An Autumn Visit To Omiya Bonsai Village



Today we spent a pleasant 68F sunny day in Omiya, Japan. Our small group of only six people afforded us the opportunity to get around easily and have plenty of time to absorb the beauty of beautiful Japanese bonsai.


Our first stop was the bonsai garden of Masahiko Kimura, The Magician. I immediately noticed the increased number of tall rock plantings he created after carving and painting the stones. He is “playing” with bonsai… I’ll explain later.


There are always new bonsai creations in Mr. Kimura’s garden to view and study. There was a stunning Japanese black pine which was truly spectacular, but I did not photograph it, yet. It is destined for the Nippon Bonsai Taikan.


Exhibition which will be held next week in Kyoto. I can get a better photo then. Perhaps it will win one of the top awards, as his bonsai are usually winners, but it all depends on the judges…


Next, I noticed there were several empty “monkey poles” where several of his finest masterpieces are kept. They are now on display at the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum, which was our next stop. In spring the museum began a new “one man showing” of Contemporary Bonsai Masters. The first artist to be featured was Hiroshi Takeyama who specializes in deciduous, unusual and forest bonsai. The second featured artist is Masahiko Kimura and exhibition is titled: “Playing With Bonsai, The Origin Of His Works.” Photographs and signage in both Japanese and English explain his life with bonsai from an early age to the present. This special exhibit runs from October 26 to November 21, 2018. It includes approximately 20 to 30 of his finest masterpieces. The exhibition was changed several times during the exhibition. These Contemporary Bonsai Master series are in addition to the beautiful collection the museum displays daily. He also presented a demonstration on October 28th.

The 28 page exhibition guide full of Mr. Kimura’s masterpieces is in both Japanese and English with great photos and interesting information and his philosophy and thoughts on creation. According to Mr. Kimura, play is different from work, and the sources of creativity in the creation of bonsai. Through play he is able to create bonsai based on how bonsai should be using his sense of feeling and inspiration. He was greatly impressed with the tall Huangshan Mountains, Wulingyuan area and Sanxia Valley in China. Through play, which he sees as the opposite side of professional work, he has been able to make use of his strong sense of inspiration in creating bonsai.

Check out “Kimura’s Home Bonsai” youtube series which describes many of his interesting creative works, including how to sculpt rocks at:


In his garden, he has a huge Japanese yew which is estimated to be 1,000 years in age. I saw it in February this year, and in fact, included a photo of it in my blog from February 2018, look it up. This bonsai has not been in training too long. The exhibition guide said, in English, that it was collected from Hokkaido in April 2018. Now remember I already saw and photographed it in February. Perhaps the tree was trained since April, not collected in April. Now it is growing in a wooden box and it was first displayed in his exhibition a few weeks earlier. It already has been featured in Kinbon Magazinein a beautiful ceramic bonsai container which was added with Photoshop. According to Mr. Kimura this tree is a rare world-class material. The final form of this bonsai is yet to come, and I look forward to watching and learning from the tree.



I noticed a cascade style Ezo spruce bonsai in Mr. Kimura’s garden which looked familiar. Well, it should because it is featured in Mr. Kimura’s article in the upcoming issue of International BONSAI. This issue will soon be in the mail. If you are not a subscriber, you can easily subscribe to the first and only professional bonsai magazine published in the United States here:

Now, what I found particularly interesting is that I mentioned to one of Mr. Kimura’s long time apprentices, Andrei Bessonov, from Russia, that his photo is included in Mr. Kimura’s article about shaping the Ezo spruce bonsai. He responded that this bonsai was accepted to be displayed in the Sakufu Bonsai Exhibition, which is the professional Creation Exhibition next month under HIS name as an apprentice’s creation. Congratulations to Andrei!

Details are important in the creation and appreciation of bonsai. Look at the base of this large size Japanese five-needle pine bonsai….



I also saw an interesting Sargent juniper bonsai with roots being added to the bottom left side of the trunk. It is potted in a deep wooden training box to promote healthy fast vigorous growth.


The Omiya Bonsai Art Museum featured Mr. Kimura’s magnificent bonsai masterpieces which could not be photographed. But I was able to shoot a short video from the second floor balcony.



Walking through the Omiya Bonsai Village I noticed an “Old Friend” sitting outside Mr. Kato’s Mansei-en Bonsai Garden. The last time I saw this tree was in Mr. Iwasaki’s Takasago-an garden in Niihama, Shikoku Island, Japan. Its a truly magnificent Needle juniper garden tree.

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Hiroshi Takeyama’s Fuyo-en Bonsai Garden is one of my favorite bonsai destinations in Japan. The warm weather in Japan has slightly delayed the beautiful color of the bonsai in his garden. But, if you want to see brilliant color in a bonsai garden take a look at this image of my garden and check out my last blog.



Meet A Few Of My Good Friends


For the past 50 years I’ve been teaching bonsai in Rochester, New York. Thousands of students have been introduced to bonsai through my courses and workshops. Many students enjoy the hobby, are talented and want to improve their techniques. A good number continue with me and become good friends. Often students join the Bonsai Society of Upstate New York Inc, in fact, most of our members originated from my classes. They demonstrate at club meetings, become officers and assist me with my classes and other educational activities.

