2014 MIDWEST BONSAI EXHIBIT

Everybody loves a good exhibitions, so here are some pics from the 2014 Midwest Bonsai Exhibit, courtesy of Valavanis Bonsai Blog

Valavanis Bonsai Blog

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The 37th Midwest Bonsai Exhibit is being held at the Chicago Botanic Garden on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, August 15-17, 2014. Many beautiful bonsai are on display from local members and other bonsai hobbyists from several states. About 15 vendors are selling their trees, containers and other items as well. Enjoy the photos!

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COLLECTION TREES

ROUGH BARK

Rough Bark Japanese Maple by Matt Berenberg received the Best of Show Award

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RAF DWARF SCOTS PINE

RAF Dwarf Scots Pine by Wm. N. Valavanis received the 1st Place Award in the Professional Division

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SHOHIN BONSAI

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SHIMPAKU

SHIMPAKU SHOHIN

SCOTS PINE

SATSUKI

PONDEROSA

METASEQUOIA

MARY KAY

LARCH FOREST

TRUNK POSITIONING

LANTANA

KUSA MONO

JUNIPERS

JADE

HINOKI

HEMLOCK

GOYO PINE

FICUS 

CHINESE ELM

BLUE MOSS

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STONES

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CHICAGO BOTANIC GARDEN BONSAI COLLECTION

Some beautiful bonsai on display at the Chicago Botanic Garden, well worth a look

Valavanis Bonsai Blog

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The Chicago Botanic Garden has a world class bonsai collection. Several years ago bonsai artist Susumu Nakamua from Yokohama, Japan, presented his finest trees to the Chicago Botanic Garden to supplement their collection.

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Enjoy the bonsai which were on public display in the two courtyards during the 2014 Midwest Bonsai Show.

Three of these beautiful masterpiece will be displayed by the Chicago Botanic Garden in the upcoming 4th US National Bonsai Exhibition which will be held in Rochester, NY, on September 13-14,2014. Come visit the exhibition and see which bonsai the Chicago Botanic Garden will display.

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Australian Pests – Spitfire Sawfly

I thought that it might be an interesting idea to post about the various pests and insects that I find around my garden and throughout my bonsai. We have some very curious varieties down under, so I thought that I might just share a few.

Today I’m writing about the Spitfire Sawfly. I have a lot of memories of these little buggers from my childhood, as I used to see them around a lot (mainly the larvae). Back then, I believed that the name implied that they literally spat fire or poison at you, and I remember constantly being cauitous when walking under tree’s, in fear that a pack of them might fall on my head spitting fire at me! They group together for protection, so you can find 30 to 40 of them all huddled together (frequently in tree’s), so the fear of them falling on my head was at least not entirely imagined.

This posts stems from a more recent experience I’ve had with them (and continue to), in which they managed to possibly wipe out one of my tree’s, and force me to trunk chop another. I will know in a few more days whether the first tree is truely lost or if it might spring back. It is strange in that the tree they attacked the least, is the one dying, but I’ve checked it out thoroughly and cannot see anything else that could have caused it, other then a few munched leaves.

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2014 AUTUMN JAPAN BONSAI TOUR

One day I will do this tour with Bill, but if anyone else out there is interested then please see the details within the post. From what I’ve seen and heard, it is a journey well worth taking.

Valavanis Bonsai Blog

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Have you ever wanted to explore the bonsai and Japanese garden world of Japan in a small limited group? Well, here is your opportunity. In November Kora Dalager, travel agent and bonsai instructor from California and I will be leading another one of our popular bonsai tours to Japan. Bonsai gardens and studios of some of the finest bonsai artists in Japan will be privately visited.

Our tour will first begin in the Tokyo area where we will visit Mr. Kimura’s studio, the new Omiya Bonsai Art Museum and Omiya Bonsai Village. Many of the world’s best bonsai originated or were refined in this small bonsai village of six gardens. Bonsai of all species, sizes and styles can be seen and studied in beautiful garden settings in their autumn glory.Image

Masahiko Kimura’s studio.

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Omiya Bonsai Art Museum.

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Mansei-en Bonsai Garden- Hatsuji Kato.

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Fuyo-en Bonsai Garden- Hiroshi Takeyama.

Next we will…

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Free Online Lesson’s – Wiring with Colin Lewis

Just a quick update today to let you all know about the free wiring lesson’s that I have just stumbled across from Colin Lewis.

 Colin Lewis - Bonsai Wiring Essentials

The lesson’s consist of four videos and are done through an online learning facility called ‘Craftsy’. You’ll need to sign up to be able to register for the lesson’s, however that is a very simple process.

http://www.craftsy.com/class/bonsai-wiring-essentials/4616

I know I’ve been a little quiet lately, but rest assured that I am busy working on an update for the website. More details will be posted soon.

‘The Bonsai Workshop’ Exhibition – May 2014

Well, I had hoped to have this post up a bit sooner, but June is the crazy period for me at work, and crazy it has been! Not to mention the troubles I’m having at home, mainly with my car that I’ve now put more money into then the thing is worth… but that isn’t what we’re here for is it? So, onwards to bonsai!

