Winter Snow…..

Snow, I hate snow, and cold weather

I Like snow on postcards and on Xmas eve. So far this season Rochester, New York has only experienced 57 inches of snow, while normal season to date is over 70 inches. Yesterday we were under a Winter Storm Warning predicting 7-14 inches of snow, only about 5 inches fell. Snow has actually fallen every month of the year here. OK, it’s going to snow, so let’s get all of it now and have it end in April so we can get back to bonsai. I remember once during a “Spring” open house on May 15th, Mother’s Day, standing outside my studio watching visitors go through three inches of snow trying to find plants to buy.

My body goes dormant at 70F. My overwintering facility is maintained at 27F to keep the bonsai dormant. Several of my maple buds are already beginning to enlarge, which is NOT good. That means that “Dancing with the Bonsai” will soon begin.

APRIL, not winter

The cold and snowy weather has allowed me the time to work on my new popular FREE International Bonsai OnLinemagazine. The second March/April issue has just been released. Note, early, rather than late…… In fact the May/June issue is nearly completed too!  There are a couple of comprehensive informative articles on Chojubai Japanese flowering quince, a popular flowering variety trained for bonsai in this issue along with other spring flowering species. You can easily subscribe free at  Please patronize our advertisers who provide the financial support for the free magazine. The low advertising rates of $50 (half page) and $100 (full page) make it ideal for small businesses, clubs and show to advertise their events. Issued bi-monthly is perfect for bonsai events coming up soon, especially having been delayed or rescheduled from last season.

Currently I’m teaching using Zoom Presentations to clubs around the world. Each presentation begins with a PowerPoint program followed by an indoor bonsai display and a tour of my garden or overwintering facility. Demonstrations are often part of the program. You would think that a Zoom Presentation would be easy, just show some slides. However, I’ve realized that preparing for one of my Zoom Presentations requires much more work and time than simply visiting a club. Since all my bonsai and display material are I try my best to present a comprehensive lesson on a specific topic or species.  Although no travel is involved, and my PowerPoint program are prepared, they are always customized and updated for the sponsoring organization. But, since bonsai displays are part of the programs, many bonsai need to be groomed, tables and accessories must be selected and cleaned as well as getting trees ready for demonstrations. I’m fortunate to have many friends helping me to prepare for my educational programs. Although It’s a lot of work and time, I love sharing my knowledge and skill so others can enjoy and learn more about bonsai, training and creating techniques and appreciation.

The 2021 7th US National Bonsai Exhibition WILL be held on September 11-12, 2021. Now is the time to submit photos of your bonsai for the selection process. Just send me a photo of your best bonsai to Check our official website for current information

The 2021 95th Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition ends tomorrow. Thanks to friends there will be many photos to share with you here in my blog and in International Bonsai OnLine. But, in the meantime, here is a sneak preview of the exhibition… only the fourth one I’m missed in about 40 years because of the COVID 19 closing of Japan’s borders.

Catalog orders for seedlings and pre-bonsai are beginning to ship. Although we are sold out of a few species, we have plenty of great plants. Shipping has already begun, so get your orders in now, we can hold until its planting time for your area.


Our new Spring 2021 Seedling & Pre-Bonsai catalog is now available with many great, new and rare plants. Here are a few featured plants:

Dwarf Cork-Bark Japanese Black Pine

Pinus thunbergii var. corticosa ‘Hakuro’

The Hakuro Dwarf Cork-Bark Japanese black pine forms thick corky bark that look like “wings, it is also in the ‘Yatsubusa’ grouping of dwarf plants which have multiple buds, short internodes, ability to maintain inner branching and sometimes root easily. The Cork-Bark Japanese black pine Hakuro is one of the most vigorous and easy to grow. Unlike commercially produced grafted plants, these have been carefully low grafted so the graft union is not ugly. When the corky bark develops in the lower trunk sections it will actually extend downward presenting a thicker trunk, very unusual. Corky bark is already developing on the trunks, which adds to the appearance of age. These healthy grafted plants have been grown and trimmed for bonsai. These are gnarly bushy pre-bonsai plants from 3 gal pots and 14-16” tall. The trunks are 1.5 to 2” in diameter.

