The Florida Bonsai Magazine: December 2017

From the desk of the President, Ronn Miller

Hello everyone,

I would like to share some of the things that are going on in the Bonsai Societies of Florida.  First, thank you all for your patience during the transition process as it has been slower than it should have been. We have been dealing with some issues that include health problems, committee chair changes and the intense workload to produce this Magazine.

The digital magazine through Joomag has been published for four years and has been a true labor of love for Publications Chair, Kay Karioth; Digital Editor, Jackie Barrett; and Past President, Mike Knowlton.  Each issue requires hours and hours of time to produce and they deserve a great big thank you for all of their extra effort to get the job done. Unfortunately, we cannot continue with the current method of sharing BSF news and information in this manner.  Adam Lavigne, Second Vice President, will assume the Publications Chair position.We are exploring different avenues of delivery so that we can generate more timely information to a higher ratio of readers. There are several ideas that we are working on and I am pleased to see the enthusiasm that is being put forth.  One of the ideas that we are working on is this blog style where the publishing committee, consisting of members from throughout the state, work together with Adam to present, articles, events and club news.  Of course, we are always open to productive suggestions and positive criticism from everyone.

The next situation that we had to deal with is that we had to make some changes to the webmaster position. Paul Pikel, who wears many hats in BSF, has changed jobs and just doesn’t have the time to spend, due to the executive position that he now has. He’s contributed so much to BSF and to the world of bonsai through his management of the website and many club websites, the Epcot program, photography of the convention trees, and the many instructive videos on bonsai still available on YouTube. Paul will continue to chair the Epcot program. The new webmaster will be Jorge Nazario, from the Central Florida Club. He has experience with the WordPress format and is very enthusiastic for the chance to help. Paul will work with him in the transition. Thank you Paul!

Adam, First Vice President, Reggie Perdue, and I are close to putting the finishing touches on our convention plan and program for 2018.  The theme is going to be “A Legacy of Learning” and will honor our current BSF award winners, to include, Mary Madison, Mary Miller, Ed Trout, Jim Vanlandingham, Louise Leister, Mike Cartrett, among others, and the memories of past artists of Florida Bonsai.

I would like to say, again, thank you to Kay, Jackie, Paul and Mike for all of your dedication and hard work that you have done to support BSF. Additionally, I would like to recognize two more key players on the BSF board that play an important role in our operations. Gail Santini, our membership chairman, maintains our database for the entire BSF correspondence machine. She is instrumental in sending emails and notices. She is also very experienced in information services and has been invaluable while working closely with the publications team on many issues. The second person that I would like to send a giant thank you is our Treasurer, Barbara Poglitsch. In the few months that I have been signing checks, she has impressed me with suggestions, advice, and information that I have found invaluable. Thank you in advance for sharing this information at your next club meetings and through your own communication with members.  Feel free to contact me at  if you have any positive thoughts or ideas as we move forward.

Ronn Miller, President – Bonsai Societies of Florida

Welcome to the new format for

The Florida Bonsai Magazine!

By Adam Lavigne

Happy Holidays everyone! I hope this year has brought you good times and good memories, or, if not, at least you learned something.

In case you haven’t noticed, this edition of The Florida Magazine is a bit different than they’ve been the last couple of years. There are several reasons for this but, before I talk about those, let me introduce myself. I am Adam Lavigne, currently the President of the Central Florida Bonsai Club, the 2nd VP of BSF and, now, Publications Chair and Blog Coordinator, on the board of the American Bonsai Society, writer of my own blog and, because I gotta in this digital age, a YouTuber as well.

I would like to thank Kay Karioth and Jackie Barret for their hard work and commitment to the Magazine these last few years. They were diligent in their job, with the direction of Mike Knowlton, past president, and created many quality magazines and I hope my tenure as editor will, maybe, come close to. They set the bar very high. Thank you lady’s.

Now, to the reasons for the format change.

First, the Joomag format was a beautiful platform to use, when it worked, but the difficulties in both the editing and creation of it, plus the annoyance in using it on your computer, tablet or phone, made the continued use non-tenable. I had so many problems in logging in that I ignored it for weeks before I opened it. And, judging by the engagement numbers from Joomag, many others didn’t bother either; less than half of our subscribers even opened it.

Second, the cost of the Joomag platform was, to the Board, just a little daunting. More than a thousand dollars a year and the data storage had a limit. We are using WordPress now, with unlimited storage and a very easy to use editing program, for a 5th of the cost a year. And the magazine will show up directly in your emails, so no extra clicking and putting in passwords or user names.

