Taiwan 2017 BCI Convention & 14th Asia-Pacific Bonsai & Viewing Stone Convention & Exhibition– Part 5





22ND Hwa-Fong National Bonsai Exhibition

The 22nd Hwa-Fong National Bonsai Exhibition was held on November 4-26, 2017 in Xizhou Park, in Changhua County, Taiwan. This is a huge agricultural expo park featuring five exhibition halls, parks and rural handicraft displays along with food courts. Trees, plants and flowers from around the world are planted around a large pond in European style landscapes. The exhibition is held in a large hall with excellent natural lighting and air conditioning which was needed with the high outdoor temperatures and humidity. It was quite pleasant in the exhibition and a three piece band played tunes as thousands of visitors came to see the finest bonsai for 2017.

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The Hwa-Fong National Bonsai Exhibition took place during a large fair which I was told attracted 140,000 people on the opening day alone. It displays the highest level bonsai from throughout Taiwan and is identical to the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition in Japan and the US National Bonsai Exhibition in America. It is sponsored by the National Bonsai Association of Taiwan which is composed of 26 branches in the country. Each branch selects their ten best bonsai which are brought to the exhibition. There the judges select only the finest to display. Over 135 bonsai were displayed, but it looked like more. There is only one winning bonsai and eleven bonsai which received gold awards.





Top award winning Fig bonsai

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Like many bonsai common to Taiwan and China most were quite large in size, although there were a few shohin bonsai compositions and some smaller trees as well. Special exhibits featured scenic painting backgrounds which added interest and impact to the displays, especially for the public.


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The opening day was quite crowded and it was difficult to photograph the bonsai. The crowds thinned out during the next few days. People were polite and friendly during the exhibition and in fact, all through Taiwan. Enjoy my photos and please check out my upcoming article in International BONSAI, www.internationalbonsai.com, which will feature better quality photos.

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Taiwan 2017 BCI Convention & 14th Asia-Pacific Bonsai & Viewing Stone Convention & Exhibition– Part 2




Looking for lunch at the Xizhou Park, location for the Hwa Fong National Bonsai Exhibition, we came across the BCI Viewing Stone Exhibit in a large building. This  enue was full of viewing stones, and a few Suiseki as well. Nearly all were rare stones (chin seki) or beautiful stones (bi seki). These two classifications of viewing stones are quite popular in Taiwan and China, whereas the art of suiseki developed in Japan.


_P4A5685.JPG_P4A5689.JPG_P4A5687.JPG_P4A5692.JPG_P4A5688.JPG_P4A5722 2.JPG_P4A5684.JPG







_P4A5733.JPG_P4A5682 2.JPG_P4A5681.JPG_P4A5691.JPGThe rare and beautiful stones are quite different than suiseki because they leave little to the immigration. Many are highly polished to expose colors and patterns, while others are quite literal representions of objects and humans.


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Twenty-five demonstrators from 20 countries were also highlights of the convention, but were held in three different locations and there were two or three demos on stage at the same time. It was impossible to watch them all. I was only able to peak in on a few while I was photographing the exhibit.



Min-Shuan Lo provided me an excellent Japanese black pine for my demo tree and warned me not to remove a prominent crossing root because of the tree’s health. He also provided me with one of his best students as an assistant. I carefully watched him needle pluck the old foliage and thin out the multiple buds on the branch tips and was impressed with his speed and skill. Then came wiring…. I always bring my own tools and wire for demos, especially in foreign countries. This time I brought the new American Bonsai tools which have been using and like and introduced them to the audience from the world. Copper wire is not available in Taiwan and my assistant has only used sissy wire and is not familiar with power and holding capacity of fire annealed copper wire. I gave him a heavy piece of wire and had him bend it several times. He noticed it got harder when bent. I proceed to wire and position the heavy branches and left the secondary branch wiring up to him. When I glanced to look at him I saw him straighten out soft copper wire, then coil it back up into much smaller coils. The bonsai came out great, however.