A few weeks ago Harvey Carapella and Bob Blankfield were introduced in my blog. I’d like to introduce a few more of my friends who are serious about improving their bonsai. Each of these friends has been studying with me for 20-25 years. By the way, I have one more talented bonsai friend to introduce, but don’t have the time to properly introduce him now as its snowing outside and must protect a few more bonsai (not from the snow, that’s good) before I head on to Japan in a few hours.

Enjoy the bonsai photos and interesting gardens of the six friends introduced here. I’m proud of all of them and am blessed with their friendship and support.


Marc Arpag

Marc is the current President of our bonsai society and has also served as other officer positions. He is recently retired and is now spending his time enjoying his bonsai and also painting… scenery, not houses. He is always ready to help and offers valued opinions during both my beginner and advanced bonsai workshops and presents programs to regional bonsai societies.

Each year Mark designs and installs the Welcome Garden for the US National Bonsai Exhibitions. Also he helps set up, run and take down the show.

He loves small size trees, especially mame and shohin bonsai, and excels in their creation and display. This multiple award winning bonsai artist often travels with me on lecture trips and also assists with both my bonsai courses and workshops. Suiseki is one of Marc’s passions and he organized the Upstate New York Suiseki Study Group.





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Joe Moore

Joe is the current Ways & Means Chair for our bonsai organization and a terrific auctioneer at club events. He is a semi-retired registered nurse, which provides him with the necessary time to enjoy and improve his collection. Joe is very interested in suiseki and has made several trips to Japan and Taiwan to see bonsai and increase his stone collection.

In addition to his bonsai collection of larger trees, Joe enjoys the beauty of shohin bonsai and displays his trees, of all sizes in local, regional and national exhibitions. He offers good ideas to the society and works on his bonsai for long hours, and it clearly shows. The creation and maintenance of bonsai requires a dedicated personality.





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Ron Maggio

Ron is the immediate past Treasurer of our bonsai society and spent nearly 20 years keeping the organization’s funds in order. He is a semi-retired insurance salesman and loves to interact with people. His friendly personality draws many new people into our society and is invaluable organizing and running the US National Bonsai Exhibitions. He presents interesting programs during my Autumn Open House & Sale on his vast suiseki collection, which is one of the best in this area.

In addition to his bonsai collection Ron is passionate for suiseki. Together with his wife JoAnn, they have collected stones in California as well as New York State in secret locations. Currently Ron is the Chairman of the Upstate New York Suiseki Study Group. He has traveled with me to Japan and Taiwan many times and has displayed several from his collection in the Japan Suiseki Exhibition held in Tokyo yearly. He has also won awards for his beautiful stones.





Jim Dolce

Jim is one of the past Presidents of our bonsai society and continues to advise the group and work hard to organize activities and programs. He is an executive with Fuji Xerox, which keeps him traveling, however, he always finds time to work on his bonsai and help me whenever needed. He is primarily responsible for setting up all of the past US National Bonsai Exhibitions and his wife Rita sewed all the hundreds of yards of curtains, skirting and table coverings used.

Jim presents interesting critiques for our bonsai society along with Marc Arpag and Harvey Carapella. He always shares his trees in our exhibitions. He recently moved to a new home and is establishing his new bonsai garden. His help organizing my friends to move trees and cover six poly houses for winter protection is valued highly.




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Rick Marriott

Rick is responsible for refreshments for our club meetings, shows and also at the US National Bonsai Exhibition. He is a retired engineer and a member of my Senior Monday Crew, which assists me doing anything needed. His friendly personality is valued when dealing with the public and trying to get them interested in our art. His bonsai have received awards in the Upstate New York Bonsai Exhibitions.

Rick assists me at every bonsai course I offer and is especially interested in starting trees from seed. He has several fine bonsai he has grown and trained from seed collected from some of my developed bonsai. Rick prefers cultivated bonsai, rather then collected trees. When traveling Rick is one of the few people I trust watering and caring for my personal collection. The is the consummate gentlemen and the ladies love him…




Alan Adair

Alan is on the exhibition committee for our bonsai society and in charge of vendor relations. Professionally Alan is a sign painter specializing in the unique art of carnival signs. His background in packaging design is helpful when shipping my bonsai and is my Director of E-Bay Sales & Marketing. This award winning bonsai artist specializes in collecting Larch from our region, but more importantly develops them into stunning specimens, which he displays. He presents programs to regional bonsai organizations.

Alan is my assistant and is the Curator of the Living Collection at the International Bonsai Arboretum. Having studied with me for over 25 years he is familiar with my design, techniques and helps me wire, trim and maintain my bonsai. I trust him to water when I’m traveling and to care for my bonsai, as well as our two dogs. He often assists when teaching classes and presenting demonstrations. His fine eye and sense of design is clearly evident with his beautiful bonsai.





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Brilliant Autumn Bonsai At The International Bonsai Arboretum


The 2018 summer growing season has come to an end with a hard freeze a few days ago. But, before winter arrived, my deciduous bonsai decided to put on a show and I’d like to share thier beauty with you.