$265 Free shipping, US only

Ezo Spruce

Picea glehnii

This is the most famous spruce trained for bonsai in Japan and extremely difficult to find in the United States. Unfortunately, Picea jezoensis is often available and called “Ezo” spruce. It is actually Black Ezo spruce and is NOT trained for bonsai in Japan because it is too coarse in plant character. The true Ezo spruce here are young seedlings which can easily be shaped, trained as a forest or just allowed to grow to a larger size. They have been grown in a 4”pot and are 8-12” in height. Very limited in number so order early.

$25 each or 3/$60 Free shipping, US only


Trident Maple

Acer buergerianum

These two year seedlings are excellent for thread grafting new branches or to improve a surface root system display. They are pliable and can be used to create a fused trunk bonsai. They were field grown and are 10-18” in height. Or, simply wired and shaped into a bonsai. There are four different sizes available in the catalog.

10 Bareroot seedlings $60 Free shipping, US only.

European Beech

Fagus sylvatica

These have been difficult to find and are superb for forests. The leaves can easily be reduced and the trunks become white in about six year. Each bundle of 5 have three different sizes for creating a forest. Grown in 4” pots and 8-12” in height.

5 Tree bundle $50 Free shipping, US only

Also available:

Korean Hornbeam

Noga Crabapple

Dwarf Stewartia

Itoigawa Sargent Juniper

Kazan Satsuki Azalea

Valavanis Cypress

Rough Bark Japanese Maple Seedlings

And 11 more choice plants

Plants can easily be ordered online here:

The catalog can be downloaded here:

Also, join over 10,000 viewers and over 1,000 subscribers for my FREE bi-monthly International BONSAI OnLine magazine at:

Good luck with your bonsai during the new 2021 growing season!

Happy New Year 2021!!

New Year’s day is a special holiday for our family and religion for many reasons. Most important is to welcome in the New Year, a fresh new yearly beginning especially after the COVID-19 Pandemic. Everyone gets another opportunity to enjoy and improve their lives for another year. This also applies to our bonsai as well as we have plans to change and improve their design.

Also January 1st commemorates the feast of the circumcision of Jesus in the Orthodox Church. Jesus was Jewish and according to tradition baby boys were circumcised on the eighth day after birth. Our church celebrates this event during the first Divine Liturgy of the New Year celebrated on January 1st for St. Basil The Great.

More importantly January 1st is also St. Basil’s day in the Orthodox Church. St. Basil The Great was a forefather of the Greek Orthodox Church and is remembered for his kindness and generosity to the poor. He was also the first to establish hospitals, which I’m personally thankful for.

Since my baptismal name is Vasilios (Basil), January 1st is my names day, a holiday often celebrated more than birthdays. Sometimes the family of the person named Basil hosts an open house and friends are invited to visit. A couple of years ago Diane had New Year Open House and many of our friends were invited to help celebrate my names day. Because of the COVID-19 Pandemic gatherings are not allowed, but hopefully next year we can get together with family and friends to welcome in the new year. When we did celebrate a few years ago I had to come up with a special alcove display in the studio featuring bonsai and the special events celebrated this day.

There are many reasons to display bonsai and all of them are centered on creating a display atmosphere for enjoyment of the viewers. The main tree for this special display is a Chinese quince bonsai, loaded with fruit, I did not add any. It was selected to show the prosperity of the year. A Pomegranate would have been better, also a Pine showing longevity. But, I wanted to show prosperity. An icon of St. Basil The Great was made into an insert for a scroll to celebrate the feast day of the saint. Finally, Chinese quince fruit, along with a sharp, large root pruning bonsai knife was used for the accessory, with the knife commemorating the circumcision. This was a rather unusual, unorthodox display, but was created for my visitors which they enjoyed and we had many discussions. 

The celebration continues with the cutting of a Vasilopita, a traditional sweet bread/cake served once a year at the New Year. It honors Saint Basil the Great, the saint for whom the cake gets its name.

A coin is baked into the cake and the person receiving the coin is to have good luck for the New Year. St. Basil The Great began this tradition by returning jewelry to people by placing one in each cake. There is a specific order of cutting the cake. First piece is for St. Basil The Great, next one for the house and the following for members of the family by seniority. Following pieces are cut for friends. Diane makes delicious Vasilopitas we all enjoy. A few years ago we went through the cutting ritual and nobody found the coin… yet. So we started another round of cutting. I took a peek and saw the outline of the coin, which will be found by the next person who cuts a piece. It was my turn for a piece, so I cut a piece from the opposite side and let another member of our family find the coin. Let’s see who gets the good luck tomorrow….. we all need it!

