BONSAI  BOOK  OF  DAYS

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



JULY



Days 1 - 10
Days 21 - 31 +

11 1981 -- "An American Fantasy" was the title of the 5-1/2 foot long Bonkei (tray landscape) created by Yuji Yoshimura at the International Bonsai Convention in Atlanta today.  He was assisted in the demonstration by long-time students Marion Gyllenswan and Phyllis P. Wishnick.  The entire 1-1/2 hour program was coordinated by Edwin C. Symmes, Jr.  Created by Mr. Yoshimura as a tribute to the country that has supported his efforts in teaching and creating bonsai for over two decades, "An American Fantasy" was comprised of three parts: 1) "The Rugged Mountains," 2) "The Verdant HilIs," and 3) The Welcoming Shore."  The landscape depicted a cross section of the American landscape.  Starting on the left with the high mountain waterfall as a source -- and planted with dwarf juniper, Sawara cypress, Kingsville dwarf box and azalea -- the water then runs through a rocky mountain gorge.  As it enters the second tray, it flows around a hill -- planted with dwarf juniper, serissa, andromeda, cryptomeria, and Trident maple -- and into a pond before continuing out through the flatter landscape.  The water continues past a hardwood area with Trident maple in the third tray, into a swampy area with bald cypress and then into the sea.  Every aspect of the program was carefully chosen to heighten the dramatic effect.  The lighting, music, and drama was effective creating a very dramatic demonstration of the art involved in this creation.  Typical of Yoshimura, months were spent preparing the plant material and the entire tray landscape was actually assembled the week before for Symmes to photograph.  After the slides were developed the composition was taken apart and replanted in to training containers only to be recreated at the convention.  Then immediately following the convention presentation, which was done in the dark with lights only on the plants and no photography permitted to spoil the mood, a complete set of slides was available to memorialize the event.


"An American Fantasy"
(International Bonsai, 1998/No. 1, pg. 39)

(Symmes, Jr. , Edwin C. "Bonkei - Saikei And Penjing," Florida Bonsai, Vol. XXXV, No. 3, Issue 143, Aug. 2005, pp. 22/15; Valavanis, William N. "Yuji Yoshimura, A Memorial Tribute To A Bonsai Master & Pioneer," International Bonsai, IBA, 1998/No. 1, pp. 38-39.)

2001 -- Ted T. Tsukiyama was formally presented with the Japanese Imperial Award of the Order of the Rising Sun with Silver Rays at a ceremony at the Japanese Consulate in Honolulu, Hawaii.  The BCI Bonsai Magazine Contributing Editor and author, and a Past President of the Hawaii Bonsai Association, was acknowledged for his contribution to international friendships through bonsai and his life-long service to his community.  This "decoration [was] for his efforts to build goodwill between Japan and the United States, to establish the World Bonsai Friendship Federation, and to improve the Japanese-American community.  He was filled with emotion as he received the award from his former enemy and it strengthened his conviction that bonsai truly can be a vehicle for friendships and peace."



(Bonsai News Department, Bonsai Magazine, BCI, Vol. 40, No. 5, September/October 2001, pg. 39; David Fukumoto in personal e-mail to RJB, 8 Jan 2011; photo from "Entering A New Bonsai Era!")  SEE ALSO: Apr 6, Dec 13
12 1952 -- Michael Persiano was born in Plainfield, New Jersey.  [He would receive a Bachelor of Arts and Masters degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and would be a Greek Studies doctoral candidate on a full academic scholarship at Drew University.  However, he would switch to Forest Genetics and Ecology at Auburn University, but then after a year, would realize that he was more interested in dwarfed trees than forests.  He would teach communications at Rutgers University.  He would become involved with bonsai in 1989 and collaborate with Master Chase Rosade on numerous advanced projects, most of which would be documented in articles for Bonsai Today magazine.  The work of Masahiko Kimura would greatly influence his aesthetic development and lead to his interest in combining contemporary and classical bonsai concepts.  He would work in most traditional styles and specialize in material which calls for carving.  Persiano would give workshops in the northeast and midwest sections of the country, and he would take part in a lecture/demonstration tour for the French Bonsai Federation and also Australia.  As an author, he would have articles and photographs of his bonsai in magazines such as Bonsai Europe (Focus), Bonsai France, International Bonsai, Bonsai Germany, Bonsai Denmark, and Bonsai Sweden, as well as on several web sites.  The May/June 1996 issue of Country Living Gardener magazine featured Persiano's work in an extensive article with 14 color photos that reached 1,000,000 readers and promoted awareness of this magnificent art.  He is credited with devising the "chopstick method" of monitoring the watering requirements of bonsai.  (The basic idea is to insert a wooden chopstick into the soil of each tree, and every day remove the chopstick and feel it.  If the chopstick is WET -- don't water.  If the chopstick is DRY -- water immediately and thoroughly -- you have passed the time when the tree needed to be watered.  If the chopstick is JUST BARELY MOIST -- water fully -- this is supposed to be the ideal time to water.)  Persiano also has been a strong advocate of "Superfeeding" -- a program designed to accelerate growth in immature bonsai specimens to achieve design objectives over a reduced period of time.  Persiano's web site would be http://mpersiano.wix.com/michael-persiano-bonsai-studio, and his e-mail address iasnob@aol.com.]


