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


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Days 11 - 20

22 1975 -- The Massachusetts Horticultural Society in Boston presented John Naka with their Thomas Roland Medal for his unstinting and generous efforts for over 25 years to spread the knowledge of bonsai throughout the United States and for bringing this field of horticulture to a superior degree of art and refinement.  (Elias, Thomas S.  "John Yoshio Naka: The Life and Times of the Bonsai Master," Bonsai Magazine, BCI, Vol. 44, No. 1, January/February/March 2005, pg. 13)   SEE ALSO:  Oct 5

2010 -- The inaugural two-day exhibit of Sabi Bonsai Kai was held at the Asheville, North Carolina Civic Center.  The show featured 94 individual displays.  The group was formed by Warren Hill and modelled in a similar fashion to the John Naka group Nanpu Kai.  During John's lengthy tenure as President of the California Bonsai Society he founded Nanpu Kai as a tribute to his best students.  One of John's dreams was to have each of the Nanpu Kai members form their own group.  Sabi Bonsai Kai is intended as one of those groups.  It is fitting that the judge for the first Sabi Bonsai Kai Exhibit was the current president of Nanpu Kai, Mel Ikeda.  (Sabi Bonsai Kai is a dream that took more than two years to relaize.  Organizers Warren Hill, Mike Dietz and Mike Blanton then spent a considerable amount of time finding the perfect location for the first exhibit.  The show highlighted masterpiece quality bonsai and was designed to promote the art of bonsai in the mid-south area of the U.S.)  (Berenberg, Matt  "Sabi Bonsai Kai Exhibition: in the spirit of Saburo Kato," Bonsai Focus, 130/107, 6/2010, Nov/Dec, pg. 85)   SEE ALSO:  Nov 27
23 1987 -- The first three-day Spring Rendezvous was held at Brussel's Bonsai Nursery in Olive Branch, MS.  Ben Oki was the workshop instructor.  [Brussel Martin's annual Rendezvous would then be held on the Memorial Day week-end and eventually have several national and international-class instructors for multiple workshops at each event.  Workshop material would be chosen from plants in the over 100,000 sq. ft. (after 2005) of computer-monitored greenhouse space on the property watered by their own wells.]
("Brussel's Bonsai Nursery,"; Covington, Jimmie  "Brussel's Nursery is place for bonsai," May 25, 2008,; Steve Alford, Pikes Peak Bonsai Society participant at 2010 Rendezvous in conversation with RJB 12 June 2010.)   SEE ALSO: May 15
24 2007 -- Yuzy Sato died at the age of 85.  (After Yuzy was interned (1942) in the Jerome, Arkansas relocation camp, he studied horticulture and received his B.A. in that field from Colorado A&M.  Yuzy and Toy were married in 1948 and had 4 children.  Yuzy became interested in stones when he joined the Palos Verdes Gem and Mineral Society in 1958 and was its president the next year.  He went on monthly collecting trips although at that time his interest was primarily lapidary.  He was accomplished at gemstone faceting and had a large collection of favorites.  Toy and Yuzy's interest in viewing stones soon followed.  He and Toy were founding members of California Aiseki Kai.  Yuzy opened a wholesale nursery in LA County.  The nursery business may have been his vocation but stones were his avocation.  Stone-collecting gave him a great deal of pleasure after he retired.  He had a complete workshop where he made all the daiza for his and Toy's extensive collection of stones.  The Sato's have a stone in the National Collection in Washington, D.C.)
(Obituary in California Aiseki Kai's newsletter, Vol. 25, Issue 6, June 2007, pg. 7,   SEE ALSO:  May 2, Dec 28
25 1990 -- The two day first International Bonsai Symposium opened in Prague, Czech Republic.  Pius Notter and Harry Tomlinson, among others, demonstrated for two hundred and five delegates from ten European nations. ("The Bonsai Trees of Nowadays" by Blahoslav Lukavec, Bonsai Magazine, BCI, March/April 1991, pp. 3-5.) :  SEE ALSO: Mar 2

