World Bonsai Day 2019


Each year the second Saturday of May has been designated as World Bonsai Day. This is an internationally celebrated event dedicated to furthering bonsai awareness and appreciation. World Bonsai Day was initiated by the World Bonsai Friendship Federation to honor the memory of Saburo Kato, renowned bonsai master and founder of the WBFF. Clubs, organizations, arboretum collections, businesses and individuals plan special events to celebrate World Bonsai Day. Exhibitions, demonstrations, displays as well as people donating their bonsai to collections are some of the events that happened today. However, perhaps the most popular activity celebrated on World Bonsai Day is the actually working on bonsai, which happened all over the world. That’s what bonsai is all about, the trees.



Originally, I was planning a Maple Bonsai Exhibit in my studio, garden and garage display area. But, as I was selecting the bonsai I realized that all were Japanese maples, and Trident maples were not represented. So, the name was simply changed to a “Japanese Maple Bonsai Exhibit.” Only Japanese maples and their cultivars were displayed. OK, I included a couple of Full-moon maples as well. Most people can’t tell the difference, but I frequently explained the difference.





Each visitor received an excellent DVD by Canadian bonsai artist Arthur Skolnik and a copy of Kinbon Japanese bonsai magazine. Yes, the articles are entirely in Japanese, but the excellent color photos and illustrations are an inspiration and also educational if one looks closely.


In addition to the Japanese Maple Bonsai Exhibit I held a morning and afternoon workshop for advance students. Paul Tuttle traveled from Syracuse for both the morning and afternoon sessions and Rick Marriott, who assists me teaching and a member of the Monday Senior Crew also worked all day on his bonsai.




We had quite a few visitors from across the area and one gentleman from North Carolina also dropped in. He was within a couple of hundred miles from Rochester and read about World Bonsai Day and my Japanese Maple Bonsai Exhibit and decided to attend, he stayed for most of the afternoon too. I met him at the Winter Silhouette Bonsai Expo held last December, in Kannapolis, NC. Unfortunately, I’m bad at remembering people’s names, but good at remembering the common, botanical as well as the Japanese names of plants.



Many of the visitors were past students, members of our local Bonsai Society of Upstate New York as well as all of my Monday Senior Crew. This is a special select group of friends who come every Monday to assist me in any way they can to help me promote bonsai. All of them are quite familiar with the Japanese maples on display, having trimmed, mossed, bud pinched, transplanting, wiring and watering. They know my plants, however they are familiar with these bonsai in my garden, where they must live. The bonsai are not often formally displayed in my studio, garden and garage display area. I felt very honored that they took time from their busy schedules to stop by to appreciate the beauty of the Japanese Maple Bonsai Exhibit.




Bonsai are kept outdoors for their health. Here they are watered daily, sprayed, trimmed and sometimes wired and shaped. Containers get soiled, moss becomes messy with organic fertilizer balls and sometimes a vigorous shoot or two get missed when trimming. This is how the bonsai are actually created and cared for. To fully appreciate the true beauty of a bonsai they are isolated from distractions, cleaned up and formally displayed. It’s like when you want to make a good first impression to someone or are preparing for a formal event or party. One changes from street clothes, gets cleaned up and tries to look their best for visitors and friends.



This special Japanese Maple Bonsai Display included 13 different cultivars of Japanese maples. There were several duplicates for a special shohin bonsai box display. All the display tables were different, in addition to their accessories and the flat slab underneath. No duplications were displayed, including container colors; and the trunk direction of each bonsai led the eyes to the center of the exhibit area. This took considerable time on Friday to plan out in addition to cleaning up the studio after hundreds of students created bonsai during the past few months. Friends came to help and I was on my hands and knees (don’t tell my doctor) washing the floor and scrapping up small bits of cut paste which students dropped. Unfortunately, a few of the bonsai that were recently transplanted did not have green moss, only chopped up long-fiber sphagnum moss.


I struggled and enjoyed creating an unusual shohin Japanese maple box display. Usually there are no duplicate species, container colors and styles, which creates interest. Also the trunk direction of each shohin bonsai leads the eye to the center of the composition. Since I introduced Koto Hime Japanese maple to the American bonsai community 37 years ago, I have many specimens in a variety of styles and sizes as well. All the bonsai in this special shohin box display were Koto Hime Japanese maples. Included were slanting and informal upright styles as well as a rock planting and forest. To date I have not successfully created a cascade style Koto Hime Japanese maple bonsai because of their strong upright growth characteristic. But, perhaps in the future I’ll be lucky.


Enjoy the images of the Japanese maples in the formal exhibit, as well as a few studio shots taken earlier this spring when some of the maples were in full bloom. Also a couple of photos of how Japanese maples were featured in outdoor displays.





Asia-Pacific American Heritage Family Fun Day

SOCIETY 2.JPGHarvey Carapella, Jason Henderberg and Ron Maggio answering questions



The Bonsai Society of Upstate New York Inc, also celebrated World Bonsai Day by participating in the one day Memorial Art Gallery Asia-Pacific American Heritage Family Fun Day. Several members showed five bonsai, two suiseki and one accessory planting on a small three table display. They answered many questions on bonsai and promoted our upcoming 46thUpstate New York Bonsai Exhibition & Sale that will be held next weekend. Of course these volunteers also encouraged people to join our very active society of about 150 members from greater Rochester as well as from Buffalo, Syracuse, Ithaca and Pennsylvania (Erie and Williamsport.)

I hope everyone, all around the globe, enjoyed World Bonsai Day 2019 and remembered all the pioneers, both past and present, who sacrificed to establish the bonsai organizations, collections, exhibitions and businesses our bonsai community now enjoy. Look for more bonsai activities next year for World Bonsai Day 2020, and most importantly, please enjoy your bonsai!

Look how the following people enjoy their bonsai!