"Michael tends 'Flying Crane,' a 60-year-old Chinese juniper (Juniperus sargentii) named by him for its winged form.
(Photo by Paul Kopelow, Country Living Gardener, May/June 1996, pg. 41, Fig. 2)

(Personal e-mails to RJB from MP, 9 November 2008; "Yama Ki Newsletter," November 2001, pg. 1, http://www.yamakibonsai.org/Newsletter_pdfs.htm/Novermber.PDF; Springfield Bonsai Society Palmatum Press, April 2008, pg. 1, http://www.geocities.com/springfieldillinoisbonsai/SBS_Apr08.pdf; "Innovative Consulting Hires Vice President of Marketing; Michael Persiano Joins Business Intelligence Thought Leader," TMCnet, February 09, 2005, http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2005/feb/1115841.htm; Buehler, George "Watering Bonsai," Greater Louisville Bonsai Society, July 1, 2004, http://www.louisvillebonsai.org/post/2004/07/Watering-Bonsai.aspx.)    SEE ALSO:  Jan 30, Mar 31
13 1901 -- Kanichiro Yashiroda was born.  [He would be a student gardener at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in London from May 1925 to May 1926, and then a Brooklyn Botanic Garden correspondent since WWII.  His home and Acclimation Garden (Junkaen) would be located on Shoda Island, Kagawa Prefecture, just north of Shikoku Island and in Japan's Inland Sea.  There he would have "the largest number of genera and species of mature palm trees grown out of doors in Japan."  During WWII, he would be "obliged and forced to destroy most of them... to cut down and clear away many rare trees and some of the commoner kind."  (It is not clear how the destruction of his collection could have aided the Japanese war effort.)  Yashiroda would submit an article to Gardener’s Chronicle in 1930 regarding the Japanese technique of growing chrysanthemums in the ‘cascade’ style.  He would also contribute an article on "Notes on Varieties of Camellia Sasanqua" to the 1950 issue of The American Camellia Yearbook.  In 1952 Dr. George Avery, Jr. of the BBG would invite Yashiroda to be guest editor of a special bonsai edition of the BBG's educational quarterly.  Bonsai -- Dwarf Potted Trees would be published as the Autumn 1953 issue of Plants & Gardens and become an overnight success.  Then in the spring of 1955 the BBG would invite him to come, on a short-term fellowship named in honor of C. Stuart Gager, to teach a bonsai class at the Garden.  (This teacher would also be given the Gager fellowship in 1963.)  A May 23 Life magazine pictorial would have nine photos on Yashiroda and his classes at the BBG.  The following year he would have ninety-nine students.  Handbook on Bonsai: Special Techniques would be a companion BBG volume also edited by Yashiroda and released in 1956.  More than 150 students in all would register for his classes and take home the promising young trees they learned to train and grow.  And he would also receive the BBG's Forsythia Award this year in recognition of his world-wide plant interests and his interpretation of the horticulture of his native Japan to the Western World.  His Bonsai, Japanese Miniature Trees -- Their Style, Culture and Training would be published in 1960.  He would die in the early 1980s.]


