What Happened On This Date in "Recent" Bonsai History?


Days 11 - 20
Days 21 - 30 +

 1 1889 - Norio Kobayashi was born.  [He would go on to edit and publish the very influential periodical Bonsai.  In 1930 he would write The Study of Bonsai, and six years later would also have published Contemporary Bonsai and their Care and Study and cultivation of Satsuki azaleas, all in Japanese.  He would be a lecturer at the Tokyo College of Gardening.  Kobayashi would be one of the founders and major executives of the Kokufu Bonsai Association, a private organization which would hold an annual exhibition emphasizing creative bonsai at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in Ueno Park beginning in 1934.  In 1951 the Japanese Travel Bureau in its Tourist Library series would publish his Bonsai -- Miniature Potted Trees in English.  Nine editions of this highly respected book by this acknowledged authority would see print by the end of that decade alone, quickly finding its way to the West and enlightening the bonsai students there.  One of its readers was the up-and-coming California teacher John Naka, who would begin exchanging letters with Kobayashi in 1963.  That November, acclaimed for his success in helping to bring bonsai up to the level of a cultural art, Kobayashi would be granted a Medal of Honor with a Yellow Ribbon by the Japanese government.  He would invite Naka to visit the Kokufuten, and the latter would do so in early 1965.  While there, Kobayashi would meet with Naka several times and introduce the American to leading figures in the world of Japanese bonsai.  He also would encourage Naka to use American plants as bonsai material and not rely on the plants traditionally used in Japan for dwarf potted trees.  Kobayashi would retire from editing and publishing the periodical Bonsai after 518 consecutive issues.  He would die in 1972 at the age of 83.]

"Toshio Kobayashi"
(The Story of "Bonsai", The Omiya Bonsai Art Museum, Saitama, March 21, 2014, pg. 20)

  (Personal e-mail from Yukio Murata to RJB Apr. 22, 2006; Kobayashi, Bonsai -- MPT, 14th printing, 1966, Editor's Notes, pp. 5-6, 24-25; Connie Rosade's column in Bonsai Journal, ABS, Vol. 2, No. 1, pg. 17; per William N. Valavanis e-mail to RJB 27 May 2014, "Please note the error that they misread Norio Kobayashi's name as Toshio Kobayashi." Bill graciously sent me this booklet which he had picked up on his recent trip to Japan.)   SEE ALSO: Feb 23

1907 - Kenneth Iwatoki Sugimoto was born in Hiroshima, Japan.  [At an early age he would learn bonsai from an old master who lived near him.  In 1915, Ken would come to these shores, his family already in the U.S.  He would continue to develop his art under the tutorship of renowned bonsai master Professor Sakakibara (who was on a leave from Japan) and would establish in 1939 the West Los Angeles Bonsai Club.  He would serve briefly as Instructor and President until the war.  After the internment years, Ken would settle with his family in Lodi.  In 1951 he would open the first retail bonsai nursery in this country a little ways to the west in Palo Alto.  Two years later in the Spring Ken would found and be the president of the Peninsula Bonsai Club there, now the oldest bonsai club in the United States.  Ken would be considered instrumental in establishing the Bonsai movement in America, also helping form the San Francisco Bonsai Club and being the instructor for both the Milbrae Adult School Bonsai Club and the Stockton Bonsai Club.  He would lead trips to Japan in 1968 and 1971.  Specializing in the formations of trees in rock plantings, Ken's creative techniques would attract bonsai masters from Japan who'd come to learn this method from Ken.  He would teach and run Ken's Bonsai Nursery for many years, before retiring and having his oldest son Tak take over the business.  Still teaching as late as 1997, Ken then would die of natural causes on Jan. 19, 2001 in Palo Alto.  Kinuyo, his wife of over 70 years and also born in 1907, would be living in a rest home for at least four years after that.  The club would hold an annual show every Mother's Day, skipping only 2001 in memory of Ken.]

Ken Sugimoto
(Bonsai Magazine, BCI, May 1972, pg. 20)

(RJB phone call to Tak Sugimoto on Aug. 16, 2005; "About Ken's Bonsai Garden," ; Traugott, Elisabeth "Life on a small scale," ; obituary, Palo Alto Weekly, Jan. 31, 2001, ; "Peninsula Bonsai Club Show," ; Dillon, J.A. "Sokumenzu - Profile," Bonsai Magazine, BCI, Vol. XI, No. 4, May 1972, pg. 20, which also states "He is American born, reared and educated in Japan thru six years of Elementary School and a year and a half of High School, in Iwakuni on the main island of Japan.  Then in Hiroshima he specialized in Business Education at the High School there.  Ken first studied Bonsai at an early age in the Iwakuni Bonsai School where he was an honor student.  Lodi, California was his next home for eleven years; but Bonsai called again taking Ken to Los Angeles...")

