2021 Winter Silhouette Bonsai Expo

ery soon people will travel to North Carolina for Steve Zeisel’s annual Winter Silhouette Bonsai Expo on December 4-5, 2021. Kindly wear a mask.

The beautiful North Carolina Research Center in Kannapolis is the venue for the Bonsai Expo.

I look forward to welcoming you and getting together with long-time and new friends
























Autumn 2021 at the International Bonsai Arboretum

The bright autumn colors of my maple bonsai arrived about two weeks late this season. But I think the short delay was worth the wait. The colors are not always as vibrant, note few damaged leaves. The bonsai have been especially well cared for this spring/summer, last time I watered was in early May. A special thanks to Diane, Alan and my Monday Senior Crew for their dedication and attention to detail!

Shishigashira Japanese Maple

Burning Bush

Koto Hime Japanese Maple. This forest has never been so bright with orange foliage.

Enjoy! I’m already thinking of spring….

2021 7th US National Bonsai Exhibition


This year’s exhibition was held on September 11-12, 2021 in the Total Sports Experience in East Rochester, New York. The 55,000 square foot facility is composed of two indoor fields. One field was used to display over 200 bonsai while the other field, surrounded by plexiglass had over 45 vendors. There were more than 90 shohin bonsai this year. Although the total number of displayed bonsai was a bit lower than in the past, it was clear to many the beauty and quality of bonsai is rapidly rising in the United States. This was the first bonsai gathering of over 400 visitors in about three years and provided for meeting long time friends and fellowship.

I have organized 31 successful symposia, regional displays and seven US National Bonsai Exhibitions. To say that this year was the most difficult is an understatement. We followed COVID protocals and had to limit the number of visitors. We had threats to close us down. Additionally, exhibitors were cancelling their bonsai displays up to a few days before the event because of raising COVID problems. traveling and attending during the pandemic. Unfortunately, we lost over 20 beautiful and large bonsai from four different study groups in Canada because they could not enter the United States. Even Canadian visitors could not attend. The US National Arboretum and the Chicago Botanic Garden could not contribute bonsai because of government prohibited travel. Although not apparent, I was a wreck, as COVID restrictions could change at any time. And, on top of all these problems I had serious health issues and had a difficult time moving around.

However, we DID IT! We have a very strong bonsai community in Rochester, New York, who always helps to promote bonsai. In addition to my Monday Senior Crew of ten men and women, there was a total of about 40 volunteers who constructed, hosted and took down the exhibition. The Bonsai Society of Upstate New York was a major sponsor of the successful event and provided plenty of hands to work. Out of town exhibitors also came early to help set up.

During the entire exhibition Joe Noga was in his studio capturing the beauty of each bonsai for the Commemorative Album which will be released in early spring. Professional studio photos need to get the best exposure, shadow and highlights for each bonsai. Some took 20 minutes to photograph. When you enjoy and study the photos you can easily see in the results. You can easily get the pre-publishing price and order the Commemorative Albu­m at: 


If you would like to support the US National Bonsai Exhibitions and help spread and raise the level of beauty in the United States, please purchase a copy. Each of the seven Commemorative Albumsfeature approximately 200 different photo masterpieces.

Kusamono artist and authority, Young Choe, had a large display of plantings from across the country. She provided a black background which really made the kusamono stand out. In addition to her 40 foot display, she also presented two lecture demos and created several kusamono which were auctioned.

Approximately 40 suiseki from around the world were displayed.


On Friday afternoon the three judges, Enrique Castano (Mexico), Marco Invernizzi (Italy) and Kathy Shaner (USA) carefully examined over 200 bonsai to select the 12 award winning bonsai categorized by: size, style, native origin and display elements. All three judges unanimously selected Suthin Sukolosvisit’s large Sargent juniper for The National Award for the finest bonsai in the exhibition.

All 12 award winning bonsai will be illustrated in the next new issue:


Each of the three judges also presented well attended lecture demonstrations. Suiseki authority Sean Smith shared his knowledge of suiseki. During the day free 30 minute critiques were given by Bjorn Bjorholm, Kathy Shaner, David DeGroot, Boon Manikitivipart Sean Smith, Kora Dalager and Suthin Sukolosvisit who volunteered their time and knowledge.