"[Kan Yashiroda] holding two miniature bonsai
(BBG's Handbook on Dwarf Potted Trees, pg. 27)

(Per personal e-mail from Richard Kernick of Kew Gardens to RJB on 10 Nov 2006, and, by permission, excerpts from Kernick's unpublished article "KANICHIRO (KAN) YASHIRODA: KEW STUDENT, BONSAI SPECIALIST, PALM COLLECTOR," e-mailed to RJB 17 Jan 2007; biographical info on inside front cover of BBG's Handbook on Dwarfed Potted Trees; "Contents of 1950 The American Camellia Handbook," http://camellia-ics.org/_ics/journal/usa/us50.htm.)   SEE ALSO: Aug 3

1904 -- George Muneichi Yamasaki was born in Osaka, Japan, to Zenkichi and Kikuyo Yamasaki.  [George would come to the U.S. at age 13 to join his father in Auburn, CA.  He would assist his father in growing fruit trees for sale to orchards throughout California, together they started a fruit tree nursery, and eventually become involved in both bonsai and suiseki.]   ("OBITUARY: George Muneichi Yamasaki," Feb. 18, 2010 By Nichi Bei Web, http://www.nichibei.org/2010/02/obituary-yamasaki-george-muneichi/)    SEE ALSO: Feb 13

1972 -- The first joint assembly of combined memberships of the Bonsai Clubs International and American Bonsai Society was opened in Kansas City, MO.  Running through July 16, the event's official theme was "Learning Together."   The guest artists were Yuji Yoshimura and Toshio Kawamoto.  Some 400 persons were in attendance.  ("Kawamoto Accepts Invitation to Bonsai Congress '72," Bonsai Journal, ABS, Vol. 5, No. 4, Winter 1972, pg. 63;  "Letter From Our President," Bonsai Magazine, BCI, Vol. XI, No. 7, September 1972, pg. 5)   SEE ALSO: Feb 24
14 1973 -- A group of men and women banded together to formally organize the Philippine Bonsai Society, Inc. (PBSI).  (Commemorative stamps issued for 35th Anniversary of the Society)
15 1997 -- Alan Stuart Roger died, three months after his exotic brother Neil, known as Bunny and famous in London society as a dress designer and for his theme parties, died.  (Born in 1909, the eldest of the three sons of Sir Alexander Roger (1878-1961), a remarkable Aberdonian entrepreneur with worldwide banking and telecommunication interests, Alan was educated at Loretto School, and read history at Trinity College, Oxford.  For a time then he worked as a broker.  However, with the outbreak of war he was rapidly seconded to the Red Cross in France (his father had been appointed chairman of the Transport of Wounded Department, War Organisation of the British Red Cross Society).  There followed service with the Ministry of Supply in India then the Indian Army, where Alan achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel and was subsequently awarded the MBE.  By then his attachment to the Army way of life had become such that he stayed on after the end of hostilities, remaining with military intelligence until 1952, working largely in the Middle East and Far East.  Returning to London, he brought with him a Chinese couple, Mr. and Mrs. To, and took on responsibility for the education of their three children.  Sir Alexander Roger's extraordinary business acumen had enabled all of his family to live in considerable style, both before and after his death.  In the mid-fifties a sudden realisation that a block of forgotten telephone shares were worth a great deal of money enabled Alan, Bunny, and their brother Sandy, to buy the 33,000 acre Dundonnell estate on Little Loch Broom in Wester Ross in the Scottish Highlands.  Here Alan Roger created a magnificent garden.  Early on his interests in growing things had extended to bonsai, and he was an annual exhibitor at the Chelsea Flower Show for 35 years.  He also served as a judge for the Royal Horticultural Society.  At Dundonnell, everything was on a larger scale, and the west coast climate proved ideal for the creation of a great walled garden.  Becoming a vice-president of the National Trust for Scotland, Alan was an invaluable adviser when it came to the replanting of the trust's superb Rose Garden at Inverewe.  But unexpectedly, it was his interest in Oriental and contemporary Western art which led to him becoming a director of the National Galleries of Scotland, where he became chairman of its advisory committee on modern art during the 1970s.  Alan never dominated any committee, but had an invaluable international outlook, crucial in enabling the Gallery of Modern Art to develop its now quite remarkable collection.  At the same time, the Roger wealth enabled him to become a notable collector himself.  Every new year Alan and Bunny, neither of whom married, would hold a memorable party at Dundonnell where everybody had to join in the Scottish country dancing.  In the grounds of the Trinity Hospice, Alan helped develop a water garden with kinetic sculpture.  At the same time he served as a council member of the Contemporary Arts Society.  He wrote the Wisley Garden Handbook Bonsai, published by the Royal Horticultural Society in 1981.  A French edition followed in 1990, Italian in 1991, and Spanish in 1994.)  [Alan's bonsai would become the property of the Scottish Bonsai Association.  Many were stretched beyond Bonsai dimensions and styles but would be gratefully received as working stock for members.  A small selection of his more interesting trees, including examples of Chamaecyparis and a huge Japanese White Pine would go into the National Collection Care for revival, refining/restyling and display.  Others would follow in due course.  Following a sale of the [non-bonsai] Roger Collection at Southeby's, the Dundonnell Estate would be purchased in 1998 by Sir Tim Rice.]   (Martine, Roddy  "Alan Roger," Herald Scotland, 9 Aug 1997, http://www.heraldscotland.com/sport/spl/aberdeen/alan-roger-1.385485; "National Bonsai Collection of Scotland," http://www.scottishbonsai.org/natcol.htm)    SEE ALSO:  May 12, Nov 22
16  1994 -- Kazuo Fujii, curator of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's C.V. Starr Bonsai Museum, died.  (A native of Japan, he had joined the BBG staff in 1979 to succeed retiring bonsaimaster Frank Okamura.  A broom-style common Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens 'Suffruticosa') and wind-swept Key Lime (Citrus aurantifolia) he designed can be seen here.)  ("In Memorium," Plants & Gardens, Vol. 50, No. 3, 1994)   SEE ALSO:  May 5
17 1976 -- A special two day bonsai exhibition honoring twenty-five years of instruction by Yuji Yoshimura began today at the Yoshimura School of Bonsai.  The featured trees for this came from the Muriel R. Leeds Collection.  A Commemorative Album would be published the following year. (Yoshimura, Commemorative Album: The Muriel R. Leeds Collection ; Briarcliff Manor, NY; 1977, pg. 61)  SEE ALSO: Jan 12, Feb 27, Apr 23

