Florida Magazine: May 2022

Presidents message

By Jorge Nazario

For the past 5 years, I have been a part of an organization that has presented many challenges and, at the same time multiple opportunities for personal growth. I am very grateful to all members of the Bonsai Societies of Florida for what we have accomplished. We have made great progress for BSF, together.

I am today announcing that I will be stepping down as BSF President on June 1st. I have accepted an out-of-state position with my place of employment and will be moving within the next few weeks. Mrs. Harris, who currently serves as the First Vice-President, will assume the responsibilities of President and Mr. Lavigne will continue as Second Vice-President so that he may continue his outstanding work with convention-related matters. Shortly after June 1st, Mrs. Harris will propose a replacement to fill the vacancy of First Vice-President as outlined in the By-laws, Article V, Section 8, D.

I love Bsf and look forward to remaining a part of it. I have communicated my intent to the executive board to continue to serve as webmaster and email platform administrator until a replacement is found.

It is my hope that we all remember how critical it is to be a unified organization.
“At our best, we are family. Our strength is in unity”

Thank you for the opportunity to have served. It has been an honor. I am grateful to each and every member of the Bsf Board and all of the many volunteers throughout the years. I would like to recognize my friend and right-hand man, Adam Lavigne. Your knowledge, assistance, dedication, and above all your friendship made my job ten times easier, thank you. Bsf occupies a very special place in my heart, I love you guys.


Jorge Nazario
Bonsai Societies of Florida

What is The Florida Collective?


    A concept created by David Cutchin to address and celebrate Florida’s different methodologies and how they influence and guide the bonsai we create. This demo will focus on elevating the unique nuances of Florida’s bonsai, landmass, and people from an artistic, cultural, and horticultural perspective. Four trees, four hours, from four different regions of Florida including a complete styling and explanation of species care for every corner of our state. Learn individual species history, characteristics, and needs from a pre-bonsai to a well-developed bonsai. This demo aims to highlight why Florida is the bonsai utopia of the United States. Our land and climate provide us with the opportunity that no other states enjoy and it’s time to come together and celebrate our collective uniqueness!

Join David and five of his students; Alejandro Ramirez, Mia Leppala, Ryan Williams, Abner Cruz Perez, and Angelica Ramirez as they conduct this never before attempted demo.

The trees from this demo will be auctioned after the BSF Banquet on Sunday, May 29th.Winners will receive a 30-day minimum recovery period provided by David Cutchin to ensure adequate aftercare. The winners will also receive complimentary hand delivery and installation at the winners’ residence along with a lesson on how to continue the care of their newly acquired trees.Tickets for this event are $20 and are available at the Bsf Convention website

David Cutchin is a 6th generation Floridian, and a 2nd generation bonsai artist and grower. Born and raised in the Florida panhandle, David moved to central Florida in 2011 to study horticulture at UF following an 11-year career with the Forest Service. This is also when he met David & Linda VanBuskirk of DL Nursery and began training to be a bonsai professional. In 2016 David became a student of Ryan Neil of Bonsai Mirai where he concentrated on technical application and design. Bridging the historically self-taught bonsai application of the southeast and the technical mastery of the west really pushed David to a greater appreciation of the art form and nuances in his home state. Florida being the most diverse state in the US to practice bonsai, and his nursery centrally located, allowed David the opportunity to deploy many stylistic approaches across many horticultural applications. Currently in his 11th year, David teaches temperate, sub-tropical, and tropical cultivation through DL Nursery and Mirai Live, as well as clubs and individuals across the United States.

Scholarship competition

By Adam Lavigne

This years scholarship competition on Saturday morning (5/28/2022) will mark the most numerous and diverse competition we have had. We have competitors from the North, South, East, and West of Florida, from Miami to Gainesville. Almost all the districts will be represented this year.

Being a past winner, I hold the Scholarship Competition close to my heart, and Jorge and I worked hard this year to accommodate the competitors so that they had the most equitable chance at competing and moving on to the finals.