And lastly, WordPress is easy to use when putting together content, has a stable and generally bug free editor program, and anyone can use it. Which means I will be soliciting articles and stories from you when I see you. Be forewarned.

We are also thinking of increasing the output of the Magazine. Let me know what you think of that. (Email me story ideas, articles, pics, etc to

I hope you like the inaugural issue of the New and Improved Florida Magazine Blog!

Epcot deadline is fast approaching!

By Paul Pikel

Since the beginning of the Festival 24 years ago the BSF has been showing the very best bonsai from all over Florida.  Each year a display of 21 trees are exhibited in the Japanese Pavilion at the World Showcase at Epcot.  The trees are viewed and enjoyed by over 2 million people who visit the park during the three month event.

I would like to extend an invitation to all of the BSF bonsai artists to submit photographs of their trees for consideration to be an exhibitor during the 2018 exhibit.  The exhibit will begin February 28th and will end on May 28, 2018.  This is the perfect opportunity to display your hard work and passion, and will help increase the exposure of Bonsai to new groups of people that may not have the opportunity see such amazing trees.

In return you will have the satisfaction of being part of select group of artists who have had the honor of displaying their tree at such a grand and unusual venue.  

We continue to welcome first time exhibitors to display right next to the most well known bonsai artists of the BSF.  However the window of opportunity is closing fast!  The deadline for submitting your tree is 11:59pm December 31, 2017.  The on-line application can be found at

Paul Pikel

BSF Epcot Committee Chairman

A Treasure Coast Bonsai Society and Port Saint Lucie Botanical Gardens Collaboration

By Noreen Sherman

The Treasure Coast Bonsai Society has met for over 40 years. It was started by the late James Smith, Bud Adams and Gloria Moody.  We may only be a small club compared to many in the State of Florida, but we do our part in promoting the art of Bonsai!

About 2 years ago one of our members, Bob Weil, asked at a meeting if our club was interested in putting bonsai at The Port Saint Lucie Botanical Gardens.

Bob is a Master Gardener and a volunteer at PSLBG.  This idea was bantered around and eventually we agreed to visit the gardens and hear what they were thinking.

Our first meeting was with Joleen King, the Executive Director of PSLBG. Joleen gave us a tour of the gardens and explained that it is maintained totally by volunteers, mostly members of different clubs in the area.

The orchid, bromeliad, cactus, bamboo and propagation gardens were beautifully maintained. They’d love to have a bonsai display and work with us to make it happen. PSLBG would also enjoy hosting our monthly meetings, support our efforts in their monthly Newsletter and provide a new source for potential members to be exposed to bonsai.

With a little more bantering and coming together the Club voted to move forward with the idea. We revisited the Garden and decided which area we most desired to have as our future bonsai display area. Our beloved Bill Zeigler, a retired architect and 40-year bonsai trooper, drew up a detailed plan for the area and presented it to the Club. We then revisited the Garden, plans in hand, made some “group decisions” and then voted again…to look at a contract!

Actually, the legal side of this was pretty straightforward. We then got to work with Bill scouting out pedestals and all other materials. A great day saw our volunteers, led by our friend Ray Grasso, pour the cement footings.

Then, right after the ABS/BSF Convention, we gathered again to set the six 250 lb rebar-enforced pedestals, led by member Jay Galbraith and Curtis Clark from PSLBP. A number of Club members pitched in for the hands-on work.

We are now well on our way to bringing the Art of Bonsai to Port Saint Lucie Botanical Gardens. Soon the final pedestal work will be completed, some strikingly beautiful ceramic Japanese tiles donated by Bill and Renee Ziegler will be placed on the perimeter, plantings, a fence, the sprinkler system. and then the bonsai will be ready to be displayed.

We’ll keep you posted!

Noreen Sherman


By Michael Knowlton

As most of you know, we are currently in our third year of producing New World Bonsai, a commemorative book of BSF Convention Exhibit Trees.  New World Bonsai 2017 will be a special edition because it incorporates a much larger number of exhibit trees that were exhibited last May at the joint ABS/BSF Convention.

We had hoped to mail New World Bonsai 2017 by the end of September to everyone who had ordered the books, but our completion and mailing date has been pushed back to December 18.  Hopefully everyone will have their books by Christmas.  The delay has been caused by a number of factors including the additional work involved with producing a book that will have about 25% more trees included than prior years; Hurricane Irma; and finally reviews of three ‘hard proofs’ that were done for purposes of quality control.

Thank you in advance to those of you who have ordered the books.  We hope that the wait will be worth it.  Thank you also to Jackie Barrett, Paul Pikel, Rhys Lynn, and Lunetta Knowlton for their many hours of work on this project.