When I was a youngster my grandmother had a couple of customs she brought from Greece for the New Year holiday. It was important that the first visitor who sets foot into the home was ideally a young child with pure heart which would bring a good omen and luck for the remaining of the year. We always hoped for a youngster, not an elderly person…

The Pomegranate is a fruit with a long history going back to ancient times. It is widely revered as a symbol of fertility, prosperity, regeneration and the inseparable marriage of life and death. One of my tasks for my grandmother was to take a large, plump, ripe Pomegranate and smash it on the doorstep for good luck. The blessed luck was proportional to how far the seeds were spread. I also had to clean up the red mess which stains. We do not follow this tradition for obvious reasons, but I might start next year, with a piece of plastic on the floor.

Wishing everyone the best of good luck, health, prosperity in a safe New Year 2021. I look forward to a better new year where we can all get back to family, friends and bonsai activities.

Musings On Publishing International BONSAI.

Beginning in the late 1960s when at college on Long Island I became an active member of the Bonsai Society of Greater New York. In 1978 as a director I became editor of their quarterly magazine The Bonsai Bulletin. At that time there were three large bonsai organizations in the United States; The American Bonsai Society, Bonsai Clubs International and The Bonsai Society of Greater New York, each publishing their own magazines.

Returning to Rochester and beginning to publish The Bonsai Bulletin, a visitor stopped at my table at a local bonsai show and we began chatting. He owned Great Lakes Press, one of Rochester’s premier printing companies and offered to help design and print the organization’s magazine. He eventually became a friend, student and business partner distributing bonsai pots for over 30 years. Together with Yuji Yoshimura we began producing a premier bonsai magazine, unlike all other English language bonsai periodicals. It took a tremendous amount of work on our part, all on a volunteer basis. Through Mr. Yoshimura’s contacts in Japan arrangements were made to translate, edit and publish articles into English.

 I began to think about the magazine and thought why not combine all three publications into one higher quality issue and have a page or two for each organization’s news. I wanted to improve both the quality of information as well as presentation to a larger audience. The idea was presented to all three groups and I just about got crucified. Each organization wanted control. 

 So after some thought, I decided to publish International BONSAI magazine in1979 with the assistance of Mr. Yoshimura with color covers, a first for English language bonsai magazines. With the guidance of Great Lakes Press and graphic artist, Harvey Carapella we proceeded and have continued to publish. Harvey Carapella is still the art director and has designed every issue. When the first issue was published another friend, Joe Noga, professor of color reproduction at Rochester Institute of Technology, saw the covers and could not stand their poor color quality of the covers. He volunteered to work on the color images and has continued for 41 years to improve the quality; unmatched by other English language bonsai magazines.

Now after publishing The Bonsai Bulletin for a year then International BONSAI for 42 years we have used several different printers, changing when each company sold out to larger organizations or closing because of digital printing.

 We started printing with Great Lakes Press. Printing the first color covers was an experience. Since the company was in Rochester I always did press proofing by making trips to check over the printing while on press, an activity still do today, only it now requires six different trips for each issue. As the press was running on the first issue I suddenly noticed that the word “Masakuni” on the back cover ad was misspelled. The presses stopped and the error was corrected and covers reprinted. At Great Lakes Press one of the pre-press “strippers” who actually cut and pasted four different films for each color plate, became interested in bonsai and became a student. He attended my annual symposia and was introduced to some of the finest bonsai artists from around the world. In one issue Harvey and I mislabeled a photo of John Naka and Mikio Oshima at a symposium demonstration. My student, the pre-press stripper caught the error and changed their names to match the photograph. 

When Great Lakes Press was bought out, my friend in pre-press changed to Upstate Litho and I followed him to the smaller, but high quality press. I carefully approved the proofs and watched the start of printing for each issue. When the final copies were delivered I discovered that an image of a Zelkova bonsai was printed upside down with the twigs pointed down and pot pointed up. Apparently during the printing a pressman noticed a scratch on a photo. So he stopped printing, made a new plate and restriped the image, upside down! Upstate Litho had to reprint the entire issue to correct the problem.

 Throughout our long and pioneering history of publishing International BONSAI a few errors and typos have slipped through. We quickly learned that some readers only look for errors… And we try to print something for everyone.