2006 -- Japanese master Shinji Ogasawara died.  (Ogasawara was born in Hokkaido in 1918, and his family moved to Tokyo during his childhood.  At age 15 he was sent out to serve as an apprentice for Tomekichi Kato's Mansei-en bonsai nursery in Omiya.  He learned his bonsai fundamentals from Tomekichi and also from the Kato sons, Saburo and Hideo.  After serving five years of military service, in 1945 Ogasawara returned to bonsai as a livelihood by making "house calls" to his bonsai customer's dwellings to wire, prune and shape trees for a fee.  By 1948, he had established his own bonsai nursery called Seifu-En ("Green Wind") at Takeyama near the ocean.  A decade later Ogasawara was elected Director of the Nippon Bonsai Kumiai (Bonsai Nurserymen's Union).  Four years after this he moved his nursery Seifu-En to Omiya since the ocean air and strong winds at the Tateyama location were proving unfavorable to good bonsai growing and maintenance.  From 1979 to 1984, Ogasawara served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the prestigious Nippon Bonsai Kyodo Kumiai (Bonsai Nurserymen's Cooperative).  Elected Standing Director of the Nippon Bonsai Kyokai, he joined the editorial committee of Bonsai Shunju, its monthly magazine in 1982.  Seven years later he became Chief Editor of that periodical.  In April 1982, the California Bonsai Society's Silver Anniversary was celebrated and Ogasawara used one of Harry Hirao's famous California junipers for his demonstration there.  Two years later for a joint BCI-ABS convention in Seattle, WA, Ogasawara was the featured demonstrator, creating a semi-cascade five-needle pine.  In the four years since 1986, Ogasawara was invited four times to demonstrate in Italy at the request of Luigi Crespi.  That year also saw Ogasawara and John Naka making a demonstration tour of Barcelona and Valencia, Spain.  And Ogasawara demonstrated in Pakistan as a guest of the Karachi Bonsai Association in 1987.)

Shinji Ogasawara, BCI Bonsai, November/December 1986, pg. 19
"Mr. Shinji Ogasawara of Japan, doing a little grooming at the
Japanese Embassy [in Washington, D.C.]."
(Bonsai Magazine, BCI, Vol. XXV, No. 6, November/December 1986, pg. 19)

(Personal e-mail to RJB from Bill Valavanis, 20 Jun 2006; Tsukiyama, Ted T. "A Bonsai Portrait of Shinji Ogasawara," Bonsai, BCI, Vol. XXIX, No. 3, May/June 1990, pg. 24.)

2006 -- Master Xu Xiaobai of the Yangzhou school of penjing died at age 97.  (Personal e-mail to RJB from Lindsay Farr, 14 Jun 2006, which gives age as 98; screen shot below from episode 3 of World of Bonsai series sent to RJB by Farr, 4 Dec 2006, portrait taken 3 years earlier)   SEE ALSO:  Mar 15, Apr 20

26 1898 -- Some 500 Japanese dwarf trees were sold during the earliest known auction of bonsai in the West, a two-day event beginning today in New York City.  The subjects that composed the bulk, and which commanded the biggest figures, were Thuya obtusa, Podocarpus macrophylla, Sciadopltys verticillata, Buxus japonica variegata, Larix leptolepls, Rhapis humilis, and trained Maples.  One of these last, an Acer palmatum, realized $117.50, and the tree was not 40 inches in height.  [The auction would realize about $10,000.]

Height of plant, 42 Inches; age, 215 years. Sold for $330."

(; per, the relative worth of $117.50 from 1898 would be $3,140.00 in 2009 using the Consumer Price Index, while the relative worth of $10,000 would be $267,000, and $330 would be $8,810.)   SEE ALSO: May 4, Nov 6, Nov 15

1971 -- The premier of "Bonsai -- the Art of Training Dwarfed Potted Trees" was held at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  The new color-sound film was produced, directed, and photographed by Ian Clark for the BBG and was the Garden's third educational film.  Frank Okamura is the uncredited demonstrator on the 16 mm format, 21 minute long film. (Bonsai Journal, ABS, Summer 1971, pp. 33-34)   SEE ALSO: May 5

1991 -- The Crespi Bonsai Museum opened in northern Italy, in Parabiago not far from Milan.  This first permanent museum of bonsai trees from all over the world is a result of Luigi Crespi's enthusiasm and thirty-year work in the world of bonsai and Japanese garden.  It originated from the willingness to offer to bonsai enthusiasts the opportunity to admire a precious collection that includes centuries-old plants, antique pots and books and manuscripts from the Far East.  The masterpiece of the collection is the millenary Ficus retusa Linn, placed at the centre of a glass pagoda, which is dedicated to Chinese penjing and contains also many old trees of tropical and sub-tropical species, like a beautiful Murraya paniculata (300 years old).  In the outdoor gallery, on tables of solid black slate, many other authentic works of art are displayed; some of them are well over hundred years of age, trained by famous Japanese masters as Kato, Kawamoto, Kawahara and Ogasawara.  Among them a rare Acer palmatum kashima and a very old Juniperus chinensis, characterized by amazing natural shari on the trunk.  The master Nobuyuki Kajiwara has been taking care of the development of the Crespi Bonsai Museum masterpieces since the museum's establishment, and he is also teacher of bonsai art at the Crespi Bonsai University (est. 1991).  Students follow his lectures and workshops sitting in the great hall, equipped with audio-visual device, facing the stone garden and the museum gallery.  [In 2009, the museum's collection would be enriched by some special masterpieces coming from the famous collection of the WBFF honorary chairman, Mr. Daizo Iwasaki (who passed away in May 2011).  Among these additions would be a semi-cascading Miyajima White Pine placed in a beautiful reproduction of a very famous antique pot from the classic China.  The collection of bonsai pots here would include antique Chinese containers from the Ming and Ching dynasties.]
Luigi Crespi, 060901, Photo courtesy of Alan Walker, 05/11/07
Luigi Crespi, 06/09/01.
(Photo courtesy of Alan Walker, 05/11/07)

("Crespi Bonsai Museum,"   SEE ALSO:  Mar 19, May 15, May 25, Oct 8.
28 2005 -- From today through Sept. 6, the Smithsonian's Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery presented a special exhibit of eight antique Chinese Pots for Tabletop Gardens.  Honoring the World Bonsai Friendship Federation convention in Washington, D.C., this featured pots from the I. C. Su Collection.  Two of the containers were from the Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), three from the Qing (1644 - 1911; two partly of gilt metal), one from the Jin (13th century+), and two were undated.  See photos here ("Chinese Pots for Tabletop Gardens,"; See Also "Fine Chinese Ceramics Imperial Ware," Bonsai Journal, ABS, Vol. 38, No. 4, Winter 2004, pp. 22-22, with 5 color photos)

2016 -- Long-time Internet Bonsai Club moderator Jim Lewis died at age 78 at his home, surrounded by his wife Jackie and other family members.  He had had an extended battle with a lung condition that most of his associates were never aware of.  (His last visit to the IBC forum had been on May 4 when he posted what would be the final of his 8060 thoughts to that group.  That number was more than the next two most represented commenters combined, and this count was just since the latest reboot of the forum's server took place in January 2009.  In his usual gruff but patient and tolerant manner, he was always straight to the point and a fount of helpful advise.) (Personal e-mail to RJB from Chris Cochrane, 05/29/16; postings by John Quinn and others on IBC thread "RIP Jim Lewis," 05/30/16; Memberlist query 05/30/16.)   SEE ALSO: Sep 3
29 1971 -- The World's First International Bonsai Convention and Show was opened by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Frank Okamura in Cleveland Ohio, sponsored by Bonsai Clubs International and co-hosted by the Cleveland and Toronto Bonsai Societies.  ("The Cleveland Bonsai International," Bonsai, BCI, July/August 1971, pg. 6)   SEE ALSO: May 5, Jan 30, Feb 28

