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


Days 1 - 10
Days 21 - 31 +

11  1935 -- On this day a boy was born into the Betto family in Tokyo where he would grow up.  [As the bombings during WWII became more frequent and extensive, all school children, including him, would be evacuated to a safer area which separated them from their family.  At age 24 in 1959, Betto would apprentice under Tokichi Matsuura, proprietor of Kan-koen bonsai garden and study that art.  Four years later, he would be adopted as the son of Tokichi to carry on the name and profession of the Matsuura family.  As his interest in suiseki became serious, Matsuura would decide to study under Kenji Murata (b. 1901), father of Keiji Murata (b. 1926).  (The Murata family were leading intellectuals in the bonsai and suiseki worlds.  The family operated the well-known Koju-en bonsai garden and was publisher of many books and monthly magazines.)  In 1969 after three years of apprenticeship, Arishige Matsuura would become the second proprietor of Kan-koen, which was known at that time as one of the best bonsai gardens in Tokyo.  The most significant achievement of Matsuura to the suiseki world would be the publication of the magnificent picture album, a complete survey photographs and historical archives of outstanding Japanese stones, Nippon Suiseki Meihin Taikin (1988).  Published and commissioned through Kodansha, it would be made in collaboration with Kinishi Yoshimura, Yuji's younger (5th) brother.  Prior to his NSK chairmanship, Matsuura would be a member of the Board of Directors of the Nippon Bonsai Kyodo Kumiai (Japan Bonsai Professional Union) and president and member of the Tokyo District.  By the beginning of this century he would have been a popular guest speaker in Europe for over a decade -- Italy (five times), Switzerland, Germany, Spain, France, and England and also every year to South Asia.  His North American debut would come at the Golden State Bonsai Federation Convention in 2001.]  ("Demonstrator -- Mr. Arishige Matsuura," Aug. 27, 2010, 11th ASPAC, which also states that Matsuura in "1949~ : Apprenticed to owner of Kankoen" which would have been at age 14; "History," Nippon Suiseki Association; "The 50th Anniversary of the Nippon Suiseki Association's Meihinten," California Aiseki Kai newsletter, Vol. 28, Issue 7, July 2010, pp. 7-10; Metaxas, Hideko  "Suiseki with Arishige Matsuura,"    SEE ALSO: May Also

1955 -- Toru Suzuki was born.  [In 1975 he would apprentice to Shintani Seihouen in Hiroshima.  The following year he would succeed his father Toshinori as the owner of Daijuen Bonsai Garden in Okazaki, Japan, a town some thirty kilometers southeast of Nagoya and 150 km east of Osaka.  He would become Managing Director of the Nippon Bonsai Growers Cooperative and Chairman of the Nippon Bonsai Daikan-Ten Exhibition Organizing Committee.]  ("Demonstrator -- Mr. Toru Suzuki," Aug. 27, 2010, 11th ASPAC)   SEE ALSO: Jan 28