Michael Knowlton


Story by Adam Lavigne, photos by Kay Karioth, Gail Santini, Jackie Barret

The Bonsai Societies of Florida’s convention every year holds a competition for the Member clubs that we call, simply enough, Club Night. What, pray tell, is Club Night? Well, my friends, it is, to throw out some descriptors: chaos, joy, heartache, pressure, sweat, creativity, beer-wine-spirits, good times, camaraderie, competition, and, most importantly, fun.

More precisely, it is a competition, with few rules but some guidelines, whereas the competing clubs, such as The Bonsai Society of Brevard, the Central Florida Bonsai Club, etc., field a team that, in a set time period (usually around 3-4 hours), creates a bonsai related planting. Hopefully this occurs without bloodshed.

This year we had several new clubs competing, many of the same old clubs, but also, since the convention was a joint venture with the American Bonsai Society, several members of their board fielded a team. They had a few “ringers”. I’m sure you’ll recognise their faces.

I am happy to report that they did not win, even though I saw the bribes and the plying of liquor to the judges.

One of the favorites, as always, was the Bonsai Society of Brevard, who’ve won the competition many years. This years entry was a multi-media extravaganza with sculpture, trees, framing, and even a painting that was created during the competition.

I believe the theme was ‘Krakatoa’ the volcano.

We had the Bonsai Society of Southwest Florida, past champions as well, with a simple design of raintrees in a concrete slab/pot.

Phil, who is an accomplished draughtsman, drew a “virtual” sketch of what the team thought the planting would look like filled in.

Suncoast Bonsai had an admirable entry, very well composed.

They made wonderful use of larger trees on a slab which had an awesome theme based on the Robert Frost poem, The Road Not Taken.

But it’s not always a landscape or group planting. The Shofu Bonsai Society, of Sarasota, styled a buttonwood for their entry.

They provided a drawing as well. The competition keeps getting better.

The Central Florida Bonsai Club (my club) decided to get into the spirit (or spirits???) of the evening and created a, ummm, unique piece. I’ll let it speak for itself.

The stand was an impromptu creation made from the many (MANY) empties found within the room.

Next we have the Treasure Coast Bonsai Society and their offering.

I liked this one, the scale was perfect and the grouping very artistic.

But the judges had no choice in choosing the winner, The Hukyu Bonsai Club, from the Tampa/Clearwater area.

The thought, planning, creativity, and execution all came together in a fantastic piece with a theme from the Lord of the Rings, a recreation of the Last Homely House, Rivendell, the abode of Elrond.

They deservedly won this years competition (they won last years too. There is talk of a ban on the club because they are that good…..) and we are glad they did. The time they put into the art piece was astonishing, not to mention the teamwork.

Next year, at the 2018 event, we hope to see even more clubs participate. Get your thinking caps on (I know for a fact that the members at Hukyu are already planning) and bring on your best. You’ll have fun, I promise!

Bonsai: Bringing people together, The Mysterious, Elegant, Rugged, and Ancient

By Barb Hiser

Just after the 2017 ABS/BSF joint convention finished up in Orlando, I had the opportunity of a lifetime.

This years convention was celebrating the 50th anniversary of The American Bonsai Society and people from around the world came together to learn, share, and enjoy fellowship of like-minded enthusiasts. Among many Master bonsai artists who were in attendance, Budi Solistyo, from Jakarta, Indonesia, was there to share his knowledge with us.

I had been asked several months earlier if I would be willing to host Budi and his wife, Threes Tanto, after the convention since I live in Central Florida and Budi and Threes were anxious to explore this part of the world.  

I’ll be honest:  I was a bit intimidated. I still consider myself an average bonsai hobbyist and I had heard that Masters would often give feedback on your trees, and mine were not worthy!  Plus, we have a very small home but we do have an RV. And I worried about cultural differences in food, customs, lifestyles, etc.  I wanted to be an excellent ambassador for America, Florida, and Bonsai.  After speaking to several people who had hosted Budi in the past, I felt prepared.  To sum up the experience, I think we have made friends for life as we all shared similarities and differences in our home cultures!  They had never been in an RV so they really enjoyed that experience, and it afforded all of us privacy and space.  My husband Guy is retired from Kennedy Space Center, so we took them there first, and Guy was able to share many “back stories”, which Budi seemed to enjoy.

The next day we were to transport him to his next ‘venue’ so we drove about 2 hours north to meet up with David VanBuskirk (of D&L Nursery in Ocala).

He had arranged a pontoon boat ride on Lake Norris, an environmentally significant lake, so we could all gain inspiration from the ancient bald cypress trees that grow there.

