Meet Gerald Rainville

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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Gerald Rainville

www Shikoku.ca

geraldrain@gmail.com

 

2019 6th Upstate New York Suiseki Exhibit

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The 6thUpstate New York Suiseki Exhibit, sponsored by the Suiseki Study Group of Upstate New York was held on September 7-8, 2019 during the Autumn Open House & Sale at the International Bonsai Arboretum, in Rochester, New York. This exhibit is held every two years in late summer. Fifteen members displayed 41 suiseki from their private collections. The stones were collected from New York, Pennsylvania, China, Japan, California, Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Georgia.

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Two of the suiseki were recently displayed in the Nippon Suiseki Exhibition held in Tokyo, Japan during the famous Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition. It is interesting that approximately one half of the suiseki were displayed in water basins and the others in wooden daiza.

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Members were present to explain the stones to the public, many who have never seen stones appreciated before.

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The greenhouse was cleaned and power washed in preparation for the Suiseki Exhibit. Blue indoor/outdoor carpets were used as tablecloths and white shoji screens were used for backgrounds. All the suiseki were presented in a ceramic or bronze water basin as well as custom made daiza. In order to bring life and seasonal color to the exhibit, several accessory plants were included as well as a few bonsai to show how suiseki can be displayed and appreciated with bonsai.

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2019 Autumn Open House & Sale

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This autumn’s Open House & Sale took place on Saturday and Sunday, September 7-8, 2019. In addition to many new bonsai creations in the garden most items were offered at a 20% discount, some were even at 50% off too.

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Four formal bonsai displays were arranged in the demonstration room as a background for the demonstrating artists. One of the displays needed to be switched at the last minute because the tree finished flowering. However it was displayed in the studio. Also displayed in the studio was a special exhibit of one of the original shohin bonsai from the collection of Count Matsudaira, Japanese bonsai pioneer in the 1930s.

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The main alcove display in the studio featured a Hawthorn bonsai in full fruit accompanied by a kusamono accessory created by Diane last year.  Other smaller bonsai were displayed in the studio as well, on the side counter including a small alcove.

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Two lectures on suiseki were presented to accompany the Suiseki Exhibit by the Suiseki Study Group of Upstate New York. Photos of the entire display will be illustrated in a forthcoming blog.

Award winning bonsai artists presented different programs on bonsai creation and restoration.

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RON 1.JPGRon Maggiopresenting his lecture on suiseki on Saturday morning. He emphasized that the important aspect of suiseki is that one like the stone and perhaps remind him of a special person, place or event. Many stones from his vast collection were brought to illustrate different forms and how they were displayed in water basins or daiza.

 

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Marc Arpag began Sunday with a lecture on suiseki. He discussed a bit on collecting stones and more importantly on their appreciation and display. At the conclusion of his lecture Marc conducted a critique of the Suiseki Exhibit.

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MARC FINISHED.JPGMark Arpag presented a lecture/demo on Saturday using a Dwarf Arborvitae (Eastern White Cedar) he found on the roadside last year. He got it healthy and established for one year. During the demo he pruned, wired and potted the new bonsai while answering many questions from the audience. Considerable time was presented on carving, even though most of the detail work was done ahead of time. Wiring took considerable time and after his demo Marc continued to wire and brought back the finished bonsai.

 

 

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Wm. N. Valavanis

On Saturday afternoon I presented a lecture/demo using an Oregon Green Austrian Pine found in a local nursery. This cultivar was new to me and had needles much shorter than the common Austrian Pine. The four foot tree was reduced in height three times until the final height was established. The tree was rotated to hide a large cut which was not visible from the front. At the end, small pieces of bark were added to conceal the cut. An opposite branch was pulled from the trunk and lowered a couple of inches.

 

 

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Harvey Carapella worked on a Mugho pine bonsai, which had severe winter damage. He explained his thoughts and then proceeded to transform the back into a new stunning bonsai with a new front. He showed photos of how the tree was obtained in 2010 from an upright style to a cascade form. The tree was transplanted several times during the nine years and became a beautiful bonsai. During his demo Harvey trimmed and wired most of the branches into a new form, similar to the original design.