Apple Transcendent Crabapple

Jason Henderberg, a local club member is now producing 3D Virtual Tours of bonsai exhibitions, gardens, real estate and products. His business Virtually is the leader in 3D Virtual Tours. These well produced and photographed Virtual Tours really cool! To begin with, click on “play” and you can almost touch each bonsai as you travel down each aisle. Check it out, having this virtual 3D Virtual Tour makes the exhibition even more special:


The 2021 7th US National Bonsai Exhibition is now a pleasant and rewarding memory which happened because of volunteers and exhibitors who want to see bonsai expand in the United States. More photos in the next issue of InternationalBONSAIonline. A hearty thank you to everyone who helped, displayed their bonsai and joined us for a magical weekend, which we all deserved.


US National Bonsai Exhibition- Sold Out!

Thank you for your interest in the 2021 7th US National Bonsai Exhibition. Unfortunately, due to facility limitations and covid protocals, all weekend passes and daily tickets are sold out. We would like to accommodate everyone, but cannot. During the past few days, an overwhelming multitude of entrance tickets and banquet tickets requests came in and we have now reached the limit. People should have purchased tickets earlier, before making hotel and plane reservations. We have and will continue to observe all NYS and County COVID regulations. Tickets will NOT be sold at the door (none available!) if you did not purchase an admission ticket you will not be allowed in the building and sales area. We must carefully monitor the number of people in the facility which includes the sales area.

Everything has been changing since the COVID pandemic. Although I feel bad limiting attendance, I’m thrilled that we can EVEN hold the event. I don’t want to be shut down during the exhibition so must follow regulations. For those who missed their opportunity to attend this year’s exhibition, a 7th US National Bonsai Exhibition commemorative album, featuring all the displayed bonsai, will be published.


People are invited to visit my International Bonsai Arboretum on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm, and then spend a pleasant afternoon at the exhibition. A special ½ price half day pass for the Sunday afternoon exhibition from 12Noon to 4pm, will be available for $15. Bonsai and supplies in the large vendor area featuring over 40 vendors from across the country and participate in critiques. Plus, at 4pm we will have a demonstration bonsai auction.


There are two are new private bonsai collections for sale from my students in my garden. Both have been growing bonsai for 20-40 years. Trees from the Noga collection features many deciduous bonsai including imported Korean hornbeams, a large Yaupon holly, Ginkgo forest and a large (8” trunk!) imported Satsuki azalea. Pine bonsai are also featured as well as a large indoor Brush Cherry and Olive bonsai. The Seiju elm stock plants used for decades to make cuttings are for sale with heavy rough bark. The tops can easily be air layered and the bottom retrained for bonsai.


A few weeks ago I was fortunate to purchase the entire bonsai collection of over 100 trees from a student who took my classes in 1984 and will be moving. The Greg collection includes some pretty spectacular unique well developed specimens, several unusual, like Buckthorn and White Birch. Many large size developed Pine and Spruce bonsai are featured and a few specimens from both collections will be for sale at the exhibition.


While you are in Rochester, consider visiting my International Bonsai Arboretum to see fine quality bonsai from the Valavanis Bonsai Collection. This unique bonsai garden is framed by sculptured trees with the bonsai as focal points. Bonsai from the propagation bench to developed masterpieces. The art of bonsai display can be enjoined in six different areas. Come visit my garden and see how a professional bonsai artist studio and garden is set up to allow me to create new bonsai. My Open House will be on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm. Ask for a map.

The overwhelming positive response to the US National Bonsai Exhibitions is proof that the American bonsai community is alive, active and loves bonsai and wants to see more higher quality refined specimens. I look forward to welcoming you to the 8th US National Bonsai Exhibition in September 2023. And remember to get your tickets early! 

Save Your Pennies… & Dollars Too!



Come join us on September 11-12, 2021 for the 7th US National Bonsai Exhibition in Rochester, New York.

In addition to over 200 museum quality bonsai, suiseki and kusamono there will be an indoor soccer field packed full of vendors from throughout the United States. Over 40 select vendors have been carefully picked to offer visitors an extensive selection of bonsai, pre-bonsai, collected trees, containers, tools, suiseki as well as other items to add to your bonsai collection and to enhance your appreciation of the art.