The exhibition is now over a month passed, so I apologise for the delay in posting up the photos, but time is a swift beast, and she flys away from me often. This post will mainly just be photo’s, as there is not a lot I can say on each tree, but will comment where I can.

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Something new, and something fresh

Now that I have the ball rolling, I thought it might be time to freshen up the place, and take my webpage/blog to the next level.

Firstly, I will be creating and registering the domain Down Under Bonsai. This is the last step in my ‘just a blog’ page, and the first step into a officially registered website. Once I have the domain set up, I will begin properly advertising and promoting the site.

Next, a review of the things I will post. I will continue on with my current updates on my personal tree’s and workshops, and eventually as my skills progress, I will start touching on techniques and tips and so forth. However I would like to add something more. I want Bonsai in Australia to grow, so I figure, what better way then to start posting up the various exhibitions from around this fine country, and start showcasing some of our artists and bonsai to the rest of the world. Unfortunately, as I am not by any means rich, I can’t travel to each show to take photos (hopefully one day), so I will have to gain some contact from various states, and see if I can use their pictures in my posts. 

Next, I am considering starting to use the site to re-blog other stories, from other bonsai artists around the world. I hope that this will mix things up a bit, and keep the site fresh and interesting, and also help fellow artists showcase their own blogs and pages. So far this is just an idea that I’m bouncing around my head, but will most likely become a reality.

That is not the end of my ideas however. I have a lot more that I would like to do, but am concious of over committing myself, so I’ll keep it at that for now, and stick with the ideas that I think will have the most benefit to Bonsai in Australia.

So, stay tuned! Next up will be a post about the WA Bonsai Workshop’s recent Exhibition (photo’s galore!), followed shortly by an old news story that I have been given permission to repost, containing an interview with one of Australia’s founding bonsai artist’s.

Robert Steven Workshop – Melaleuca Incana

Due to the length of my last post, I thought I would make a seperate post for my workshop Melaleuca. That way I can waffle a bit more, and also give you a bit more background on this bonsai’s beginnings. Its taken me a while to get this post up, due to another project in the works, but more on that in later.

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The tree started as a simple pot plant sold at a nursery (not a bonsai nursery). You can see in this photo that this is really just a shrub, and the branching has a very pendulous growth.

 

 

Mel. Incana 18 Front

 

This next shot shows the branch selection process and the angle change. Please be aware this is not my work, nor my photos, but that of the previous owner whom I purchased the tree from. Which is why I will not expand too much.

 

 

This is the final shot before the tree passed over into my hands. You can see it come along nicely, however showing a few minor wire scars.

Mel. Incana

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Robert Steven Workshop – Breaking the Mindset

What an absolutely amazing weekend I had with Robert Steven, who so kindly visited our club for a weekend of critiques, presentations and workshops. I can’t say how glad I am that he came to visit Perth, as it was one of the best learning experiences I’ve ever had. I’m still digesting everything that I learned from the weekend with Robert, as he really opened my mind to a different view on how I should be learning the art.

One thing that I came to realise, is that its not just about learning the ‘rules and guidelines’ of bonsai, but actually understanding the background of these so called ‘rules’ and why they are in place. By better understanding these rules, you can better understand what situations you need to apply them, and what situations that they can be bent or ‘broken’.

He also went further then the ‘rules’, and touched on our mindsets, and how we need to break away from them and start treating each bonsai as an individual, rather then trying to apply broad rules to each and every tree we work.

I should note at this point, when I say ‘rules’ I do not mean to say that there are actually rules within the bonsai world, but more guidelines that are widely followed.

Anyway, enough of the theory, lets gets some photos happening!

The first day we started with Robert critiquing a few of our members trees. I think this may have been the moment he fell in love with the our paperbarks.

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Very busy shedule!

I thought I better pop in, and give a brief update on my activities.

It’s been crazy to say the least. Work is taking up an increasing amount of time, meaning less time for bonsai. I don’t get home to after dark, so I’m watering with a torch in one hand, and watering can in the other…. not very ideal. Unfortunately that is just how it goes, I am not able to bring them inside, and there are no lights outside, so I basically cannot work my bonsai during the week, other then watering them. My weekends can be much the same, leaving me with next to no time to spend with my special little guys.

Thats ok though, life is life, and it throws you a curve ball more often then not. The trick is not letting it get the better of you!

So this weekend will be very busy for me again, however I NEED to get into the garden, so I’ve made it a priority. I need to firstly get some soil (dam ants!) and give some pots a top up, and repot some others. Then, if I still have time I’ll be giving a few of my bonsai a wire.

I’m also now two weeks away from the Robert Steven workshop, which I’ve signed up for both days. I’ve got two tree’s lined up, one a nice Shimpaku Juniper and the other a Melaleuca Incana which I’ve decided is finally time to give some direction to. Both I think are great tree’s for a workshop, so hopefully I will get a lot out of it. I’ve also been asked to assist Robert at our meeting on Monday, which I’m pretty bloody excited about too!!

So that is it for now, I’m planning on giving a much more thorough update in the lead up to the workshop. I’m also currently working on a massive project for the AusBonsai Community, which is set to be pretty dam big! Stay tuned for more on that at a later date!