1991 -- Uganda issued a set of ten postage stamps to commemorate Phila Nippon '91.  Walt Disney characters are in various traditional Japanese settings.  One of the stamps, which shows Mickey Mouse removing his shoes before entering Minnie's house, has a sinuous trunked bonsai as a decoration on the engawa to the left of Minnie. A second stamp, showing Clarabelle Cow enjoying incense burning, has a larger informal upright bonsai behind her table.  A third stamp of interest to us shows Mickey and Minnie enjoying New Year's card and letter writing.  Right of center along the bottom edge of this stamp are three layers of foliage which must belong to a bonsai just out of the frame.   SEE ALSO: Jan 23, Jan 29, Feb 3, Feb 16, Mar 1, Mar 27, Mar 31, Apr 3, Apr 6, Apr 18, May 6, Jun 16, Jul 20, Aug 20, Aug 22, Sep 22, Oct 1, Oct 4, Dec 9.


Also this month,

1961 -- The Nippon Suiseki Kyokai (Association) was established, and the head priest of Meiji-jingu, Kanroji Ukenaga, was named as its first president.  [Successive presidents have also come from Meiji-jingu, a Shinto shrine.  The first Nippon Suiseki Meihin ten exhibition would be held in July 1961.  The 50th Anniversary would take place in 2010, and be remembered for the stepping down of Arishige Matsuura as the Association's chairman/president after 20 years in that position traveling the world extensively to teach and share his experience.]  ("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: Dec 11

1962 -- This month, the Articles of Incorporation for the four-year-old Bonsai Clubs Association were made and listed the following as the original Directors (all in California): Toshio Saburomaru (E. Palo Alto), Dan Buckley (Sacramento), Mrs. Frances Berryman (Tiburon), John Dutro (Oakland), Thelma Hellman (San Mateo), Carl Kant (Castro Valley), Tom Lamon (San Francisco), Martin Mitau (Menlo Park), Mrs. Helena Renick (San Francisco), Kenneth Stewart (Novato), and Tom Yanari (Palo Alto).  [Of these persons, only Mrs. Berryman would go on to be a president of the organization, in 1966.] ("The President's Message" by Ray Boardman, Bonsai Magazine, BCI, Vol. XVI, No. 1, Jan/Feb 1977, pg. 11)   SEE ALSO:  Jan 30, Feb 28, Apr 16, Oct 22

1978 -- The Yuk Sui Yuen Bonsai Exhibition was held in Canton -- the first public show for ten years.  The "Gang of Four" had stopped the displaying of dwarf trees in the recent past, but the revised exhibit was planned now to be an annual event.  This particular show included about 250 trees from private collections.  (Koreshoff, Deborah R.   Bonsai; Its Art, Science, History and Philosophy (Portland, OR: Timber Press, 1997), pg. 6.)

1998 -- The Hungarian National Bonsai Collection (Nemzeti Bonsai Gyüjtemény) was established with a donation of 20 trees.  [Within five years it would grow to hold 60 trees with a value of approximately 14 million Guilders.  Species represented would include common hornbeam (Carpinus betulus), flowering ash (Fraxinus ornus), hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), European cornel (Cornus mas), field elm (Ulmus minor), black pine (Pinus nigra), yew (Taxus baccata), Japanese beech (Fagus japonica), spruce (Picea jezoensis), Japanese white and Black Pines (Pinus parviflora and P. thunbergii), and azaleas (Rhododendron spp.).]  (; with rough translations made using and; Bonsai Slovakia -- Gyorgy Rácz (Hungary))

2016 -- Legard Duane "Pat" Patterson died from complications of cancer, with his stepson and family by his hospital bedside in Livermore, CA.  He had started with bonsai when he and his wife Thelma moved to Arizona in the 1990s. (A number of Facebook personal messages answering questions to RJB from Carleigh Hale, Pat's granddaughter, Aug. 12, 2017)   SEE ALSO: Jul 23

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