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


Days 11 - 20
Days 21 - 30 +

1 2006 -- Lindsay Farr of Australia launched the WorldOfBonsai project's downloadable videos.  Each biweekly episode is approximately 10 minutes long and includes material filmed in Japan recently and in China a few years previously.  Persons interviewed include Hiroshi Takeyama (Chairman of the Nippon Bonsai Association), Masahiko Kimura, Toshifumi Obitsu, Yangzhou's Master Lin, the late Master Xu Xiaobai, and Masahiro Kurihara.  Japanese production nurseries are seen, as well as the bonsai pot factories and kilns in Yixing, China.  A total of about 20 episodes is planned.   "The new series has me in an inspired communication mode.  This is so much more than a tv program about bonsai could ever be.  Because the users must download the program they acknowledge a real interest in the subject matter.  No dumbing down required.  The content is awesome.  Much of it in Japanese with english subtitles...  I believe it can be as entertaining and informative to the learned scholar as it is to the newby."  The series is being permanently archived.  Another location for downloading is here. (personal e-mails from Lindsay to RJB on May 20, May 22, and Jul 31, 2006)  SEE ALSO: Mar 4, May 20, Jun 17, Aug 9, Oct 1
4 1987 -- Mr. Yamanakajima of Kaitani, Japan died in an accident.  He was one of the last collectors of the naturally dwarfed shimpaku junipers (Juniperus chinensis sargentii) found growing in the mountains in Niigata Prefecture near the western coast of Honshu.  Called Itoigawa Shimpaku in reference to the town there where they were bought and sold after being collected, these specimens have been highly prized by bonsai enthusiasts for a century.  ("The Shimpaku Juniper: Its Secret History, Chapter VIII: Supply Diminished, Dangers Increased"  and "Chapter IV: Famous Collector, Tahei Suzuki" by Kazuki Yamanaka, Kindai Bonsai Magazine, June 2003, translated by Ikuyo Shisaka for World Bonsai Friendship Federation, and )  SEE ALSO: May 4
5 1951 - Nobutaka Sakuma was born in Sasagawa in Chiba prefecture in Japan.  (He grew up surrounded by nature and his interest in plants would be manifested from childhood.  At age thirteen years he would become involved with bonsai.  Then in 1970 he would graduate from high school and he would begin his apprenticeship at the Ichi Raku-en garden of Kazuichi Kokubo in Tokyo.  In 1977 Nobutaka would join the Nippon Bonsai Association and later begin working at Noburu Kaneko's Issei-en (aka Isei-en) in the Someya section of Omiya City (to the east of the main Bonsai Village).  In 1985 he would marry Kaneko's daughter.  With the marriage also would come the adoption of the family name Kaneko.  After the death of Noburu, Nobutaka would take over the operations of Issei-en Isei-en).
At some point he would change his name back to Sakuma.  He would demonstrate in Europe in Germany and Belgium, and then at the U.K.'s Newstead 2 Bonsai Extravaganza in 2006.  Nobutaka would specialise in the care of his customers' bonsai and his main interests are Maples and Junipers.   (, Google translation of; "Mr. Nobutaka Sakuma,"; Issei-en=Isei-en per private email from Wm N Valavanis to RJB, 07-12-16.)
6 1960 -- Frank Ekizo Iura along with several fellow bonsai and suiseki enthusiasts founded the Los Angeles Bonsai Club.  [The Los Angeles Bonsai Club initially would be exclusively for Japanese men and the meetings were only in Japanese.  The club's annual exhibitions would be highly anticipated in the bonsai community.  The final gathering of members would be held in February 1998.]  ("Over 50 years, bonsai clubs in Southern California growing," Cultural News June 2006,, excerpted from the article "Bonsai in Los Angeles: A History of the Early Years, 1933-1975" by Ray Yeager.  Photo of Iura and associates can be found on pg. 1 of California Aiseki Kai May 2007 newsletter,    SEE ALSO: Feb 19, Mar 18, Mar 20
8 2013 -- Alison Copperfield died this evening.  (She and her husband Frank used to run Minka, a bonsai nursery in the southern Sydney suburb of Bexley in New South Wales from the late 1960s into the early 80's.  She wrote about and taught bonsai having travelled widely to Japan and China in the very early years.  She also travelled overseas to attend international bonsai conventions.  Allison was a very feisty lady who had a commanding, authoritative voice and because of her teaching background (science) was great at imparting bonsai information, particularly to beginners.  She had a very school marm voice and attitude which you either loved or it drove you crazy.  She was very strict and had watering and weeding slaves (students) when at Bexley.  Alison and Frank then briefly moved 4 km south to Blakehurst before moving down to Sanctuary Point (about 190 km south of Sydney).  Allison now joined the Urimbirra South Coast (Wollongong) Bonsai Society in Dapto (about 95 km south of Sydney) where she became their Patron.
        (She was also a breeder of koi carp.  What an amazing place she lived in: it was entirely given over to a Japanese garden -- actually many linked small gardens -- and a Japanese influenced house.  Koi were able to swim from the outside pond into the living room.  Australian Koi Association (AKA) members were privileged to visit her home on several occasions to view her koi collection and hear her advice on the subject.  She made herself available to address AKA meetings presenting much informative advice to assist members.  In fact, she was author of the 1985 "Koi for Beginners" (2nd edition 1987) and the 1994 KSA Handbook, "Keeping Koi in Australia," aka the "Koi Bible."  She was also in the business in Sanctuary Point of "serving NSW providing excellent garden or sheds service to those in need."
