International Bonsai Art & Culture Biennial 2014





Today we visited the opening day of Robert Steven’s International Bonsai Art & Culture Biennial 2014 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. There were lots of beautiful bonsai displays to appreciate in a large exhibition hall, which was divided into about ten smaller galleries, plus a Robert’s “Thinker’s Secret Studio” complete with “peep holes.” Each gallery displayed several different styles and forms of bonsai and displays. Most of the compositions were labeled belonging to Robert, but other exhibitors were listed as well.



This was not an exhibition where one goes to study the form, trunk, and roots leaves and the bark of a bonsai. The beauty of each tree was creatively used to present a new use of bonsai artistically, unlike anything that I’ve seen before, and I loved it! Although I’m accustomed to seeing bonsai displayed in Japan with a quiet and refined taste, these bonsai were dramatic, creative, exciting and innovative. I truly believe Robert has elevated the artistic appreciation and use of bonsai to a new level with his stimulating exhibition.








Of course there were many single bonsai traditionally displayed alone with a plain background, but these were greatly overshadowed by Robert’s unique displays, similar to dioramas seen in museum settings. Many had lights flashing, two displays had the clicking sounds of cameras, one was rotating showing half a missing container held together with stones and moss holding a free form bonsai. Several of the displays included traditional Indonesian batik cloths and human figures made of dried grass. A couple featured picture frames with bonsai coming “out of the box.” Most were dramatically lighted, often with different colored bulbs which made for poor photography, but lovely for an up close personal view.




These descriptions may sound garish, but they were all beautifully executed in fine taste, just not in the style most people are accustomed to. Perhaps some visitors were offended because they did not understand what Robert Stevens was attempting to present to the world– the true artistic value, appreciation and use of bonsai.


I believe one must have an open mind to see and experience many different styles of bonsai from around the world. Quite often people have a limited viewpoint and do not have, nor desire to understand other forms of bonsai appreciation. There is nothing wrong with this viewpoint, but in order for an art form to grow, I believe its necessary to expand our understanding.






Many of Robert’s displays used his native Indonesian culture and folklore as inspirations and as accessories, while others were more modern. Quite a number of the displays were large, ten feet or more. Immediately many people would say, this would never fit into my home, or the bonsai is too large for me to move alone. Well, those people have lost the entire meaning and concept of this exhibition which is to present bonsai artistically and innovatively. In order to fill the exhibition area, large pieces are necessary. There is nothing to stop anyone to recreate or even improve on these display concepts and designs on a smaller scale. By the way, as you look over these display you might not like some of them, but that does not mean that they are poor, it only means you don’t understand the design concept of Robert Steven.




Throughout the indoor exhibition halls, sand paintings of different colored gravel artistically arranged on the floor seemed to lead you from one exhibit to another, all in an Indonesian flair.




There are often discussions about the validity of bonsai as an art form. The International Bonsai Art & Culture Biennial 2014 clearly indicates that bonsai IS an art form and can be used to express both the beauty of bonsai as well as the culture of a nation, and have fun with it as well.




Purple lighting with shadows were intentional


This exhibition took over a year and one half of Robert’s life to conceptualize, assemble and finally to display with impeccable taste so the participants can have a greater understanding of bonsai as a true art form.

Well done Robert, I congratulate you on your successful exhibition and wonder what you will do in two years to improve your show.




Oh, there is also an outdoor exhibition which I briefly went through in the sweltering heat which I hope revisit later. Plus tomorrow begins three mornings of bonsai demonstrations from twelve prominent artists around the globe. Stay tuned for more… Tomorrow evening we will dine at the Sultan’s Palace where participants are requested to wear their countries native dress. I wonder what the native costume in the United States of America is….