1975 -- Robert F. Drechsler became the first curator of the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. with the arrival to the U.S. of the Japanese Bicentennial bonsai.  One of the senior technicians, Bob was a well-trained horticulturist who, it so happened, had been caring for the small collection of penjing that had been presented to President Richard Nixon during his February 1972 visit to China.  [Bob would continue in the curator's position until his retirement in 1996.  Warren Hill would be the second curator from 1996-2001; Jack Sustic third from 2002-2005; Jim Hughes fourth from late 2005 to late 2008, when Jack would return to the position until late 2016.]

Robert Drechsler
(Bonsai Journal, ABS, Spring 1986, pg. 6)

Jack Sustic, 06/12/06, by Walter Pall
(Photo courtesy of Alan Walker, 05/11/07)

(Biography,; Dr. John Creech's The Bonsai Saga, How the Bicentennial Collection Came to America, Washington: U.S. National Arboretum, April 2001, pp. 24-25; "The National Bonsai and Penjing Museum History,"   SEE ALSO: Mar 20, Jul 9, Nov 27

1978 -- The Penjing Garden at the Shanghai Botanic Garden opened to the public on 4 hectares of land.  "Shanghai Style Penjing" is one of the important artistic Penjing schools in present-day China.  The essential collection here has more than one thousand pots of Tree Penjing on display.  Most of these are prized and have won wide commands in exhibitions at home and abroad.  Thirty pots of Rock Penjing represent the spectacular landscapes of China.  Many visitors are fond of the Penjing Garden, and important noble guests from home and abroad are always received here.  (Shanghai Botanic Gardens, subgardens open to the public,

 2 2009 -- Weyerhaeuser Company, engaged primarily in the production of timber, wood, cellulose and homes, was heavily affected by the weakness in housing and construction industries resulting from the economic recession from Autumn 2008 on.  Therefore, as of this date, Weyerhaeuser's Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection in Federal Way, Washington was closed indefinitely to the public.  (The trees would remain intact and be well-maintained so that the Collection could be re-opened at some future date.  SEE this announcement.  The Collection would re-open at a basic-services level -- no money was being spent on extra lectures, advertising, or off-site displays -- in June 2010.)   ("From the Curator,"; "The Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection" posting by Victrinia Ridgeway 16 June 2010 to Internet Bonsai Club Forum,   SEE ALSO: Jan 26, Mar 8, Oct 7, Dec Also

2015 -- Sharon M. Muth, a lifetime member of the Puget Sound Bonsai Association, passed away at age 76 after a long battle with cancer.  [When son John was 9 years old, his mother Sharon had trouble finding pots for her bonsai, and began creating and selling pots in their garage.  Ten years later, Bonsai Northwest was started by Sharon Muth in 1985 when she made and sold bonsai pots to local club members.  That year she participated in a panel discussion as part of the American Bonsai Society's convention in East Lansing, MI.  Gradually she expanded her business into finished trees and starter lessons.  In 1998 Sharon was one of the demonstrators along with Roy Nagatoshi and Qingquan Zhao at the Pacific Northwest Bonsai Association's 10th Convention in Seattle.  In 2000 two big changes occured: Bonsai Northwest started importing Japanese pots and son John joined the business.  John pioneered importing trees and at the same time greatly expanded their pottery with numerous trips to China and Korea to line up reliable suppliers.    John has climbed mountains collecting trees in the Northwest, and has traveled across the country sharing his knowledge.  Another big change occured in 2003 when they moved into their present location in the South Seattle area in Tukwila in King County, about 2.5 miles from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.  The time since then has seen many changes: regrading, wall building, greenhouse expansion, the addition of a koi pond with waterfall, and a larger retail shop.  Today they are one of the best and largest Bonsai sources in America.  John has taken over the business, thus insuring continued service to customers and enthusiasts for many years.  Sharon was on the Weyerhaeser board of directors for the Pacific Rim Collection.] (Facebook posting by Boon Manakitivipart on April 6, 2015; "About Us,"; "PSBA'S FEATURED DEMONSTRATOR-FEBRUARY 24TH-," PBSA Newsletter, January/February, 2014, pg. 1; "The art of bonsai," posted by Colin Diltz, Nov 19, 2013,; "Pacific rim bonsai exhibit,"   SEE ALSO: Jan 27, Feb 19