        (Husband Frank died around 2000.  Alison then had five articles published in 2003 and 2006 in the Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants Newsletter on behalf of the Australian Plants as Bonsai Study Group.  On Christmas Day 2006 she had a stroke, and was afterwards not able to take care of her bonsai or gardens, among other matters.  Her family subsequently organized her bonsai, pots and other things for an Easter weekend sale, April 8-9, 2007 at the Minka Japanese Style Stroll Garden in Sanctuary Point.  She was in a rest home since then in Nowra (160 miles south of Sydney).  She was able, however, to see the opening of the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection of Australia (NBPCA), both in 2008 and finally in its new home in 2013.  She donated a number of trees to the collection, including a cedar (Fringe myrtle, Calytrix tetragona), which has a Flat Top that drives the bonsai purists crazy.  That tree was shown in the October 1995 BFA/BCI convention at Warwick Farm.  Another tree donated was a Japanese black pine and it was worked on during a demonstration at the NBPCA by Yusuke Uchida.  Uchida is a young bonsai expert from Japan who apprenticed under Tohru Suzuki at Daiju-en in Okazaki and then Junichiro Tanaka at Aichi-en in Nagoya.  Uchida had been travelling around Australia on a bonsai-working holiday.)  ("sad passing of Alison Copperfield" thread on beginning June 10, 2013,; "Passing of Allison Copperfield,"; "Another Bonsai Sale," Sydney city bonsai club, April 2007 newsletter, pg. 1; "In Memory of Alison Copperfield," The AKA Reporter, Journal of The Australian Koi Assocation Inc., Aug - Sept 2013, pg. 6; "Workshop with Yusuke Uchida, bonsai expert from Japan,"
9 1927 --  Jerald Page Stowell was born in Kalamazoo, MI.  The middle of three brothers who survived beyond infancy out of ten births, his parents were a papermill worker and a housewife.  [And while his older and younger brothers would be taught boxing and hunting by their father, Jerry would be subject to hospitalizations, including one year in a body cast for a condition which arose during childhood.  Jerry would have special state-provided schooling that would eventually result in his career as an occupational therapist and a commercial illustrator.  While in New York in 1954 after graduation, he would encounter the bonsai trees at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and for six weeks make the trip in the evenings to take the course given there.  He would begin collecting plant material for bonsai in 1955: apples pruned by cows in an old abandoned orchard in Brookfield, CT.  He would plant them in wooden nail kegs, having no knowledge regarding bonsai containers.  In April 1957 he would find Tatsuo Ishimoto's year-old book The Art of Growing Miniature Trees, Plants and Landscapes.  By his own admission, the information therein would be of little value with the arrangements depicted looking like dish gardens.  A month later, Jerry would purchase Norio Kobayashi's 1951 Bonsai -- Miniature Potted Trees.  The small volume illustrated with over 100 b&w photos he would describe as being "a GOLD MINE of information."  In 1959 he would study under Yuji Yoshimura.
        [In 1963 Jerry would be temporary chairman of the original group of 18 persons who'd meet formally to organize the Bonsai Society of Greater New York with Yoshimura's help and become its charter president.  Four years later his efforts helped 17 Americans travel to Japan to study under the master Kyuzo Murata.  On the return flight, Jerry and several others would decide that bonsai in this country needed a focus larger than the varied groups scattered about, and out of the New York club came the American Bonsai Society.  (Not all of the New York people would agree with the decision, including Yoshimura.)  Jerry would be the first president (1967-69) of the ABS.  Five more trips to Japan -- where the blue-eyed and bald Stowell would make quite an impression -- three books (Bonsai: Indoors and Out (1966), Indoor Bonsai (1967 handbook with W.P. Cooper), and The Beginner's Guide to American Bonsai (1978), almost two dozen articles for ABS Bonsai Journal (1967-2001), seven articles (one having two parts) for International Bonsai Magazine (1980-95), seven articles and book reviews for BCI Bonsai Magazine (1997-2003), several convention engagements and club demonstrations, and scores of wild-collected trees later, Jerry would be re-creating with plants and rocks in a wooden container for the International Scholarly Symposium in 2002 the pre-bonsai tray landscape as portrayed in the 1309 Japanese Kasuga Gongen Genki scroll.  He also would write the article on Bonsai for the "Japan Art History" section (Vol. 17, pp. 365-368) of The Dictionary of Art edited by Jane Turner (Oxford University Press, 1996).  He would receive the 1997 American Bonsai Society Distinguished Achievement Award.  In October 2000 he would give a lecture/demo on the subject of mycorrhizae at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.]