Street peddler trying to sell our group a bonsai

A Visit To Shunka-en Bonsai Museum



I spent Thursday morning on my way to Narita Airport en route to Indonesia at Kunio Kobayashi’s Shunka-en Bonsai Museum in Tokyo, Japan. I’ve had numerous opportunities to visit his beautiful garden with the many bonsai tours Kora Dalager and I lead to Japan and also when photographing for our large-format book Fine Bonsai. However, it’s not often that I have the rare privilege to just wonder around his garden, alone, uninterrupted attempting to appreciate, study and absorb the beauty of Mr. Kobayashi’s bonsai, distinctive alcove displays and to look for new ideas to adapt to the western bonsai community.


Formal display of Japanese black pine bonsai


As always Mr. Kobayashi arranges eight formal alcove displays along with several others in his museum to visitors can sit and enjoy the beauty. Ever see me just sit and study a bonsai display?


Informal display of Japanese paulownia




A very simple and elegant display of a literati style Pourithia in the small tea ceremony room alcove

This year I’ve visited Shunka-en Bonsai Museum in February, June and will again in a few weeks for our bonsai tours. Each time more and more bonsai are artistically packed into this small garden. In June I personally thought, the garden if filled to capacity, no more space for additional trees. But, I was wrong! There are many more trees than what I saw in June.


For many years now Chinese collectors have been traveling to Japan, paying high prices for antique Chinese containers and returning them to their origin country. This influx of “new” money has been responsible for maintaining many Japanese bonsai gardens open while the domestic market for trees is not nearly at the level it has enjoyed in the past.


Well, it seems to me that the Chinese have purchased most of the antique Chinese containers they want from Japan and are now turning to buying bonsai.

For the past several years there has been a huge increase in large size bonsai of mostly Japanese black pine bonsai that are probably being trained for the Chinese bonsai collectors. The Chinese love large massive bonsai and the Japanese black pine is one of the easiest species for importing into China. I’ve watched the quick development of what appear to be “garden tree size bonsai” into acceptable large size bonsai in Japan. Mr. Kobayashi and other artists are masters of training bonsai, of all sizes and quality, which is necessary to produce income so they can enjoy developing and refining fine-quality masterpieces.




The six foot branch on the right is being used to thicken a major branch or will be used for inarch grafting

Another new recent addition to Shunka-en Bonsai Museum is a section devoted to maple bonsai. I believe a shade cloth might be used during the hottest part of the summer for leaf protection from intense sun and heat. There are a great number of trees that will quickly develop into masterpieces. Plus I noticed many established famous maple bonsai masterpieces back in wooden boxes or deep containers for additional training, structural repair and to improve health.


During my visit I thought Mr. Kobayashi was hosting a BBQ party with individual grills. I know he likes to BBQ, especially on rainy days. In addition to the increase of large and numerous bonsai the most impressive technique that attracted my eye was the addition of large lump charcoal (biochar) to as a surface application. While this is nothing new and has been a common horticultural and agricultural farming practice for hundreds of years. Many bonsai growers, including me, regularly incorporate charcoal INTO the soil mix. I visited Shankar-en Bonsai Museum in June and did not see the great amount of lump charcoal added to the soil surface. Yes, there were a few surface applications of small size charcoal and if you carefully looked at the soil mix it could be seen. Perhaps Mr. Kobayashi learned something new since June, or is simply experimenting with charcoal for improving plant health.


Japanese black pine with yellow-green needles


The majority of trees with large amounts of lump charcoal were pines with yellowish green needles and junipers. Charcoal provides many benefits for improving the soil mix, but perhaps the most important is that it makes plant nutrients more readily available.



For a thorough, authoritative article on the horticultural charcoal (biochar) benefits for bonsai please see the 2013/NO. 4 issue of International BONSAI on page 22. The author, Dr. Peter Hobbs, is a professor of plant crops and soil science at Cornell University. He also grows bonsai and is one of my newer students who travel from Ithaca, New York to Rochester to attend classes and workshops. What, you DON’T subscribe to International BONSAI? No problem, you can easily subscribe at the link below and back copies are also available too:


Perhaps a bit of rusty iron might help too. I’ve frequently seen old rusty nails stuck into the soil.


