The Autumn Open House & Sale was held on September 5-6, 2015 during two days of hot humid weather. There were bonsai displayed in the garden where they are growing and being trained as well as two formal indoor alcoves and an outdoor alcove.
Most visitors entered through the studio, which was transformed, from a teaching classroom into a welcoming area featuring two alcoves and several smaller bonsai on display. Tools, books, wire, containers, supplies as well as clothing were displayed and available for purchase.
Outdoors, visitors had the opportunity to see and study bonsai from the Valavanis Bonsai Collection as well as the sales area. The nursery area featured plants being grown specifically for bonsai training. Two hoop houses had larger material and an additional hoop house was full of plants being trained for shohin bonsai. Two additional larger hoop houses have minimal heat during the winter. The Production House had tender bonsai, material for the autumn introductory bonsai course as well as young rooting cuttings of rare plants for future development. The other Display House mostly had shohin bonsai as well as other bonsai for sale.
The spacious garage, which is primarily used for winter protection of bonsai, was changed from the summer classroom into theater style with chairs set up for visitors to enjoy and learn from the six programs. The formal display area in the garage for the weekend was dedicated to the four bonsai displays from Marc Arpag and myself which will be driven to Portland, Oregon for the Artisans Cup in a couple of weeks. These four bonsai have been carefully cared for and manicured to be at their finest beauty for the exhibit. However, in addition to having a beautiful and distinctive bonsai the formal display of the tree is equally important. Numerous display tables and companion plants were tried and studied during the past several months. Finally acceptable compositions were completed and displayed for the visitors. However, the companion plants were still being tried out. But, when the companion planting is changed usually the small wooden board under the container must also be changed according the color and shape of the pot. This was a time consuming activity, which was discussed with visitors. Additionally we played around with Marc’s shohin composition moving a few trees so they would be best displayed.
Marc Arpag began the programs each day with a lecture on suiseki. The beauty and history of several of his stones was explained and there were many questions. Two members of a local lapidary society came to visit the suiseki exhibit and had interesting questions. At the conclusion of the program one of the ladies registered for my Introductory Bonsai Course so she could better understand the significance of suiseki combined with bonsai.
Following Marc on Saturday was Harvey Carapella who took an old Eastern White Cedar, which was collected decades ago in Canada and thinned it out. It was allowed to grow a bit wild in the past few years to encourage vigor. He trimmed the branches back and wired the branches to form neat pads of foliage. The old dead wood would be cleaned and treated in the future.
On Saturday afternoon I worked on a Valavanis dwarf cypress bonsai, which was also allowed to grow wild for a few seasons to get it established in a bonsai container. It was thinned out and the heavy branches were wired. Alan Adair assisted with the wiring to make the program proceed faster in the 93F heat. At the end both the front and back of the tree were attractive.
Iced water, sodas as well as ice tea were available throughout the weekend for visitors. Cookies were served in the studio and visitors freely enjoyed the cold beverages. At noon both days Diane grilled delicious hot dogs and even warmed the buns. Marc brought his secret hot sauce which was enjoyed. People ate in the studio, garage as well as wondering through the bonsai garden.
Sunday’s program began again with Marc talking about suiseki. A totally different lecture was presented and at the end he escorted the visitors into the suiseki exhibit and explained several of the stone displays. Every question was answered.
After a short break Marc demonstrated on a tall, four foot tall Chinese juniper. It was cut back several years ago and had many long new shoots indicating vigor. He had a drawing of the future idealized form, which required extreme bending. He first split the trunk in several areas to make the bending easier. There was a split in the upper trunk area and he inserted a long rebar, which was used as lever to bend the trunk. It was removed after bending. After splitting the trunk long pieces of annealed copper wire were taped to the trunk for support. Raffia was used to cover most of the trunk, but to make the demonstration go faster he used duck tape over the raffia for the entire trunk. Fortunately the tree cooperated and bent without breaking. Gentle curves were created as he carefully bend the trunk in half. The tree looks interesting from several different views and he will train the foliage and wire the tree next year after recovering from the drastic bending.
I presented the final program for the weekend event by doing the basic initial shaping of a Dwarf brush cherry for future development. After establishing the base according to the well develop surface roots the height was determined. Branches were then selected and those, which remained, were wired. Finally the overall triangular silhouette as created.
At the conclusion of the program a new cultivar of Hinoki Cypress was introduced. Sekka Dwarf Hinoki Cypress is a relatively new introduction to the American bonsai world. The small branches grow long and offer many options for training. The demonstration tree was an old stock plant from a nursery grower which had a nice thick straight trunk and lots of flexible branches. After the good branches were selected they were wired into the desired location. The easy to bend branches were wired with annealed copper wire. Smaller specimens of this new select cultivar will be available in my upcoming seedling catalog in December. The Sekka Dwarf Hinoki Cypress will also be used for my workshops at the California Shohin Bonsai Seminar, as well as those in Virginia, North Carolina and New York in spring.
Visitors from Rochester, Syracuse, Ithaca, Buffalo, Pennsylvania as well as Canada spent a delightful hot humid day looking at the suiseki, discussing bonsai with friends, as well as learning from the free programs, while eating delicious hot dogs.