Jerry Stowell, 04/13/03, Photo courtesy of Alan Walker, 05/11/07
Jerry Stowell, 04/13/2003
(Photo courtesy of Alan Walker, 05/11/07)

Jerry Stowell's Growing Benches, 05/1999
Jerry Stowell's Growing Benches in New Jersey, 05/1999
"There are two sections, to the left of picture, deciduous trees, crabapples, maples, hornbeams, Japanese and Chinese quince, accent plants and a few azaleas.
To the right are the evergreens, pines, spruces, junipers, and larch.  There are about 200 individual trees on benches.
I have another area with about the same amount of plant material in various stages of training.
The area is enclosed with an 8 ft. Fence to keep out the deer population."
(Photo courtesy of Jerry to RJB, 12/27/00)

("ABS News: Meet the Directors," Bonsai Journal, ABS, Vol. 4, No. 3, Fall 1970, pg. 16, which incorrectly gives the year of study with Yoshimura as 1957; letters to RJB from JPS, 10/26/2000 and 12/27/2000; conversations with RJB during and program from the International Scholarly Symposium on Bonsai and Viewing Stones, 05/18/2002, Washington, D.C.; "Jerry Stowell," posting by bonsaistud, 2 May 2010,    SEE ALSO: Jan 12, Apr 20, Apr 25, Jun 15

1973 -- David Benavente was born in Madrid, Spain.  [He would first hear about the art in 1987 as a consequence of the Madrid Bonsai Club's annual exhibition.  With his parents' support he would begin to cultivate trees and then in 1992 he would join the Alcobendas Bonsai Association's Executive Board.  In 1994 and '95 David would work as a bonsai potter, and begin working for Luis Vallejo's Bonsai Studio as keeper of Alcobendas Bonsai Museum (built during that time as part of the so-called Japanese Garden of Arroyo de la Vega park).  In 1996 part of a bonsai collection of 80 trees donated by Felipe González to the Madrid's Royal Botany Garden would become part of David's charges.  (González, b.1942, was the Spanish Prime Minister from 1982 to 1996.  On his retirement, he would give one of his treasured bonsai to each of his ministers as a parting present.  The trees were carefully trimmed during his 13 years at the Moncloa residence and would be amassed as one of the largest collections in Europe.)  The Museum's permanent collection, as of 2003, would include 60 bonsai as property of the Alcobendas' townhall, and also 17 from González' collection.  (González' other bonsai would be housed in a new pavillion completed by June 1997 in the Botanical Gardens.)  Other trees of private collectors would be added to the Alcobendas' permanent collection.  David would go on assist Holland's bonsai master Hotsumi Terakawa at demonstrations in Madrid and enter his own trees in various international events.  He would write articles for several international magazines.]

Luis Vallejo, 010899, Photo courtesy of Alan Walker, 05/11/07
Luis Vallejo, 01/08/99
(Photo courtesy of Alan Walker, 05/11/07)

Hotsumi Terakawa, 091002, Photo courtesy of Alan Walker, 05/11/07
Hotsumi Terakawa, 09/10/02
(Photo courtesy of Alan Walker, 05/11/07)

("David Benavente," et al, accessed 09/23/2004; James, Barry  "Basques and Catalans Drive Tough Bargain With Aznar,"; Internet posting to (hard copy kept by RJB) by Bob Thompson, 1 May 1996 referencing a Reuters news story.)   SEE ALSO: Dec 18

1983 -- A new entrance garden and walkway to the Japanese Bonsai Pavilion at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. was dedicated.  Leading visitors to the entire Bonsai Complex, the garden was a gift of the D.C. Chapter No. 1, Ikebana International.  ( International Bonsai, 1983/No. 2, pg. 27)   SEE ALSO:  Mar 20, May 2, Aug 26, Sep 30, Oct 1, Oct 15

Days 11 - 20
Days 21 - 30 +



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