1963 -- A first organizational meeting of the Toronto Bonsai Society was held in the East Room of the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre. Approximately 50 to 60 persons were present, a very small number of them having informally met since 1957.  [The group's first general meeting would be held the following February 3.]   ("A Brief History of the Toronto Bonsai Society," )
13 1920 -- Ted Tsukiyama was born in Honolulu.  [He would serve in the 10th Army Air Force in the China-India-Burma Theatre during WWII.  In mid-1943 he would be one of 250 members of the 100th Infantry Batallion -- which was comprised of second-generation Japanese Americans -- to be picked for training by the Military Intelligence Service Language School. (The other 1,300 or so members of the 100th would soon be on their way to the Salermo, Italy beachhead.  By war's end the 100th would have compiled and contributed an incomparable record of 338 killed in action, 3 Presidential Unit Citations, 1 Congressional Medal of Honor, 24 Distinguished Service Crosses, 147 Silver Stars, 2,173 Bronze Stars, 30 Division Commendations, and 1,703 Purple Hearts.  The first Japanese American combat unit in U.S. history, only one generation removed from a nation that was fighting fantastically against this country, would be fighting just as fanatically for it.)   Meanwhile, Ted and the other 25 members of the Radio Intercept Section 6th AAF Radio Squadron would be charged with intercepting Japanese air force air-ground communications between fighter planes and the towers at six airfields between late 1944 and September 1945.  Sgt. Tsukiyama would go on after the war to be the noted historian for the 100th, which included the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and MIS.  He would additionally become the first Yale Law School graduate of Japanese ancestry.  Ted would serve as a mediator and arbitrator for more than 30 years and be known as the founder of Alternative Dispute Resolution in Hawaii.  With bonsai, he would attend a beginner's course at the public school night class in 1965, and the following year commence experimental importation of temperate zone-grown plants.  After years of declining success, in 1969 he would learn of artificially-induced dormancy by way of "ice-boxing" from Sadakichi Sugahara, the leading old-timer on the island of Kauai.  An optimum period of 10 to 12 weeks of hibernation would be discovered.  He would be co-founder in 1970, secretary-treasurer and then president of the Hawaii Bonsai Association in Honolulu.  The group would receive its non-profit charter in 1972.   About three years later, through his close friendship with Haruo "Papa" Kaneshiro, Ted would become acquainted with Saburō Katō, and become a strong advocate for Katō-sensei's idealistic philosophy.  Ted would be co-founder and secretary of the North American Bonsai Federation, and beginning in 1989 be legal advisor and editor for the World Bonsai Friendship Federation.  He would play a prominent role in forming the National Bonsai Foundation in 1982 and be chief fund-raiser in 1990 for the Kaneshiro Conservatory at the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum at the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C.  Ted would also be a director and editorial committee member of Bonsai Clubs International, contributing several articles to Bonsai magazine.  See also this more recent piece.]

Ted Tsukiyama, Bonsai Magazine, BCI, Nov/Dec 1987, pg. 9
"Ted T. Tsukiyama"
(Bonsai Magazine, BCI, Vol. XXVI, No. 6, November/December 1987, pg. 9)

Ted T. in Okinawa City, 10/99, Photo courtesy of Alan Walker, 05/11/07
Ted T. in Okinawa City, 10/1999.
(Photo courtesy of Alan Walker, 05/11/07)

(conversation with RJB during the International Scholarly Symposium on Bonsai and Viewing Stones, May 18, 2002, Washington, D.C.; "Radio Intelligence in CBI" by Ted Tsukiyama, ; "A Salute to 'The One Puka Puka" by Ted T. Tsukiyama, ; "Building a Career in Alternative Dispute Resolution," ; "Bonsai Hero" by Marybel Balendonck, NBF Bulletin, Vol. XII, No. 2, Winter 2001, pp. 1,7; "Fuku-Bonsai History," ; Tsukiyama, Ted T.  "Fooling Mother Nature or Growing Temperates in Tropical Hawaii," Bonsai Magazine, BCI, Vol. XVIII, No. 9, November 1979, pp. 314-315, 317 ; Tsukiyama, Ted T.  "'Bonsai No Kokoro' (The Spirit of Bonsai)," Bonsai Magazine, BCI, January/February 1985, pp. 11-14; personal e-mail correspondance between RJB and David Fukumoto July 4, 2001)   SEE ALSO: Jul 11, Apr 6, Sep 23, Sep 24
14 1979 -- A minor planet was discovered at the Purple Mountain Observatory at Nanking, China and was provisionally designated as 1979 XO .  [In 1998 this 3,570th known asteroid would be named in honor of the 3rd generation penjing master, Wuyeesun.]   ("Discovery Circumstances: Numbered Minor Planets (1)-(5000)," )   SEE ALSO: Mar 16, Mar 27, May 2, July 7
15 1995 -- The American Bonsai Society home page was established.  The initial webmaster was Brian Corll, president of the Susquehanna Bonsai Club and owner of the MicroFolia Bonsai Nursery in Camp Hill, PA.  [Within a year-and-a-half the URL would be the current]   ("Introducing The American Bonsai Society Home Page," Bonsai Journal, ABS, Vol. 30, No. 1, Spring 1996, pg. 11;    SEE ALSO: Mar 16, Mar 27, May 2, July 7