I’m saving the best for the last post, bonsai from the 22nd Hwa-Fong National Bonsai Exhibition!

Taiwan 2017 BCI Convention & 14th Asia-Pacific Bonsai & Viewing Stone Convention & Exhibition– Part 1





The combined conventions of BCI (Bonsai Clubs International) and ASPAC (Asia-Pacific Bonsai Viewing Stone Convention) were held in Taichung, Taiwan, on November 4-6, 2017. Taichung is about a two to three hour drive south of Taipei. The programs and multiple displays were another hour drive from the two convention hotels in Taichung. We had plenty of bus rides and a lots of waiting time. I guess logistically it is difficult to move over 1,000 people around and to feed them as well.

Over 1,000 people registered for the convention from 58 different countries. The main event, the Hwa Fong National Bonsai Exhibition requires a separate blog entry because of its importance. Additionally, there was an International Bonsai Symposium held concurrently in the National Museum.


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The program included bus trips to several gardens/nurseries, private bonsai collections and museums. It was a bit confusing to me because the of the multiple buses which did not follow the printed itinerary. So, I’m just going to share photos of the beautiful gardens and bonsai only identifying locations which I’m certain of.




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One of the finest, non broom style Zelkova I’ve seen



New growth emerging

Several of the gardens had HUGE trained garden trees which have bonsai shapes. These large trees are grown in containers and moved with cranes into garden landscapes. The private bonsai collections all featured these large shaped trees throughout their gardens.






Chen Mei Culture Park

The Bonsai & Viewing Stone Exhibition of the 14th ASPAC was presented at the Chen Mei Culture Park. The viewing stones and a few bonsai were displayed in the modern welcoming center of the park, while the larger bonsai were beautifully displayed surrounding a scenic pond.






This stroll garden has many old rare garden trees. In 1813 a county magistrate built a market and the original home was reconstructed, using traditional building techniques during the past 30 years. It is considered to be one of the most famous traditional buildings in Taiwan.










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I particularly found this garden valuable for my better understanding of Chinese aesthetics which features symmetry. The buildings, their details and even how bonsai were displayed in the park, (not considering the special convention bonsai display around the pond,) were all symmetrical, unlike the asymmetrical beauty of Japanese art. It was quite clear to me to see why larger bonsai are valued in China so they could be effectively displayed in gardens. Japan does not have the tradition of enjoying bonsai in gardens, as they formally displayed bonsai indoors in alcoves and historically in restaurants.




Amy Liang Bonsai Museum– Small, Shohin & Mame Bonsai


International bonsai master Professor Amy Liang has a special love for her small size bonsai which are featured in a small enclosed garden in her newly opened Amy Liang Bonsai Museum in Taipei, Taiwan.


I was particularly impressed with the staging of these small treasures. Ten round concrete tables are tastefully filled with small bonsai. But, each individual table is a special display itself. Most of the bonsai are placed on small bricks or pieces of stone to raise their height to make an attractive, interesting and distinctive display. As I was studying the small bonsai, suddenly O was surprised by one entire table filled with mame bonsai, which are generally up to six inches in height. Many of these small jewels were under three inches in height, which is quite an accomplishment just to keep them watered in Taiwan’s hot climate.


In addition to the ten round tables filled with small bonsai, there are also three larger rectangular tables and a long taller table filled with gravel to provide additional water and humidity. Behind the long rectangular tables there are six beautiful ceramic elephants, each topped with a small bonsai.


An attractive display of small bonsai is difficult to accomplish in a garden where the trees must be cared for. Amy Liang has done a super job which is not readily apparent with a quick glance. I thoroughly enjoyed and learned during my afternoon visit to the opening of  the Amy Liang Bonsai Museum. I recommend a visit if you are in Taipei, but suggest an appointment first.