 3 1995 -- A commemorative postage stamp was issued by Monaco in honor of the European Bonsai Congress which would be held there June 9-11.   SEE ALSO: Jan 23, Jan 29, Feb 3, Feb 16, Mar 1, Mar 27, Mar 31, Apr 6, Apr 18, May 6, May 29, Jun 16, Jul 20, Aug 20, Aug 22, Sep 22, Oct 1, Oct 4, Dec 9.
 4 1962 -- On the same day his first grandson was born, teacher John Y. Naka collected a California juniper (Juniperus californica carriere) in the high desert country.  In honor of 1962 (the "Year of the Tiger"), the 33" tall tree would later be named Tora (Tiger).  (The tree is believed to be the longest trained of any California Juniper.)  [In November, another California juniper would be collected.  At 32" in height, this would be named Ryu (Dragon) because there is a mythical rivalry between a " Tora " and a " Ryu " to see who can strive to obtain something that only one can possess.]

(Bonsai Journal, ABS, Summer 1985, front cover)

("About the Cover," Bonsai Journal, ABS, Vol. 19, No. 2, Summer, 1985, pg. 1; BT by JYN, Color Plate 10 "Tora" photo taken in 1970, and 11 "Ryu" photo taken in 1973)

1970 -- Paul Matsusaki died in Phoenix, AZ five weeks before his sixty-fourth birthday while putting finishing touches on the local Bonsai Society's display.  (Toyotoshi had been raised on the south side of the Japanese island of Shikoku, and had learned a few things about bonsai while watching both an older brother and grandfather.  Working for a family in Seattle to be near his lumberman father, the fourteen year old boy was called Paul when his employer couldn't pronounce his given name.  He later moved to Southern California where he grew various agricultural crops, actively promoted traditional Japanese culture, and met and married his wife, Edna Tani.  They spent WWII in relocation camps in Arkansas and Arizona where they taught Japanese to both the young and adults and cared for the elderly.  After the War, the couple and their daughter moved back to L.A., where Paul briefly farmed and tried his hand at landscaping.  Relocating to Phoenix, they joined the Japanese community here and, having found his niche in landscaping, in the early 1950s Paul opened the Toyo ("Oriental") nursery at his house.  Teaching bonsai to various students informally at his nursery, including a young landscaper named Leroy Fujii, Paul read about a rising teacher in California named John Naka.  Invited, John came over and gave a workshop, and Paul and he became friends.  Some of Paul's students insisted on establishing a formal club in Phoenix after John's visit.  A club was officially founded in the fall of 1962 by twelve members and John was invited back annually to teach.  Paul and club members, likewise, travelled each year to see John and his students at the California Bonsai Society conventions in the spring, and to discuss the art with regular attendees from back east such as E. Felton Jones and George F. Hull.  For many years Paul also went over to L.A. to attend meetings of a group which preserved Japanese folk songs.  In the spring of 1970, the lease had run out on Toyo Nursery and Paul was planning on relocating, after the Phoenix Bonsai Society show.)  [The club's annual booklet would be first published as a tribute to Paul that Fall, and the following April saw a well-designed Japanese Memorial Garden established at the Desert Botanical Garden where the club met.  When the club relocated its meetings to the Valley Garden Center in 1973, a smaller but more practical-in-the-desert Memorial Garden for Paul would be established there.]  (Designing Dwarfs in the Desert by Robert J. Baran, Phoenix: Pyramid Dancer Publications, 1997, pp. 9-10, 12-13, 15-22, 27, 34, 37-40, 45, 49)  SEE ALSO:  Aug 19, Nov 1, Nov 15, Nov 21

1971 -- Fourteen enthusiasts established the Potomac Bonsai Association at an initial meeting held in the auditorium of the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C.  James R. Newton was editor of the association's Newsletter, which was published for its members in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and northern Virginia.   (Bonsai Journal, ABS, Summer 1971, p. 34)

 6 1958 -- The Fresno Bee published a story about Melvin Durao, titled "Art of Bonsai is Antidote for Strain."  Six years earlier the 30 year old had moved across the Pacific Ocean from Honolulu, HA to inland California.  Durao started making rounds of local nurseries.  An "old Japanese fellow" told him a major secret of bonsai: go to a nursery and ask to see the junk pile, the twisted, gnarled specimens off somewhere in a forgotten corner.  Durao began making acqauintances with a loose-knit group of plant lovers, gardeners and people who were learning bonsai.  A handful of them met informally, and these small gatherings eventually led to a something which became the Bonsai Club of Fresno.  The Club's first mention was in this article.  At the time Durao had a collection of 55 trees.  [Soon after, he would leave the club seeing an influx of nursery owners and continuing to prefer the quieter, less formal gatherings that preceded the club's founding.  He would continue to give demonstrations in Valley towns, exhibit parts of his collection every year at the Fresno County Fair, and eventually judge the fair's bonsai exhibit.  Meanwhile, there were about 30 members in the club and they were on sound footing.  Early in the 1960s, the Bonsai Club of Fresno would take the new name of Fresno Bonsai Society.  It would be one of two organizations in the town, the other being Akatsuki, which consisted primarily of Japanese-Americans.]   (Wasserman, Jim  "FBS History," )   SEE ALSO:  Mar Also.