Be sure to think about maybe trying your hand next year when the calls go out from the club presidents and District Trustees for competitors. It doesn’t cost anything, except your time, and you could ultimately win a scholarship opportunity worth up to $1000 towards furthering your bonsai education and knowledge.

Here are some pics from the district competitions I’ve been able to attend.

Don’t forget, the competition takes place Saturday morning at the convention, and I wish all the competitors good luck!

Meet the convention Artist: Les Lonsdale

Les Lonsdale got started in bonsai when he found the Sunset House Bonsai book, while working at a tropical plant nursery in 1977.  However, until finally joining a club (North Georgia Bonsai study group in Marietta, Ga)  in 1992, every plant that he tried to turn into a bonsai ended up dying eventually.  He also joined the Atlanta Bonsai Society the same year and served on the BOD there until relocating to Bainbridge (S. Georgia) in 2000.

Immediately, he searched for local bonsai clubs and found and joined the 2 closest ones, the South Georgia Bonsai Club in Albany, and the Tallahassee Bonsai Society.  He served in several offices for both clubs, including president of TBS from 2016-2018. Now he serves as vice-president of that club.

Les is 67 yrs.old, single, a recently retired chemist of 42 yrs, finally getting to practice more intensely many of his other lifelong hobbies including: biblical apologetics, martial arts, magic, drumming, sword-play, and chess.

48th annual BSF Convention

Join us this Memorial Day weekend for a bonsai-packed event. There are, as of this publication, a few spots left in some of the workshops, so register now, there may be not any trees left tomorrow.

Click here for the convention website

From Sunset House bonsai book to Scholarship competition winner in 5 easy steps!

By Les Lonsdale

I don’t think that I’m the only one that has started their bonsai journey by finding the Sunset House Bonsai book.  It happened in 1977 and I’ve had the fever ever since. However, until I finally joined a bonsai club in 1992 (Atlanta Bonsai Society), I lost every plant that I ever tried to make into a bonsai, eventually.  I have been in clubs ever since and it has made all the difference!

Since everyone likes a ‘5-step plan’, here’s mine for going from a complete novice to BSF 2021 Scholarship competition winner!

1) READ – everything bonsai-related that you can. Sure, you will come across conflicting information occasionally, but you will constantly be building your knowledge base. If it’s a book, I will make notes on paper as I read, creating an outline of sorts.  The more ‘senses’ you incorporate, the more you will retain, so besides reading I am also writing.  Then, when I go back years later, I can just look at the outline that I keep in the book to recall the important points that I want to remember.

2) PRACTICE – No amount of reading will help without actually working on trees. Buy cheap nursery stock or dig plants on your property and practice what you’ve been reading.  Sure, at first you might kill most of your ‘patients’, but that is how you learn.

3) JOIN – Eventually, all of the trees that I worked on for the first 15 years died until I finally joined a bonsai club.  Some books are written with different climates in mind, and not all of the rules apply to all trees in all parts of the world.  With a local club, you have hands-on help and advice that can make all of the difference in the world!

4) EXPERIMENT – Don’t be afraid to experiment (with cheap nursery stock) trying different techniques (grafting, layering, wedge cuts, uro, sabamiki, jin/shari, etc) in order to make your uninteresting tree more dramatic.

5) BE CONSISTENT – in watering, fertilizing, pest control, weed control, etc.  Keep records of your trees and their individual requirements and attend to them daily. There is no substitute for experience, and experience only comes with time and practice.

I felt very honored and a bit overwhelmed when I was chosen to represent our club (Tallahassee Bonsai Society) at the 2021 BSF Scholarship competition because I had only ever attended one BSF convention before, and had never entered a tree for display before or ever participated in any bonsai competition in the 40+ years of practicing the art!

I am still flabbergasted that I actually won the competition, the trophy, and the scholarship money!  Not only that, but my display tree (double trident over temple ruins penjing) won ‘People’s Choice Award’!  I kept thinking that I was going to wake up from a good dream.