The spectacle of green foliage turning rich red, yellow and orange in autumn happens when trees have taken all the food they can from the foliage which is filled with chlorophyll, the molecule that absorbs energy from the sun and gives leaves their green coloring. When the length of daylight and temperatures decreases leaves cease to manufacture food and when the green colored chlorophyll is broken down other colors are revealed.



Usually each species has a common autumn coloring. Maidenhair trees, or Ginkgo and Birch normally become bright yellow in autumn before leaf drop. Japanese maples often turn brilliant red, sometimes orange and even yellow foliage. I’ve even had Chinese elm leaves change to pink before dropping to reveal the quiet beauty of small fine twigs and grey bark. Japanese, European and American beech leaves usually become yellow in autumn rather than orange or red. Of course there are physiological reasons for these leaf color changes, which plant scientists have studied and can better explain.


However, I’m a bonsai artist and educator, and although I’ve earned two ornamental horticultural degrees this topic does not really interest me because what goes on inside the leaf can’t be changed. However, what I am interested in is to understand how to enhance autumn coloring.



Although each species has a “normal” autumn coloring, each year presents a different show of color depending on the daylight, temperature, water, fertilizer and trimming techniques. All of these elements contribute to the autumn foliage colors. I’ve had Trident maple bonsai turn rich red one year, orange the next year, clear yellow another year and sometimes all three colors in one leaf.


If deciduous bonsai are defoliated during the summer to reduce leaf size and increase fine twigs they often present richer autumn colors because of the chemical balance inside the leaves. It seems that the younger foliage change too more intense colors than bonsai with only older foliage which were not defoliated.


It seems that if the summer weather is hot and wet the foliage does not become brilliant in autumn. If the bonsai tend to dry out during late summer autumn coloring will be better than normal. Perhaps the slight stress stimulates rich coloring.


Fertilizing bonsai also contributes to the autumn foliage color change. If fertilizer applications stop in August or September the autumn colors begin sooner than if fertilizer is given in September into October. I do not change my fertilizer schedule during the year. Beginning in May and continuing to September, sometimes October, I use a mixture of high Nitrogen fertilizers throughout the growing season.
The addition of Nitrogen will be beneficial to the tree in spring. I do not reduce the Nitrogen levels as the growing season progresses. Most growers do not recommended this, because they say the addition of Nitrogen fertilizer will encourage late new growth which might be damaged by cold weather because they don’t have time to mature. This is not true if you have regularly fertilized with high Nitrogen fertilizer throughout the growing season. New growth will not be encouraged. However, look at my bonsai. I must be doing something right because my bonsai always reward me with a colorful show before leaf drop.


Kashima Japanese maple. The outer layer of leaves were gently plucked to reveal an undamaged fresh foliage.

During late summer some deciduous leaves show a discoloration or leaf burn around the edges because the leaves are thinner towards the tips. We often let them remain until September or October then gently pluck an entire layer of the damaged foliage revealing an older crop of foliage which has not been damaged. These new leaves become exposed to the sunlight and change color. As the growing season ends they put on a colorful showing. These bonsai are often put on turntables and rotated a couple of times a week so both sides of the bonsai can receive an even amount of sun. If the bonsai are not rotated the coloring of each side often differs. Bonsai kept in the shade tend to change color later than those in the full sun.






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This past summer we kept a multiple trunk Japanese maple in an area which received only late afternoon sun and the foliage did not burn. In late September it was moved into a sunnier location and rotated. This year this Japanese maple bonsai became light yellow, then a few days later a rich yellow. Two years ago the same bonsai turned light orange and the year before that it was dark orange. When the trees begin to change color it comes quickly and changes during the day, hour by hour.


European Beech

Usually Maidenhair trees, or Ginkgo, become yellow then suddenly all the foliage drops at one time. This year my Maidenhair tree bonsai failed to put on a show, while the garden tree changed to its normal rich yellow.


Shishigashira Japanese Maple


It takes considerable time to photograph deciduous bonsai to capture their beauty. I was waiting for my Full moon maple to change color. It almost peaked but the weather changed and it rained. The leaves were not knocked off, but the trunk became wet and dark. Its best to photograph bonsai when they are dry so details are revealed. This bonsai was peaking and the bark was wet. We tried paper towels and even a fan, but it did not help to dry out the bark, especially near the surface root region next to the moss. If you bring a bonsai changing color indoors to protect it from rain and wind you take a chance of drying out the leaves. Its best to keep the bonsai outdoors, out of the wind and away from rain. Low humidity is not good for maintaining colorful foliage. The leaves become a dull color, crispy and drop.


Full Moon Maple, May 2018.


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Weather changes and the brief magnificent autumn colors can quickly change. A few days after these colorful photos were taken it snowed about an inch. Good thing we photographed the bonsai last weekend not this weekend.


Japanese Zelkova

After the bonsai present their beautiful foliage changes we remove the old leaves to reveal the fine twigs and bark textures. Usually my bonsai remain outdoors until they get a light dusting of snow because the gritty snow cleans the bark as it melts. Then my bonsai are protected for the long cold winter.