1989 -- With "World Peace Through Bonsai" as its theme, the four day long World Bonsai Convention opened in Omiya, Japan and the World Bonsai Friendship Federation was inaugurated and commenced corporate existence.  A commemorative postage stamp was issued by Japan.  ("World Bonsai Friendship Federation Update" by Ted. T. Tsukiyama, Bonsai Magazine, BCI, Nov/Dec 1989, pg. 10)   SEE ALSO: Jan 23, Jan 29, Feb 3, Feb 16, Mar 1, Mar 27, Mar 31, Apr 3, Apr 18, May 6, May 29, Jun 16, Jul 20, Aug 20, Aug 22, Sep 22, Oct 1, Oct 4, Dec 9.

1993 -- The National Bonsai Collection was officially opened at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, U.K. by Japanese Consul-General Mr. Ryaichiro Yamazaki.  (The few bonsai societies in Great Britain established in the 1960's and 70's had increased significantly in numbers, with the growing interest in bonsai resulting in the setting up of the Federation of British Bonsai Societies which, in turn, helped establish this, the National Bonsai Collection in 1991.)  ("The National Collection," )
 8 1890 -- Fusaji ("Frank") B. Nagata was born in Japan.  [At age 16 he would come to the U.S., never having seen a bonsai in Japan.  In the 1920s long-time gardener Frank and a friend, Morihei Furuya, would hear about one of the only people in the Los Angeles area who knew how to make bonsai, Sam (Tameichi) Doi.  They would go to see the little trees and be so fascinated that they would persuade Doi to start teaching them the art form.  Then would come the great war and the relocation of all Japanese on the West Coast to camps in the interior.  No personal possessions could be taken that could not be carried.  Frank would have an American friend who'd let him plant his bonsai in his yard, with the promise that he would care for them until Frank could reclaim them.  Obviously, although his bonsai-uneducated friend had good intentions, the trees would revert to their natural state and outgrew their bonsai status.  The three of them -- Nagata, Furuya, and Doi -- would happen to be assigned to the same relocation camp in April 1942 -- Amache, near the town of Granada in eastern Colorado.  Amache would be the smallest camp with only an 8,000 person capacity.  While there, the three would manage to put on a makeshift bonsai exhibit for their fellow internees.  As everything would be makeshift, including the trees, Frank would contact his American friend and have some of his trees and pots sent to Colorado for the occasion.  After the war the three men and their families would return to Los Angeles.
     [Now, Mrs. Ai Okumura would also be a student of Doi.  When John Naka would hear of Doi in a local barber shop, the young man would search out the teacher.  (Doi would return to Japan in 1948, the following year.)  Joseph Yamashiro and his wife would meet the Nakas in Colorado during the war -- they were all living outside the military boundaries of the internment requirement -- and would just happen to move next to them in California.  The five would become close, spending all their time talking about and working with bonsai.  In November of 1950, Mssrs. Nagata, Furuya, and Naka, along with Okumura and Yamashiro, would decide to show their trees at the San Gabriel Valley Fall Flower and Garden Show at the Fannie E. Morrison Horticulture Center in Pasadena.  When they would arrive they'd be informed that individuals could not display unless they were sponsored by a club.  Without a moment's hesitation, the quick-thinking Frank Nagata would speak up and say they were a club.  And what was the name of the club?  Again, without hesitation or benefit of conference: The Southern California Bonsai Club.  They would now be allowed to enter their trees, which would win a trophy and a blue ribbon at the Show the next day.  To celebrate the clubs' establishment, a demonstration would be given by the group's youngest member, John.  (Within two years, he would be teaching, first his immediate friends, and then others.)
     [Frank would begin corresponding with masters in Japan and would become the first distributor of bonsai materials, information, and tools from Japan.  In 1954, Frank would open his bonsai nursery on Jefferson Avenue in West Los Angeles, the Alpine Baiko-En (Fragrance of Ume Blossom Garden), the first dedicated exclusively to bonsai.  The same year he would start teaching classes every week without charge to his students. One of Frank's recommendations would be to read the new book (1951) by someone who would become a long-standing friend, Japanese author and publisher Norio Kobayashi's Bonsai, Miniature Potted Trees.  Over the years Frank would continue to feel that this was one of the best books ever written on the subject and believed that it would be greatly appreciated and enjoyed by those who were searching for the "heart of the matter."  Frank would say his classes were quite popular because he never charged anything.  (Anyone knowing Frank would agree that this was true to his character, for he would be one of the most generous persons alive.  Years later, on his birthday, when the members of his own club, The Baiko-en Kenkyukai, would assemble to pay him homage, he would give everyone a present.  Frank would be proud that some of his very first students were still with him, such as Joe Loch, Margaret Guinney, and Earl Donovan.  Donovan would later relate the following story:

