The Florida Bonsai Magazine: February 2022

From the desk of the President

By Jorge Nazario

As we begin 2022, I am very enthusiastic about the prospects for this year. We have many things planned, many things in the works, and many things about to roll out. The Bsf Convention Website went online February 19th. As in previous years, the website’s shopping area will be in “Catalog” mode. That is just a fancy way of saying, you can’t buy anything. We would like for you to explore the website, look at the weekend program and decide which workshops, critiques, and events you would like to attend. On March 4th, 7pm, the catalog mode will be turned off and you will then be able to purchase registrations, workshops, critiques, merchandise, and our very special event called “The Florida Collective”

Please bear in mind that even though you will not be able to make purchases until March 5th,  you will, however, be able to fill out forms for participation as a volunteer as well as participation by your club for both The Club Exhibit and Club Night.

The form for participating in the Main Exhibit will also be available. Please do not wait to get in your submissions, because the window to submit closes fast.

We do not have a website section for Vendor Tables since they were gone like “pan caliente”.  It is our intent to use the entire room for vendors in 2023 which will mean approximately 110 tables instead of the existing 84. If you are a vendor this year, you will automatically receive an email in September notifying you of the link to register as a vendor which will begin on November 1st, 2022. If you missed out this year and would like to be notified in September, please email Dan Harvey

I will continue my travels during the months of February, March, and April with visits to District Scholarship Finals as well as my Club Visits. See you guys soon. 

Memorial to Ernie Hernandez

By William Smith

Every month on the first Saturday, myself, Dave, and some of my fellow bonsai friends would go to the home of Ernie Fernandez, where he would have a Bonsai Workshop. Then Covid happened. Ernie was also a talented graphic artist and owned a sign shop.

After the Covid pandemic subsided a little and vaccines were available, Ernie resumed his Bonsai Workshop. A few months later Ernie mentioned that he was selling his sign shop and would have to clear out the backyard at the shop. At the time Rick Simon and I were constant attendees of Ernie’s monthly workshop (first Saturday of the month). At that time, I offered my assistance. I would be willing to come to Naples and help him, anytime. I wanted to do something for someone who gave me unbridled knowledge of the Art of Bonsai. Ernie was trained by the best, John Naka himself yet, he was willing to pass on his knowledge to others for the cost of just being interested in learning, and I was hungry to learn. After a few days of clearing pathways and roots that grew from the elevated benches into the soil, Ernie and I were able to walk down an aisle and see the layout of the garden. After a few weeks of clearing out, I asked Dave to help me because there was so much more to do and time was of the essence. Dave accepted and we went to work. At some point Ernie said to us,

“I’ll mark off what trees I want and you and Dave can have the rest.”

That was like music to our ears because some of those trees were 15+ years old and were allowed to grow undisturbed. They needed work but, Dave and I were up to the task!

After the yard was cleared to Ernie’s satisfaction, I asked him if he was going to continue his workshop. He said that he would at his house but, for now just Dave and I as attendees because of the limited space.

On September 4, 2021, Dave Bovio and I went to Ernie’s home for our regular Ernie’s Bonsai Workshop. At the workshop, while Dave and I were working on our trees, Ernie had this tall tree that he was styling as a gift to some Bonsai group on the east coast of Florida. The tree was so tall that the ceiling fan was pruning the top! That’s right, the fan was pruning the top! And, just like a Samurai Warrior, Ernie took out his branch cutters and snipped off the top of the tree and said,

“It needed to be shortened anyway!”

Ernie worked on the tree pruning and trimming and then started carving. It was so enjoyable watching a master at work. He also kept an eye on what Dave and I were doing. I was repotting a Fukien Tea in and oval pot and wanted it left of center but, while tightening the tiedown wire the tree moved to the center. Ernie noticed it and said nothing but, the looked on his face said, “do it over!” I said to myself, “no problem, I have to redo this.” Ernie just smiled and kept carving. This was a very harmonious workshop meeting where once again, we learned something.

Many years ago, I trained in the Japanese Martial Arts and I called my teacher Sensei. After many more years of teaching the Sensei became a Master or Shihan which means Dojo Master. There are many levels of Shihan. Jun Shihans a junior, Sei Shihan a full Shihan and a Shuseki Shihan is the highest-ranking Shihan. A Shuseki Shihan has trained over 50 years. Ernie was a Shuseki Shihan. I bow to his Bushido* spirit!

On October 2, 2021, Dave and I went to Ernie’s home for our regular Ernie’s Bonsai Workshop. When we pulled up to the driveway, we noticed some roof workers preparing to work so, we parked on the street. Dorothy, his partner, came out of the house which, I was surprised because she normally would be teaching martial arts on Saturday. At that time, she informed us that Ernie was in the hospital the last 10 days. She mentioned that he was on an ventilator. My heart sank because I knew what that meant. Dorothy looked very concerned. Dave and I offered Dorothy any help we could give at any time or day. Days later we learned that Ernie had passed.

We in the bonsai world have lost a true traditional bonsai artist in Ernie. But his kindness and artistry will live forever in Bonsai lore.