Shishigashira Japanese Maple November 4, 2018.


Shishigashira Japanese Maple November 8, 2018.



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However, this year I have a different situation because of my upcoming Autumn Bonsai Tour to Japan during the Thanksgiving holiday. The Nippon Bonsai Association did not consider the American Thanksgiving holiday when they scheduled the Nippon Bonsai Taikan Exhibition. It is held during a long Japanese holiday weekend so visitors to Kyoto can enjoy both the colorful gardens and the bonsai exhibition. Two days after returning from Japan we must leave for the Winter Silhouette Bonsai Expo in North Carolina. So, it was necessary for me to begin protecting my bonsai early.


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Well, the bonsai did get a dusting of snow beforehand. A few weeks ago we began protecting the nursery stock and sales bonsai, keeping my better bonsai outside as long as possible. Usually the bonsai remain outdoors until Thanksgiving or early December, depending on the season. Personally, I hate cold weather and snow and tend to go dormant at 70F. So, I’m off in a few days to show friends the Japanese bonsai world where it will be warmer than it is in Rochester, New York.

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Meet Harvey B. Carapella

Meet Harvey B. Carapella


Harvey Carapella is an accomplished award winning bonsai artist living in Rochester, New York. He worked as a graphic artist for 36 years at the Rochester Institute of Technology where he additionally taught basic design and drawing for 44 years. Before growing bonsai he raised reptiles and spent considerable time making realistic panorama cages for his slinky pets. His attention to detail has now been transformed to his bonsai.





Harvey has combined his graphic art background with his natural artistic talent to grow, design and display fine quality bonsai. Many of his bonsai exceed the quality of those created by professional bonsai artists. One of his bonsai, a Crabapple, was the logo for the 2008 1stUS National Bonsai Exhibition. Several of his bonsai have been featured in International BONSAIboth on the cover and in the Masterpiece Bonsai Gallery.


He has been studying with me for over 40 years and has a special area in my studio where he spends all days on Friday and Saturdays in spring and autumn quietly working on his beautiful bonsai. Nobody dares to use his area and also has a special parking area near the front entrance of my studio. When I’m teaching my Introductory Bonsai Course Harvey always brings in a few of his bonsai for display as he works on his trees. When necessary he also helps both beginners and advanced bonsai students. Very often when a student has options for design Harvey offers his valued opinion, as do a few other advance students. I like to have many different options for student to select from for difficult design situations.


He is the art director forInternational BONSAImagazine and has contributed to each of the 155 issues during the past 40 years of producing the first and only professional bonsai magazine published in the United States.

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His bonsai collection is well rounded and includes small shohin bonsai as well as large two man specimens. As he matures, he has transferred the ownership of some of his largest specimens. Looking at the colorful photograph of his garden one might think that he only has deciduous species, but he has many evergreen species as well.





Harvey freely shares his graphic art talent with friends and especially the Bonsai Society of Upstate New York where he has been President several times in total for over 30 years. He has led the organization’s small club show to an excellent regional bonsai exhibition with visitors from several states. Harvey always designs logos, signs and other printed material for society use, as well as my activities. He has taught me about design, computer problems as well as how to produce quality PowerPoint and Keynote slide programs. Harvey and I have learned from each other for over 40 years and share our discoveries with others.




Each year Harvey presents an educational program for the Bonsai Society of Upstate New York as well as assisting me during workshops. He has presented programs during several of the International Bonsai Symposia as well as for other organizations. Harvey is an invaluable volunteer helping me organize and run exhibits, symposia and now the first six US National Bonsai Exhibitions.



Harvey Carapella is a quite unassuming gentleman with decades of experience. He does not sell his bonsai, but rather grows them for his own pleasure. I’m quite familiar with his bonsai and kept asking him about the autumn color of his deciduous bonsai this season because I like to capture their beauty in photos. For the past several weeks Harvey keeps telling me he has poor color. However, a couple of days ago, his daughter Gina took a few fantastic overall photos of his colorful garden which looks like a multi colored painting.





Often one can determine the quality of one’s bonsai by the way their trees are maintained in their garden. Looking at the colorful photos of Harvey’s neat garden his love of bonsai clearly shines. He is a good friend I can always depend on to help me promote bonsai. I feel blessed to have so many good friends in Rochester!








This year’s 2018 US National Bonsai Exhibition was held in East Rochester, New York on September 8-9, 2018. Over 40 volunteers worked hard from the Rochester area and also Canada, North Carolina and Ithaca from Tuesday through Friday to build backgrounds for showcasing nearly 300 of the finest bonsai in the United States and Canada. The Total Sports Experience venue is a 55,000 sq. ft. facility with superb lighting, high ceilings with the floor covered in soft green Astroturf. It holds two indoor soccer fields, one used for the bonsai exhibition and the other for the sales area. Jamie Hammond and Brian Cummings from the sports complex warmly welcomed us and assisted to present the bonsai and control the crowds.