     "One day, on asking [Nagata] about the raft style, Frank took me to the private part of his bonsai nursery on Jefferson.  In a cement tray, which was the war time substitute for clay bonsai pots, was a cryptomeria, an important Japanese lumber producer.  The trunk was mostly buried in the soil and the branches formed the straight, sky seeking trees of the forest.  I had never seen such a forest.
     "'How much is it?'
     "'I thought you wanted to see the tree,' Mr. Nagata said.
     "I can still hear the sound of hurt in his voice. And I am still learning that lesson."

     [In 1957 Frank would start to import Japanese trees.  His first love would be Satsuki azaleas, and he imported several beautiful specimens.  Also in the imports would be Cotoneasters, Zelkovas, Shimpaku, and Pomegranates.  Now, Khan Komai, heir to the Rafu Shimpu, the leading bilingual Japanese-American daily newspaper in L.A., would have been seeing Kay Nagata, Frank's adopted daughter.  The two would marry and Khan would study under his famous father-in-law, spending considerable time in nurseries after WWII, chauffeuring Frank in the latter's search for bonsai material.  As time went on, Komai would acquire an eye that could judge good bonsai work, and he'd be frequently critical of what he saw.  As a Father's Day present in 1958, Komai's wife Kay would give him two pots and two trees.  "You've been awfully critical of others lately," she'd say.  "Let's see what you can do."  He would answer the challenge by opening his own nursery and teaching the art to his customers.
     [In April 1958, the Southern California Bonsai Society, hoping to make itself a state-wide organization, would be renamed The California Bonsai Society.  John would be its president for thirty-two years, except for 1959 and 1960 when co-founder Morihei Furuya would helm the club.  Frank would supervise the annual show in 1960, "Early Spring Bonsai."  By this time the annual show would be recognized as the largest such exhibit in the United States.  Earl Donovan would chair the 1961 show themed "Bonsai -- A Living Art."
     [Frank and his trees would figure prominently in Woodward Radcliffe's 1961 Bonsai booklet, with Nagata and Tsunji Yamashiro noted as "Technical Credit."  A California juniper styled by him would be on the cover of ABS Bonsai Journal, 1968, Vol. 2, No. 2, sepia photograph courtesy of Mr. Naka.
     [The only time Frank would be late to a bonsai meeting at the Baiko-en Kenkyukai would be when the Los Angeles Dodgers were playing.
     [Every year since about 1970, Frank's old students, the Caucasians that he taught at his nursery, and some of his new devotees, would sponsor a show in January at the Los Angeles County Arboretum.  The title of the show would be "Winter Silhouettes," an idea originally introduced by Khan.  This show would offer bonsai enthusiasts a chance to see bare deciduous as well as early blooming Quince, Ume, and some early blooming azaleas.  After Frank's death in January 1980, the show would be continued as a memorial to the Dean of Southern California bonsaimen.]

"Frank Nagata who has grown Bonsai for 40 years has dwarfed trees that are 100, 200 and 300 years old...
Here he prunes roots and branches and manipulates a Japanese maple into Bonsai lines."
(Woodward Radcliffe Bonsai booklet, Jersey City, NJ: T.F.H. Books; 1961, pg. 24)

"A respected and much beloved pioneer of bonsai, Frank Nagata, is presented by Mr. Naka.
Mr. Nagata, a co-founder of CBS, has taught bonsai for over twenty five years."
(International Bonsai Digest Presents Bonsai Gems, Fall 1974, pg. 89)