Additionally, a few unusual training techniques were displayed to move and lower branches. With a great number of trees, creativity helps the bonsai artist to quickly move branches so more trees can be trained.





Akio Kondo and his Needle Juniper received the Prime Minister Award


The Japan Sakufu Bonsai Exhibition (Japan Creator’s Bonsai Exhibition) is the only exhibition for professional bonsai artists in Japan. This is a very competitive exhibition and winning artists usually get more publicity and clients upon winning the coveted awards, plus the value of the bonsai is increased.



Judges before ceremony

The 2014 40th Sakufu Bonsai Exhibition judging was held a few hours ago on October 15, 2014 at the Ueno Green Club. In the morning the bonsai finalists were selected and were moved to the third floor where the final selections would be made. Mr. Fukuda, chairman of the Nippon Bonsai Association and chairman of the World Bonsai Friendship Federation and Mr. Hamano, one of the judges invited me to this special event. I’ve been fortunate to watch the judging of many Taikan Bonsai Exhibitions and Kokufu Bonsai Exhibitions but this was the first time for the Sakufu Bonsai Exhibition.


Evergreen bonsai finalists

There were nine judges, and after the winners were announced the tenth arrived late who was a prominent artist, not from the bonsai community. The finalist bonsai were grouped into evergreen, deciduous, medium size, creative (rock and group plantings), literati, satsuki and shohin bonsai. There were two or three bonsai in each category. They were all displayed along three walls of the room so everyone could easily see the bonsai.


Deciduous bonsai finalists


Medium size bonsai finalists


Creative bonsai finalists (rock & group plantings)


Literati bonsai finalists


Satsuki bonsai finalists


Shohin bonsai finalists

Like other judging, each of the nine judges were given a ballot for voting. The votes were immediately announced and tabulated in front of the small audience. Winners were announced for each category.



11 KONDO 1

Akio Kondo when his tree won


Winning bonsai artists

After the bonsai were judged all the winning artists were presented and Akio Kondo, winner of the highest Prime Minister Award made a few comments. At the conclusion everyone left except for the award winners and judges who gathered around a long table. Each judge made comments and then each winner made more comments.


Mr. Fukuda made comments first


Akio Kondo commented day.

Mr. Fukuda mentioned that Akio Kondo’s award winning Needle juniper was rare because it was the only bonsai to have won the Prime Minister Award five times. NEW, after research it was learned that this bonsai won the Prime Minister Award 6 times! This beautiful bonsai was originally created by the Suzuki family of Daiju-en Bonsai Garden near Nagoya. The first generation artist, Saichi Suzuki won with this bonsai as did his son, Toshinori and his grandson Toru. Quite a famous bonsai!

Mr. Kato wanted to encourage more young artists to participate in this exhibition. Mr. Kondo mentioned that he was very honored about his award. This was the 20th time he entered the Sakufu Bonsai Exhibition, but the first time to win the Prime Minister Award. NEW: He continued that he was familiar with this Needle juniper bonsai for a long time and wanted to care for it someday. Three years ago his dream came true and he was finally the caretaker. He was very honored to have the opportunity to submit this bonsai again so others could enjoy its beauty.


Mr. Omachi best literati bonsai


Mr. Akiyama best satsuki bonsai


Mr. Iura best medium bonsai


Mr. Asako best evergreen bonsai




On the second and third floor the bonsai which did not make it into finals were displayed and also photographed for the commemorative album. Each of these bonsai were beautiful as well. There were approximately 50 bonsai entered into the competition including a unique shohin bonsai composition which I did not quite understand, but enjoyed to see the creativity of the artist.



21 PINE 2



Small leaf Zelkova with tiny leaves!

24 4ROCK



The 40th Sakufu Bonsai Exhibition will be held on December 4-7, 2014 at the Ueno Green Club in Tokyo, Japan. If you can’t attend the commemorative album will be available for sale.