1999 -- Mary Parker Case, 82, died at Hilton Head Medical Center and Clinics in South Carolina.  (She was born in Scranton, Pa., and went on to graduate from the School of Fine Arts of Syracuse University.  Her graduate studies in ceramics were done at Ohio State University and she went on to teach ceramics at the University of Georgia in the early 1940s.  She lived in Africa, India -- where she inaugurated the modern making of bonsai -- and the Far East for many years until the mid-1960s when her family resided in Bedford Village, NY, then relocated to Houston, TX in the early 1970s.  She retired to Hilton Head Island in 1979.  During her lifetime Mary continued her extensive interest in the arts, continuing ceramics as well as painting, crafts, photography, sewing, needlework and gardening.  A founding member of both the American Bonsai Society in New York and the Hilton Head Miniaturists, she also taught ceramics at her home studio on Hilton Head.)  (Personal e-mail to RJB from Roger S. Case, 25 July 2005)   SEE ALSO:  Nov "Also This Month" (at bottom of page)
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20 1944 -- Walter Pall was born and grew up in the mountains of Austria.  [After completing his education in the U.S. (University of Denver) and Austria (University of Innsbruck) in economics, he would serve as director of several large companies in the electronics industry.  In 1978 he'd see a bonsai exhibit at a local garden center in Munich, Germany which would be  most intriguing: always keenly interested in arts and horticulture, he could see here how both interests could be combined, and yet this seemed so difficult, almost impossible.  He would then purchase his first bonsai, which would die a few weeks later.  In 1980 he would buy several again and never stop doing bonsai from then on.  He would be one of the first serious bonsai designers in Germany during these years.  Deciding to drop out of the "rat-race," in 1991 he would become an independent consultant near Munich in order to be able to dedicate more time to his trees.  Although he would have other interests and sources of income by then, he'd spend most of his time with and around bonsai.  He would open Bonsai Atelier (studio), which would be really a large collection of European specimen trees along with a small shop offering hand-made pots for sale.  Walter would become one of the most popular bonsai artists to perform on many international stages.  He would visit the vast majority of European countries and also South Africa, Canada and the United States -- in a seven year period Walter would give more than 100 performances in America, mostly on the East Coast.  His lectures would provide a basis of high quality bonsai work, add a substantial amount of explanation for the audience to clearly understand his development process, and also tell amusing anecdotes along the way.  He would often be called a walking encyclopedia on bonsai and he'd share his knowledge freely.  (In fact, for many years Walter would work on a lengthy and comprehensive encyclopedia about bonsai -- as yet unpublished.)  He would receive several dozen national and international awards for his beautiful, dramatic bonsai.  He would win the most prestigious Crespi Cup Award of Italy for his well-known Rocky Mountain Juniper, and would come in among the top six places every time he entered.  Walter would also win second and third places in the Gingko Cup Awards of the Belgium bonsai competition held every two years.  From 1993 to 1997 he'd be a member of the Board of Directors of the Bonsai Club of Germany, in 1996 be named a director of Bonsai Clubs International, and in 1997 be picked as vice president of the European Bonsai Association.  Walter would be one of the first Europeans to work with indigenous species, which he'd collect in his beloved Alpine mountains.  By the turn of the century he would own a collection of more than 500 quality trees in varying stages of development and keep a store reserve of about 1000 handmade pots to compliment the bonsai.  Besides his famous conifers he would also be well known for his beautiful deciduous trees.  The longer he would be involved with tree development, the more he would move away from traditional bonsai styling to his own concepts of design.