(Young, Dorothy S. "History of Bonsai West," International Bonsai Digest Presents Bonsai Gems, Fall 1974, pp. 93-94, Donovan, Earl "The Cost Factor," Bonsai in California, 1975, Vol. 9, pg. 43; Loch, Joe "Frank Nagata...His Wonderful World of Bonsai," Bonsai Magazine, BCI, Vol. IX, April 1970, pg. 6; Naka, John Yoshio Bonsai Techniques (Santa Monica, CA: published for the Bonsai Institute of California by Dennis-Landman; 1973, 1975, 1976, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1987, 1989, 1991. Tenth printing), pg. 257; Bonsai in California, No. 1 (1967), pg. 1; International Bonsai, IBC, 1986/No. 2, pg. 12; International Bonsai Digest Presents Bonsai Gems, Fall 1974, edited by Juyne M. Tayson, M.D., Earl H. Donovan, Associate Editor, pg. 90 with two b&w photos of Frank, and pg. 41 mentions that Donovan was the current president of Baikoen Kenkyukai; Bonsai Magazine, BCI, July/August 1983, pg. 205; Maine, Michael L. "Khan & Kay Komai," Garden Ideas and Outdoor Living, Spring 1989, pg. 60; Land, Dorothy "Celebrating 35 Years of Progress," Bonsai Magazine, BCI, Vol. XXXII, No. 4, July/August 1993, pg. 28; Bonsai Journal, ABS, Winter 1990, pg. 17; Place, Dorothy M. "Winter Silhouettes Bonsai Exhibition," Golden Statements, GSBF, Vol. XXXII, No. 2, March/April 2009, pp. 15-16; "Persons born 08 April 1890 in the Social Security Death Master File,"   SEE ALSO: Jan 7, Apr 1, Jun 19, Jul 4, Sep 9, Sep Also

2005 -- Renowned Bangalore bonsai master, S. "Bonsai" Srinivas today launched a collection of branded bonsais, "Signature Bonsai."  Srinivas created his first bonsai in 1960 after several years of experimentation.  His family is said to have opposed his ideas and he is believed to have had no income from his bonsais for some eight years.  Today, Bonsai Srinivas is a household name and a US-based private equity firm called The Gabriel Management Group (TGMG) recently acquired the business with the idea of taking it global.  Each "Signature Bonsai" has his signature on the ceramic container that supports the miniature tree.  The branded Bonsais will come also with an authenticity card, which contains tips on maintenance and nurturing Bonsai.  Under the tie-up TGMG will market the Signature Bonsais in India and the US.  Signature Bonsai is a collection of one to five-year-old plants of some 50-60 different species.  The collection consists of two varieties: Standard collection, plants that can be in the same container for over 15 years and cost Rs 500; Starter collection, plants costing Rs 300 and need to be shifted to other containers in three years.  Srinivas said that it is proposed to add fruit trees also to the collection of Signature Bonsais in the future.  ("Potted plant maker ties up with US firm," The Hindu Business Line, April 8, 2005, ; Sujit John "A yummy way to win business," Times of India, May 26, 2004, )   SEE ALSO: Aug 9.
 9 1993 -- The Internet newsgroup rec.arts.bonsai was first posted by Mike Bartolone.  (general e-mail dated 23 May 1996 from Hud Nordin announcing that the 25,000th article had been posted the day before.)   SEE ALSO: Jan 26, Aug 3

1998 -- Barely six months after the 3rd World Bonsai Convention, Mr. Lee Chul-ho, the president of the Korean Bonsai Association, died from a heart attack.  His death dealt a serious blow to the bonsai society in Korea.  The group had hosted the WBFF Convention.  In spite of an insufficient preparation period, Mr. Lee actively publicized Korea's first worldwide bonsai convention.   Its success was achieved by the people in the Korean bonsai world, and they should be praised for their devotion to development and friendship.  At the opening ceremony, Mr. Lee, the secretary of the Dept. of Forestry, gave his remarks to the 700 participants from 20 countries.  Mr. Lee did his own demonstration at the convention, which also spotlighted 220 typical Korean bonsai on display.  An exhibition on the history of bonsai in Korea was also enjoyed by enthusiasts from around the world.   ("Success of the 3rd World Bonsai Convention," Asia-Pacific Region, World Bonsai Friendship Federation,, accessed 05/31/04.)

