Nestled in the rainforest on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, Canada, is the bonsai nursery of Gerald Rainville. Here thousands of Japanese black pine, Sargent juniper, Dwarf Japanese garden juniper and Dawn redwood can be found from young seedlings/cuttings to developed 33 year bonsai.
As a young lad in 1972, he began growing plants and started his first landscape business with his classmate when he was only 13 years old in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He discovered bonsai in 1976 when Hiroyoshi Yamaji, Sansho-en Bonsai Garden in Kokubunji, Takamatsu, Japan on Shikoku Island, visited Montreal on an exchange program during the summer Olympic games. After graduating from high school in 1977 he entered horticulture college to get a basic background on growing plants. In 1980 Gerald traveled to Japan to become the first apprentice to Mr. Yamaji for about three years. During his training he was fortunate to be accepted into the “Kokubunji Successors Bonsai Club” which was formed to train the new young generation of bonsai growers for their future. This group studied extensively under Kuniaki Hiramatsu, Shunsho-en Bonsai Garden in Kokubunji. Gerald has continued this study to this date during his many visits to Japan. During the decades a special relationship was formed with Koji Hiramatsu, Kuniaki Hiramatsu’s first son and future proprietor of Shunsho-en Bonsai Garden. As Kuniaki Hiramatsu was teaching Gerald bonsai techniques, Gerald taught Koji English to train him as an international bonsai artist.
Koji Hiramatsu, Gerald Rainville and Kuniaki Hiramatsu working on pine bonsai
In 1983 upon returning to Montreal he began Shikoku Bonsai with Arthur Skolnik, the first bonsai store in Canada. This business thrived and boomed introducing bonsai to the French Canadians. Arthur bought the business and Gerald returned back to Japan to refine his bonsai techniques again with Mr. Yamaji in 1986. Arthur Skolnik moved the Shikoku Bonsai store to Toronto, Ontario, Canada and continued to sell bonsai.
In 1987 Gerald moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and opened Takamatsu Bonsai, the first bonsai store in British Columbia. Soon after moving to Vancouver he met his future wife from Japan and moved to Japan in 1990 to apprentice as a landscape architect to a famous Zen priest, Shunmyo Masuno, in the Tokyo area. During his three year apprenticeship, he was schooled in the traditional art of Japanese landscaping including rock placement, spatial design and creating distinctive gardens. He apprenticed in Japan for two years and worked for the Zen priest for another year on an overseas project in Canada.
The Rainville family then permanently moved to Roberts Creek, British Columbia, where he established Shikoku Bonsai in 1994. His new 2.5 acre nursery was cleared, leveled and terraced to grow bonsai. He brought Japanese black pine seed from Japan and began growing and training them using the traditional techniques he learned in Japan. Soon he added Sargent and Japanese garden junipers to his inventory, later on Gerald discovered the beauty of Dawn redwoods and began to grow and train them for bonsai.
During this time he began to design and build distinctive landscapes specializing in the unique use of rocks to solve design problems. His creative use of stones combined with hardscapes, wooden structures and plants was quickly recognized by high end clients and was a boom to his business.
All his bonsai are completely container grown and trained to produce distinctive trunks with movement and grasp of earth surface root displays. Long escape or sacrifice branches are used for creating great trunk taper. His young Japanese black pine seedlings get their first wiring when under two years old while the Sargent junipers begin their trunks shaping with wire when only one year old.
The bonsai are trained and shaped right from the beginning and are slowly and carefully grown with love with beautiful shapes and rough bark. Although massive pine trunks can be easily and quickly developed in the field, Gerald prefers to grow his bonsai in containers where every aspect of their training can be controlled.
Gerald Rainville will be one of the international judges and demonstrators at the upcoming 2020 7thUS National Bonsai Exhibition where he will be explaining and demonstrating his unique techniques for container growing Japanese black pine bonsai. Koji Hiramatsu will also be one of the international judges and demonstrators.
Gerald Rainville outstanding in his field