 

 

 

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Wm. N. Valavanis On Sunday afternoon I used an old established Scots pine bonsai, which was not trimmed for several seasons. Before shaping a discussion on literati bonsai was presented with many examples of fine bonsai and changing the form of an old horizontal Cork Bark Chinese Elm. The tall Scots pine, was originally a small seedling belonging to one of my sons, which required quite a bit of wire. And, since I’m vertically challenged, I stood on a cement block to work on the top of the tree. The cement block did not sit level on the floor and rocked a little… enough to break my foot, again for the 7th time…

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2019 42nd Midwest Bonsai Exhibition- Part 2

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Additionally, there are two large courtyards full of vendors offering bonsai, pre-bonsai, supplies, suiseki, scrolls and many more items for sale. Vendors from a wide have brought some of their finest items for the public as well as bonsai hobbyists, many who do not have a readily available access to good material. 
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The vendors from both courtyards surround many of the Chicago Botanic Gardens Bonsai Collection which are well maintained by Chris Baker the curator.
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The exhibition continues on Saturday and Sunday with workshops and and the world premier of my newest lecture/demonstration “Bonsai Refinement, Evaluation & Display Preparations” on Saturday at 1pm. 
Come, join us on Saturday and Sunday to view beautiful bonsai, meet and make new friends as well as to learn from the workshops and demonstration. Also, you can add to your bonsai collection from supporting the vendors. The Chicago Botanic Garden is huge with many gardens, plant collections surrounding scenic ponds and vistas. It’s worth a visit alone to see horticultural beauty and perfection.
My two displays were for exhibit only.
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The exhibition is FREE to the public. If you want to park your car the Chicago Botanic Garden has a parking fee of $30 which is well worth what you will experience. Approximately 20,000 people will visit the gardens and bonsai exhibition this weekend and the many parking lots fill up quickly. So come early and stay late.
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The exhibition continues on Saturday and Sunday with workshops and and the world premier of my newest lecture/demonstration “Bonsai Refinement, Evaluation & Display Preparations” on Saturday at 1pm. 
 
Come, join us on Saturday and Sunday to view beautiful bonsai, meet and make new friends as well as to learn from the workshops and demonstration. Also, you can add to your bonsai collection from supporting the vendors. The Chicago Botanic Garden is huge with many gardens, plant collections surrounding scenic ponds and vistas. It’s worth a visit alone to see horticultural beauty and perfection.
 
The exhibition is FREE to the public. If you want to park your car the Chicago Botanic Garden has a parking fee of $30 which is well worth what you will experience. Approximately 20,000 people will visit the gardens and bonsai exhibition this weekend and the many parking lots fill up quickly. So come early and stay late.

2019 42nd Midwest Bonsai Exhibition- Part 1

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42ndMidwest Bonsai Exhibition is being held on August 16-19, 2019 at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, Illinois, hosted and organized by the Midwest Bonsai Society. Nearly 100 bonsai from across the Midwest and beyond are on display.

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Having attended 40 of these exhibitions I can state that this year’s bonsai are the best I’ve seen in the past four decades in this show. The trees continue to mature and become refined and are not crowded, allowing plenty of space to admire and learn from the beauty which has been created and shared.
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BEST OF SHOW
Rocky Mountain Juniper by Tim Priest
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FIRST PRIZE PROFESSIONAL DIVISION
Miyajima Japanese Five-needle Pine by Mark Fields
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SECOND PRIZE PROFESSIONAL DIVISION
Hatsuyuki Star Jasmine by Owen Rich
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THIRD PRIZE PROFESSIONAL DIVISION
Sargent Juniper by Tim Priest
I was honored to judge this year’s exhibition and conduct an educational critique after the show ended on Friday. Comments on each bonsai were written on each judging form to make suggestions on future improvement as well as highlight the good, as well as the poor elements of each presentation. After completing nearly 100 judging forms I had a difficult time to award the ribbons and trophy cups. It was interesting that each bonsai in the novice category deserved and was presented a ribbon.
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Experience Japanese Culture, Gardens & Bonsai In A Small Group

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Have you ever considered to visit the Japan bonsai community and to experience Japanese culture?

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Here is your opportunity to experience the Taikan Bonsai Exhibition, visit private bonsai collections and Kyoto gardens. A visit to Tokoname to purchase bonsai containers at discount pricing is also available too! We will able to return home in time to celebrate Thanksgiving with your family.