Guests traveled from Europe, South Africa, Australia, Japan, and South America as well as throughout the United States, Mexico, Canada and Puerto Rico to visit an exhibition of the highest level bonsai in our country. An area with large and small tables was available for visitors to enjoy bonsai fellowship. Everyone was friendly, no politics and many commented that their visit was like a large family reunion. One of the main reasons for organizing the US National Bonsai Exhibitions is to elevate the quality and understanding bonsai while uniting the American bonsai community. Our common interest in bonsai shines through as we appreciate bonsai from all corners of our country.





Exhibitors from 27 states, Canada and Puerto Rico prepared some of their beautiful bonsai to share with the world through their display. Each bonsai was clean, mossed and had a display table as well as companion or accessory. This takes considerable effort and years of care and training by each exhibitor.


Special Exhibits from the following collections were also displayed:

National Bonsai Museumat the US National Arboretum, Washington, DC

Montreal Botanic Garden,Montreal, Canada

Kennett Collection,PA

Chicago Botanic Garden,IL

Pacific Bonsai Museum,WA

Karamatsu Bonsai Study Group,Montreal, Canada

Bonsai Societyat the Royal Botanic Garden in Burlington, Canada

University of MichiganMatthaei Botanical Gardens, MI


In total there were 281 individual bonsai on show in 178 displays. There were 127 different species and cultivars representing 135 bonsai artists. Shohin bonsai were displayed in 29 compositions with a total of 121 individual small, but mighty specimens.


There was an hour and a half waiting time to enter the exhibition on Saturday morning. After the initial rush there was only a 30 minute wait. Over 500 weekend passes were sold before the exhibition opened. At the door hundreds of Saturday day passes were sold out before 10 am, so the Sunday day passes were used and they were sold out by noon. We printed more passes on Saturday evening for Sunday. Nobody was refused, but rather welcomed to the exhibition. Everyone enjoyed the spacious aisles in order to appreciate the bonsai forms and distinctive displays.



The Opening Ceremony included:

Lindsay Bebb– Australia(Chair World Bonsai Friendship Federation, judge and demonstrator

Naemi Iwasaki– Japan(Nippon Bonsai Association and Vice-Chair World Bonsai Friendship Federation)

Marc Arpag(President Bonsai Society of Upstate New York)

Glenis Bebb– Australia(President Bonsai Clubs International and demonstrator)

Felix Laughlin(Co-President National Bonsai Foundation)

Jack Sustic(Co-President National Bonsai Foundation)

Marc Fields(President American Bonsai Society)

Taiga Urushibata– Japan(Judge and demonstrator)

Mauro Stemberger– Italy(Judge and demonstrator)

Ronald Maggio(Publicity Director representing the Mayor of Rochester, County Manager and NYS Senator)

Wm. N. Valavanis(Organizer)


Publicity director Ronald Maggio arranged for extensive television coverage on three channels in the Rochester area. Additionally, a live broadcast which was recorded and repeated throughout the weekend helped to promote the event.


It takes a great deal of time, help and the generous funds from the sponsors, patrons, benefactors and donors made the event possible. The stellar success of this year’s US National Bonsai Exhibition was possible due to the exhibitors, vendors, demonstrators, judges and artists conducting critiques as well as the 40 volunteers who made certain the venue was set up correctly and guests made welcome.

Joseph Noga, along with another volunteer crew carefully photographed each bonsai for inclusion in the Commemorative Album, which is now in production.

The three judges, Taiga Urushibata (Japan), Lindsay Bebb (Australia) and Mauro Stemberger (Italy) carefully studied all the bonsai and how they were displayed. It was amazing that most of their selections were unanimous. The following awards were presented at the Saturday evening Award Banquet:


The National Award

Japanese Black Pine

Suthin Sukosolvisit


Evergreen Bonsai Award

Rocky Mountain Juniper

Tim Priest


Deciduous Bonsai Award

Japanese Maple

Dennis Vojtilla


Medium Size Bonsai Award

Japanese Five-needle Pine

Troy Schmidt


Yoshimura Classical Bonsai Award

Kiyo Hime Japanese Maple

Brad Foresythe


Custom Oriental Woodcraft Award

Finest Shohin Bonsai Display

John Kirby


Mame Bonsai Award

Willow Leaf Fig

Johnson Teh


Bonsai Travel Award

Bonsai & Companion Combination

Karen Harkaway


Nippon Bonsai Association Award

Rough Bark Japanese Maple

Kuhen Smith


All American Bonsai Award

American Bonsai, Container & Display Table

Marc Arpag


ABS North American Bonsai Award

Sierra Juniper

Jeramiah Lee


Puerto Rico Bonsai Federation Award

Brazilian Rain Tree Forest

Sho Fu Bonsai Society of Sarasota


Magio Associates Suiseki Award

In Memory of Felix Rivera

Chad Novak


Tatemori Gondo Satsuki Award

Shiryu No Mai Satsuki

Melvyn Goldstein


Invitational Bonsai Exhibit Award

Sargent Juniper

The Kennett Collection


Canadian Bonsai Award

Eastern White Cedar

Montreal Botanic Garden



The soccer field size sales area was full to capacity with 40 vendors and buyers from across the country, Canada and Puerto Rico. At times, it was difficult to move around as everyone was buying. Some vendors were nearly completely sold out. Several vendors mentioned that they doubled their sales from previous exhibitions. The sales area is an important part of any exhibition and the vendors must be congratulated for hauling their trees, containers, collected trees, display tables, suiseki, supplies, heavy soils, tools and more to a central area where bonsai buyers can purchase anything they need in one room.