2007 -- Dr. Gunther Lind died after severe illness.  (He had been a professor of physics education at the University of Kiel in Germany.  His main fields of research were the history of physics teaching in Germany and empirical research on expertise, that is, comparing physics "experts" and "novices" according to cognitive aspects of learning and problem solving.)
     (The International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) is an international physics competition for secondary school students.  The first such competition was organised by Prof. Czeslaw Scislowski in Warsaw, Poland in 1967.  Since that time the International Physics Olympiads have been organised, with few exceptions, in a different country every year.  The first IPhO organised by a non-socialist country was the XIII IPhO that took place in Malente, Federal Republic of Germany, in 1982.  It was due to very efficient work done by Dr. Lind.  Then, for the first time, the participants solved, under agreement of the International Board, two experimental problems in place of one, previously set.  In 2001, the IPhO International Board accepted a new system of awarding the prizes.  The new system, designed by Cyril Isenberg and Dr. Lind was based on relative number of contestants for each type of award, instead of the score boundaries defined by percentage of the best contestant's score. Dr. Lind wrote about the IPhO in Physikalische Olympiade-Aufgaben (Aulis Verlag Deubner & Co., Koeln; 1986).  He also wrote the chapter "Chemistry in Physics Textbooks, 1780-1820" for Communicating Chemistry Textbooks and Their Audiences, 1789-1939, edited by Anders Lundgren & Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent in 1999.)
     (Dr. Lind turned to bonsai seriously only after retiring and had started a website on history and philosophy of bonsai within the German  His main interest was in the stylistic aspects of bonsai.  It took a very competent bonsai and art connoisseur to disclose a field of knowledge that is so largely unknown in the west.)  [During the Meetings of the International Board during the XXXVIII International Physics Olympiad in Isfahan (Iran) July 13 - 22, 2007 (with 69 countries in attendance), the President of the IPhO would inform the International Board that Prof. Gunter Lind (Germany) and Dr. Hans-Uno Bengtsson (Sweden), had passed away during the past year.  The International Board would commemorate the two with a Minute of Silence.]  (Notes at the end of Dr. Lind's article "Art and Kimura"; Gorzkowski, Waldemar  "International Physics Oympiads (IPhO): Their History, Structure and Future," ; "Asian Physics Olympiad," ; RJB corresponded with Dr. Lind Feb through June 2006 when the latter contacted me about the Gothaer Penjing Album (Canton, c.1800) and other portrayals.  Per his last personal e-mail to me 05 Feb 2007, Dr. Lind stated that "In the last months I have serious difficulties with my health (stomach-cancer).")

2007 -- South Florida's reknowned bonsai pioneer and watercolorist, Joe Samuels, died at Baptist Hospital in Kendall, Florida after suffering a severe stroke.  He was 87.  He is considered the "father" of Ficus salicaria [more commonly seen in literature incorrectly as F. nerifolia] as a bonsai specimen.  (Jim Wilkins took up interest in bonsai with Garland Faulkner in 1956.  In 1957 Jim started his Jaboticaba seedling from Fairchild Tropical Garden and the following year began to work with Joe Samuels.  Jim was a paraplegic and Joe did the physical work on the trees.  As Superintendent of Parks for the City of Miami Beach, part of Joe's responsibility was buying landscape plants and trees.  One of his favorite stops was the old Fantastic Gardens Nursery (once run by Bob and Catherine Wilson and long since gone).  On one such visit in 1965, he spotted a small tree ("finger thick") that looked like a strange Ficus.  He questioned the owner who said he had "imported the fig from New Guinea" ... however, it was not for sale.  Joe was a patient man and continued to ask about this new-found prize.  After much "pleading and arm twisting," Joe finally purchased the unusual fig in 1966.  Joe "observed the growth pattern of figs in the landscape and planned accordingly, including aerial roots.  I noticed that Ficus often have surface roots as far as 500 feet from the trunk.  From this I found out they would grow in shallow containers."  Joe said he always took "wisdom from trees in their natural environment."  By 1972, the first aerial roots were ready for refinement.  He first exhibited his banyan style fig at the Bonsai Clubs International convention in Miami Beach, FL in 1975.  Participants from all over the world (including Japan) applauded it.  Following the convention, Joe had a new vision for his Ficus bonsai.  He placed it in a larger container, and let it grow.  Meanwhile, he rooted cuttings "just in case anything happened to the original tree, the strain would keep going."  He shared these cuttings with many of his bonsai friends.  When exhibited again in 1985, the original bonsai was a specimen tree.  Today, many hobbyists claim to have a Ficus bonsai grown from a cutting of "Joe's tree."  They probably do.  Joe was often referred to as the Father of Bonsai in South Florida, and he served as the Bonsai Society of Miami's head of exhibits for club shows.  Jim Wilkins had passed away in 1969; Garland Faulker would still be alive at the begining of 2011, 93 yrs. in Coral Gables.  A great number of their early trees, including the Jaboticaba, are still in top shape and are being refined by Jim's son Gary.)

