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!).
Scarlet foliage on Japanese maple at Nature’s Way
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!
Endo San, me, and Bill in front of the main Benches at International Bonsai Arboretum
Broom style Keyaki in fall glory
Iwashide(hornbeam) with some showy autumn leaves
A Chinese Quince on display in Bills classroom.
“Bashful Lady”, a shohin Ficus Nerifolia.
Dwarf Spruce on display in a pot by Touinken
A wonderful Tokonoma display Bill set up for us, showing Chinese quince in the best Fall color
Nashi(dwarf mountain pear) showing tiny fruit…this is a huge tree!
Shohin Bonsai in the greenhouse
Another Beech forest with Bill for scale
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).
A Rocky Mt. Juniper taking some grafts with Shimpaku foliage
A very large deciduous semi cascade in what appears to be an antique Cantonese pot
A large hawthorn showing the best of fall: bright red fruit and wonderful autumn color
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
Shimpaku Ishizuke, kusamono, and shohin at The IBA
Beautiful berries and fall color!
Kaede, Scots Pine, and Momiji at The International Bonsai Arboretum
More Great Bonsai at The International Bonsai Arboretum
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.
Harvey Carapella cleans up a big multi-trunk maple
Harvey, Me, Bill, and Endo in Harvey’s garden
Shohin Bonsai at Harvey Carapellas
A very large and dynamic Japanese Black pine cascade
Broom style Arakawa Momiji showing off awesome fall color
A natural sinuous root Larch forest
Harvey poses with some of his wonderful Bonsai
Bonsai at Harvey Carapellas Garden
Toriumi Poses with some of Harvey’s trees
After seeing Harvey’s wonderful collection, we drove to Niagra Falls.
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.
Hitoshi Kanegae and Teddi Scobi pose in front of a large Bougainvillea
Bonsai at New England Bonsai Gardens
Another large collected Juniper
Large collected Korean Hornbeam
Nishiki Matsu(corkbark black pine)
Maki(podocarpus, aka Buddhist Pine)
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.
Shohin Bonsai at Royal Bonsai Gardens
Some Shohin Black Pines at Suthins
Suthin, Donna, Me, and Endo in Front of Suthin’s personal collection
A few Kaede showing some impressive taper and fall color
Very nice Root over Rock Kaede
Large and small Black pines: whatever the size, Suthin is a true master!
Tropical Bonsai in the greenhouse
Willow Leaf ficus Shohin Bonsai
Some impressive Bonsai at Royal Bonsai Gardens
Still more impressive Bonsai at Suthins
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.
A far view of the Collection at Bonsai West
A couple of very large and very old Junipers created by Mrs. Hatanaka in California many years ago
Bonsai on Display at Bonsai West
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!
AWESOME POST!! Thanks for sharing, Ryan. I’m totally going to have to check out Suthin’s place sometime.
Stay tuned Alex: theres a lot more to come in Part 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.
Aaaahh. You’re making me blush Matty O!
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?
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!
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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