As I made my way to Rochester, New York this last September for the Fifth National Bonsai Exhibit, I was anticipating a fun time and a chance to do a little bonsai shopping. This was the fourth time out of five that the Pacific Northwest, and Portland in particular, has sent trees on the long journey back to the National, and we’ve always been well represented by our trees.
But, what occurred this last show was astounding. Three major awards went to the Portland club alone, and when taken as an influence, our region was unmatched. Nine BSOP members sent trees back east. I’ve included a photo of each tree so that you get a feel for how Portland was represented.
First off, congratulations to Dennis Vojtilla on a well deserved win for the Finest Deciduous tree. His European Birch clearly stood out from the field. Deciduous trees require dedication and perseverance, and Dennis’s years of effort were finally recognized. This was actually the birch’s second trip to Rochester.
Then there is Michael Hagedorn, one of our local pros who took the award for the Finest Evergreen bonsai. The Mountain Hemlock group was collected by Mike as one giant clump and took three strong guys just to move it around.
Finally, John Jaramillo won a special prize, the Natural award. When I asked Bill V. to define what the award meant, he said it was created on the spot at the request of judge Enrique Castano. Way to go John! Rounding out the field for Portland were some awesome trees. Here’s what went to Rochester:
• Greg Brenden Common Juniper
• Scott Elser Engelmann Spruce
• Michael Hagedorn Mountain Hemlock (Best Conifer)
• Howard Greissler Rocky Mountain Juniper
• Randy Knight Rocky Mountain Juniper
• Paul Krasner Japanese White Pine
• John Jaramillo Scots Pine (Natural Award)
• Ryan Neil Shore Pine
That’s just the BSOP itself. Now consider the trees, clients and students of the Northwest teachers like Ryan Neil and Mike Hagedorn. First up, the National Award or, best of show, won by a local Mountain Hemlock owned by Eric Schikowski of Ohio. This tree was collected on
Mount Hood by Randy Knight and developed by Ryan and appeared in the Artisan’s Cup
and nearly won that event. This tree finally got to make to its new home on this trip back.
Jason Eider of Seattle won the All American award with a Colorado Blue Spruce by having a tree, stand, and pot all of North American origin. Jason made the stand himself and is a student of Ryan’s. Todd Schlafer of Colorado is also one of Ryan’s students and won the ABS, or North American award, also with a Colorado Blue Spruce. That demonstrates the tremendous amount of influence from the Portland area.
On a completely different note, it was a lot of fun to walk around the market place and see all the fabulous trees and accessories available. Certainly there was more in one place than I had ever encountered, and all at a high level. My first stop was of course, at Sara Rayner’s display where I picked up a few pots. Check out the before and after photos. The difference in time is a mere two hours. By the end of the show she had completely sold out.
Other vendors also did well. Mirai was doing a brisk business selling all of the trees they brought, plus pots, stands, and tee shirts. I was able to view first hand the line of American Bonsai’s tools. This new line is entirely American made and have some nice design tweaks. The workmanship looked great, and the prices were good, but I am no metallurgist. I purchased a large pair of spherical cutters and will let you know how they are holding up at a later date.
There were also many, many trees available of all shapes, sizes, and development levels, from seedlings to show ready. More potters, and even imported antique pots. There were also demonstrations throughout the weekend, as well as talks on antique and collectible pots. All in all, a great experience to meet fellow enthusiasts from across the country and chat up old friends.
I must point out that this show is organized and put on by Bill Valavanis of International Bonsai. He created the show and continues to do a great job. But it’s nothing official. There is no sanctioning body, just bonsai enthusiasts coming together from across the country to have fun and put on the best exhibit possible. Special thanks to Ryan and Chelsea Neil of Bonsai Mirai for driving the truck back East. All of the trees listed above were transported on the Covered Wagon. The show would not have been the same without that truck and the grueling trek across country. Thanks guys.
One more tree from the National Exhibit
Dear BSOP members,
I want to apologize to you members and especially to Bob Laws for an omission in the latest newsletter. I inadvertently left his excellent Apple tree off the list of BSOP trees that went back to the National Bonsai Exhibit in September. Check out the photos of Bob’s tree. If you don’t know, this rather large tree was created as an air layer from one of the apples in his own back yard. I think the trunk diameter is somewhere between 8-10 inches. Not only was Bob’s the only major tree in the exhibit with fruit on it, three of the four apples that started the journey made it the three thousand miles intact to Rochester. Quite a feat. Thanks for letting us enjoy this tasty treet Bob.