In the past, I have never had much money to spend on bonsai ‘extra’s’ like convention workshops, online courses, akadama, wood-working tools, etc. But now I am able to do/purchase all of those things thanks to the scholarship funds! I recently completed the online: ‘Intermediate Bonsai Course’, the ‘Advanced Bonsai Course 1’, and the ‘Advanced Bonsai Course 2’, from ‘Bonsai Empire’ thanks to the scholarship funds!

It is my philosophy that we should be willing to share information that we acquire with others.  I am planning to do that with my club as well as with the BSF family as I participate in 2 demos at the 2022 convention! I have never worked with European Olive before, so I am researching the species as well as collecting photos of different styling possibilities.  This will be a learning experience for me as well as the audience, I’m sure.

Thank you BSF for giving me this amazing opportunity to enrich my knowledge of the art and for offering such a program that can really help to catapult a bonsai student’s experience into the future!

Meet the convention Artist: Angelica Ramirez

Angelica is a twenty-six-year-old artist, musician, pilot, archer and bonsai enthusiast based in Melbourne, Florida.  A cellist of over fifteen years, Angelica is principal cellist of the Melbourne Community Orchestra and teaches private cello lessons. She attended the University of Florida for music performance on cello and after, Voyager Aviation where she earned her helicopter private pilot license. Angelica is also an accomplished archer competing for over ten years. Her records include winning state, national, and international championships, breaking multiple state and international female compound archery records, earning a spot on the USA Archery Team for 2015 and 2016, and was named Florida Sports Foundation’s 2017 Florida Female Athlete of the Year. A self-taught painter, Angelica began dot painting in 2017, painting bonsais in 2019, and watches in 2021. Her paintings are a form of Pointillism with an influence from jewelry. Angelica began learning bonsai in 2019 from Peter Chan videos and from Feng (Gary) Gu of Penjing Bonsai Garden in Malabar, Florida. Later that same year, Angelica had the opportunity of attending a one-to-one class with Peter Chan, and after, she was invited to continue her studies with Peter and will be returning to Herons Bonsai in the Spring of 2022. A member of the Bonsai Society of Brevard, Angelica competed at the 2021 Bonsai Societies of Florida Convention Scholarship Competition, earning second place with a scholarship to continue her bonsai studies. In February 2022, Angelica completed and launched ‘Discover Potters’, a free worldwide database of active bonsai potters which includes direct links to over 300 potters, bonsai pot retailers, and auctions, and bonsai pottery resources. In March 2022, Angelica had the honor of displaying her bonsai at the 2022 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.

From the editor

By Adam Lavigne

Well, my friends, the convention is nigh, and I’m (mostly) ready.

The trees for the workshops and demos are looking good, ready for work. The carts and support material are fixed and ready to carry their loads. The U-Haul truck is reserved and the hotel personnel have been resting for the weekend. All we have left is everything else. Hopefully, I’ll see you there!

We still need volunteers (we will take you all) so if you find yourself with nothing to do, and I see you leaning, don’t be surprised if I grab you by the arm and put you to work. I’m not kidding (maybe I am).

As editor, it’s my duty to try to fill this magazine every few months. So, again, the call goes out for photos, stories, and articles on events your club may have had last month, or, especially, events that are upcoming, like the one below. We can’t promote those happenings unless we know about them, here and on the regular BSF Website, and this magazine is all about bonsai in Florida, what’s happening with the clubs and societies around the state, and all 600+ members and their trees. The email to contact me is publications@bonsai-bsf.com

Such as: In October we have another multi-club auction from the folks at the Bonsai Society of Brevard



Lastly, I would like to thank our president, Jorge Nazario, for his tireless service to BSF these last several years. He came into the job of president somewhat unexpectedly, but he was the man we needed. He took the job seriously, and personally, with the goal of holding the organization to task, following the bylaws, and making sure that everything was above board. His goal was to make the reputation of the organization shine around the world. His greatest challenge was from a microscopic virus, and he held our organization together through the Covid pandemic.

I will miss him being the boss and I wish he didn’t have to leave before his work is done. But, such is life, as they say.

Thank you, Jorge, you’re one of my best friends, and I understand why you need to go, but I wish you didn’t have to go.

©️2022 Bonsai Societies of Florida

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