No. 17, Lane 107 Tianmu E. Road

Shilin District

Taipei City, Taiwan


e-Mail: jennychang21@gmail.com




Amy Liang Bonsai Museum Opening– And New Book Release




On Thursday, November 3, 2017, international bonsai master Professor Amy Liang formally opened her new Bonsai Museum at her home in Taipei, Taiwan. As always, Amy’s impeccable and distinctive attire matched her photogenic persona. She changed her clothes three times that afternoon, each more beautiful than the previous. Her museum is called “Purple Garden” matching her beautiful Chinese style purple outfit.


I’ve visited her collection several times in the past and she has extensively expanded her garden to effectively display her bonsai collection, all around her property. When entering her bonsai museum people were escorted upstairs into a museum reception area with gift shop. Amy warmly greeted her guest and was autographing her new book, The Revelations of Bonsai, reflecting on her 50 year milestone bonsai journey. Books were flying off the shelves as Amy individually autographed copies for her guests. I had to patiently wait in line for 30 minutes twice, I returned to get more copies for friends back home. Her friendly staff photographed Amy as she posed with her guests. The large size hardcover, and quite heavy, new 302 page book is beautifully produced and full of color and black and white photos of her life, thoughts and bonsai activities around the world for the past half century.



Together with her doctor husband they have five lovely daughters who all look quite similar. Her husband showed me around as he was proud of his wife’s accomplishments. Each daughter helped the 1,200 guests during the day.



IMG_7765.jpgThe bonsai garden museum is large and is segmented into about five areas, each featuring small displays of several bonsai. A room was also dedicated to her collection of Suiseki and viewing stones.



6P4A4995.jpg6P4A5001.jpg6P4A5005.jpg6P4A5000.jpg6P4A4999.jpgThere were a large number of small and miniature size, enough to make another posting of these diminutive treasurers later.


6P4A5057.jpg6P4A4991.jpg6P4A4994.jpg6P4A5029.jpg6P4A5072.jpgA buffet was available next to the ceremony area which began at 3:30 pm. Short speeches preceded the actual “Official Opening and Book Release” along with her granddaughter’s dancing. Invited VIP guests were called to the stage and given a long popper to twist and open at the exact opening. Suddenly red and white confetti was all over the place as a large gold and red balloon package exploded revealing a huge replica of her new book.



Later in the early evening Amy hosted a private dinner party for 380 of her friends and family. Singers and dancers added to the festivities. There were so many people in the large room that there were remote TVs set up throughout so guests could enjoy the festivities as they dined on a special delicious meal. What a wonderful ending for a beautiful lady’s special day. Amy also arranged for four buses to take here guests to Taichung for the next day’s opening of the bonsai convention three hours away.




Join Us In A Small Tour To See Japan’s Finest Bonsai



Have you ever considered to visit the Japan bonsai community?



Here is your opportunity to experience the finest bonsai exhibition in the world PLUS to visit private bonsai collections, gardens and the Japan Suiseki Exhibition. A visit to Tokoname to purchase bonsai containers is also available too!



In early February 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 of the treasured bonsai in Japan.




Omiya Bonsai Village, the mecca of bonsai, will be experienced, where you will see the top four 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 Japanese luncheon.




Bonsai artist Masahiko Kimura will be on the tour 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.








121.jpgA 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.






Kiunio Kobayashi’s Shunka-en Bonsai Art  in Tokyo is visit you will not forget. Here approximately 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!






A bullet train ride will bring you to the city of Shizuoka near Mt. Fuji, where Taisho-en Bonsai Garden of Nobuichi Urushibata will be visited. Although the garden generally specializes in shohin bonsai, Mr. Urushibata’s son Taiga has large dynamic bonsai. He studied with Mr. Kimura and is also traveling to the upcoming 2018 6th US National Bonsai Exhibition in September to judge and demonstrate his techniques.








Of course, the main highlight of this tour is the Koku-fu Bonsai Exhibit Part 1 where approximately 250 stunning masterpiece bonsai are on formal display in the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. Many of the famous masterpieces seen in books and magazines will be shown. After the exhibit closes for a day ANOTHER 250 bonsai will be displayed in Part 2!








