Greenwood Bonsai Studio in Nottingham, England was established in 1978 by Harry Tomlinson. After Harry’s passing his two sons, Corin and Paul are the new proprietors and have developed the garden into the oldest and largest bonsai nursery and teaching studio in England.
To celebrate this successful achievement Corin and Paul are hosting two special bonsai events this year. On May 25-28, 2018, I am teaching bonsai at their studio and on September 14-16, 2018, Sean Smith will be teaching suiseki, stand carving and bonsai. During the May event there was a special exhibit of some of Corin’s bonsai from his private collection in the teaching studio.
I first met Corin Tomlinson when I was teaching in England in 1985. After high school Corin entered Merrist Wood College specializing in horticulture. A requirement for graduation was a formal apprenticeship. Harry never trained Corin in bonsai but wanted him to continue in his business and asked me to train him. Merrist Wood College had an affiliation with Ohio State University. So, through Merrist Wood College Corin applied to Ohio State University to study bonsai at an American bonsai nursery. At the same time I applied to Ohio State University that I was looking for a student with a bonsai background for a formal apprenticeship. Fortunately, OSU placed Corin with me for the formal apprenticeship which required written reports and examinations. It was also necessary to pay him a salary and provide insurance for him. I did not have a salary (and still don’t) but Corin had a modest steady income.
As was the custom in Japan at the time, Corin lived with Diane and me and became a member of our family. During his stay with us Nicholas was born in 1989 and later on Chris in 1991. Yes, Corin also helped raise our two boys, but never had to change a diaper. As most know, bonsai is more than a 9-5 job five days a week. So, in order to fully understand, appreciate and train bonsai an apprentice must really live at the bonsai garden. Weather can change, especially in Rochester, New York, during the night and spring which required 24 hour attention to the bonsai.
Acer palmatum ‘Koto No Ito’
Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira’
Acer palmatum ‘Seiryu’
Acer palmatum ‘Ukon’
Paul’s Scarlet Hawthorn
Corin also wrote extensively on his apprenticeship with me in several issues of International BONSAI,and my teacher, Yuji Yoshimura, was also interested in Corin and gave guidance. During his three to four year apprenticeship assisted with my teaching and traveled with me for programs, exhibitions and conventions. Many years after completing his apprenticeship with me I invited Corin to be a guest artist at one of the 30 symposia I sponsored. He has also been invited to teach at other conventions and bonsai clubs. When I demonstrated at one of the Ginkgo Award and Noelanders Cup Exhibitions in Belgium and Germany Corin traveled from England to assist me.
During this May’s special event I was invited to conduct a special private all day MasterClass, three workshops and three demonstrations during the long weekend. Fifty people from across England attended my first demonstration and later on in the day Corin presented a demonstration during my workshop so his visitors could enjoy a break from purchasing bonsai and other supplies from his brother Paul. It’s been a busy two days and I’m looking forward to another fulfilling two days.
Thirteen years ago Corin married Katherine and I was invited to the wedding. At that time I saw a change in the Greenwood Bonsai Studio due to Corin’s and Paul’s involvement and was impressed with his progress. I’m extremely proud of Corin’s development and achievements and pleased that he has taken his natural artistic talents, background from his father and combined them with the knowledge and techniques he learned from me to establish himself as one of the popular contemporary leading bonsai artists in England. I look forward to watching his continued success.