When we started publishing each article had to be typed, edited, typeset, then cut and pasted with wax guns on to boards to be photographed then made into printing plates. A lot of work. Soon electronic publishing was introduced with Adobe PageMaker and we slowly began with the new technology. Once the owner of Upstate Litho mentioned that another client produced their project but failed to consult with them about software compatibility and they had to start their project all over. So each time new technology was introduced I was professionally guided to the latest software so we were compatible.

 After publishing International BONSAI for 42 years and producing 164 issues, in order to advance classical bonsai art to a broader world-wide audience I have decided to suspend the printed edition and expand my educational offerings with the introduction of International BONSAI OnLine which is a FREE digital bi-monthly magazine.

International BONSAI OnLine will continue with the high standards of quality we have introduced to English language bonsai magazines, only more frequent and for FREE for all bonsai enthusiasts around the world. It still remains the first and only professional bonsai magazine published in the United States. 

 With the introduction of the magazine in a digital edition, I feel we can reach more people and International BONSAI OnLine has the potential of having the largest circulation making it ideal for advertisers to offer their products and services; as well as to promote bonsai exhibitions, conventions and other gatherings.

The last printed issue of International BONSAI came off the press last week, and although sad, and with a tear in my eye, I look forward to an exciting new platform to inspire and provide valuable authorative bonsai information for everyone. The first issue of International BONSAI OnLine is nearly completed and I invite everyone to check it out and add their names for their FREE subscription and to recommend it to their friends, club members and clients.

50th Anniversary Bonsai Exhibition

Suruga Branch of Nippon Bonsai Association

I feel sad and disappointed that the 40th Nippon Bonsai Taikan Exhibition in Kyoto, Japan was cancelled. Even more so because most foreigners are not allowed into Japan at this time so I can’t share the beauty of Japanese bonsai with friends through this blog and International BONSAI.

A couple of days ago I discovered a special one day bonsai exhibition held in Japan which was outstanding; the bonsai, displays and photographs were all beautiful and well presented. They photos are shared here with you through the courtesy of the Nippon Bonsai Association. I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I did.

I look forward to returning to Japan to see more bonsai and share them with you here.

50th Anniversary Bonsai Exhibition

Suruga Branch of Nippon Bonsai Association

Adzuma Bonsai Garden, Shimizu Ward, Shizuoka

November 28, 2020

This bonsai garden has been in business for 50 years

Photos courtesy of Nippon Bonsai Association

2020 Autumn Open House- Sales, Displays & Free Programs


Our Autumn Open House is normally not an expanded event during years hosting the US National Bonsai Exhibition. This is not a “normal” year with nearly all bonsai events throughout the world being cancelled. So this year’s Autumn Open House will feature displays, sales and free programs on Saturday-Sunday, September 12-13, 2020. There are two special highlights this year, a Suiseki Exhibit and sales from the Joe Noga Bonsai Collection.



The 2020 growing season has been great! Together with the weather and not being able to travel has provided the opportunity to spend more time creating new bonsai as well as refining several developed specimens. Additionally, after an absence of many years, we set up a mist system to propagate some rare varieties used for bonsai training.





Fine quality bonsai will be formally and informally displayed in the studio. Four formal bonsai displayed in our outdoor workshop where the FREE Bonsai Demonstrations will take place. Finally, bonsai will be artistically displayed in the garden featuring a formal outdoor alcove.





In addition to beautiful developed bonsai a large selection of developing bonsai will be on sale. Nursery stock, grown and propagated here specifically for bonsai are in large numbers. Many newly created bonsai are now ready to be added to your collection. A selection of containers, tools and supplies are always available for purchase. A good number of established indoor bonsai are available this year. The bonsai, pre-bonsai, containers and tools and wire will be discounted 20% during the Autumn Open House.






FREE Bonsai Demonstrations

Mark Arpag- Shohin Bonsai, Saturday 10 am

Mark will share his knowledge, skill and love of shohin bonsai with visitors to the Open House. He is an award winning bonsai artist and also the current President of the Bonsai Society of Upstate New York. Special displays will highlight the program which will also feature the creation of a shohin bonsai. The completed bonsai will be auctioned at the conclusion of the program.