If you can not travel to Japan and want to see some great bonsai, join me at the Winter Silhouette Bonsai Exhibition in Kannapolis, NC, on the same weekend, December 6-7, 2014. More about this unusual exhibition later, but for now look here:!members/citr

Gone With The Wind in Japan…


On my way to teaching at Robert Steven’s International Bonsai Biennial Convention in Indonesia I had the opportunity to spend three days in Japan studying bonsai. Normally when we visit Japan with our tours we do not see deciduous bonsai in leaf, so this was a special treat for me.



A few days prior to my departure we were watching the progress of the deadly Super Typhoon Vongfong which was heading directly for Japan and traveling north through Tokyo. Although I’ve never experienced (nor do I want) a typhoon or hurricane it looked like it was my special time. The reports were not good and I was advised to skip Japan and fly directly to Indonesia. That would never happen. My scheduled flight from Chicago to Tokyo was delayed several hours, even before I left home so I changed my ticket to fly from Washington, DC to Tokyo rather than enjoy the flight delay in Chicago. It looked like I was “just” able to land in Tokyo before the typhoon was to hit Tokyo.


Our smooth flight from Washington, DC to Tokyo was a few minutes early and we landed in a slight drizzle. The hotel had signs indicating the location of the typhoon and instructions if we got hit in the storm. Fortunately the typhoon changed its course away from Tokyo.


The next morning greeted me with sunny, warm weather and clear skies- no clouds in sight. There was only a gentle breeze which felt good in the sun. I took a train from my hotel in Narita to the Ueno Green Club where the weekly auction for professional bonsai artists was taking place. The bonsai sold quickly, many for high prices.









The bonsai were outside the building and were brought inside, one at a lime on a conveyer belt. Each tree was placed on a piece of plywood so it could easily be turned around for the bidders inspection. Small size and cascade style bonsai were placed on a short stools to be easily seen. There were many auctioneers, among the best were Isao Omachi and other younger bonsai artists. They carefully examined each tree and made many comments. In the front row were Mr. Kobayashi and Mr. Morimae. Mr. Kimura was in the back looking around and Mr. Suzuki was working in the front as well as Mr. Tanaka. Most of the well known bonsai artists in Japan were present buying, selling and often buying back items which did not sell for their anticipated prices. In addition to the bonsai were display tables and containers.




It was interesting to see the bonsai outside before they were auctioned and afterwards when they were sold. There were some excellent bonsai sold and I’m certain many will soon become famous.



An old bonsai from before World War II, Japanese five-needle pine

After a quick lunch with Mr. Morimae and Mr. Kobayashi I took another train to the Omiya Bonsai Village. By the time I arrived the wind had picked up and I noticed several smaller bonsai which had toppled over. The buildings at Mr. Takeyama’s Fuyo-en Bonsai Garden and Mr. Kato’s Mansei-en Bonsai Garden were full of bonsai being protected from high winds.




I found it quite interesting to see which bonsai they protected, perhaps famous masterpieces or those belonging to clients. Whenever I visit Mr. Takeyama’s garden I enjoy seeing the famous Sargent juniper named “Dragon flying into the clouds”. However I did not immediately find it, until later on I noticed it inside being protected. Most of the bonsai gardens moved their smaller trees close together for some protection of the wind which was increasing throughout the afternoon.



Fuyo-en Bonsai Garden



Seiko-en Bonsai Garden


New alcove at Mr. Yamada’s Seiko-en Bonsai Garden


Pillar post of Japanese maple


Omiya Bonsai Art Museum outdoor garden was closed



Bonsai protected on the ground next to building

One of my main purposes for this visit was to see the special exhibit of bonsai from Mr. Murata’s Kyuka-en Bonsai Garden at the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum, near by. Upon arrival they had a sign indicating the outdoor garden was closed because most of the bonsai were taken off their display tables and protected next to the building. Fortunately, Mr. Murata’s bonsai were in the inside gallery. No photos were allowed inside, but the exhibit featured an elegant cascade style Asparagus fern, Jade plant and an entire display of Acorus, or Japanese sweet flag. They also displayed a stately Hinoki cypress bonsai in the foyer which available for photographing.


