Every few years our Bonsai Society of Upstate New York takes a bus trip to expose our members to interesting bonsai collections. In the past we have visited Canada (Montreal Botanical Garden and David Easterbrook); Washington, D.C. (National Bonsai & Penjing Museum, Kennett Collection and Sean Smith); and Boston (Arnold Arboretum, Suthin, Bonsai West and New England Bonsai Garden).
On July 18, 19, 2015 our group of 22 members and friends revisited Canada to once again see the bonsai collections at the Montreal Botanical Garden, David Easterbrook and Serge Rubidoux. On the way home we visited Pauline Muth’s bonsai studio.
We were fortunate to have Eric Auger, Curator of the Japanese, North American and Tropical Bonsai Collections guide us around and answered all questions. He first took to areas not open to the public to see bonsai which were not on display, his workroom and overwintering greenhouses. Since the Chinese Penjing Collection was closed he showed us through the Tropical Bonsai Greenhouse. The entire botanical garden was beautiful, especially with the colorful flowers.
After moving all of us with golf carts Eric showed us the Japanese Bonsai Collection and many members also strolled through the Japanese garden. There have been several significant bonsai donated by Susumu Nakamura, the Nippon Bonsai Association, City of Tokyo, Government of Japan and others, which included some magnificent specimens. Our members quickly recognized several of the bonsai, which the Montreal Botanical Garden displayed in the past four U.S. National Bonsai Exhibitions.
After another short golf cart trip we went to the North American Bonsai Collection, which had some large and stunning bonsai from several different artists. George LeBolt from New Jersey donated a large number of his finest bonsai, as well as David Easterbrook and Nick Lenz.
We then checked into our hotel across the street from the Montreal Botanical Garden and had a “delightful” evening at a Brazilian restaurant. Fortunately, the lighting was dim and a few of our members were enticed to join the dancers, so the photos did not come out well. But, if you look on Face Book, you might recognize a couple of us.
The next morning our private bus took us to visit the collection of architect Serge Robidoux. His garden was exquisite, not a blade of grass was out of place. Around the perimeter Serge had his bonsai displayed on multi level benches as well as monkey poles. A small water feature in the center of the yard created a peaceful focal point surrounded by many bonsai he has collected from the Canadian wilds over the past twenty years. Although there were some cultivated bonsai, the collected Larch and Pines were superb. Hopefully a few will be displayed in the next U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition.
After another bus ride we arrived at the new home of David Easterbrook. The new large five acre property was spacious and David explained his plans on designing his new bonsai garden. He had recently moved 34 truckloads of bonsai, plants, containers, display tables, cement blocks, boards, greenhouse heating equipment and more. The temporary set up in his driveway housed his evergreens and larch, while in the dappled shade across a fence, on the grass, housed his deciduous bonsai. It is extremely difficult and quite time consuming to move an entire bonsai garden, but with a few friends, David finally had all his bonsai in his new garden. He explained his plans for a 100 x 35’ greenhouse for overwintering and two level bonsai studio complete with a mezzanine for container display. Although David was not set up to show his bonsai, we were fortunate to allow us to visit. But, we all look forward to returning in a few years to a superb bonsai garden and studio.
David’s partner, Celine, surprised us and served all 22 of us a delicious luncheon, which took her a few days to prepare. She is called the “Martha Stewart of Canada,” an honor well deserved. We all sat near the pool enjoying our visit with David and Celine.
On the way home to Rochester, New York, through the rain we stopped by the studio of Pauline Muth in West Charlton, New York. We quickly entered her beautiful modern studio, complete with a wine cooler, through the rain. Suddenly all our cell phones had a flood watch warning, then a tornado warning. The containers and supplies were inside so a few were purchased by our members. After a while the rain let up and members went outside to see her bonsai. On the way home we enjoyed a beautiful sun setting over western New York. Our thanks to Marc Arpag who arranged all our visits and our generous hosts, Eric, Serge, David, Celine and Pauline.