The demonstrators provided instructive and entertaining presentations working on Junipers. Mauro Stemberger shaped a Sierra Juniper while Taiga Urushibata, assisted by Daisaku Nomoto, worked on a Western Juniper.


Lindsay and Glenis Bebb pruned, wired and shaped a Sargent Juniper. Sean Smith presented two lectures on suiseki while Michael Ryan Bell’s topic was Japanese bonsai containers.


Twice daily there were critiques conducted by some of the top authorities in our country. They volunteered their services for their critiques which were well attended. The following artists presented critiques: Bjorn Bjorholm, Kora Dalager, David DeGroot, David Easterbrook, Boon Manakitivipart, Nina & Larry Ragle, Kathy Shaner, Sean Smith and Suthin Sukosolvisit. All the demonstrations and critiques for free with the paid admission.


On Saturday afternoon a Benefit Auction was conducted by Julian Adams where approximately 50 items were sold to the highest bidders. Many large size bonsai and containers from the Valavanis Collection now have new owners. Additionally friends and vendors also donated many distinctive items to help fund the US National Bonsai Exhibition.

Marc Arpag designed and installed the welcome garden near the entrance. This year he featured the little known Bonsai Hall of Fame at the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum at the US National Arboretum in Washington, DC. There are only three inductees in this group who have made significant contributions to bonsai in the United States. The first two inductees, John Y. Naka and Yuji Yoshimura have passed on, while Wm. N. Valavanis is the only living member of the National Bonsai Hall of Fame. Marc was able to display a Mugho pine bonsai which John Naka created 40 years ago, plus a Nippon Daisy bonsai originally imported from Japan by Yuji Yoshimura. Finally a Shishigashira Japanese maple bonsai was included which was grown and shaped by Wm. N. Valavanis for 49 years in a container.



Everyone enjoyed the very successful and exciting 6thUS National Bonsai Exhibition which was completely full of beautiful distinctive bonsai, friendly bonsai lovers, a diverse group of vendors while enjoying comfortable weather. Join us in two years to experience an exhibition showcasing the highest level of bonsai in America.


Check out this excellent video produced by Oscar Jonker from Bonsai Empire:


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The 2020 7thUS National Bonsai Exhibition will be held on September 12-13, 2020 in the same venue. Now is the time to begin preparing your bonsai for display.


If you can’t wait until 2020 to see fine bonsai, consider visiting the 2019 2ndUS National Shohin Bonsai Exhibition on June 21-23, 2019 in Kannapolis, North Carolina, outside Charlotte. The unique venue for this exhibition is the North Carolina Research Center, a four story elegant building featuring walls covered with Italian marble.


The North Carolina Research Center is also the venue for the upcoming 6thWinter Silhouette Bonsai Expo on December 1-2, 2018. For additional information visit:



If you like these photos, wait to see to see Joe Noga’s final portrait photos in a future issue of International BONSAIand also in the upcoming Commemorative Album.You can easily order this quality photographic record of the US National Bonsai Exhibition for your club, personal study or your reference library here:






The 2018 6thUS National Bonsai Exhibition will be held on September 8-9, 2018 at the Total Sports Experience in East Rochester, New York.


Our first US National Bonsai Exhibition was held in October 2008 against warnings that the event would never succeed because of the vast area of our country and lack of support. I did not listen to them, but rather depended upon the support of others who wanted to see a national exhibition representing bonsai from all areas of the country. Additionally an Invitational Suiseki Exhibit has been quite popular and will again be repeated.


Past Exhibitions:

1st  October 2008, Monroe Community Hospital

2nd  June 2010, Monroe Community Hospital

3rd  June 2012, The Fair & Expo Center

4th  September 2014, Total Sports Experience

5th  September 2016, Total Sports Experience

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In total for the first five exhibitions 679 potential exhibitors submitted photos of 1,634 bonsai for the selection process. To date 517 exhibitors from 40 states and two provinces of Canada have displayed 1,336 bonsai in the first five US National Bonsai Exhibitions. There have been 470 individual shohin bonsai displayed. Less than a dozen bonsai have been repeated even though a bonsai can be again displayed after four years. During that four year period bonsai improved and are more refined. Additionally many of the bonsai displayed have also been previously displayed in the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition sponsored by the Nippon Bonsai Association in Tokyo, Japan.

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It is difficult to state how many different species and cultivars have been displayed in total because so many have been repeated. However, in the last 2016 5th US National Bonsai Exhibition alone there were 120 different species and cultivars, which is significantly more than any other bonsai exhibition, anywhere. This year at least 13 new species and cultivars will be displayed, plus many unusual shohin bonsai species.


