“Bonsai Visions of the West” 2014

It has been a while since our last post, as this time of year we are always very busy getting ready for winter. In the Midwest there is a lot of work involved to winterize bonsai. We are not as fortunate as California where almost everything can stay out year round.  We will talk about over wintering trees more in our next post.

This weekend marks the 37th annual bonsai convention hosted by the Golden State Bonsai Federation and ABS in Sacramento, California. The Sacramento bonsai club was established in 1946, and is the oldest club in California and I believe one of the oldest in the United States.

Unfortunately we were not able to attend this convention. The photos shown below were provided by a good friend, Chris Pfeifle, who is volunteering at the convention this year. Chris is an active member of the Sacramento club, and also attends study groups taught by Peter Tea. If you ever get a chance to go to the GSBF convention you will find lots of vendors, workshops and demos. The convention has on display some of the best trees Northern California has to offer. Enjoy the photos!

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Dan Robinson’s Ponderosa Pine

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Check out the beautiful fall colors on this Trident Maple!

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Sierra Juniper

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Ilex Serrata (Japanese winter berry)

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Shimpaku Juniper (cool stand 😉 )

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Ginkgo Biloba (maiden hair tree)

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Literati Shimpaku Juniper. Literati is one of my favorite styles.

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Korean Hornbeam

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Jim Gremel’s Blue Atlas Cedar

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Cork Oak. There are not enough people using the oak species for bonsai in the U.S.

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California Juniper. These wild trees are more popular than ever these days.


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Japanese Black Pine

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Chris said the bark on this JPB is KILLER!

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Sierra Juniper. Another wild tree.

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Coastal Redwood

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Amazing live veins. It is almost impossible to duplicate the art of nature, but we all love to try. 😉






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Appreciating Viewing Stones (suiseki)


Back in 2012, I was fortunate enough to attend the BCI convention in Denver, Colorado. There was a Chrysanthemum Stone exhibit in addition to other viewing stones on display that were very beautiful natural pieces of art. Members of the International Viewing Stone Association of Tokyo, Japan donated viewing stones for an auction that benefited Bonsai Clubs International. This particular viewing stone (pictured above) was donated by Hiroshi Saito, it was found at the Sakawa river in the Kanagawa prefecture of Japan. The auction was a lot of fun and everyone seemed to enjoy it. I was lucky to win this stone!

Here are some more viewing stone photos that I took at the convention. Most of these stones are form Asia, however the jade stone was found in the United States. Stone appreciation in the US has been gaining popularity over recent years. I won’t mention names, but a bonsai professional once said to me that stone collecting has been slow to take in the US because you can’t style a stone.  😉


Chrysanthemum stone


Waterfall stone



This one looks like an arch stone to me.



Qixia stone, Poetic Name; Elephant in Banyon



Vulcan botryoidal jade. This stone was found by Ken McLeod (and his dogs) of California, one of the best stone collectors in the United States


Chrysanthemum stone



Mountain stone


Chrysanthemum stone

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Visits to the Annual Mid-American Bonsai Exhibit in Chicago

The August Mid-American Bonsai Exhibit in Chicago, Illinois is one of the largest regional shows in the nation. Bonsai enthusiast from a five state region bring their best trees to share with the public. Going on its 37th year, the exhibit is focused around the Chicago Botanic Garden’s permanent collection.  Now featuring nearly 50 world-class trees, the permanent collection in Chicago has definitely progressed over many years.

Our hope is to do the same at the Omaha Botanic Garden, Lauritzen Garden, in Omaha, Nebraska. The beginning stages of the display at the Chicago Botanic Garden are similar to the current bonsai display at Lauritzen Gardens. Nebraska Bonsai Society President Loren Buxton is working with the trees at Lauritzen trying to help advance the permanent collection out of its infancy. Over the last four years, the NBS has held an annual bonsai exhibit in conjunction with the garden’s annual Chrysanthemum and Japanese Ambiance festival. The garden curator loves the NBS bonsai presence and the public draw it brings to the festival. This year’s exhibit will be held the weekend of October 4 and 5. Check back in October for pictures from the event.

Here are some of our photos from past Mid-American Bonsai Exhibits in Chicago, in addition to a few photos of the garden itself. If you have never been to the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Mid-American exhibit we highly recommend that you check it out. The three-day event is packed with workshops and free demonstrations by professional bonsai artists set in one of the best Botanic Gardens in the US.


Courtyard with the garden’s permanent collection of bonsai.


European Olive


Sawara False Cypress Boulevard


Andy Smith’s booth from Golden Arrow Bonsai


Here is a view of the Japanese Garden from across the pond. It definitely draws you to it.


A beautiful view of some wonderful pines as we walked around Japanese Garden. A lot of work goes into these pines to keep them looking so amazing.



This looks like a very old stone lantern. One of many through out the gardens.


Stone lantern among hostas.



Jim Doyle’s collected Eastern White Cedar


Bill Valavanis’s beautiful Korean Hornbeam. Nice stand also!


Neil Dellinger’s Bougainvillea one of Matt’s Ouwinga’s students.


Matt Ouwinga’s shohin display. Matt probably has one of the finest Japanese pottery collections in the United States.


Jim Walsh’s Rocky Mountain Juniper. This tree was collected by Andy Smith.


Ryan Neil critiquing Helene & Alan Magruder’s White Pine. Helene and Alan have one of the nicest bonsai collections in Iowa.


Bjorn Bjorholm working on a common Juniper at one of the demonstrations.



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