Joe Samuels and Kay Komai, 07/05/02, BCI Convention in Orlando, FL.
(Photo courtesy of Alan Walker, 05/11/07)

(Please see this Tribute page,; post by Dustin Mann, 01 Jan, 2011,; story of the Ficus,, was brought corrected to RJB's attention in e-mail from Mary C. Miller, the story's author, prominent tropical bonsai teacher and Joe's long-time companion; Prince, Moyna  "Nat DeLeon, a history,"; Steig, Stacey "Mini Flora,"  SEE ALSO: Jul 14.
10  1958 -- Gerald N. Rainville was born in Montréal, Québec, Canada.  [He would begin gardening as a child and, by ten years old, would decide upon a career in horticulture.  By the age of sixteen, Gerald would have spent several summers working in a local garden nursery in his native city.  With a friend, he also would run a small residential garden business.  A summer spent visiting gardens throughout Europe would crystallize his vision and Gerald would enroll at Algonquin College, in Ottawa, in the Department of Horticulture, majoring in landscape design.
     [During a school exchange program at the 1976 Montréal Olympics, Gerald would meet the then college student Hiroyoshi Yamaji, of Yamaji Sanshoen, Japan and be inspired to make bonsai his life's work.  After graduating from Algonquin in 1979, he would board a two-day flight to begin a bonsai apprenticeship in Japan.  He would be met by a group of bonsai growers from Takamatsu at Haneda Airport, whisked off to the bonsai professionals' exhibit Sakufuten, meet many bonsai dignitaries, and by that night, sit mesmerized on the high-speed Shinkansen heading to Shikoku.  Gerald would spend several years with Hiro, and be fully accepted into his government-sponsored apprenticeship group the "Kokubunji Successor's Club of Bonsai".  Kuniaki Hiramatsu of Hiramatsu Shunshoen was the group's Sensei in the Kokubunji area of West Takamatsu.  Gerald would always be greatly indebted to him and all the bonsai growers, friends and teachers for the knowledge, discipline and skills he would acquire.  He would revisit Kokubunji-cho many times to work and study for anywhere from one to six months at a time over the decades.
     [Gerald would be the first Canadian to have embarked on a long-term bonsai apprenticeship in Japan.  Upon returning to Montréal, Gerald would found Shikoku Bonsai Canada in 1983 with Arthur Skolnik, would be his full-time apprentice for several years.  Throughout his career, Gerard would remain committed to informing and training others in this art.
     [In 1986 he would move back to the Orient for another year of study.  Upon his return to Canada he would establish a half hectare bonsai nursery in the outskirts of Vancouver, British Columbia and open Takamatsu Bonsai, a retail outlet in the downtown area.  Weather would have almost everything to do with this decision as the climate is temperate compared to the rest of Canada, similar to Japan's and excellent for outdoor cultivation of evergreens.
     [In 1991 Gerald and his young family would decide to once again return to Japan.  Shunmyo Masuno of Yokohama would accept Gerald as an apprentice in landscape architecture.  The Rainville family would then relocate two years later to Roberts Creek located just west of Vancouver, where they would operate Shikoku Bonsai Canada, Nursery and Landscaping on the Sunshine Coast.  The 1 hectare (almost 108,000 sq. ft.) bonsai nursery would be focused on long-term production of quality bonsai.  There they would continue to explore the relationship between art and nature.  By 2017 the nursery would have several thousand trees that were started and trained by Gerald, many dating back to the nineteen eighties.  He would then have one full-time Western apprentice and would have had several young ones from Japan over the years.
     [Shikoku would also be a design/build firm offering services that addressed all aspects of planning, garden consulting and landscape construction services.  Gerald would also offer lectures and slide shows on Japanese gardens and workshops on pruning, maintaining and constructing techniques.  Jerry-san would return to Japan each autumn to help and continue to study under Kuniaki Hiramatsu and his son Kouji for a month or two during the Kokubunji bonsai festival and Taikan-ten in Kyoto, the second largest bonsai exhibition in Japan.]
(Private Facebook Messages to RJB from Gerald 05/07/17, 05/29/17, and 07/18/17; "Profile," Shikoku,; "Shikoku Bonsai," JGarden,; "Gerard Rainville, Web References," Zoominfo,; "Ahikoku Bonsai brings art of Japanese design to Roberts Creek," The Local Weekly, Nov. 20, 2013,; "2016 Autumn Japan Bonsai Exploration -- Part 5," Valavanis Bonsai Blog, Nov. 19, 2016,    SEE ALSO: Jan 27

1970 --  From this day through the 12th, the American Bonsai Society (ABS) Symposium was held in Dallas, TX.  Speaker John Naka, from California and making his national debut, was well-received.  [So well, in fact, that he was invited to the next year's event in July in Norfolk, VA.  A photo-article "Magic With Naka" in the Spring 1970 issue of the Bonsai Journal (pg. 10) preserved the step-by-step transformation of a nursery-grown juniper; the Fall 1971 issue had both a cover photograph and illustrated story of "The Forest That Grew in Norfolk" (pp. 46-47).  Eleven large nursery-grown junipers were transformed in the latter demonstration] ("Apologia to Our Readers," Bonsai Journal, ABS, Winter 1972, pg. 74)

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