Japanese Tour Openings Available!


Our exciting Autumn 2014 Japan Bonsai Exploration Tour begins on November 17th in Tokyo led by Kora Dalager and me. We will first be visiting the finest bonsai gardens in Tokyo, Omiya Bonsai Village and in Saitama Prefecture. Mr. Kimura’s garden and Mr. Kobayashi’s bonsai museum are just a few of the many highlights of our tour, plus some surprises. After taking the bullet train past Mt. Fuji we will arrive in the ancient capital of Kyoto, known for its outstanding gardens, temple and shrines.
















Autumn is a brilliant season in Japan, especially in Kyoto where people come from around the world to appreciate the colorful maple foliage framed by ancient temples and mature trees. The “Maple Viewing Season” is one of the busiest times of the year in Kyoto. After a guided tour of the most colorful and interesting gardens our tour participants have some free time to explore sights which are of personal interest.










During this weekend the Taikan Bonsai Exhibition is held near the Heian Shrine. It is the second most prestigious bonsai exhibition in Japan and has trees from around the country. In addition to bonsai, unlike other shows, suiseki and scrolls are featured so one can also study the current taste of the Japanese bonsai community. Award winning bonsai from the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition and the Sakufu Bnsai Exhibition are also included in this premier show.

















Of course, most people visit the huge sales area where all items relating to bonsai can be found on display as well. Bonsai growers, container artists, suiseki collectors, scroll painters as well as high end bonsai dealers all have their wares for sale.




After a couple of days visiting the exhibition and gardens we will take the bullet train to Nagoya where we will visit the best bonsai gardens specializing in pine bonsai. An unusual temple will also be visited during the day where the head priest has a magnificient private bonsai collection, maintained by professional bonsai artists. Located in a bamboo grove the temple is known for its delicious and unique bamboo cuisine, where we will dine. An opportunity to travel to nearby Tokoname to purchase containers is also available.





Unfortunately a couple of our repeat tour participants from Australia had to cancel because of medical reasons so a few openings are now available. If you ever wanted to visit Japan in a small group to see the best bonsai, gardens and exhibitions here is your opportunity. The US dollar and Japanese yen exchange rate has been increasing and your funds will go farther now than in the past few years.





Our tour begins on November 17th and concludes on November 25th, just in time to return home for celebrating Thanksgiving with your family and friends. Join our limited tour led by Kora Dalager and me, lifetime memories will be experienced.


Contact Kora Dalager (510) 610-9064, or at for additional information or details. I look forward to exploring the Japanese bonsai community with you.



4th US National Bonsai Exhibition Report


The successful 2014 4th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition has come, gone and is now a pleasant memory. Bonsai from around our great country were displayed next to each other showing viewers the diversity of forms and plant material trained for bonsai as well as the high level of refinement we have developed during the past seventy odd years the art has been practiced in the United States.



The “Crew” beginning the set up on Wednesday

The resounding success of the U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition is due to the long hours of hard work of my “crew”, a dedicated group of bonsai hobbyists who want to see the art of bonsai flourish in the United States. In addition to set up and take down, many days were spent preparing, sewing, ironing and fabric cutting. New folding backgrounds were designed, constructed and painted (twice) for the Invitational Suiseki Exhibition and over 100 wooden posts were re stained. A beautiful welcome garden greeted visitors and featured the logo bonsai of Chinese quince, full of large fruit.










Our new venue, the Total Sports Experience, also served as a spectacular, spacious and clean environment to showcase some of the finest bonsai in our country. The new55,000 square foot building consisted of two full size soccer fields, a community room for hospitality and a wide concourse between the two fields. The padded green artificial grass was a welcome treat to our feet for those of us who stood for five days setting up, answering questions and taking down the Exhibition. The green coloring had a calming and quiet feeling. The tall ceiling and wide open area with tables and chairs offered a friendly location to meet with fellow bonsai hobbyists to discuss the bonsai on display. The wide aisles allowed visitors to easily see and study the bonsai. The wide and open areas wewre appreciated by everyone.



