Japanesse maple trained by Bob Blankfield from a small bare root stump grown in one of my beds a few years ago. Ok, more than a few years, something like two decades. Come to the US National Bonsai Exhibition in September to see this beautiful bonsai in person.
No, its not a tombstone this stone in Bob’s garden commemorates his bonsai hobby. His long time nickname is basinji, which is also a breed of dog from Africa.
Yesterday after a bonsai auction we stopped by Robert Blankfield’s home to see his bonsai collection and garden. Bob is a bonsai hobbyist and has been studying bonsai with me for about 25-30 years and had a huge bonsai collection. Although Bob is a bonsai hobbyist, many of his bonsai equal and exceed the quality of those of professional bonsai artists in the United States. He does not sell his bonsai, but rather grows, trains and loves his trees. When he moved into his new home several years ago he reduced his bonsai collection and only kept his best specimens.
Bob is a long time active member of the Bonsai Society of Upstate New York as well as the Suiseki Study Group of the Bonsai Society of Upstate New York. He does excellent detail work and often helps me when needed, like the upcoming US National Bonsai Exhibition. When our society has workshops Bob is there to help beginners. He is quite artistic and spends hours refining his bonsai, creating his garden as well as carving daiza for his suiseki. He often builds shelves and special display tables for my studio to show my small bonsai containers.
I’ve seen numerous private bonsai collections around the world and Bob’s garden is an example of how to effectively display bonsai as well as positioning them for easy care. During our visit yesterday Bob’s garden was especially colorful and I took some photos to share. All of his bonsai are beautifully displayed on posts. Throughout his garden he has small displays featuring dwarf plants, water lilies and stones. Bob’s wife, Dawn, has edged their entire back yard with a border of unusual plants and stones and I could not find one weed in his gardens.
A couple of years ago Bob needed a storage shed for his lawn tractor. A store purchased metal shed would not do for Bob. He designed and built a “storage shed” using some Japanese design elements combining them with functionality and also strong to withstand the harsh winters we experience.
Small water feature near the entrance of his “garden shed.”
Bonsai containers aging to develop patina on the side of the garden shed.
In the past Bob has displayed in the US National Bonsai Exhibitions as well as every year’s Upstate New York Bonsai Exhibition. Joe Noga has taken many photos of these events and below you can see some of Bob’s finest bonsai specimens.
Robert Blankfield is an excellent example of a private bonsai hobbyist who simply enjoys his trees in a beautiful garden. I’m proud of the work Bob has accomplished and glad to call him a good friend.
I’m fortunate to have several private bonsai hobbyists like Bob Blankfield as students, and friends, and will share their story, bonsai and gardens in the future, in my spare time… .
Bob’s Satsuki azalea was featured on the front cover of International BONSAI.