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


Days 11 - 20
Days 21 - 29 +

3 1998 -- " Bonsai," a set of seven postage stamps, was issued by Vietnam.   SEE ALSO: Jan 23, Jan 29, Feb 16, Mar 1, Mar 27, Mar 31, Apr 3, Apr 6, Apr 18, May 6, May 29, Jun 16, Jul 20, Aug 20, Aug 22, Sep 22, Oct 1, Oct 4, Dec 9.
6 1912 -- Robert "Bob" Truesdell Watson was born.  (He would serve in the U.S. Navy during World War II and be stationed in Japan after the War.  He would become interested in bonsai as early as 1944.  In 1964, Bob would become a full-time gardener at the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA.  He would reportedly begin exploring his local deserts in search of stones suitable for suiseki around this time.  In 1968 his efforts and design would add the original bonsai court and, most famously, the karesansui or dry landscape garden commonly known as the 'Zen Garden' to the Huntington.  Some of his own trees and stones first went into this.  In 1969 or '70 he would take a trip to Japan where he would purchase suiseki for his personal collection.  In 1971 Bob would meet Cliff Johnson at the Santa Anita Bonsai Society and invite him home to see stones.  Soon afterwards they would make their first joint collecting trip to Garnett Hill near Palm Springs, Riverside County, a spot Bob discovered in 1964.  The two also discovered desert stones in Lake Hill in Panamint Valley, Inyo County (1971) and in Salt Spring Hills/Saddle Peak Hills, San Bernardino County (1972).  A 1972 article in the Star News, "Bonsai Had Interesting Beginning," would note that suiseki were on display in the Huntington bonsai court.  The following year would see the first significant suiseki exhibition in the United States, the Los Angeles Meiseki Exhibition, at the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History from mid-May through August.  The following year would see the Pacific Asia Museum exhibition of suiseki shown with 17th and 18th century Japanese prints during the Mishima-Pasadena Sister City Celebration.)

"Bob Watson as he appeared at the National Bonsai Convention '74"
(International Bonsai Digest presents Bonsai Gems, Fall 1974, pg. 47)

(At the joint Joint BCI/ABS National Bonsai Convention in Pasadena in July 1974, Bob would be a featured lecturer on suiseki.  More than 500 enthusiasts from the U.S., Japan, Australia, and Canada attended the Convention.  In the International Bonsai Digest presents Bonsai Gems publication that Fall, Bob's article, "Suiseki," would be a short introduction including photographs of two stones from the Dumont Dunes area.  Bob would express the hope that a public suiseki collection will be created.  He would collect in British Columbia that year also, becoming one of the first to ever collect suiseki on mainland Canada.  In November 1975 the First Suiseki show would be presented in Huntington's the two-year old Ikebana House.  The recorded attendance for the week would be an astonishing 2538 visitors, with 171 recorded as attending his two-day lecture, "Suiseki, the Oriental art of appreciating beautiful and unusual stones created solely by nature."  A second show in the Ikebana House would take place in 1976 and others would occur through at least 1979 (recorded attendance of 600 for this last one).  During the next few years some of Bob's stones would be shown in BCI's Bonsai magazine.  Between 1977 and 1980 the Los Angeles County Arboretum Suiseki Exhibit would be held with Cliff Johnson's assistance and would include Japanese antiques and furniture.  Head Gardener of the Japanese Garden Bob Watson would lecture on March 18, 1980.  In 1983-84 he would attend the first formative meeting of the California Aiseki Kai, but would not continue participation with the club.  His followers would eventually combine forces with others who came to suiseki through the Japanese community to create a vibrant suiseki-viewing stone presence in Southern California.  The year 1984 would see publication of The Japanese Art of Stone Appreciation by Vincent T. Covello and Yuji Yoshimura, the first and still the most important book on suiseki in English.  Photos in it would include several of Bob's stones: the Glacier Stone (No. 145), Tiger-stripe Stone (No. 61), Garnet Hill Mountain (on display continuously at the Huntington since 1968) and large Butte (No. 128).  Two years later Bob would retire from Huntington Library.  Late in his life Bob would hold sales of loose stones in his backyard, most of these un-mounted stones were probably never formally exhibited by him.  The first Annual California Aiseki Kai Suiseki and Viewing Stone Exhibition at the Huntington Library would take place in January 1991, and a special selection of seven desert stones would honor Bob.)
     (In late 2012 a detailed historical retrospective would be mounted by Jim and Alice Greaves, the American Viewing Stone Resource Center (AVSRC)'s inaugural display: "Bob Watson's 'Suiseki': Forty Years of Viewing Stones at the Huntington and Steel & Stone: Forms from the Desert."  Jim had begun purchasing stones directly from Bob in 1986-7 and, upon his death in 1991, embarked on the concept of recreating his collection to preserve his legacy.)
("Bob Watson's 'Suiseki' - Forty Years of Viewing Stones at The Huntington," Capital Bonsai, The personal bonsai blog of Aarin Packard, February 1, 2013; "Ask GuyJim," California Aiseki Kai, March 2013, pp. 4-5, 9; "ROBERTTRU E WATSON," Persons born on 6 February 1912, Social Security Records by Birthdate)    SEE ALSO:    Nov 16
7 1890 -- The Yokohama Gardeners Association was established by a group of four Japanese nurserymen (Uhei Suzuki, Mr. Yamaguchi, Mr. Iijima, and Mr. Suda) for the direct exportation of numerous varieties of Japanese plants, seeds, and bulbs.  Uhei Suzuki had worked for Louis Boehmer for seven years until he left with Boehmer's encouragement to take a leading role in establishing this association.  [The Yokohama Gardeners Association would issue its first catalog in English in 1891.  Through its Oakland, California branch office, it would participate in the Chicago Columbian Exposition in 1893.  This could easily explain the origin of the large bonsai specimen that Charles Sargent would see in Chicago and write about in Gardens and Forest magazine in that same year.  The "grounds cover 200 acres of land; include greenhouses and stores too numerous to mention, and the floral and nursery business is carried on in the most perfect manner.  Palms, pæonies, plums, cherries, evergreens, magnolias, and all classes of shrubs are in cultivation; also 600 to 800 varieties of chrysanthemums, including about seventy altogether new ones...  But the most curious feature of all, was the hundreds of thousands of dwarf trees from five to 500 years old, the most beautiful collection of its kind in the world."]
        [Uhei Suzuki would come to the United States in 1893 and contract with Henry & Lee Company for the promotion of the Yokohama Gardeners Association's products in all areas in the United States east of the Mississippi River.  At some point between 1893 and 1894, the Association, located at Nos. 21-35, Nakamura in Yokohama, would re-organize into the Yokohama Nursery Company, Ltd. (aka Yokohama Seed Company, Ltd.) and continue issuing impressive catalogs in English with beautiful colored, woodblock illustrations.  They would close their California office in 1895 to concentrate on their New York office.  The Yokohama nursery catalogs would be the only ones to offer extensive information in English concerning the cultural requirements for their dwarf trees.  They would contain precise information about watering techniques both during the winter and summer months, identify correct exposure and light conditions, and when and how to apply fertilizer (finely powdered oil cakes or bone meal).  Additional instruction on pruning conifers, flowering and deciduous trees would be included.  This consortium of nursery owners would dominate the lucrative market of flower export at the height of the Western vogue for Japanese gardens.  They would be a major influence in the introduction of exotics into Europe and America.  The Nursery would issue catalogs until at least 1925/26.]
        [In December 1901, U. S. Department of Agriculture scientist and plant explorer David Fairchild would spend a day at the Yokohama Nursery with Suzuki and his son, Hamakichi.  Fairchild would then in 1938 write that the nursery had offices in New York and London and was doing an enormous business in lily bulbs and employed over a hundred workers.  Fairchild would provide evidence that bonsai was indeed a significant part of the Yokohama's nursery export business.  He would see dwarf potted trees neatly arranged on long tables and even larger trees in figured blue and white porcelain pots.  Also seen were tiny maples in small pots of green porcelain no larger than a teacup and flat porcelain trays containing groups representing little garden scenes, or miniature clumps of bamboos.]
        [In 1906, Fairchild would import 100 flowering cherry trees -- nondwarfed -- from the Yokohama Nursery Company.  He would plant the trees on a hillside on his own land in Chevy Chase, Maryland, where he was testing their hardiness.  Pleased with the success of the trees, the following year he would begin to promote them for planting along the avenues of Washington, D.C. (continuing the idea originated by Eliza Scidmore two decades earlier).  A total of 2,000 trees would arrive on Jan. 6, 1910 in Washington, D.C., but these would be infested with insects and diseases and would have to be destroyed.  The following December cuttings would be taken from the famous collection on the bank of the Arakawa River in Adachi Ward, a suburb of Tokyo, and grafted on specially selected understock in Itami City, Hyogo Prefecture.  From these, 3,020 cherry trees would be shipped Feb. 14, 1912 from Yokohama to D.C.'s Tidal Basin via Seattle.]
        [In 1911 Ernest Coe would buy some 30 dwarf potted trees from Yokohama and two years later Larz Anderson some forty trees from them also.  These trees would become the start of two of America's oldest collections, at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Harvard's Arnold Arboretum, respectively.]