Hiroyoshi Yamaji being interviewed for TV broadcast all day on Saturday and Sunday

The publicity committee of Ron and JoAnn Maggio worked their magic to get appearances on all four Rochester TV channels. The “Get Away Guy” on Channel 9 filmed a short segment while we set up the exhibition and was broadcast all day on Saturday and Sunday. At the Opening Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, Ron Maggio read proclamations from New York State Governor Cuomo, Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks and Mayor Lovely of Rochester proclaiming National Bonsai Exhibition Day in New York State. This outstanding publicity, plus print coverage brought in the public as well as bonsai hobbyists. The 400 car parking lot was completely filled on Saturday and by Sunday nearly 1,000 people enjoyed the Exhibition. Our vendors were very happy.


Valued volunteers and crew moments before the ribbon cutting ceremony



Ribbon cutting opening ceremony



Visitors waiting to enter the exhibition



Equally important to the success of the event was created by the 107 exhibitors from 27 states: California to Virginia and from Florida to Vermont. Plus, we had three special exhibitor groups from two provinces of Canada. The leading botanical gardens and arboreta with significant bonsai collections in the United States also brought trees for special exhibits. One of the earliest bonsai to enter the Untied States in 1935 was on display, which was started from a cutting taken in 1802.


One of the historic Dwarf hinoki cypress bonsai being moved to a taller display table for better appreciation



The cascade bonsai on the left was originally a branch on the larger Dwarf hinoki cypress on the right. This special exhibit came from the Larz Anderson Bonsai Collection at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, MA



Robert Neems





Douglas Taylor




Marty Schmalenberg



Exhibitors spent decades training their best bonsai for the exhibition and a lot of time refining and preparing for their formal display. This was quite evident in the 175 display areas. In total there were 320 individual bonsai, including 40 shohin bonsai compositions with 120 small size bonsai. Over 125 species and plant cultivars were displayed which is representative of the trees trained for bonsai in our country.


Photos of over 260 bonsai were submitted for the selection process and 180 were accepted. A few dropped out at the last minute because of weather damage or transportation difficulties. Since bonsai are alive and subject to weather this is to be expected. We still needed to add nine more tables at the end of set up. It’s a good thing we have extra backgrounds, skirting as well as table covering. But, we still needed to purchase additional table coverings of a different color during the set up.


Equally important and of the same size as the Exhibition, the vendor area had more than 100 tables full of everything you could ever want to create and appreciate bonsai. There were seedlings to developed masterpiece bonsai, tools, wire, soil, containers, display tables, suiseki, scrolls, books, magazines, jewelry, clothing, other art and more. There was something for everyone. Vendors came from California, Florida, Vermont, Minnesota, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York as well as Canada came to offer their finest for sale.





Hiroyoshi Yamaji demonstrates bonsai creation from nursery stock




Peter Warren demonstrated how to refine an established bonsai



Dr. Alice Chen demonstrated Chinese brush painting



Sean Smith lectured on suiseki



The lecture/demonstration on creating a bonsai, bonsai refinement, ikebana, Chinese brush painting and suiseki were well received and there was standing room only. After setting up the demonstration area on Thursday I called and ordered another 100 chairs for visitors. Harvey Carapella did not thing they would be filled, however there was standing room only for Hiroyoshi Yamaji’s dynamic demonstration on bonsai creation.




Larry Ragel brought one of his suiseki from California



Nina Ragel displayed her suiseki


For the first time we had an Invitational Suiseki Exhibition were the stones were formally displayed with accessories and bonsai as well. Stones from the United States, Africa, China, Greece, Puerto Rico and Australia were displayed. Fifty suiseki were displayed by 29 exhibitors. The public, as well as the bonsai visitors found the addition of suiseki of interest and will be included in 2016.