3200 2



Wm. N. Valavanis- Kusamono Creation & Display With Bonsai, Saturday pm

Bill will explain how kusamono and companion plantings are created and also used to enhance the presentation of bonsai. Several formal bonsai displays, featuring different seasons will be explained and how the companion plantings were selected and created. Following a demonstration the companion planting will be auction.










Ron Maggio- Suiseki Introduction & Appreciation, Sunday 10 am

Ron will share the beauty of some of his vast collection of suiseki from around the world. He is an award winning suiseki collector who has displayed his stones in Japan and the United States. Emphasis will be on how to appreciate suiseki and what to look for when selecting stones. At the conclusion of the program a suiseki will be auctioned.



RON copy



Wm. N. Valavanis- Fruiting & Flowering Bonsai Creation & Care, Sunday 2pm

There are many developed flowering and fruiting bonsai in the Valavanis Bonsai Collection and Bill will explain how some of them have been created and how to develop a bonsai from common nursery stock, cuttings and seedlings. A flowering/fruiting bonsai will be created and auctioned at the end of the program.




Joe Noga Bonsai Collection

Over 580 pre-bonsai and some developed bonsai from the famous Joe Noga Bonsai Collection in North Carolina will be available for sale. He has been propagating thousands of select plants for us during the past 15 years and is running out of room. A large selection of Noga Crabapples, Dwarf Mulberry, Chinese Quince, Kingsville Box, Seiju Elm, Koto Hime maples and more are available, while a small collection of developed bonsai are here for sale. Be on the lookout for developed masterpiece bonsai for sale at next year’s 2021 7th US National Bonsai Exhibition on September 11-12, 2021. All of his trees are winter hardy.








B 1-1

7th Upstate New York Suiseki Exhibit

The Suiseki Study Group of the Bonsai Society of Upstate New York will be presenting an exhibit of member’s suiseki during the Open House. Our greenhouse has been transformed into areas where our members can share their stones. Recently the group had a stone collecting field trip where 12 members each collected some very good and interesting stones from a stream. A few will be displayed along with other famous suiseki. Photos are from last year’s exhibit.







All events are FREE and open to everyone who appreciates bonsai and would like to add to their collection. Please be safe and remember to bring and wear a mask and social distance. If you have health concerns about attending this exciting event, make an appointment for a visit. The 20% discount will be extended to you for a week. Looking forward to welcoming visitors and friends to this special event.





A Visit To Bergen Water Gardens & Nursery


1Every summer our Bonsai Society of Upstate New York has a garden tour. In the past we have visited excellent and interesting collections of Hosta, Dwarf Conifers and even a top Dwarf Conifer & Rare Plant Nursery.


Last evening we had a special private visit to the Bergen Water Gardens & Nursery in Churchville, New York, a Rochester suburb. Proprietors Larry & Lily Nau have had much experience with growing plants and fish, in New York as well as in China. They also import Jindezhen porcelain pots for waterlilies from China. Larry was the buyer for a tropical fish store for over 40 years. He was also President of the American Conifer Society and an avid waterlily grower.




Now in its 20th year, Bergen Water Gardens & Nursery in its 16 acer propriety specializes in lotus, waterlilies, koi, goldfish, pond supplies, carnivorous plants and dwarf conifers.


Lotus are a specialty and they have been importing select tubers from China for a few years as well as from the United States. They hybridize many new cultivars and have now amassed a collection of 350-400 different lotus cultivars. Bergen Water Gardens & Nursery was honored to be the first International Waterlily and Water GardeningCertified Nelumbo Collection of Excellence in the IWGS’s 37 year history.


Here you can find tall lotus, over 6 feet in height with flowers 8-9 feet tall as well as teacup lotus which fit in the palm of your hand. New and popular are bowl and micro lotus which grow well in pots only 6 inches in diameter. The flower are small in size too. There are dozens of different cultivars, which are just coming into blossom now. I got a few tubers last year and three more this season. Primarily I purchased them to display with bonsai and this week one began to blossom so a display was created for my Senior Monday Crew during lunch.




Larry Nau and his wife Lily welcomed our group of about 20 members to their beautiful nursery on a warm lovely evening. Larry presented a short program on the history of their nursery and explained many interesting facts about lotus and waterlilies. Before we toured his nursery, Lily arranged for a pizza snack with lotus roots as a topping. It tasted quite good and added a different texture.