        [On August 28, 2001 the first annual "Yearly Late Summer Meeting" would be held at his 11-1/2 year old Bonsai Atelier.  These would become THE meeting point of bonsai enthusiasts from all over Europe where one could watch new techniques, see one of the biggest collections of bonsai in Europe, THE  biggest collection of outstanding bonsai material, and have a lot of fun for two days.  He would also write and often provide photographs for more than 100 articles which would be published in Western bonsai magazines, and be a very active, vocal participant on the Internet in the bonsai scene.  He would be married to Hanna, with one son, and live near Munich, Germany in sight of the Alps where he grew up and still loves to ski -- even participating in World Championships on the Austrian Skiing Team.
        [His philosophy would be stated as such: "I feel that it does not make much sense for you to see some European trying to show you what he thinks is Japanese bonsai.  So I want to present my own bonsai philosophy.  I start from the roots of what bonsai is all about.  What is a bonsai?  A bonsai is a small tree in a pot which touches my heart.  It touches my heart because it conveys to me the spirit of a big tree out in the wilderness.  To create a small tree that touches my heart and maybe someone else’s.  I have to go to the origin of that spirit.  This would be the real trees out in the countryside, mostly in the mountains.  Mind you, the origin is not the Japanese bonsai masterpieces.  Then I go back and try to put this spirit into this piece of material that I am working on.  While it is possible to do bonsai with all sorts of wooden shrubs, it helps a lot if the tree is a tree which comes from  my beloved mountains.  I try to give the feeling of the shapes of the trees that I saw and a feeling of the overall spirit of these trees.  Mind you I said, ‘feeling’ – I do not try to copy the shape exactly, but I try to get the 'feeling' of it.  Then I try to put this tree into a pot that compliments it well.  This may be a traditional imported one, but often it can be a different sort of container.  The result can be called naturalistic bonsai.  Some call it naïve art, some call it bad bonsai because it seems to be a step back from what we have learned so far from traditional instruction.
        ["This notion is understandable because I dare to break some taboos.  I think that bonsai is no longer only a Japanese art form, but has become an international art form.  Bonsai is not about playing only with Asian trees, it is about playing with trees native to your surroundings.  Bonsai is not about trying to make a little tree look as much as possible like a Japanese masterpiece.  I have learned from John Naka that bonsai is trying to make a little tree look like a big tree and not to make it look like a bonsai.
        ["To take a piece of material and form it into a bonsai is a type of abstraction.  The Japanese have developed a very refined way of abstracting.  We have learned a lot from them and still can learn a lot more from them.  But we are not forced to copy forever.  To copy is craft, to be creative and innovative is art.  There are many ways or at least nuances of how to abstract a piece of material into a bonsai.  Just think of the Chinese way which is often misunderstood as being inferior while it is just different.  The outcome of my attempts may not always please the observer, nor does it always please me.  But I attempt to go one step further than most and encourage all bonsai enthusiasts to give this some consideration.  I have discussed these notions with some Japanese masters and I was most encouraged about their positive response."
        In Oct. 2009, Pall started writing a multi-language blog.  See also these two videos of his, 2007 demo in Croatia and 2010 demonstration at Noelanders Trophy XI  His continual study and experimentation would lead to his revolutionary and seemingly radical technique and schedule of substrate-watering-and-fertilizing.  And then there is this recent post to the Internet Bonsai Club which gives some more background and philosophy of his.]