Plus, six demonstrations by top bonsai artists as well as 20 critiques. Watch and learn from skilled artists sharing their techniques during the demonstrations. The critiques are held twice daily so you can attend more than one artist’s opinions of the bonsai and suiseki. All FREE with paid admission. Weekend Passes $50 by August 15th, Daily admission $30. 

The doors open on Saturday, September 11th at 9am, NOT on Friday, so please don’t come early for best selection. The general public will not be permitted entrance until Saturday morning. Only vendors will be allowed in the building after 12 noon on Friday after the exhibitors set up their displays. Don’t worry there will be plenty of good items for sale on Saturday and Sunday.


On Saturday afternoon we will have a Benefit Bonsai Auction including some of the demonstration trees. People often contribute extra bonsai and items to this fun auction. Following the auction the Award Banquet will take place at the official exhibition hotel where exhibitors anxiously await the announcement of the prize winning bonsai and presentation of cash awards.

Make your travel and hotel accommodations now. Meet long-time bonsai friends and make new friends during the exhibition. With the lack of bonsai gatherings in 2020, this year promises to have large turnout. 

Additional information at:


2021 7th US National Bonsai Exhibition Update


“The Show Is On”

These past couple of years have been difficult for everyone, many had to adjust and make changes to continue. Fortunately people had an extra year to prepare their bonsai, and looking at the photo submissions they look superb!

The 2021 7th US National Bonsai Exhibition will take place on September 11-12, 2021 in Rochester, New York in the same venue as the past exhibitions. Two indoor soccer fields will be transformed into a refined bonsai exhibition and the largest sales area from quality vendors from across the country.

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic two of our foreign judges cannot enter the country. Koji Hiramatsu, Japan, and Gerald Rainville, Canada were scheduled to judge and demonstrate, but they will join us in two years at the 2023 8thUS National Bonsai Exhibition. It was extremely difficult to get other foreign judges at this late date to evaluate some of the best bonsai in the United States, but we have two substitute very qualified judges.

Enrique Castano

Enrique Castano from Mexico will join the two other judges and will also do a demonstration. He grew up in a bonsai household where his father, a noted sculptor, introduced him to the art. Interested I living things led him to many degrees in biology, biochemistry and biophysics. Currently he conducts plants research in Mexico and shares his knowledge with the bonsai community around the world. He actively collects and trains trees from his native Mexico.

Enrique was one of the judges and demonstrators at the 2016 5th US National Bonsai Exhibition.

Kathy Shaner

Kathy Shaner from California/Alabama is a very knowledgeable and skilled bonsai artist. She studied several years in Japan where she was awarded a Professional Bonsai Certificate by the Nippon Bonsai Association. She was the first woman and foreigner to receive the distinction. Kathy travels across the country freely sharing her skills to bonsai organizations as well as her private clients. Although she travels extensively, she still makes time to be the curator of the California Golden State Bonsai Federation’s Bonsai Garden in Oakland, California. Her wonderful smile and personality shine when she teaches and we are fortunate to welcome her.

Marco Invernizzi

Marco Invernizzi, one of our original judges, from Italy is able to join us for judging and demonstrating. He became interested in bonsai at an early age and studied extensively in Italy before traveling to Japan to apprentice with Masahiko Kimura. Marco travels extensively to work with with private clients in the United States, Spain and other European countries. He leads tours to Japan and is a broker for masterpiece bonsai. His engaging personality is great for introducing young people to the art and is entertaining during his demonstrations.

Kusamono Exhibit

New this year we are introducing the art of kusamono. Young Choe is a Kusamono artist who studied traditional art-ink painting and calligraphy in her native Korea before moving to the United States.  While volunteering at the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum, she was able to bring her artistic talent together with her knowledge of horticulture to create Kusamono.  As her interest in Kusamono developed, Young traveled to Japan to study. Young currently works at the Woody Landscape Plant Germplasm Repository (WLPGR) that belongs to the U.S. National Arboretum. She also presents workshops and lectures about Kusamono throughout the United States as well as around the world. She will have a large display of her kusamono in addition to demonstrating.

Suiseki Exhibit

Again this year we will be hosting an invitational suiseki exhibit of scenic viewing stones. Although a view stone might look “just like a rock” (which it actually is) there is much more to explore with your imagination to recall a favorite scene. Noted suiseki authority and daiza carver, Sean Smith will be presenting a lecture on Suiseki and also a couple of critiques. Here you can ask Sean the deep imaginative meaning of some stones.