"Photograph of main office of the Yokohama Nursery Company from
the 1908 catalogue."
(Del Tredici, Peter  "From Temple To Terrace," Arnoldia, Vol. 64, Numbers 2-3, 2006, pg. 5)

(Elias, Thomas S.  "History of the Introduction and Establishment of Bonsai in the Western World," pp. 15, 23, 24, 25; grounds cover 200 acres quote from Comley, James  "My Visit to Japan"; Henry Sotheran Limited,, pg. 64; Antique Print Room, "Botanical Foreign," which states that the first catalog was 1892;  Per the Gardeners' Chronicle, May 23, 1891, pg. 648: "The Yokohama Gardeners' Association has published a descriptive catalogue of Japanese plants, with some curious and interesting illustrations, comprising new forms of Chrysanthemums, and several illustrations of dwarf trees, for which these ingenious people are renowned.  One of these shows, all growing in one small vase, and as it appears one out of the other, Pinus parviflora, the emblem of long life, Prunus Mume, Queen of Tree Flowers, and a Bamboo, the image of Virtue."; "Truth and Beauty, in Pots: Bonsai at Harvard,"; "The Cherry Trees of Washington, D.C., A Cultural Landscape," )    SEE ALSO:  Jan 1, Apr 13, May 14; and Comley's article.
8 1908 -- Haruo Kaneshiro was born in Kanegusuku village, Okinawa, Japan.  [He would go to Hawaii at the age of 13 with his father as part of a large immigrant work force towork as a field and millhand on sugar plantations along the coast on the Big Island of Hawaii.  In that U.S. Territory he would discover bonsai and later become the premier artist of that state.]  ("Persons born 08 February 1908 in the Social Security Death Master File,"   SEE ALSO: Sep 23

2008 -- Grandmaster Saburō Katō died in Omiya, a few months shy of his 93rd birthday.  (William N. Valavanis' post, "The Passing of Saburo Kato," Internet Bonsai Club, February 8, 2008,   SEE ALSO:    Feb Also, Mar 10, Mar 19, Mar 28, Apr 19, May 15, May 25, Oct 15, Nov 3, Nov 20, Dec 13

Days 11 - 20
Days 21 - 29 +



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