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In November Kora Dalager and I will be leading another one of our popular value-priced trips to Japan. Only a small number of members will be accepted for this tour so we will have ample time to fully appreciate the beauty and culture of Japan.

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Omiya Bonsai Village, the mecca of bonsai, will be experienced, where you will see the top bonsai gardens where many of the famous masterpiece bonsai have been created and are maintained. You will have the opportunity to meet the top bonsai artists and see their trees, both outdoors and in small indoor displays. The Omiya Bonsai Art Museum, near the village will be on the tour where formal instructive displays, in English, can be seen as well as formal bonsai alcove displays. You can then stroll through a large outdoor garden with masterpieces displayed throughout. Directly across the street we will experience a delicious traditional Japanese luncheon.

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Bonsai artist Masahiko Kimura will be visited and here you can see many of the top evergreen bonsai in his small, intimate garden. He always has time for us and answers your questions as well.

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A visit to Seiji Morimai’s nearby S-Cube bonsai garden is always a highlight because of friendly hospitality while seeing thousands of bonsai and suiseki. He also accepts credit cards as well…. Bonsai containers, at great prices as well as display tables and art are always popular with our groups.

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Kiunio Kobayashi’s Shunka-en Bonsai Art Museum in Tokyo is a visit you will not forget. Here ten indoor formal bonsai displays will feature some of the finest, and most expensive bonsai in Japan. Outdoors a small koi pond is surrounded with other masterpieces. Having run out of room, another area has been constructed on top of the building holding antique containers and more suiseki. Truly a breathtaking experience!

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A bullet train ride will bring you nearby views of famed Mt. Fuji on our way to Kyoto the ancient capital of Japan. This is the highlight season for visiting Kyoto gardens with brilliant colorful maple foliate. Several of the famous gardens in the temple complexes will be experienced,

 

 

Of course, one of the main highlights of this special tour includes visits to the Taikan Bonsai Exhibition, one of the largest in Japan with nearly 300 bonsai formally displayed with scrolls, accessories and suiseki. The sales area is one of the largest in Japan.

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You can then extend your tour to visit Tokoname, an ancient pottery town. Although most famous for toilet bowls, they are now well known for high quality bonsai containers. You will meet some of the top bonsai potters and also have the opportunity to watch them hand build bonsai containers in their factories. All the containers are offered at special discounted prices for our tour.

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Join Kora Dalager and me for a special tour to experience Japanese culture and bonsai. Please contact Kora at dalagerkora@gmail.com for additional information. She can arrange special visits if you like.

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A tour flyer is available at:

http://www.internationalbonsai.com/files/1708315/uploaded/2019%20AUTUMN%20JAPAN%20TOUR.pdf

 

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I look forward to exploring the Japanese bonsai world with you!

 

 

Suiseki Collecting Trip

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The Suiseki Study Group of Upstate New York had the annual collecting trip today. Twelve members from the Greater Rochester, NY area along with members from Erie, PA and Ithaca, NY gathered at a favorite stream, which often has dark black stones. The secret stream is in “Upstate New York” and only participants were given directions.

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The weather was perfect; sunny, low 70sF, warm shallow water with a gentle breeze. But the best part were the friendly participants in a quiet beautiful location with a gentle running stream. And, I only tripped and fell into the water once, good thing my iPhone was in the car.

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Brian could have collected more stones, but had the wrong drink…. Sweet Tea is best!

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John Wiessinger collected a beautiful NATURAL Thatched Hut Stone with a flat bottom. He graciously gave it to me.

All twelve members collected some interesting stones and upon returning to the cars, displayed their new stones for others to see. Some will be on display at the upcoming 6thExhibit of the Upstate New York Study Group on September 7-8, 2019 at the Autumn Open House & Sale at the International Bonsai Arboretum. Members will conduct guided tours of the exhibit.

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In addition to the Suiseki Exhibit new bonsai creations and additional pre-bonsai will be available for purchase. Seven formal displays of classical bonsai art and six FREE lecture/demonstrations by award winning artists will be presented. And, that’s in addition to a 20% discount on most items.

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Come; join us to see new suiseki and bonsai while enjoying friendly bonsai fellowship.

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