We are indeed fortunate to have three distinguished judges who will also demonstrate their skills. In addition to six demonstrations there will be twenty critiques of the bonsai and suiseki. All the demonstrations and critiques are free and included with admission. Weekend passes are $50 before August 1st and daily admission is $30, space permitting. Tickets can be ordered:



I look forward to welcoming you to Rochester!

Spring 2021 Open House

Our Spring 2021 Open House & Sale will be held in a few days on Saturday and Sunday in Rochester, New York. Although the Wisteria have finished blossoming the dwarf Japanese dogwood and golden smoke tree are in full flower. The growing season, so far, has been great for producing bushy pre-bonsai, ready for training into your own bonsai.

There is a great selection of potted bonsai ready for refining or developing into your own style.

Last summer, and also a few months ago, Joe Noga from North Carolina brought up over 100 bonsai for sale. Many of the bonsai he has been training for over 30 years in containers. His large Satsuki azalea, with a 10 inch trunk is now flowering with white and pink flowers. There are also several Korean hornbeam bonsai imported over 25 years. He has a wide variety of fine bonsai for sale.

The main bonsai display area is looking great with the deciduous species showing a fresh crop of new foliage. I will be presenting two different programs on both Saturday and Sunday at 1pm. A 20% discount is offered on most items.


Come, join us for a delightful weekend among beautiful bonsai, excellent pre-bonsai and bonsai fellowship. I look forward to welcoming you soon.PS: Don’t forget the upcoming 2021 7th US National Bonsai Exhibition coming up in September in East Rochester. It looks like we will have record crowds from across the country. 

The Four Seasons Of Rochester, New York


Contrary to popular belief, Rochester, New York, has more than the two seasons of snow and construction. We do actually have four distinct seasons, and very often can “enjoy” two seasons a couple of days apart. It was over 70F last week and yesterday we got three inches of snow. Next week 80F temperatures are forecast. That is not unusual for Rochester, but does necessitate more work for those of us who enjoy the pleasure of growing and training bonsai.

We have been “dancing with the bonsai” five times this past month and right now most of the deciduous bonsai are back in the garage for a few more days. Moving bonsai outdoors in the morning and protecting in the evenings is common. Hopefully, we can return bonsai to their growing tables until late autumn soon.

International BONSAI OnLine

The third issue of my new FREE digital magazine, International BONSAI OnLine has just released and more than 1,000 people in less than 24 hours have enjoyed the educational and well photographed articles. Soon Wisteria will be blossoming in the northern areas, while the flowers have been long gone in California. This issue contains several articles on growing and training Wisteria bonsai as well as a comprehensive article on our native Red maple training for bonsai. Check out my new FREE issue, check out four other digital copies and subscribe to be informed of additional releases.


2021 Spring Open House

The dates for our Spring Open House have been changed to June 19-20, 2021. Fine formal bonsai exhibits will welcome visitors, as well as the distinctive garden. I’ll be presenting two demonstrations during the weekend. Come visit and see bonsai from the propagation bench to developed masterpiece bonsai. You can see how the bonsai are placed in the garden, which might give you ideas of how to display your own trees. Nursery stock in training for bonsai can also be seen, and purchased too! A 20% discount on bonsai, pre-bonsai, containers and tools will be applied to your purchases.


Joe Noga Bonsai Collection

As an extra bonus over 100 bonsai from the famous bonsai photographer and bonsai grower, Joe Noga, will be for sale at the Spring Open House. He has a beautiful bonsai garden in North Carolina and will soon be moving. Over 500 nursery stock specimens arrived last summer and he is now bringing more of the larger, and heavier, bonsai for sale. Come see them. Unfortunately the 20% discount does not apply to Joe’s bonsai.

2021 7th US National Bonsai Exhibition

Last but certainly not least is the exciting US National Bonsai Exhibition. Now is the time to submit photos of your finest bonsai for the selection process. The deadline has been extended to July 1, 2021. Visit the Exhibition and over 250 bonsai, suiseki as well as kusamono. This is an event not to miss and what the bonsai community is anxiously waiting for. Plus vendors from across the country will be bringing everything you need to grow, train and appreciate bonsai. Enjoy fellowship with friends and other enthusiasts who share your love of bonsai.