Farewell Ernie, you will truly be missed.

* the Bushido discipline formalized earlier samurai moral values and ethical code, most commonly stressing a combination of sincerity, frugality, loyalty, martial arts mastery, and honor, until death.

The Bonsai Society of Southwest Florida Annual show Exhibit Highlights

By Adam Lavigne

Last November, I was honored to give a presentation during the BSSWFL annual show. It is usually held at the Ft Myers Garden Council building, a great location with beautiful grounds. The show has demos, workshops, raffles, vendors, and an amazing exhibit. A true model as to how to run a club level show.

This was a workshop led by the B & E Bonsai team, Ed Trout and Betty Cruz Siskind,

Below, there I am, covered in sawdust as usual, creating a tanuki with premna whips and a bald cypress stump. Assisted by Fatima Mayer.

Photo by Sandee Wollard

There was also a multi-club styling competition with the Suncoast, Hukyu, Shofu and the BSSWFL clubs competing

The winning club was Shofu, with Kathrin Harris and Chris Cosenza as the stylists. Congratulations!

Photo by Jeanne Cosenza
Photo by Jeanne Cosenza

Here are some pics of the exhibit

Chinese elm

Chinese privet
Willow leaf ficus
Dwarf jade
Green island fig

Chinese elm

Fukien tea
Phillipenensis ficus
Brazilian Raintree
Ficus microcarpa
Brazilian Raintree


Shohin display by Mike Lane
Green island ficus
Parrot’s beak


Parson’s juniper
Parson’s juniper

The Multi-club Auction

By Barb Hiser, pictures by Adam lavigne

The 7th Annual Multiclub Picnic/Auction wrapped up on Saturday 11/13, and was a big success, breaking previous records. This could not have happened without huge effort on the part of many people, but special thanks to Ronn Miller, Bruce Hartman, Adam Lavigne, Reggie Perdue, Scot Stewart, Gail Filer, Jorge Nazario, Rob Kempinski and many more.

Held at F. Burton Smith Regional Park in Cocoa, as usual.

Some amazing statistics from this year:

1. Live auction items-105

2. At least 60 people in attendance from these clubs- Bonsai Society of Brevard, the host, Central Florida Bonsai Club, Suncoast Bonsai Society, Shofu Bonsai Society, Hukyu Bonsai Society, Treasure Coast Bonsai, Kawa Bonsai, Ocala Bonsai Society, North Florida Bonsai Club and Forest Bonsai of Ocala

3. Price of highest selling tree-$880

4. Silent auction items-over 200

The returns this year broke all previous records with the silent auction alone bringing in over $4000 with a total of over $13,000


By Jorge Nazario

  As we get ready for the 2022 Bsf Convention, we are going through our “to-do” list and making sure nothing is missed. We rely on our years of experience as well as the countless after-action reviews we have compiled over time. One area that is always of key importance is the volunteer team. In 2021 we tried (foolishly) to hold a convention without a Volunteer Coordinator, let me just say, we will never do that again. The volunteers in attendance did their usual outstanding job, but key areas were missed.  Once, while visiting a club I was told by an individual that putting on the Bsf Convention is an easy task, I just simply looked at him and smiled. In the next few seconds, I developed a debilitating, pounding headache which I can only attribute to my blood pressure going off the scale. The Convention staff takes their job extremely seriously, it’s not an easy thing but we love it. We have amassed a group of key individuals whose heart is in the right place. When we went in search for a Volunteer Director for the 2022 convention, one name immediately stood out from the list. She has been a volunteer on countless occasions and has the demeanor and attitude to do the job the way it should be done. Lauren McMullan (Hukyu Bonsai Club) has accepted the job of Volunteer Coordinator and we are very confident that she will do the job with the professionalism and attention to detail she is known for.

Before I became the Bsf President, the Webmaster or even the Vice President of the Central Florida Bonsai Club (CFBC), I was a volunteer. Helping people has always been a passion of mine, I was told that I inherited this trait from my paternal grandfather. When I started in Bonsai, I was told by my good friend Adam that volunteering was probably the best way to learn about what goes on at the convention and about Bsf in general. During my first year, I still remember at first being completely lost and having no idea when or what I needed to do. Luckily for me, I was simply asked to assist both Mike and Lunetta Knowlton with anything they needed. From the very beginning I felt not only needed but also appreciated. They made sure that my time was being used wisely and also reminded me that I needed to take breaks once in a while. As a volunteer,  I ended up learning some of the inner workings of the exhibit, the demos, the workshops, club night, and the other very important weekend events.

About 2 to 3 months later, I went to the first CFBC meeting of the fiscal year and learned that my participation as a volunteer had served to earn my club money. In the overall scheme of things, my contribution to the convention and to my club was probably not that much, but I felt proud that because of my small efforts, my club was probably able to invite an artist or maybe purchase a tree for a demo.

Working with the Convention Volunteers always has been and always will be one of the highlights of the convention weekend for me. I know what it’s like to selfishly spend your own time helping others, it just feels good. If you are considering volunteering for the first time, do it, you will not regret it. The Bsf Convention website is online, click on the blue hyperlink and you will be able to fill out the form. To those who have done it before and have become staples of the convention weekend, thank you. Please do not think for one second that your efforts are in vain or unappreciated, because nothing could be further from the truth.


Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.”
~Elizabeth Andrew

BSF 2022 Convention headliner

Liliana Ortiz

Picture from Facebook

Watching her mother work on bonsai at their home in the Colombian countryside, Liliana Tello Ortiz would be drawn to the art form at a young age. Though she had never owned a tree of her own growing up, the curiosity would follow her into adulthood. It wasn’t until Liliana relocated to Costa Rica as a Family Practitioner M.D. that she was able to obtain more than just books on the art form that had captured her curiosity as a child. This is where she acquired her first tree and later met Hernan Brenes, a student of Salvatore Liporace’s European Bonsai School.


Picture from Facebook

            The similarities between caring for humans and trees really resonated with Lillian. The response of each to positive or negative care impacted the practitioner tasked with caring for them. The more workshops Lilian took, the more her passion grew as she started to shift from practicing bonsai as a hobby to traveling and spending time with world-renowned bonsai professionals.


            While traveling in Brazil, Lilian met her current teacher, Felipe Dallorto. They shared affection towards conifers and their beauty, resilience, and versatility compared to the stark contrast of tropical or other broadleaf species available. Though still a practicing physician, Lilian’s love of trees began to pull her further to practicing bonsai full time and cultivating a lifestyle she aims to share with others.


Picture from Facebook

            Driven by the desire to connect people with art through nature and to provide enthusiasts with quality instruction and an enjoyable experience, Lilian now travels and practices bonsai professionally. The sharing of knowledge for procuring and developing material stems from her own experiences with trial and error, allowing people to be comfortable, engaged, and able to cultivate their own lifestyle within the art of bonsai.

Lilliana’s website

BSF 2022 Convention headliner

Mike Lane

Picture from Facebook

It was the early 2000s while performing Iaido demonstrations with his dojo at Morikami Gardens, that Mike Lane saw his very first bonsai, planting a seed that would come out of hibernation a few years later. The tree that awoke that initial spark was a large buttonwood at Wigert’s Bonsai Nursery, setting him on a path quite different than the one he was on.


            Mike obtained his first tree as a gift in 2008 and after becoming a student of Erik Wigert, he both competed in and won the 2010 BSF Scholarship competition; only two years after receiving his first tree. By 2016, Mike became fully dedicated to the art of bonsai, bringing his primary focus to growing and propagating tropicals. He has since become an instructor at Wigert’s Bonsai Nursery and travels the country providing demos with his most recent trip encompassing 9 cities across Texas and Louisiana. Mike is a published artist having 3 articles in Bonsai Focus Magazine and was also the first recipient of the Mary Madison Award for “Best Native Tree” at the 2021 BSF Convention.


Sharing his knowledge and experience with others has been one of the most rewarding aspects of Mike’s path within bonsai. While he does enjoy working on a variety of trees from different areas of the world, Mike’s passion and focus are tropical shohin. He concentrates on Buttonwood, Premna, Sea Hibiscus, Ficus, and Desmonium among other tropical species. He highlights the rhythms of learning bonsai with learning music; both take time, practice, and require a determination to continue learning. His emphasis on taking the time to hone his skills has allowed his audience to enjoy their own journey through bonsai.

Mike’s Instagram page

From the editor

By Adam lavigne

It’s live! Well, mostly. The convention website is now live to preview. Catalog mode as they say in the webmaster circles. Don’t worry, it’ll be fully open before you know it (Friday March 4, 7pm) so mark your calendars. For now you can see the schedule, the workshops, the venue, etc. and figure out what you want to do. To get to the website click Here. Now why did I just copy everything Jorge said above? Because it bears repeating.

There is going to be a special event on the schedule, Saturday at 2 pm , which you’ll notice if you go Here. There will be more on this in emails from Bsf and in the next edition of this magazine. But let’s just say it’s going to be big. BIG.


Since I have your attention, let me mention a few club level events.

March 5 the Sho fu auction

March 26 the Lighthouse auction

If your club is having an event, send your flyer to, and your event will go on the front page, in order of when it’s happening, of the BSF website

This last paragraph is, of course, reserved for the constant call for articles, pictures, travel logs, poems, artwork, and anything to do with bonsai. The magazine goes out only when there’s enough content, and though I could write it all, you don’t necessarily want to be reading all that. I have my own personal website for those ramblings. Please, send me those articles and pics, they don’t have to be fully fleshed out think pieces on the state of anodized aluminum alloys and the holding power vs work hardening tendencies of bonsai wire (I would read that….). Send an outline, a few words. Whatever you have.

Copyright 2022 Bonsai Societies of Florida , all rights reserved, unless otherwise noted

2 thoughts on “The Florida Bonsai Magazine: February 2022

  1. Thank you Adam for the excellent publication!

  2. April Morrissette February 23, 2022 — 11:03 am

    Great content. I miss Florida so much and I follow the club news with pleasure. Thank you all.

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