Following the presentation Larry showed us all areas of his nursery and explained a few of his 70 plus ponds he dug and has full of lotus for display, sale and hybridization. We ended up in his sales area where several of our members purchased fish, lotus, marginal plants for bonsai accessories and supplies.

Check out their website if you can’t visit in person:


Thank you Larry and Lily for your hospitality to our group to enhance our appreciation of water plants. And the lotus topped pizza was delicious!


Defoliating Two Japanese Maples


Although defoliation is “generally” recommended as a bonsai training technique it actually requires considerable thought and it’s necessary to contemplate each specific tree and the purpose of removing foliage. Today I’ve been told that Ryan Neil and others do not recommend total defoliation of healthy maples. Unfortunately, I did not study with Ryan, whom I respect, and others. I must have skipped the defoliation chapters in the books studied. I’ve learned through intense study (both in the US and Japan) and actual practice for well over 50 years that plants, especially Japanese maple cultivars have diverse growth habits and respond differently to bonsai training techniques.

There are numerous reasons for defoliating deciduous, and even broadleaf evergreens, such as for increasing the number of twig ramification, reducing leaf size, transplanting out of season, reducing vigor on developed trees, energy balance, preparing trees for exhibits, improving air circulation and sun, improve autumn coloring, enjoying colorful spring shoots again, facilitating easier wiring, reviving dehydrated trees, eliminating pests and disease and more. The health, age, size, stage of development, climate and reason for defoliating a tree must be carefully considered, especially with established developed specimens. Undeveloped trees can generally withstand more stress than more developed trees.


June 2020 Katsura Japanese Maple Defoliated Bonsai And Garden Tree. Both Are The Same Age, My 40 Year Cuttings.

I recommend that the foliage matures and trees are fertilized before defoliating in late-spring and summer for maximum results in developing a new flush of growth for training or display. Timing is important to allow the new growth to mature before cold weather arrives. I’ve actually defoliated maples in August with good results, but do not recommend that late a date. Aftercare is important considering sun exposure, watering and fertilizer applications. The subsequent new growth can be trained for different purposes. Sometimes the fine delicate twigs are not as winter hardy as thicker branches.


Katsura Japanese Maple 2010 after growing in the garden for a few years. Before pruning.



2010 After Pruning.

I shared a few photos of my Katsura Japanese maple, Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ in my original posts in Facebook and the Bonsai Nut Forum. The complete history of this bonsai is attached here. Both the bonsai and the garden tree are the same age, my cuttings about 40 years old and were planted in my garden in 1988. About ten to fifteen years later one of the maples had an interesting shape and it was lifted and trained for bonsai. Katsura Japanese maple is a vigorous grower and this specimen has only been in training for about 15 years after lifting from my garden. It’s a relatively large size and heavy bonsai. Since The outer canopy silhouette was the main reason for total defoliation. After removing all the leaves thick heavy branches were visible and will be corrected in the future.


May 2014, Excellent Spring Coloring.


May 2020, Spring Coloring.


June 2020 Before Defoliation.


June 2020 After Defoliation.


June 2020 After trimming, but before eliminating thick branching.


At the same time as totally defoliating the Katsura Japanese maple posted, I partially defoliated another Japanese maple, Acer palmatum, which was not posted. This special and unique tree is one of the original shohin bonsai from the Matsudaira Collection. Now over 120 years old this bonsai has an interesting history. Count Yorinaga Matsudaira and his wife created the largest shohin bonsai collection in Japan in the 1930s. He was infatuated in bonsai and wanted to see how small a bonsai could be created and maintained. Count Matsudaira, along with Norio Kobayashi established the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition in 1934. This Japanese maple bonsai is from the Matsudaira Collection and was displayed in at least two Kokufu Bonsai Exhibitions in 1957 and 1974.


1958 Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition




1974 Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition












June 2020 After Partial Defoliation

So, this is an old bonsai and not as vigorous as younger trees so it should not be completely defoliated to maintain health. However, I have a few times totally defoliated the bonsai during the past 36 years I’ve been caring for it. It’s been fun and a privilege to be able to care and continue the training of this distinctive and historical bonsai.


2020 Open House: Sale, Bonsai Displays & Demonstrations

2020 SPRING 3

Everyone is invited to visit this year’s Spring Open House & Sale on Saturday-Sunday, June 6-7, 2020, at the International Bonsai Arboretum in Rochester, New York. Please be safe and wear a mask.




