I can’t remember when I first saw a bonsai tree, but I was ready when I happened upon a notice for a bonsai course in 1982. I was teaching an “Introduction to Interior Landscaping” class at the New York Botanical Garden. The teacher was Yuji Yoshimura; author of the first authoritative book on Bonsai in English. After finishing the course I joined the New York and Connecticut area’s Yama Ki Bonsai Society. After a few months of intoxicating meetings and exploring for raw materials at area nurseries, I went on a week’s vacation and returned to find all my early bonsai projects dead from missed watering in the hot summer. Dejected, I gave up bonsai for fifteen years. “This isn’t a hobby for a young person,” I thought.
Thankfully, in 1997 I realized that if I could raise children, I could care for bonsai. Starting with the early Internet bonsai community, I eventually rejoined Yama Ki and began revisiting the Shanti Bithi bonsai nursery in Stamford, Connecticut.
My serious study began when I discovered a scheduled branch of Colin Lewis’ Ho Yoku School of Bonsai. Scheduled for four weekends per year for three years, this was the only serious learning opportunity in the New York area since the passing of Yuji Yoshimura. When I learned that it lost its meeting place, I worked hard with Colin to enroll enough people to form a group. Canvassing my club and other bonsai enthusiasts at local exhibitions I eventually had enough committed students to form a group.
Over the course of the three year Ho Yoku school, I learned the fundamentals of bonsai design, care and display. About this time I also began to study and collect bonsai pottery, display objects and to fall in love with viewing stones and particularly the Japanese suiseki aesthetic.
At the urging of a friend, I entered the American Bonsai Society’s Joshua Roth New Talent Competition. Competing against eight other contestants, my tree was chosen by the bonsai masters headlining the 2004 Bonsai Clubs International Convention. This was an amazing moment for me and propelled me to continue my bonsai education with gusto. I have continued studying with Colin as well as many other gifted bonsai educators.
Grand prize in that competition was a plane ticket to Japan, and in fall of 2004 I joined Bill Valavanis’ International Bonsai Arboretum tour to Japan. Over a little more than a week, I was able to see many of the most famous bonsai nurseries, growing fields, private collections and the Japan Grandview Bonsai Exhibition (Nippon Bonsai Taikan-ten). I was even able to fit in a visit to the Choseki Suiseki exhibition at the beautiful Kennin-ji (Kennin temple) in Kyoto. I’ve since been to shows throughout the US and Europe; wherever the best bonsai are being displayed.
Bonsai Shinsei New York feels like an inevitable result of my passion for bonsai. I hope I can share this wonderful practice with you.
Westchester County, NY, USA
Awards and Exhibitions
2004 Joshua Roth New Talent Award
2005 Honorable Mention (2 trees) Yoshimura Award Greater New York Bonsai Society Convention
2006 MidAtlantic Bonsai Societies’ Best in Show Award
2007 MidAtlantic Bonsai Societies’ Best in Show Award
2008 Two trees accepted in the 1st U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition
2009 MidAtlantic Bonsai Societies’ President’s Award
2009 MidAtlantic Bonsai Societies’ Peoples’ Choice Award
2010 One tree accepted in the 2nd U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition
2011 MidAtlantic Bonsai Societies’ Best in Show Award
2011 MidAtlantic Bonsai Societies’ Peoples’ Choice Award
2012 MidAtlantic Bonsai Societies’ President’s Award
012 Two trees accepted in the 3rd U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition
012 American Bonsai Society John Naka Award Hobbyist Division, Grown in North America
2015 American Bonsai Societies Capital Collections Exhibition - First Place