I was especially honored that Japanese dignitaries traveled to the Untied States to see our U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition. Jiro Fukuda, Chairman of the Nippon Bonsai Association and Chairman of the World Bonsai Friendship Federation together with Mrs. Naemi Iwasaki, Vice-chairman of WBFF and Hatsuji Kato an advisor to WBFF came. They were accompanied with Yuji Tamura, editor of Bonsai Shunjyu magazine and their lovely translator Keiko Matsunaga. At the Award Banquet and Benefit Auction Mr. Fukuda presented the Nippon Bonsai Association Award to Brussel Martin for his beautiful Japanese Black pine as the “finest Japanese style bonsai display.” Mr. Fukuda also spoke about the importance of bonsai displays said the Japanese group came expecting to see beautiful bonsai but were surprised to see outstanding bonsai. He invited everyone to the 8th World Bonsai Convention in Saitama City, Japan which will be held in 2017.


David Easterbrook from Canada judging a bonsai


Hiroyoshi Yamaji evaluating a Pitch pine bonsai


Peter Warren from England inspecting the ramification of a Mugho pine bonsai




Judges in the Judges Chamber deciding the winning bonsai


The three international judges, Hiroyoshi Yamaji from Japan, Peter Warren from England and David Easterbrook from Canada spent a couple of hours selecting the award winning bonsai. Many of the decisions were difficult because of the high quality, but Suthin Sukolosovist’s American elm was clearly the winner for the National Award for the “finest bonsai.”




Medium Size Bonsai Award

Finest Medium Size Bonsai

Sargent Juniper

Troy Schmidt



Nippon Bonsai Association Award

Finest Japanese Style Display

Japanese Black Pine

Brussel Martin



Puerto Rico Bonsai Federation Award

Finest Tropical Bonsai

Willow Leaf Fig

Aaron Bucher



Custom Oriental Woodcraft Award– Bonsai Display Tables

Finest Shohin Bonsai Display

Mixed Species

Gary Andes



Ho Yoku Award

Finest Innovative Bonsai Design

Sargent Juniper

Colin Lewis



Bonsai Travel Award

Finest Bonsai & Companion Combination

Mixed Species

Marc Arpag




Yoshimura Award

Finest Classical Bonsai

Japanese Black Pine

Louise Leister





ABS North American Award

Finest North American Native Species Bonsai

Rocky Mountain Juniper

Brian Hollowell



All American Award

Finest American Species in an American Container shown on an American Display Table


Paul Pikel



Deciduous Bonsai Award

Finest Deciduous Bonsai

Sharps Pygmy Japanese Maple

Sergio Cuan



Evergreen Bonsai Award

Finest Evergreen Bonsai

Wild Olive

Frank Cucchiara




The National Award

Finest Bonsai Masterpiece

American Elm

Suthin Sukolosovisit



David Easterbrook giving a tour in French to Canadian visitors







At the Award Banquet and Benefit Auction two special awards were presented. A Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Hideko Metaxas from Larkspur, California, for her leadership, promotion, education & artistry of bonsai, suiseki and ikebana. Kathy Shaner from San Jose, California was presented a Certificate of Recognition for her enthusiastic teaching, promotion & sharing of bonsai artistry- skill-knowledge. Finally the valued volunteers were recognized before the exhibition awards were presented to the winners. At the conclusion of the evening the Benefit Auction was held with Gordon Deeg as the master auctioneer. Vendors and friends donated many items for the auction to help cover the exhibition costs.



The U.S. National Bonsai Exhibitions are good for the economy of the bonsai business in the United States. Businesses offering display tables, hand made containers, wire for refinement as well as professional bonsai artists preparing tree for display all made money before the actual exhibition. Our generous sponsors and vendors provided the funds to subside transporting the trees from long distances as well as preparing an excellent venue with display backgrounds.