Special Displays

The following organizations have displayed some of their finest specimens during the first five exhibitions:

US National Bonsai & Penjing Museum

Montreal Botanic Garden

Kennett Collection

Arnold Arboretum

Arnold Arboretum Larz Anderson Bonsai Collection

Chicago Botanic Garden

Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection

North Carolina Arboretum

Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

University of Michigan Matthaei Botanic Gardens Bonsai & Penjing Collection

Karamatsu Bonsai Study Group, Canada

Royal Botanic Garden Bonsai Study Group, Canada


Significant and costly efforts were made by many people for safe transport and importing. Our generous sponsors and donors help to defray costs from long distances as California, Oregon, Texas and Florida.

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Benefit Auction

On Saturday afternoon at 4pm, after the last demonstration we will host a Benefit Auction to help defray expenses for the US National Bonsai Exhibition. The donated auction trees and items will be on display all day on Saturday before the auction, which will be held in the demonstration area of the exhibition.


Auction tree



Auction tree


Up for auction, tree only


Award Banquet

At the Saturday evening Award Banquet cash prizes in excess of $8,000 will be presented to the winners as selected by our three international judges, Lindsay Bebb, Australia, Taiga Urushibata, Japan and Mauro Stemberger, Italy. Limited Award Banquet tickets are available until September 1stat a $50 cost.



The National Award

Finest Bonsai Masterpiece



Evergreen Bonsai Award

Finest Evergreen Bonsai



Deciduous Bonsai Award

Finest Deciduous Bonsai



Medium Size Bonsai Award

Finest Medium Size Award



Custom Oriental Woodcraft Award

Finest Shohin Bonsai Display

$1,000 Shohin Bonsai Display Table


Mame Bonsai Award

Finest Mame Bonsai

$1,000 Handmade Kawada Bonsai Container


Yoshimura Award

Finest Classical Bonsai



Bonsai Travel Award

Finest Bonsai & Companion Plant Combination



Nippon Bonsai Association Award

Finest Japanese Style Bonsai

Exhibition Album


All American Bonsai Award

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



ABS North American Bonsai Award

Finest North American Native Species Bonsai



Puerto Rico Bonsai Federation Award

Finest Tropical Bonsai



Maggio Associated Suiseki Award

Finest Suiseki- In memory of Felix Rivera



Gondo Satsuki Azalea Award

Finest Satsuki Azalea Bonsai



Invitational Bonsai Exhibit Award

Finest Bonsai from Special Exhibits



Canadian Bonsai Award

Finest Bonsai from Canada



Demonstrations & Critiques

On Saturday and Sunday mornings Sean Smith will be talking on suiseki and Michael Ryan Bell will talk about containers. Mauro Stemberger (Italy), Taiga Urushibata (Japan) and Lindsay & Glennis Bebb will demonstrate on evergreen bonsai. The bonsai will be auctioned on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.



Mauro Stemberger demo tree



Lindsay & Glennis Bebb demo tree



Taiga Urushibata demo tree

Each day critiques of the bonsai and suiseki will be presented by Bjorn Bjorholm, Kora Dalager, David DeGroot, David Easterbrook, Boon Manakitivipart, Larry & Nina Ragle, Kathy Shaner, Sean Smith and Suthin Sukosolvisit.

All demonstrations and critiques are FREE with the paid daily admission of $20.


Sales Area

Over 40 vendors from across the United States and Canada will be brining their finest bonsai, pre-bonsai, containers, tools, supplies, suiseki, scrolls and more for sale. Everything you need to create, maintain and appreciate your bonsai.





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Come join us on September 8-9, 2018 as the United States proudly displays well over 200 beautiful and distinctive bonsai for the world to show what kind of bonsai are being grown and trained in our country. Enjoy bonsai fellowship with visitors traveling from Japan, China, India, Australia, Europe, South America, Africa, Mexico and Canada. It is not too late to join us and join us celebrating bonsai in the United States!

Additional information:



Visit with your long time friends and make new friends enjoying bonsai fellowship



2018 41st Annual Mid-America Bonsai Exhibition


The 41stMid-America Bonsai Exhibition sponsored by the Midwest Bonsai Society was held at the beautiful Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, Illinois. Held on August 17-19, 2018, this well organized and attended exhibition is one of the oldest exhibitions the country.


The Chicago Botanic Garden has an excellent and diverse bonsai collection and a selection of some of their masterpiece bonsai is displayed during the summer months in two outdoor courtyards. Curator Chris Baker has been improving their bonsai, some of which have a long history and also a large collection donated from Susumu Nakamura from Japan.


Professional bonsai artist Naoki Maeoka from Japan judged the exhibition and conducted workshops, a critique and a demonstration.


This year Tim Priest from Grand Rapids, Michigan won the “Best of Show Award” in the Open Category, with his display of a medium size Sargent juniper and Chojubai dwarf flowering quince bonsai three-point display.





May 2018 at the Upstate New York Bonsai Exhibition, photo by Joe Noga.