Since I was unable to conduct my Introductory Bonsai Courses, Seminars and Open Workshops because of the Convair 19 Virus, it has been quite around here. Therefore we have had considerable time to create many new bonsai and prepare pre-bonsai for sale. The gardens look quite good too. We were able to transplant many masterpieces which needed root pruning and fresh soil as well.



There are a few unusual bonsai you might want to check out: Golden Smoke Tree, Climbing Hydrangea and a Red Dragon Harry Lauder’s Contorted Filbert. Additionally you can see how small and compact many of the bonsai maples have developed since bud pinching earlier during the season. Now is the time to pinch pines, and we are busy as they are always producing new shoots at different times throughout the trees.


Golden Smoke Tree



Red Dragon Harry Lauder’s Contorted Filbert


Climbing Hydrangea


Compact Kiyo Hime Japanese Maple leaves


Its time for the Chinese Quince bark to exfoliate


Golden Full Moon Maple flowers forming fruit


RAF Dwarf Scots Pine



Butterfly Japanese Maple


Dwarf Ezo Sprue


The Upstate New York Bonsai Exhibition, sponsored by the Bonsai Society of Upstate New York, was cancelled so there was no bonsai show for people to visit. There will, however, be the 7th US National Bonsai Exhibition coming uo on September 12-13, 2020 in Rochester. At the Spring Open House & Sale we will be featuring seven formal classical bonsai displays in addition to a beautiful garden full of fine bonsai where basic and advanced training techniques can be viewed and studied this weekend.










Award winning bonsai artists from the Bonsai Society of Upstate New York are joining me at the Spring Open House & Sale to demonstrate their skills and share their techniques and knowledge for creating bonsai. Each artist has many years of dedicated study and experience in training bonsai.

Harvey Carapella was a past president of the Bonsai Society of Upstate New York for several decades. He has a large size Ginkgo bonsai forest which will be redesigned with a new main tree.



Ginko 36

Mark Arpag is the current president of the Bonsai Society of Upstate New York and has a special Dwarf Apple for his demonstration. Twenty some years ago our Society had a visit to the famous Kirby Apple Orchard where members were allowed to dig and take home a large Dwarf Apple. Mark has been training his demo tree and plans to improve the dead wood area into a focal point.





Alan Adair is a director of the Bonsai Society of Upstate New York and also the Curator of the Living Collection at the International Bonsai Arboretum. He specializes in Larch bonsai and will share his knowledge on how to train this popular hardy species for bonsai.




Wm. N. Valavanis is a past president of the Bonsai Society of Upstate New York and will be creating a bonsai from a Japanese Yew Diane selected from a local nursery.




From last September’s Open House demonstration. Note how “tall” I needed to be to work on the pine. Well, I was standing on a cement block, look closely. I should have listed to Diane and Jerome Cushman because I broke BOTH feet standing on it.


My TWO broken feet did not stop me. I still went to Seattle, British Columbia, China and Japan a few times.

Check the schedule of events on the attached flyer for the times of the demonstrations. Between the demonstrations visitors are encouraged to study the bonsai displays and garden while shopping for bonsai, pre-bonsai, containers, wire and tools. There is a 20% discount on bonsai, pre-bonsai, containers and tools.


On May 22 Bonsai Empire from The Netherlands conducted a garden tour of our garden. It was filmed by Mark Arpag and assisted by my son Chris. The hour and a half live tour was quite popular and visited by 68,000 people around the world. Check it out at:


Join us this coming weekend for our Spring Open House & Sale, no snow is forecast, only good warm weather, to enjoy bonsai, learn from the demonstrations, meet with others who share your passion and go shopping to add to your collection. Please be safe and wear a mask.


Kimura Masterclass Now Available!


Bonsai Empire by Oscar Jonker has done it again! He has produced another stellar educational and entertaining online bonsai course taught by Masahiko Kimura, the magical technician of contemporary bonsai. This is the first time Mr. Kimura has presented an online bonsai course. I first had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Kimura with Chase Rosade nearly 40 years ago in his bonsai garden filled with masterpiece bonsai. Since that time International BONSAI has featured “Magic Moments- The Artistry of Kimura” a photo essay by Masahiko Kimura for over 35 years. For the past 32 issues we have published “Masahiko Kimura’s Fun Bonsai Classroom where Mr. Kimura shows how he transforms ordinary plant material into stunning works of art.