2008 -- A water-heater malfunction sparked a 4:15 a.m. fire at the Franklin Park Conservatory's storage facility on the South Side of Columbus, Ohio.  Twenty-three tropical bonsai trees -- more than half the conservatory's 40-tree collection -- were damaged in the three Quonset-hut-style greenhouses there which contained plants and trees.  The fire not only scorched the trees, but also melted the plastic panels of the greenhouse, coating tiny limbs and trunks.  After the fire was extinguished, the bonsai trees faced another challenge as the outside temperature that day was in the low 50s.  If the conservatory members did not move the tropical trees within eight hours, no amount of rehabilitation would offset the damage the cold would bring.  With the clock ticking, officials called Ohio State University, which said the conservatory could use one of its greenhouses to store the plants and trees.  All of the bonsai trees were moved there by 2 p.m. that day.  (A 365-year old buttonwood and several other trees were purchased for the AmeriFlora exhibit in 1992.  Other bonsai trees were part of the personal collection of Max Puderbaugh, who founded the Columbus Bonsai Society.  The trees were donated in 1997 and have received hundreds of hours care by members of the club.  About 80 percent of the damaged bonsai trees were Puderbaugh's.)  [Conservatory horticulturalists would scrub the trees with a mild soap and prune dead material.  Dan Binder, the conservatory's bonsai specialist, would apply a root hormone to help rejuvenate the trees' lifelines.  Without repotting the bonsai trees or stripping their wood, horticulturalists would not be able to determine how much living tissue remained under their scorched exteriors.  Sara Creamer, the conservatory's production facility manager and the first employee to arrive at the scene, would then spend her days with the bonsai trees, trimming singed limbs, watering roots and hoping for recovery.  Any new growth or green bud would be cause for celebration.  Time will tell if the fire was too much for the trees.  Many enthusiasts around the country when they heard about the fire would offer to replace bonsai trees.]  (Balmert, Jessie  "Bonsai Blues," The Columbus Dispatch, January 6, 2009, )
16 1970 -- Cadwallader Coles Burns died in Winston-Salem, NC undergoing preliminary examination for possible open heart surgery.  (During WWII, Cad was awarded four Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart, and the Air Medal, with three clusters.  In 1950 he contracted polio and would spend the last 20 years of his life in a wheelchair.  He liked to call it his wheelbarrow.  It was during the 1960s that Cad discovered bonsai.  He soon became a nationally known expert and pioneer in American bonsai.  He had a way of infusing this venerable Oriental art with his own distinctive brand of American inventiveness.  He added live waterfalls to rock plantings; found a handy way of making saikei containers from picture frames, peg board and acrylic paint; and forced rocks to stand how and where he wanted them by anchoring them in a container with a commercial product called "Bonsal."  He described these techniques in at least three articles in the ABS Bonsai Journal and the end results were exhibited at two annual ABS symposiums.  He was a director of the American Bonsai Society, and a past president of both the Bonsai Society of the Carolinas and the North Carolina Paraplegic Society.  He loved bonsai and its challenge, and he loved to share his enormous reservoir of knowledge and enthusiasm.  He believed that a bonsai collection had great therapeutic value, and bonsai in the area was called "Brunsai -- an irascible spirit in a rolling container."  He was equally generous with his bonsai, often giving fine specimens to a friend or an unknown novice.  He was said to have developed and given away more bonsai in his last several years than most people will ever own.  At the time of his passing he had probably brought home more ribbons from bonsai shows than anyone in the Southeast.  He was vice-chairman of the ABS '71 Norfolk Symposium.)  ("ABS News: Meet The Directors," Bonsai Journal, ABS, Vol. 4, No. 2, Summer 1970, pg. 14; "A Memorial" by Dorothy S. Young, Bonsai Journal, ABS, Vol. 5, No. 1, Spring 1971, pg. 17)  SEE ALSO: Nov 15