The photos include here were taken by me. Joe Noga and his helpers worked for three and a half days photographing every bonsai in the Exhibition. These professional, sharp and color perfect photographs will be used for the Commemorative Album which can now be pre ordered at an attractive discount until December. Every bonsai in the Exhibition will appear in the Commemorative Album as well as general views.


Pre order your copy of the Commemorative Album at:





I’d like to thank my valued volunteers, crew, exhibitors, sponsors, vendors, visitors and especially my family, Diane, Nicholas and Chris for making the 4th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition a success!



The 5th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition will be held on September 17-18, 2016. Start preparing your bonsai now. I look forward to welcoming everyone.





Today is Labor Day, and boy did we labor so bonsai from around our country can be beautifully and tastefully displayed!

My entire “Monday Senior Crew” came, (except for Paul Eschmann who went sailing– but he will come on Saturday) today to help prepare for the upcoming US National Bonsai Exhibition on September 13-14th in Rochester, NY.

Today, Doug McDade, Rick Marriott, Bob Pfromm, Tom Friday and Joe Lentner left their families on this “holiday” to help me prepare for the exhibition. Rick started at 8:30 this morning and left at 4:00 in the afternoon. We got a tremendous amount of important work accomplished with only one doughnut break and takeout Chinese lunch. Diane surprised us with a raspberry birthday cake for Doug, Bob and me who all celebrate birthdays within two weeks of each other. Actually, Bob and I were both born on Labor Days, but several years apart.


The background posts are made of 4×4” pressure treated posts which are 4 and 5 feet tall. They are all kept in the soil poly greenhouse along with the all the other supports and piping for the exhibition. Many of the long items are kept in the rafters and needed to be brought down for cleaning and loading into the trailer. Joe and Tom moved most of the posts and piping because they would not let me up on the ladder… another broken foot is NOT needed, especially at this time. Last week Rick, Bob and Diane began staining a few post which had faded, but they looked so good it was decided to stain all of them.


The 90 heavy background posts were stained to get a dark quite color, as many have faded during the past eight years. But, first they needed to be cleaned and wiped down. As the Rick, Bob, Diane and Doug were staining Doug made minor adjustments to some of the posts so they would sit flat on the tables without wiggling. Diane helped all day and worked with Rick staining and Doug worked with Bob.


As they were staining Joe and I were loading the trailer with items, which did not need staining, and then loaded the finished stained posts. It was so hot and humid the crew moved from staining in the display shade house into the cooler garage, out of the sun. That meant that all the posts needed to be carried from out back into the garage, then back to be carefully loaded into the trailer.


Just as they were finishing Joe and I brought 80 upright thinner posts, which are used as supports for the purple bunting and golden tassels, to be stained. They did not complain and continued to stain. As they were finished I carried them on to the sunny driveway for drying.

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A few weeks ago Gratia Pfromm split 90 feet of fabric, which yielded 180 feet, for skirting which is needed for the Invitational Suiseki Exhibition, a new addition to the US National Bonsai Exhibition. She even hemmed the fabric so it would not unravel.


There is still room for the 20 some large plastic tote boxes full of curtains, skirting and table coverings. Oh I almost forgot the purple velvet valances and of course the golden tassels and red carpet for the Opening Ceremony.

On Wednesday, September 10th we get into the building to begin setting up. Nearly 300 tables must be exactly set up according to the layout. Then the tables get skirted and the table covering goes on. Once the tables are skirted and covered the background posts are positioned on top of the tables. After the background curtains are installed the supports for the purple velvet bunting must be constructed. Finally the bonsai will be positioned and repositioned again before the exhibition opens. But, there is still a lot of registration and printing for Diane and me to complete before next week.

But, we will be ready to welcome visitors from Asia, Europe, South America and North America so they can see, appreciate and study some of the finest bonsai in the United States and Canada as well.

Join us on September 13-14th in Rochester. Additional information can be seen at: