Bonsai Gardens of the Northeast Part 1

So, settle in, this is going to be a long one!
I mentioned in my next to last post that I was taking two Shohin Bonsai professionals from Japan on a tour of American Bonsai nurseries in the Northeast for an upcoming piece in the Japanese publication “Bonsai Sekai”, and here’s the rundown!
I’d planned the trip a couple weeks earlier than normal peak times for Autumnal color(because of the very early spring), and wasn’t remiss. We hit each nursery, moving from north to southeast, at just about peak autumn color(sure made the drive around New England easy on the eyes too!).

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Scarlet foliage on Japanese maple at Nature’s Way

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Autumn leaves compliment and contrast with the beautiful Koi at The Kennett Collection
I’d like to thank everyone at each nursery and collection for their generosity and hospitality, for myself and my friends: Toriumi San and Endo San. Everyone was truly kind and commendably willing to showcase some of the best that American Bonsai has to offer. Thank you all.

We began Tuesday morning in Rochester, NY, with Bill Valavanis and The International Bonsai Arboretum. We’re all familiar with Bill’s work by now(if you’re not, where have you been for the last 50! Years?), but, as with any and all Bonsai, pictures don’t do any justice to the majesty of Bill’s collection. If you haven’t been to the Arboretum, make it a priority! Bill’s enthusiasm for Bonsai is absolutely contagious, and you’d be hard pressed to find the variety and quality present at Bill’s.
In addition to the wonderful trees and containers and tables at the IBA, Bill’s library is something really special: nearly all the Kokufu-ten albums, back issues of Japanese Bonsai magazines to the first issue, American and Japanese rarities, and historically significant books that are nearly ancient. I, for one, could’ve spent a week just perusing Bill’s library!

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Endo San, me, and Bill in front of the main Benches at International Bonsai Arboretum

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Broom style Keyaki in fall glory

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Iwashide(hornbeam) with some showy autumn leaves

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A Chinese Quince on display in Bills classroom.

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Beech forest

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“Bashful Lady”, a shohin Ficus Nerifolia.

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Dwarf Spruce on display in a pot by Touinken

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A wonderful Tokonoma display Bill set up for us, showing Chinese quince in the best Fall color

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Nashi(dwarf mountain pear) showing tiny fruit…this is a huge tree!

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Shohin Bonsai in the greenhouse

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Another Beech forest with Bill for scale

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Chinese quince Shohin bonsai

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My favorite Shohin Bonsai in Bill’s collection: A yamamomiji originally from the collection of Count Masudaira, father of Shohin Bonsai in Japan(if you’re interested in more information about Count Matsudaira, John Romano wrote a great treatise on the history of Shohin Bonsai in International Bonsai number 3, 2011, with some great history on Count Matsudaira).

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A Rocky Mt. Juniper taking some grafts with Shimpaku foliage

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A very large deciduous semi cascade in what appears to be an antique Cantonese pot

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A large hawthorn showing the best of fall: bright red fruit and wonderful autumn color

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In Bill’s office, I saw this tucked behind some papers and pulled it out for a photo: A little piece of both American and Japanese Bonsai history! For those who don’t know, Yuji Yoshimura was Bill’s teacher, and one of the founders of American Bonsai; his family nursery was Kofu-en in Japan

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Shimpaku Ishizuke, kusamono, and shohin at The IBA

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Scots Pine RAF

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Beautiful berries and fall color!

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Kaede, Scots Pine, and Momiji at The International Bonsai Arboretum

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More Great Bonsai at The International Bonsai Arboretum

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And Still More Great Bonsai at the International Bonsai Arboretum

After The International Bonsai Arboretum, Bill was kind enough to arrange a visit with Harvey Carapella. Mr. Carapella, with his background in fine art, has a wonderful personal collection of Bonsai lovingly worked and maintained for more than 30 years. He wanted me to be sure that my friends knew that he was just a hobbyist, but we agreed that his trees were NOT those of the average hobbyist, here or in Japan, and often better than the work of some professionals. I’d like to thank Harvey again for allowing us into his home.

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Harvey Carapella cleans up a big multi-trunk maple

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Harvey, Me, Bill, and Endo in Harvey’s garden

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Entering Harvey’s collection

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Shohin Bonsai at Harvey Carapellas

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A very large and dynamic Japanese Black pine cascade

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Broom style Arakawa Momiji showing off awesome fall color

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Twin trunk collected Thuja

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A natural sinuous root Larch forest

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Harvey poses with some of his wonderful Bonsai

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Bonsai at Harvey Carapellas Garden

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Toriumi Poses with some of Harvey’s trees

After seeing Harvey’s wonderful collection, we drove to Niagra Falls.

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Toriumi Atsuishi and Endo Shoichi at Niagra Falls

Wednesday brought us to Massachusetts, and New England Bonsai Gardens. Hitoshi and Teddi were very kind in allowing us to visit, as they’re closed Wednesdays. Jun Imabashi, a bonsai artist from Japan, was working there as well, and took us on a great tour of the nursery and greenhouses. It was a great visit.

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Hitoshi Kanegae and Teddi Scobi pose in front of a large Bougainvillea

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Huge Brazilian Raintree

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Large collected Juniper

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Bonsai at New England Bonsai Gardens

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Another large collected Juniper

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Ume

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Satsuki Azalea

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Large collected Korean Hornbeam

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Nishiki Matsu(corkbark black pine)

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Nishiki Matsu

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Maki(podocarpus, aka Buddhist Pine)

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Umemodoki

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Another large collected Juniper

That afternoon we arrived at Royal Bonsai Garden, Nursery of Suthin Sukosolvisit. When I called to arrange a visit, Suthin had told me that the nursery had been closed for over a year, and he didn’t have too much left, that the bulk of his trees were sold, and he didn’t want us to be disappointed…..I quickly discovered his incredible humility and self effacing humor when we saw what “not much left” meant! Suthin and his wife Donna were incredibly kind and fun, and his trees were something else! The shohin were easily the best we saw on the trip, and my friends were incredibly impressed.

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Shohin Bonsai at Royal Bonsai Gardens

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Some Shohin Black Pines at Suthins

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Suthin, Donna, Me, and Endo in Front of Suthin’s personal collection

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Shohin Shimpaku

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Bunjin Pine

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Needle Juniper

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A few Kaede showing some impressive taper and fall color

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Very nice Root over Rock Kaede

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Large and small Black pines: whatever the size, Suthin is a true master!

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Tropical Bonsai in the greenhouse

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Willow Leaf ficus Shohin Bonsai

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Large Ficus Bonsai

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Tropical Shohin Bonsai

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Big base Willow Leaf Ficus

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Some impressive Bonsai at Royal Bonsai Gardens

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Still more impressive Bonsai at Suthins

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Still More Impressive Bonsai at Suthins! Seriously, it would take days to upload all of the wonderful trees we photographed at Suthins, I hope these highlights suffice!
From there it was on to Bonsai West, a more commercial operation in northern Massachusetts. There are many excellent trees there from well known California bonsai artists of previous generations, many great Bald Cypresses from my neck of the woods, and a nice selection of imports and collected trees. It was a pleasure to see them in person.

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A far view of the Collection at Bonsai West

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A couple of very large and very old Junipers created by Mrs. Hatanaka in California many years ago

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Large collected Coast Redwood

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Bonsai on Display at Bonsai West

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Shohin Bonsai at Bonsai West

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Still more Bonsai on Display at Bonsai West

Stay tuned! In part two of Bonsai Gardens of the Northeast, Toriumi, Endo, and I visit with Chase Rosade, check out the wonderful Kennett Collection, watch David Easterbrook do wonders with Collected Larch, and visit with Jim Doyle at Nature’s Way!

About japanesepots

I've been collecting Japanese Bonsai pots for a few years, and feel that the famous, and some of the lesser known but great Japanese pot artists could do with a little more writing and exposure in English. Additionally, this blog will feature My own And others bonsai for discussion. The purpose of this blog is to further knowledge of Japanese pottery and Japanese style bonsai. If you have any questions about Japanese bonsai pottery, or would like to acquire pots by some of the potters presented in the blog, feel free to email me at gastrognome@aol.com
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11 Responses to Bonsai Gardens of the Northeast Part 1

  1. Alex says:

    AWESOME POST!! Thanks for sharing, Ryan. I’m totally going to have to check out Suthin’s place sometime.

  2. Great blog post Ryan! Amazing trip indeed! Thanks much for sharing and for creating the true pinnacle of bonsai blogs for the world to look, read, and learn from.

  3. Chris Glanton says:

    Really stunning collections Ryan! Seemed like a spectacular trip. And if Suthin calls that a small collection, I’m afraid to see what his collection looked like before paring down! Great blog post! Thanks! I am wondering one thing though, how a zone 9/10 plant like a coastal redwood survives out east? Seems like it it be hard to keep this above 30-40F in a zone 4ish?

    • japanesepots says:

      The real question is not how it survives(I believe Doug probably overwinters at well above freezing!) but how theyve managed to get it so nicely ramified and shaped! From what I hear, it’s nearly impossible to get nice form and branches outside of the pacific northwest. Even in my climate, 7b, it’s tough to get nice branches!

      • Chris Glanton says:

        That explains how ;) And good to know about the ramification difficulties outside the PNW, I had not heard of that before. Thank You.

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