Upstairs on the fourth floor of the same building you will have the opportunity to attend the opening ceremony of the Japan Susiseki Exhibition. Here, in addition to rare and beautiful famous stones you will see antique water basins and important bonsai display tables. Suiseki are also displayed with appropriate hanging scrolls.




A free shuttle bus from the museum complex will take you to the Ueno Green Club, a three story building full of bonsai, containers, tools, display stands and more are offered for sale by the top bonsai gardens in Japan. The surrounding parking lot is also crammed full of items for sale.






If members are interested a short buying side trip can be arranged to Tokoname, an ancient pottery town. Although most famous for toilet bowls, they are now famous 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.0.jpg






As if all of this is not enough, our tour has been planned to begin the day after the popular California Shohin Bonsai Seminar near San Francisco, CA. Many people simply make a stop in California on their way to Tokyo (usually at no extra airfare,) attend the seminar and continue on to Japan. Additional information on this seminar can be found at: www.calshohin.org






If you want to see highlights from our past tours to Japan, check out my archives and go to the February entries. Here you will see many photos from our tours.










Join Kora Dalager and me for another tour to see the Japanese bonsai world. Please contact Kora at kora@astound.net for additional information. She can arrange special visits if you like. Be certain to mention if you are interested in the Tokoname bonsai container buying trip, as it is NOT mentioned in the tour flyer below.


A tour flyer is available at: www.internationalbonsai.com/files/1708315/uploaded/WINTER%202018%20TOUR%20FLYER.pdf


I look forward to exploring the Japanese bonsai world with you in February.



Trident Maple Clump Style Development


When I returned home on Monday from teaching in California, I was greeted by my Trident maple clump in brilliant autumn coloring. A few other bonsai are also just starting to show color. Hopefully my garden and bonsai will be colorful when I return home from Taiwan next week. On November 11, 2017 at 1pm EST, I’ll be doing a question and answer live broadcast from my garden and hopefully the garden and bonsai will be colorful. Check out Bonsai Empire for the details: http://www.bonsaiempire.com


Before removing from the stone about 15 years ago in MAY.

The history of this bonsai and its development is interesting. Several decades ago Philis Wishnick created a rock planting with at least seven Trident maples, Acer buergerianum, in a class under the direction of Yuji Yoshimura. The stone is solid granite which Mr. Yoshimura shaped and glued a small rock on the bottom for stability in the correct orientation for optimum beauty.

She gave me the bonsai about twenty years ago with a few missing trees from her original design. I put the bonsai in my display garden and just watered it (intelligent neglect.) I had the rock planting for many years and simply watered it and did light trimming. Eventually the roots filled the peat much soil mixture and became large, so large that it pulled the anchoring wires Mr. Yoshimura cemented on the stone pulled off. Often I would lift the bonsai off the stone and dunk it in a pail of water to keep it hydrated.




Still not thin enough



Eventually, I had to do something to keep it alive so in mid-May, when the Trident maple was in FULL leaf it was removed from the rock, easy, just lift. My assistants Doug McDade and Doug Taylor helped me with the transplanting. I directed as the two took a reciprocating saw and simply sawed off the bottom of the root ball. It was not quite thin enough for me so we peeled off another layer. The reciprocating saw is a handy tool for me and often used when transplanting bonsai.


Front or back view


Front or back view


Only four of the original trunks remained and had grown together creating a clump style bonsai. I carefully positioned the Trident maple clump in a new container so it would look good from both sides. Since I’m not Japanese using four trunks did not bother my aesthetic sense.

The bonsai grew well and was maintained as a bonsai with two acceptable fronts. This is handy when displaying and a left to right eye movement is needed and also when a right to left eye movement is required for effective display, especially in areas with a solid wall on one side.

The bonsai was only transplanted once since it was removed from the stone. I don’t remember defoliating the bonsai, especially not during this past growing season. This Trident maple naturally had small neat foliage.


By the way, the original granite stone now has a multiple trunk Benichodori Japanese maple growing on it which looks good from both sides, an indication of a well-designed bonsai. It too also needs transplanting.



Enjoy autumn, it does not last that long….