The 7th US National Bonsai Exhibit was held September 11 and 12
by William Valavanis in Rochester, NY.
Pictures and discussions are available from Bill Valavanis at
and on Bjorn Bjorholm's YouTube channel at:
2021 Meetings and Activities So Far . . .
April - Jesse McMahon showed different styles of bonsai stands and discussed their bes use for display in shows.
June - Kusamono Workshop with Young Choe
Some "student" work
August - Visit to Rob Wallace's pottery studio
Rob is a professional with an advanced degree in ceramics. He both teaches and creates bonsai pots and other ceramics for sale. He explained clay body, firing maturity, and the difference between electric and gas kilns.
Inside view of Rob's gas and wood kiln.
2020 Meetings and Activities
Rebecca illustrated basic principles of wiring for both conifers and deciduous trees and also discussed tools, wire sizes, and techniques, illustrated by her PowerPoint presentation. You can download both parts of her presentation from the links below. Then members separated into groups and worked on their own trees with the help of an experienced member.
January - Rebecca Ayers' wiring workshop
February - Jesse McMahon on basic bonsai design principles
Jesse presented the principles of bonsai design following David De Groot's classic book. Members each brought one tree and discussed a design plan for it. (De Groot's book is available from Stone Lantern.)
March -- Tom Snow led a repotting workshop
Tom demonstrated basic technique, then each member repotted a tree with beginners assisted by expertienced members.
April, May, June, July and August: COVID-19 closures:
September!! -- We finally meet again at the Etowah Golf Club
Rennis discussed fertilizers, Peggy made some announcements, then we all caught up with each other and worked on a tree brought with us---all while maintaining social distance.
October-- Another meeting at the Etowah Golf Club pavilion for a styling demonstration by Daniel Coffey
Danny styled two trees from Mountain Meadows nursery in Weaverville: a pisifera cypress (similar to a boulevard cypress) and a pieris (related to azalea). The cypress was auctioned off at the end of the meeting.
Later in October-- A field trip to Mountain Meadows Nursery in Weaverville. They do not sell bonsai, but special in breeding dwarf conifers--very good starting material for bonsai.
One of several large cold frames.
Full-sized pines styled almost like bonsai.
Our own Felix Laughlin--who is also former co-President of the National Bonsai Foundation-- is interviewed on the NBF blog on the reconstruction of the Japanese Pavilion at the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum in Washington, DC. Click the following link to read the interview.
The following link is to an NBS blog article when Felix and Jack Sustic retired as joint Presidents of the NBS.
More information on the NBF and the link to their main website are found at the bottom of this page. Also,pictures from Felix's presentation and demonstration on designing forests at our November meeting is found in "2019 so far" on this page.
gets a pop-up bonsai card from the Arboretum, and an inscribed bonsai pot hand-made by Lynn August.
and a life-time membership in the Blue Ridge Bonsai Society,
. . .
and our sincere and enormous thanks for all he has done for the BRBS, including keeping it alive almost by himself for many years.
Highlights of 2019
To start our new year right, Jesse McMahon led a discussion on the life cycle of bonsais, both deciduous and coniferous. You must know the special needs of your tree's species and keep it healthy, but also set a goal for it at each stage of development and refinement that will get you to the appearance and style you are aiming for..
Demonstrating the result of pruning a large branch: A juniper with a really interesting root structure:
Bonsai professional Danny Coffey discussed how to prepare a tree for show--starting two years in advance: Year1: wire and style, year 2: repot and adjust.
Danny also discussed details that judges may look for: clean trunks, no heavy wire on large branches, moss that emphasized the roots of the tree, and more.
Discussing a mature boxwood of his own and white and black pines brought by members
Related to display . . .
Here is a photo from William Valavanis, forwarded by Felix Laughlin, illustrating the use of tall stands to get the exhibited bonsai at eye level for the viewers.
March and April: Repotting workshop with Tom Snow in March and--extra event--a Shimpaku workshop with Owen Reich in April
May: Our World Bonsai Day Exhibit at the NC Arboretum!
Felix, Tom, Peggy, and Jesse after setting up.
Dawn Redwood (Literati)
Japanese Mountain Hemlock
Carolina Hormbeam and Black Pine
Kusamono (Companion plant)
Juniper Forest on a slab
Click on the image to enlarge it and scroll.
June: Our annual visit from Arthur Joura, the Bonsai Curator of the NC Arboretum
This tree has been worked on periodically at the Arboretum, but has been allowed to get too leggy.
The goal today is to reduce the foliage and do some wiring so that this tree will regrow to emphasize its interesting trunk and look as if it grew this way on its own.
This year, Arthur brought a tree to work on that he had brought the first time he visited our club--25 years ago!
It is a false cypress, donated to the Arboretum by its owner because all the branches on one side of the trunk had died. It was then a little tree with a half-inch trunk, which after clean-up became horizontal and interesting.
Yes, the tree has lost more than half of its foliage today, but it will be fine. Arthur reminds us that the more horticulture we know, the better we will be able to predict how a tree will react to what we do to it..
August: Annual potluck and auction. (The silent and live auctions brought in more money than in any previous year!)
Peggy and Bob auction a tiny tree.
September: Demonstration by Tyler Sherrod
Original lodgepole pine
Tyler creates sharia.
Indicates eventual angle and apex.
Wired tree with its proud new owner, Pam.
November: Presentation and demonstration on forests by Felix Laughlin
Design for first 3 trees (p 71)
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Cutting down root mass of trees
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Choosing tree #1
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Planting the first tree
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Several members brought their own forests to show. Here is a very nice hinoki cypress forest.
Forests are easy to create. The individual trees do not have to be very developed. One of the great masters of bonsai forest design is Saburo Kato. With his permission, Felix and others at the National Bonsai Foundation translated his book Forest, Rock Planting, & Ezo Spruce Bonsai into English. It was published by the NBF.
Felix, with help from various members, created a stewartia forest with the trees wired onto a frame made of chopsticks glued into the pot. Click the document icon to download a detailed presentation.
Click on the picture below to open the Picture Gallery and scroll through some highlights
The National Bonsai & Penjing Museum is part of the U. S. National Arboretum in Washington, DC. This museum belongs to us all and is a truly wonderful place to visit.
At the moment, of course, their bonsai—like everyone else’s—are mostly in bed for the winter.
The National Bonsai Foundation is a nonprofit organization that supports the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum. And you may not know that the recent past President of the National Bonsai Foundation is our very own member, Felix Laughlin.
The National Bonsai Foundation website is at the following link:
While we are waiting for spring, Felix suggests we subscribe to their free Museum Messages newsletter to cheer ourselves up. Click below to subscribe:
Also, click the next link to download an issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine with description and pictures of the new Japanese Pavilion now being built at the National Museum.