Walter Pall.
("About the Author," Bonsai Magazine, BCI, Vol. 35, No. 4, July/August 1996, pg. 8)



Walter Pall, 06/12/2006.
(Photo courtesy of Alan Walker, 05/11/07)

(Personal e-mails with RJB Oct. 23 thru 27, 2002, which included bio by Jim Doyle, proprietor of Nature's Way Nursery in Harrisburg, PA, and WP personal philosophy as submitted to GSBF;  "About the author" in "The carpinus betulus as bonsai" by Walter Pall, Bonsai Today #70 (2000-6), pg. 14; "About the Author" in "Collecting and Styling European Larch" by Walter Pall, Bonsai Magazine, BCI, Vol. 35, No. 4, July/August 1996, pg. 8.)

1990 -- " Bonsai," a set of four postage stamps, was issued by the Republic of China (Taiwan).   SEE ALSO: Jan 23, Jan 29, Feb 3, Feb 16, Mar 1, Mar 27, Mar 31, Apr 3, Apr 6, Apr 18, May 6, May 29, Jun 16, Aug 20, Aug 22, Sep 22, Oct 1, Oct 4, Dec 9.

2008 -- Author and teacher Lynn Perry Alstadt died peacefully in her Haydenville, MA home at age 73 after a brief struggle with cancer.  [Her daughter, Karen, would later relate that "The night [Lynn] died there was a terrible storm in Massachusetts.  We were in the house and she had already slipped out of consciousness.  A huge downdraft came, reportedly from 50,000 feet up.  Hail, lightening, rain, etc.  It was all over in ten minutes.  Roofs were ripped off, 300-year-old trees were uprooted, there was destruction everywhere.  I thought her bonsai collection, which was on the north side of the house, was probably gone.  I went out to survey the destruction to find every tree in fine shape, not a branch out of place.  It was like divine intervention.  She died a few hours later."  Friends and family would cherish Lynn's generosity, humor -- witty, and at times, ribald -- and her incredible steadiness.]
      [Her collection of approximately 15 specimens would three months later go to William N. Valavanis at the International Bonsai Arboretum in Rochester, NY.  Three of the trees, in particular, are significant: A zelkova which Lynn had gotten from her teacher (and Bill's teacher) Kyuzo Murata in the early 1960's, would now be over 100 years old and be completely remodeled.  Because it had poor roots due to incorrect transplanting, the tree would need to be airlayered at the base of the trunk in a one-year-long process.  Another of Lynn's bonsai was a Japanese hornbeam forest which she started when Karen was born in late December 1970.  And another was an old Grewia which was featured in the original 1956 BBG handbook Bonsai: Special Techniques, but which looks totally different now.] (Personal e-mail to RJB from Karen Alstadt 2 Feb 2011; personal e-mails to RJB from William N. Valavanis 3 Feb 2011; "Alstadt, Lynn Perry," 22 Jul 2008, http://www.eriememorials.com/obituary/2008/07/07.22.08.html)   SEE ALSO: Apr 20, Sep 3



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