The 1stplace Professional Award was won by Wm. N. Valavanis, Rochester, New York, for his Full Moon Japanese maple. Unfortunately, during the long trip to Chicago his trailer hit a bump in the road and the excellent Japanese container the Full Moon Japanese Maple was growing in broke into several pieces. This has never happened to him before, but with a bit of SuperGlue the bonsai still went on display and won. The container will be properly repaired and should be on display at the 2018 6thUS National Bonsai Exhibition coming up soon in a few short weeks.



The 2ndplace Professional Award was won by Tim Priest for his large Rocky Mountain Juniper bonsai. A few years ago this bonsai also won the “Best of Show Award” in the same exhibition in the Open Category and had to be entered this year in the Professional category.



The 3rdplace Professional Award was won by Wm. N. Valavanis for his Koto Hime Japanese Maple.


Chinese Evergreen Wisteria, Milletia taiwanensis.






















Visitors from around the Midwest enjoyed the numerous vendors and approximately one hundred beautiful bonsai on display.

43rdPark Ave Art Festival & Gudmund Jos Olsson


This is the 24thyear I have been selected to display and sell bonsai in the Park Ave Art Festival. My Monday Senior Crew and I create indoor bonsai for the public to introduce them to the art. Easy to maintain sub tropical species are used so they have good luck keeping their new bonsai alive.  Each bonsai is pruned, shaped, wired, wired into the container and even mossed. But, the main purpose of participating is to gather new students for my Introductory Classical Bonsai Art Courses. This year we promoted the upcoming US National Bonsai Exhibition too.


Rick Marriott

The Park Ave Art Festival is one of the largest festivals in Rochester, New York, renowned for its architecture, culture and hip urban atmosphere. Over one mile of Park Avenue is closed to vehicles and transformed one weekend a year into a one-of –a-kind shopping Mecca filled with original creations from more than 350 artists, craftspeople and exhibitors from the United States and Canada. Additionally, delicious food and entertainment on four stages runs throughout the weekend.


Alan Adair

This is often one of the hottest weekends of the year, and it was no exception this year. Around 2pm clouds and thunder moved in and we experienced a torrential downpour for about 30 minutes. All visitors in the streets immediately scattered to find shelter, and our tent was soon overflowing with visitors. I announced that everyone must buy a bonsai…. it did not work. But, that’s a good way to get people to see bonsai up close and ask questions.


Rick Marriott, Alan Adair and Diane were the main sales people as I quietly worked on a Nippon Daisy bonsai preparing it for display in the soon upcoming US National Bonsai Exhibition. This bonsai was a cutting originating from Toshiji Yoshimura, Yuji Yoshimura’s father, probably around 1950. It has a magnificent trunk and we have developed small foliage this season. To bad it will not be in blossom next month.


I’m fortunate to have our sales tent in front of Northfield Designer Goldsmiths, the studio of Master goldsmith Gudmund Jos Olsson. Originally from Sweden with degrees from several universities he continued his silversmithing at the Rochester Institute of Technology. His approach to jewelry design is to study the hand or wrist so his jewelry flows comfortably with the natural lines. Everything sold in Northfield Goldsmiths is designed and hand crafted by Gudmund.


Gudmund next to a Scots pine he collected and trained. I’ll help him thin out the top this autumn.


A common Silver maple with an interesting trunk

He has a strong interest in Oriental art forms and philosophies and has found them to be very compatible with the Scandinavian mentality, as they are similar in their naturally functional, down to earth practical way of thinking. His simple asymmetrical jewelry shapes blends well with accents that suggest Oriental influence.


A clear head keeps the chipmunks away from his bonsai


Gudmund began studying bonsai with me over 20 years ago and a few years back helped me one day a week to increase his bonsai techniques. His studio building, an historic 1890 home is a landmark and he is quite limited to what he can do to the exterior. It was difficult to get permission to create a small Japanese garden for his bonsai.


Euonymus forest in an old discarded satellite dish

Being an artistic designer, Gudmund enjoys repurposing items and collecting common plants for bonsai and has fun. He has created a most unusual eclectic collection of bonsai and viewing stones, according to his own style. All bonsai do not need to be classical in design. THE most important element is that one enjoys their bonsai. And, Gudmund does. Being a goldsmith, Gudmund even repairs broken and cracked special bonsai containers with solid gold. He has even molded sections of containers missing pieces with gold.


Goldfish bowl

Occasionally, I will lead friends and students into Gudmund’s garden to see what new bonsai he has created. It’s a small area with not much room to move around.


The Park Ave Art Festival draws thousands of people, including many interesting individuals with colored hair, piercings and clothing, or minimal revealing clothing. The festival is family friendly, no pets, drinking or parties are officially allowed. Numerous dogs, cats, birds and reptiles are however, commonly seen. A lady brought one of her colorful chameleons to share with others and I had the opportunity to hold it. The chameleon jumped into one of my Schefflera bonsai, but we were able to get it out before he became too comfortable.




Towards the afternoon Gudmund presented me with three handcrafted tiny bonsai containers. The sterling silver containers have patina, multiple drainage holes and are even signed by Gudmund. Now I’m looking for plants small enough to live in the diminutive special containers.



Tomorrow, Sunday, the last day of the weekend festival will surely bring new surprises, experiences, food and more interesting people to watch, plus selling bonsai of course.