The unfortunate lack of live bonsai exhibitions and gatherings due to the COVID-19 of last year will probably increase our attendance. All ten critiques and five demonstrations are FREE with the paid admission of $30 daily or $50 for a weekend pass. The award banquet is $50 and will be held in the new official host venue, Woodcliff Hotel & Spa, which is near to the US National Bonsai Exhibition. The informative flyer is nearly finished. If you would like to distribute some to your bonsai friends, kindly let me know how many you would like. Be sure to register early as attendance might be limited due to COVID-19 restrictions. Our web sites will soon be updated soon so you can order your weekend passes and Award Banquet tickets.

Corin Tomlinson’s YouTube Channel


Over 30 years ago Corin Tomlinson became my first (and only) formal bonsai apprentice. His father, Harry, established Greenwood Gardens Bonsai Studio in Nottingham, England 40 years ago, and became an accomplished bonsai artist, author and demonstrator. 

I first met Corin when I was teaching in England and he helped with my demo in 1985 when he was only a youngster. On one of his visits to Rochester Harry brought his first born son Corin with him to “check us out.” Things clicked and he wanted to return to live with my family and study with me. 

After high school Corin went to Merrist Wood Horticultural College in England. As part of his training he had to do a formal apprenticeship. So he applied to Ohio State University and said he wanted to apprentice in a small family operated bonsai nursery. At the same time I wrote to Ohio State University and requested a student apprentice with a background in bonsai. Well, they matched us up! The formal apprenticeship required examinations and written reports. 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.

Greenwood Bonsai Studio

Harry never trained Corin in bonsai but wanted him to continue in his business and asked me to train him. It’s interesting that he grew up in a bonsai nursery but was never taught how to wire. I had to teach him and needed to decide to teach him with the proper annealed copper wire or sissy (aluminum) wire, which is commonly used throughout the world. Copper was used because it was a bit more difficult and precision is necessary in application for the holding and shaping. I figured if Corin learned with copper it would be easy for him in his future bonsai career to switch to the easy bending sissy wire. But, if I had taught him with sissy wire and one of his students had copper wire, it would be a bit difficult and embarrassing for him to work the copper.

Greenwood Bonsai Studio

During his study here he had to write regular reports for college and also a few research papers. Well, they ended up being a regular column in International BONSAI titled “Corin’s Study Notes.” While here my teacher, Yuji Yoshimura, visited on several occasions and Corin was able to also study with him. Corin was a quick learner and had an artistic graphic art flair which be brought to his bonsai art. He worked on many of my masterpiece bonsai and also created many new specimens. He was good!

Corin went back and forth from England to New York and also spent a bit of time with Chase Rosade and Jim Doyle. He traveled with me around the country assisting me with my demonstrations and workshops. When I demonstrated at the Noelanders Cup, and the Ginkgo Award in Belgium Corin traveled from England to help me and translate my American English to “proper” English.

Corin finally returned to England and eventually took over Greenwood Bonsai Studio with his brother Paul who primarily takes care of the business, mail orders but also knows about bonsai and assists when necessary. It’s great friendly team and has become of the finest educational bonsai centers, and provider of fine material in England. He has taught in the United States on several occasions and also in Europe and throughout England. He has joined one of my Japan Tours to see the Japanese bonsai community first-hand for his background on the understanding of Japanese bonsai.

Paul and Corin Tomlinson proprietors of Greenwood Bonsai Studio

Many years ago I traveled to England for Corin’s wedding and saw the impressive changes to Greenwood Garden Bonsai Studio Corin and Paul had implemented. In 2018 he invited me to present a weekend full of programs for his nursery’s 40th year celebration. The nursery had even developed more and began a mail order service for trees, supplies and books (and magazines as well, guess which one.)

Recently Corin has begun a regular Free YouTube Channel with demos and detailed information on many different bonsai topics such as restyling a tree, Japanese maples, forests and more. I was particularly impressed with his last presentation on Koto Hime Japanese maple. He did everything perfect! In fact one of his research papers was on the propagation and training of Koto Hime maples which became a feature article in my magazine. I’m so proud of this young gentlemen who lives in the bonsai world and is sharing his knowledge and skill with others throughout the community. I highly recommend watching and subscribing to his free new YouTube channel:

Great Work Corin! I’m proud of you and your accomplishments and look forward to watching your long successful bonsai career.