2005 -- Australian teacher Max Candy died in Campsie, a suburb in south-western Sydney, at age 73 of prostate cancer.  (Born in 1932, Max had been introduced to bonsai by a neighbour, Nona Woods -- a long time bonsai personality in Sydney who had started the Western Suburbs Bonsai Group -- and Max's interest just stuck.  His parents hated Nona from then on as she had infected him with bonsai.  Max had started work at a newspaper and he could photograph and write articles, although he was not prolific.  He joined the family business, which was the manufacturing of men's and women's belts from leather and vinyl, and he stayed connected till the business ran down many years later due to competition from overseas.  He raced Motor bikes as a young man.  Max and his friends would ride to the competition, put on their helmets and leathers, run the race, and then take off all the protective gear and ride home.  The gear wasn't compulsory back then and he didn't want to look like a sissy.)
        (Max was a very creative and inquisitive man and he loved Figs most of all.  He even converted the factory where his family business ran from for many years and it was known in the 1980s as the "Fig Factory."  He experimented on Figs along many lines: fertilizing, defoliation, repotting, directional cutting of roots to encourage fatter trunks, trunk fattening by other means, shaping aerial roots, bending branches, Lime Sulphur application, complete cutting off of root base and striking the whole trunk again as a big cutting, etc.  He carried on from where Leonard "Lenny" Webber stopped.  Max's favourites were the Port Jackson Fig (Ficus rubiginosa) and Ficus eugenioides.  He also experimented with Elms, Maples, and Pines in various ways and loved busting the myths around what you could and couldn't do with these plants as bonsai.)
        (He was a long time member of the Illawarra Bonsai Club (est. 1970) and was an influential member of the Western Suburbs club.  He did the photography for the 1989 Vita and Dot Koreshoff book Bonsai in the Tropics.  One quirk of his was that after an illness in his 40s or 50s he hardly ever slept and instead would work on things -- bonsai of course, at all hours.)
        (Max had a few tough years in a row near the end of his life.  His Father -- a very fit man who almost looked younger than Max -- had died a few years before, but in one short period Max's mother died, his brother died, one of his daughters died in a house fire and his granddaughter was burnt badly in the same fire.  The fire accident was one week before the famous Sophie Delezio case, and his granddaughter was moved out of intensive care to make way for the more injured Sophie.  His grandaughter eventually became interested in photography and his grandson became interested in Bonsai -- so look out for Jack.  This perked Max up for a while near the end.)

Max Candy at a workshop. Photo courtesy of Grant Bowie
Max Candy at a Workshop.  (Photo courtesy of Grant Bowie)

(Postings in by Grant Bowie, 14 Mar 2010 and 23 Mar 2010; image from Bowie posting 26 Feb 2010; personal e-mail to RJB from Betty Candy 11 Sep 2011)    SEE ALSO: Jan 28, Aug 31
17 1925 -- Jean Carroll was born in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.  [She would grow up in Independence, Missouri and would move to Ft. Walton Beach, FL in 1955.  She would be a founding member of the Ft. Walton Beach Bonsai Society in 1972 and and Bonsai Societies of Florida the following year.  As Jean C. Smith, she would become known worlwide for her love of bonsai.]  (Fabian, Lynn  "Jean Carroll Smith 1925 - 2009", Bonsai Societies of Florida, May 18, 2009,; photo of Jean's headstone by longtime student Russell Coker on Facebook, November 30, 2013)   SEE ALSO:  May 15
18 2008 -- Luis Vallejo was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays by the Emperor of Japan.  The official presentation of the decoration and diploma was made today by the Ambassador of Japan in Spain, Mr. Motohide Yoshikawa.  The award was given to Luis because of his important work and initiatives for the promotion and rise in quality of bonsai in Spain and abroad.  (Bonsai Focus, 2/2009, #120, pg. 90)  SEE ALSO: Nov 15

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