almost any aspect of bonsai you could imagine.

For me, the most refreshing thing about working with Ryan was his humility. He worked with each student and did not present his ideas as ultimate.He also did something I’ve never seen from a bonsai professional and that was to asked for the owner’s permission before he did anything with the tree.  Here he is showing Ben two possible design’s for his Douglas Fir.

Ben decided to go with the more naturalistic style for his amazing Doug Fir which he collected himself.

The tree I brought was an Itoigawa Juniper. I felt like the design was okay but I wanted to see if I could take it to the next level. Sometimes when you look at one of your trees for a long time you need a fresh perspective to see the potential that’s already there.

Here is my tree after the workshop. The front was rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise and the tree was slightly angled toward the viewer. We connected some of the existing jin’s with a shari, then continued it up the trunk. Ryan said I should wait for the freshly exposed wood to dry a little before applying lime sulfur. The foliage was thinned and the branches were arranged into smaller pads.

I purchased a new pot for the tree while at the Nursery and repotted it when I got home.The pot is by Nick Lenz and is a little smaller than the previous pot which makes the tree appear larger. The oval shape also complements the soft curves in the trunk. I was very please with how the tree turned out.

That night the drive back to D.C. went quick as my friends and I talked about all we learned and how great an experience it was.

As Ryan’s reputation continues to grow, the demand to work with him will become even greater. I recommend that if you have the opportunity to work with him you should take it. This November Ryan will be returning to Nature’s Way for another series of workshops and I am already planning my return trip.