Mr. Kimura’s private classroom has been opened for his online students

So, I’m quite familiar with this innovator of contemporary bonsai and have watched dozens of his live demonstrations throughout the United States and the world. Twice a year he has opened and shared his garden for my bonsai tour members in Japan.


It’s a wonder how Bonsai Empire was able to capture the essence of Mr. Kimura’s art and techniques in the easy to learn Kimura Masterclass. Like other of Bonsai Empire’s online bonsai courses, this unique course is well organized, photographed and edited to make students easy to learn from the teacher. Masahiko Kimura shares a lifetime of cultivated knowledge through his excellent explanation of this design theory and bonsai techniques he has perfected. The photography was superb showing all details of the techniques. And, there were a few segments of high speed wiring to avoid students being bored.

The four hour bonsai course is divided into three sections which are complete close up views of two demonstrations, plus a bonus content. The first demonstration on an old collected Japanese five-needle pine shows how Mr. Kimura studies the untrained tree and how he prepares the tree for creating into a stunning windswept bonsai. For the first time I learned that Mr. Kimura dyes his raffia close to the color of the tree’s bark to make it “disappear.” Considerable time was spent with his apprentices cleaning the overgrown moss groundcover to show the hidden surface root display. The next two parts of this demonstration shows how he selects the proper gauge of annealed copper wire and how he applies it, cutting the wire to the “exact” size to avoid any waste. Clearly he has done this before. Bending techniques for heavy branches are featured as well as the proper use of guy wires. He explains his thought process of establishing the basic design according to his taste which is the cumulation of decades of study.


Before concluding the new windswept bonsai demonstration Mr. Kimura talks about refining the design and the apex silhouette aesthetics. The finished bonsai is typical of the fine quality work of Masahiko Kimura.


The second demonstration lesson shows how Mr. Kimura creates a clinging-to-a rock planting bonsai using Sargent junipers. He purchased about 50 trees and carefully selected the best six or seven trees for the rock planting composition. Mr. Kimura has been creating numerous clinging-to-a rock planting bonsai and has perfected his techniques to show nature in miniature. He was greatly influenced by his many trips to see mountains in China.


The rock for his rock planting was carved by Mr. Kimura, and although he talks about how he carved and painted the stone I wish photos or a short video on how he created the stone was shown. He wired and planted the stone to the container before planting. Each of the trees was prewired and skillfully planted on the stone. The wires for attaching the trees to the stones used an interesting technique I’ve never seen before. The asymmetrical balance of tree positioning was well done and explained. Considerable time was spent on applying the peat muck and subsequent moss. The finished rock planting bonsai looked established, like it had been created decades before.



The third or Bonus Content will be an eye opener for most students. Mr. Kimura takes a tour through his back area where his unfinished compositions and client’s bonsai are kept and trained. Many future masterpieces can be seen in this section. After the private area tour students are shown the public garden where world-famous bonsai masterpieces can be enjoyed and studied.

Finally to conclude the private lesson an interview with Mr. Kimura explains how his creativity was influenced and how he developed many of his masterwork bonsai. A great conclusion to a stimulating private lesson with Mr. Kimura. It was wonderful to hear Mr. Kimura’s advice to his students and apprentices that you should grow your bonsai with love and affection, the most important factor for bonsai. This Kimura Masterclass is really special because he has no intention to travel to teach bonsai. In Mr. Kimura’s own words about the reason for his first online bonsai course: “to share his knowledge and legacy on.”


Clearly photographed the entire online Kimura Masterclass features Mr. Kimura explaining everything in Japanese. However, Makiko Kobayashi did an excellent job translating all his comments in proper English subtitles. This must have taken considerable work to get all the fine details translated then edited and printed at the bottom of the video.

I suggest the Kimura Masterclass to any serious bonsai enthusiast who wants to learn techniques and aesthetics directly from the master to improve their bonsai skills and understanding.


As an extra added bonus, at the conclusion of my four hour private lesson I was able to print out a Certificate of Completion which can be framed and displayed. Well done Mr. Kimura, Oscar and Makiko!

Kimura Masterclass

4 hours of private instruction


Students can easily enroll in the 4 hour Kimura Masterclass at: