Austin Bonsai Society

March 2000

President's Column

By Alisan Clarke

Looks like the show is on the road! This is the first month of special programs. Kathy Shaner will be here for our monthly meeting. She will do a demo tree. She is just back from the New Year in Japan and her busy workshop schedule here in the USA. Our second exciting club meeting will be on the fourth Wednesday at 7:30pm. Mike Hansen will be coming in with Nakamura San that day from Japan. Both of these specialist are here as guest of the Jerry Henderson Educational Fund. Don't miss a moment!

Elaine White has been working very hard on the Texas tree collection project (be sure to check for her write up in this issue). Terry Ward will preview the April study group. Plan for a busy spring in our bonsai groups. See you there!

Please contact Chuck Ware if you have a tree that you would like to exhibit at the Corpus Convention, or if you have a item that you would like to donate to the raffle.

Candy Hansen gave us pointers on growing moss. One thing was to be sure to give it the same habitat as it was collected from (if grows in the sun, plant in the sun; or if grows in the shade, plant in the shade) and that most moss like an acid base. Another thing was to make it look natural, DON'T "carpet" the pot. For our program, everyone milled around the trees that were brought in; discussing the various changes. NO cutting or wiring was done, just suggestions.

March Program
Kathy Shaner

We are very fortunate to have one of today's most knowledgeable and personable bonsai artists giving our March program Those that have listened to Kathy give a lecture or watched a demonstration or have taken part in one of her workshops know how stimulating and easy to understand she is. You don't get the feeling that she is teaching so much as she is sharing. Kathy has a wealth of knowledge, practical experience and skill to share.

Kathy, from San Jose, California, began bonsai by taking lessons from several prominent California instructors. The Golden State Bonsai Federation took a notice of her talent and eagerness to learn and named her their first intern to study bonsai in Japan.

Yasuo Mitsuya, one of the top bonsai professionals in Japan, accepted Kathy as an apprentice. She worked and studied hard during the standard five-year apprenticeship. This was a very difficult undertaking. Kathy was taught in the same manner and under the same conditions as a Japanese apprentice would be. She had the additional challenges of learning a new language and culture.

Kathy's determination and perseverance paid off at the end of five years. In 1993 she was awarded her certificate as a bonsai professional by the Nippon Bonsai Kyodo Kumi which governs bonsai in Japan. Not only is Kathy the first non-Japanese to receive the prized certificate, she is the first woman of any nationality to be so honored. She learned her lessons well.

Kathy travels extensively giving lectures, demonstrations and seminars. She is an instructor at El Dorado Bonsai, Inc., a bonsai school of distinction in Placerville, California.

This will be Kathy's fourth visit to our club. She was one of the headliners at the l997 Lone Star Bonsai Federation convention sponsored by the Austin Bonsai Society. Make plans to attend our March meeting. Not only will you learn, you'll have a good time in the process.

Collin Lewis to visit Houston April 7 and 8

You are invited to here Colin Lewis, internationally known British bonsai artist, in Houston, April 7 and 8. On Friday, Aril 7, at 7:00 pm, Lewis will give a lecture accompanied by a slide presentation showing evolution of his trees over a 20-year span of development. The Friday lecture will cost $10. Saturday from 9am until 2:30 pm, Lewis will give a workshop. Although the workshop is sold out, observers are welcome at a cost of $5.

Both events will be held in the Houston Garden Center in Herman Park, 1500 Herman Park Drive, next to the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Herman Park is located between Fannin Street and Highway 288. For a Lycos map, check the Houston Bonsai Society's website,

Lewis' visit is part of a limited US tour (Houston, New Orleans, Nashville and Cincinnati) the local bonsai groups. Lewis is a former board member of the European Bonsai Association. He is a current consultant to Bonsai magazine in the UK, a judge at the Chelsea Flower Show and the author of four books and countless magazine articles

Houston Bonsai Society Spring Show
March 18 & 19, 2000
Houston Garden Center
Herman Park
Saturday 9 am - 5 pm
Sunday ll am - 5 pm

A Permanent Exhibit

by Elaine White

Several months ago I asked the members to be thinking about establishing a permanent bonsai exhibit in this area. To answer the question of WHY?

  • To expand the public awareness of bonsai art.

  • To educate more people than we can ever hope to at our yearly 2-day exhibit.

  • To attract more members to our Society because if we don't grow, we die. (Such as the South Texas Bonsai Society last year; and last month the 200 member Zeriscape club)

  • To have a repository for outstanding bonsai of deceased members throughout the state.

In January, I mailed a survey of 18 questions to the 17 known permanent exhibits in the U.S. and as of February 16, I have received 10 responses.

The survey results are on a chart which will be brought again to the meeting to help you make an informed decision when we vote.

  • One exhibit is in a botanical garden sponsored by a university.

  • Three are in a botanical garden or conservatory assisted by local club volunteers.

  • One is a corporation assisted by a local club responsible for educational activities.