It was an awe-inspiring trip, as my mind wandered and wondered about the stories those trees could tell as they leaned, twisted, dwarfed, towered, provided homes for critters, and hinted at their storied pasts.

All of us enjoyed a picnic afterwards, beneath the shade of live oaks and pines. My story ended there, as Budi and Threes headed to Puerto Rico the next day.  But my mind has been opened to the various shapes and styles that these trees take in their natural setting, and I look forward to more opportunities to host Masters from other countries in the future.

Here are a few more pictures of the many that were taken over those few days.

Barb Hiser

Some thoughts from the new website administrator

By Jorge Nazario

My name is Jorge Nazario; I am the vice president of the Central Florida Bonsai Club and I have recently been appointed new webmaster to the BSF website. I would like to begin by thanking Mr. Paul Pikel for his many years of dedication to the BSF website; he has laid a foundation that will make my job a thousand times easier. The time restraints he faces due to his new job prohibit him from continuing as the site’s webmaster. Luckily for me, I have his phone number so any questions I have will be answered by the site expert.

Over the last couple of weeks, changes were made in the arrangement of certain items on the site, with a few more to follow soon. All links are being checked to make sure they are still valid. Outdated information will be replaced with current documents. It will be our goal to make the site more dynamic in nature; this will be achieved by the addition of certain sidebar items and the relocation of existing ones. However, we cannot do everything alone, we need your help.

You can help with our website by communicating with us as much as possible. We ask that you let us know of any event (Show, Auction, and Visiting Artist) your club may be part of. If you have a flyer for said event, please email it to us ( along with any additional information so that we may post it on the site. If you have an event that takes place annually, please let us know the minute you have the dates set, this way we can include your event on a 12 month calendar section that will be available as a menu item soon. We have also added an “upcoming events” section that will serve as a reminder of your event on the Home page. This section will have information on the next 2 months’ worth of events. Also, send us those pictures after the event; these will be shown on a slide add-on feature on the right hand side of the site. Site visitors who were not able to attend will be able to see a bit of what they missed.

The Bookmarks section will be checked for accuracy and will be expanded to present as many bonsai related links as possible. If you do not see a vendor you are familiar with or a Bonsai organization (National or International) you know of, please let us know so that we may include their name and website address. We don’t want to leave anyone out!

Finally we ask that you check any and all information on the site regarding your club; where you meet, the day you meet as well as the time. Please let us know of any inaccuracies so that we may quickly correct them.

I am really looking forward to working with you in order to continue providing the best possible website experience for our existing and future BSF members.

Best regards

Jorge Nazario

Copyright 2017, Bsf, all rights reserved.

13 thoughts on “The Florida Bonsai Magazine: December 2017

  1. Good job guys, I like the new format. Can add more current topics and go into greater depth if desired. Keep it up.

    1. Thanks Rob, we were catching up from the backlog of articles. How about one from you?

  2. LOVE THE NEW FORMAT! Very easy to navigate, and I like it delivered right to my email…ready for a quick click, and BINGO, I’m in the blog. Thanks to all the ‘past’ and ‘present’ people who helped this evolve.

  3. I miss the physical booklet. That is my thing. I guess. Yet the new format is workable. Thanks for the effort to continue the publishing of Bonsai Society news.

    1. There is a way to print out this format easily. At the bottom you can see various social media share buttons and one that says “more” click on that and a “print” button comes up.
      I too miss the old book but we would have to raise the cost of membership so high to print out more than 500 copies, that I think we would lose membership at that point. Such is the digital age

  4. Great job Adam Lavigne & Jorge Nazario. Enjoyed the stories from Barbara Hiser and review of CLUB NIGHT at the May Convention. Looking forward to the upcoming blogs. Bruce Hartman- BSOB.

  5. Great job Adam! Very informative and well put together. Thank you Adam Lavigne, Kay Karioth, Gail Santini, and Jackie Barrett for the great article on club night. Thank you Barbara, for showing Budi and his wife around Florida and the great article.

  6. Hello
    I would like to also indicate my preference of a physical newsletter.

  7. I love this. So much easier to read. The pictures are fantastic! Great job!

  8. Rosemarie Voelker December 17, 2017 — 3:50 pm

    Fantastic very innovative new job…Was a great pleasure to look through it…very creative and interesting.

  9. I like the new format. 2 thumbs up!

  10. Hello. i am new to FBS and PBBS, but I’ve been killing trees since the 1970s. I was a member Yama Ki Bonsai Society in Fairfield County CT for over 25 years. I would like become a member of BSF and PBBS, and subscribe to your magazine Can you please send me the membership and subscription info. Thanks Michael Miller

    1. Check your email Michael, I sent the web page to you

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