  • Two are privately owned (1 family, 1 corporation)

  • Two are helped by State Federation funding

  • Two incorporate Japanese gardens in their exhibit

  • The biggest expenses have bee acquiring land and providing security.

  • The least expensive are those exhibits maintained by botanical gardens & conservatories. That seems to run between $500. - $5,000. per year with all volunteer staff.

I realize that this is a BIG undertaking, both in time and money. It may take 5 years before opening as we need to plan all aspects thoroughly and wisely.

As for funding - a Foundation may be the way to go - separate from our Society funds. We would need to acquire corporate funds and hopefully get the Asian community involved. I would like to see the Lone Star Federation become involved with all the clubs contributing, not only funds, but ideas and support.

David Fukumoto of Fuku-Bonsai Inc., Hawaii, (wrote 2 pages) replied "I've assisted other public collections and the best route may be becoming an adjunct to an existing non-profit botanical garden that will provide the land and some security. The bonsai group raises the funds for the perimeter fencing, improvements, landscaping, etc., within the enclosure. If the facility is also the meeting place for the sponsoring group, it would be ideal."

With this in mind, I contacted Don Freeman, chairperson of the Zilker Garden Council Horticulture Committee. He was very "positive" without knowing what our exact requirements would be. We submit these to his committee for consideration. They are already thinking about an exhibit green house. There would be NO expense to us for the land or water. There have been no intruders to the gardens since the iron fence was erected

Advanced Planning Needed

Workshop April 13, 2000

We have a very busy March but give some thought to April - we have another guest speaker coming! Besides a lecture/demo on our normal meeting night of April 12, 2000, Mas Imazumi will be conducting a workshop the following night. It will cost $20.00 and you bring your own tree. We have sent invitations to 5 clubs that might be interested in this gentleman.

There will only be 8 participants!
Save Money!!!
Deadline for Early Registration for the Corpus Convention is April 1, 2000

Lecture/Demo on March 22, 2000 in place of the Study Group

Susumu Nakamura
by Mike Hansen
For over 25 years, Mr. Susumu Nakamura has been a legend among bonsai hobbyists in the United States, Canada, Australia, Europe, India as well as Japan. Several years ago while attending a bonsai show in Chicago, we had the honor to meet this delightful man. His rare and reverent perspective of life, nature and bonsai left an impression that we shall not forget. A friendship was born that weekend which continues to grow to this day.

Mr. Nakamura was introduced to Texas at the Texas State Bonsai Convention, in 1991, which was hosted by the Austin Bonsai Society. During that event, Mr. Nakamura quite simply fell in love with Texas and Texans and vice versa; and he has returned to teach in Texas every year since then.

For those of you who have not met Mr. Nakamura, he is the Director of Education for the Nippon Bonsai Association, and he is the long time chairman of the NBA's Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition which is held at the Tokyo Museum of Art in February each year. In addition to his involvement with the Nippon Bonsai Association, Mr. Nakamura is past Director of Bonsai Clubs International and this July he will be the featured artist at the BCI 2000 Convention in Hawaii.

He is founder and proprietor of the Shonan Garden Center which is a bonsai nursery and studio that he operates along with his youngest son Makoto at their home in Yokohama, Japan. Mr. Nakamura is in great demand as a teacher in Japan and around the world. We have found him to be an extraordinary teacher. This will be a rare opportunity to study with an world class bonsai instructor, so don't miss it.

Bonsai by Harry Tyrrell, Jr.

Editors Note: Harry was a very dear man and one of this club's staunchest supporters. He is now deceased.

There is something about bonsai that gets into your blood. Emotional attachments appear that are hard to explain. They can get out of proportion, when one considers that the object is just another living organism. But nature does not evaluate beauty among its priorities. Even to the seasoned growers, the loss of a favorite bonsai may sometimes be traumatic. There apparently exists a motivation about bonsai more complex than the mere satisfaction of nurturing a growing object. There is a reward that lies in perfection that never quite arrives. The journey thus becomes the destination. Somehow or other, the perfection syndrome takes over. We scrupulously try to avoid overstepping the ground rules for bonsai styling, but common sense suggests that, sometimes, rules are to be compromised. When we slavishly follow the rules, we often are doomed to disappointment. Ground rules should represent guidelines rather than rigid restrictions. When rules are bent, we may not possess an ultimate bonsai, but a potted tree can be almost as rewarding. Don't loose sight that a bonsai is a potted tree by design. It is an object studied, planned and shaped so that the end result is not only a miniature tree growing in a suitable container, but it is also a tree growing in a container plus a measure of grace, beauty, proportion and harmony. Ground rules are just that: guidelines. The more carefully we recognize and execute the guidelines, the closer we come to perfection. Collected specimens, naturally miniaturized by nature, may violate the rules because their beauty lies in their struggle to survive, despite the deprivation they endured, and being disadvantage by the elements. Ground rule guidelines are really a lot easier to follow with nursery stock. Bonsai is a fascinating hobby that I will always cherish. Reprinted from BONSAI NOTEBOOK, November 1990