The Florida Bonsai Magazine: April 2018

From the desk of the President

By Ronn Miller

Greetings!  First, we would like to welcome Bob Wertz as the new Trustee #8 for the Broward club and the Gold Coast club.  He will replace Art Cid who has done a great job of supporting and representing the clubs for the Bonsai Societies of Florida. Thank you, Art and best wishes. We also would like to welcome a new club to the BSF, The Forest Bonsai Club of Ocala.

BSF convention news for 2018. You now have, for the first time, a chance to register for the convention online. We launched the website a couple of weeks ago.  We have had some bugs with the system but we have smoothed them out and it seems to be working fine now. There have been many registrations and, in fact, two workshops have sold out (see workshop trees at the end of this message.) There are going to be more than 16 vendors with everything from completed trees, pre-bonsai, tools, supplies, display stands and much more.

We need volunteers to help in many areas. If you volunteer, your club will be eligible for a share of the profit and you will also be able to go on the BSF registration list for your “tax free” room nights. If you would like to volunteer, please fill out the volunteer application form and submit it. Our webmaster, Jorge Nazario  ( ) is the volunteer manager for this year’s convention, he will contact you after receiving your application and will put your name on the hotel room “master list”, you may then register for the convention.  On the registration, write “Master List”  for hotel reservation number.  For those on the master list, your payment for the room is $106 if requested by 15 April. Please make sure you receive confirmation from Jorge prior to making a room reservation at the hotel.

A check for your room payment is preferred.

Please mail to:


5622 S.E. Lamay Drive

Stuart, FL 34997-6548.

Rick Jeffery ( be the lead on the raffle again this year. Contact him with donations. Barbara Hiser ( be the contact for the Brevard club for the raffle on Saturday and Noreen Sherman ( will be the contact the Treasure coast for the raffle on Sunday. Get your donated items ready!

Phil Krieg ( is the lead for the exhibit.  The cutoff date for submissions for the exhibit is May 1st! Submit online Here

Ronn Miller is the contact for the vendor area. Send an email with an intent to be a vendor and he will contact you about registration. Remember that vendors are eligible for inclusion on the tax free Master List for hotel rooms.


Green island ficus!

The 2018 Epcot/BSF trees

By Adam Lavigne

Once again, Paul Pikel and the Epcot Committee have assembled some of the best trees in Florida for Bsf’s role in the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.(thanks to Kathrin Harris for the above collage)

This is the 25th year of the festivals run at Epcot, and it is a special one for sure.

As usual, the exhibitors had to be at Epcot bright and early on the first day of the show for setup. We only had until 11am when the Japanese Pavilion was opened to the public! But, as usual, the Disney people were able to pull off the Magic and have everything ready for the opening.

There is a great mix of trees this year, from Pinus Thunbergia to Ulmus parviflora, and all the tropicals you can imagine in between (we are in Florida after all!).

The display has four areas….

…..the zen garden….

…….the meadow….

…..and Tori gate left, and right.

There are 21 trees on display again, and the show runs until May 28th, in the Japanese Pavilion.

The committee, expertly run by Paul Pikel, had a tough job this year paring down the more than fifty entries.

But Paul is a boss, and the job was done well.

It is a pleasure to watch Disney guests look at the trees and wonder aloud at the time it takes to create such beautiful works of art and to marvel at some of the ages of the trees.

I overheard one guest exclaiming about the above buttonwood, which is estimated to be about 200 years old, saying,

“Imagine the things this tree has seen, on the southern coast of Florida, the hurricanes, the pirates, the treasure hunters. It is humbling to be in its presence”

Many of the trees have stories….

……and impressive provenance…..

….often being passed from one collection to another. The above elm, owned by Ben Agresta, has been everywhere, starting in China, to Mississippi, to Ohio, to Michigan, and finally to Florida.

We had a few new species…..

…..such as the water oak, above, which was collected and styled by Julie Trigg. It’s my favorite tree in the show.

And the old standbys like the green island ficus of Reggie Purdue, below.

Next year, we hope to see your tree, just remember to submit one. The deadline is December 31st, at midnight. So there’s no excuse, get that pic today, and send it along.

(photo credit, Guy Hiser)

Using unrooted portulacaria afra cuttings in bonsai

By James J. Smith

(Editors note: this article was originally published in The Florida Bonsai Magazine in 1980, and again in 1989. With the upcoming workshop at this years convention, as well as the theme, we thought it was appropriate to reprint it again, enjoy!)

Succulent group planting (for smaller unrooted cuttings)

This type of planting can be styled as a formal forest, using the three basic trees as a base, or as a more formal type saikei type planting. The cuttings should have straight trunks for the formal style, but may be any style for the saikie style planting.

Figures 1 and 2 show a saikei type planting using all straight trunk cuttings. This type of planting is very easy to do because the cuttings can be inserted into the soil to within 1/4″ of the bottom of the pot. Since the soil is rather deep, the cuttings should be stable enough without being wired. If not, they may be wired as show.

After you have taken the cutting, prepare them by removing all the leaves and branches that will be below the soil. Some pruning may be done at this time, but more will be necessary when you plant them.

Next, arrange them on a table according to size, so you can easily pick the appropriate size for the composition.

The pot should be prepared, as usual, with screen over the drainage holes, and then place your rocks and bond them together and to the pot using your favorite method, whether it’s epoxy, cement or even hot glue. Fill the pot with soil and contour it to the desired shape. If your cuttings have dried sufficiently (at least 24 hours) then you can use moist soil. If not, bone dry soil is best.

You are now ready to plant your cuttings, starting with the tallest first and working your way down to the smallest. Make sure that all pruning is completed before placing the cuttings, then plant them deep. If more pruning is needed after all cuttings are in place, it is usually better to wait until they have rooted.

If necessary, the cuttings may be wired together with thin wire (22 guage copper or 1 mm aluminum) for more stability. The less they move the more roots.

At this point, it is best to carefully move the tray planting to its permanent location for rooting. After it starts to grow, it will be necessary to pinch the tips regularly (every week if needed) to develop the branching in the more formal styles.

If a more informal or windswept style is being developed,pinching is not as demanding.

You may add sand or gravel or moss now or wait until you are exhibiting the planting. Any number of variations of this type of planting with portulacarias are possible. And, if for some reason you don’t like the creation or if you just want the practice, you can disassemble your planting and start over. The cuttings will stay alive for weeks or more if given protection from the sun and kept in a cool place.

This type of planting, if started in early spring, will look very nice by the time cold weather arrives, if given the proper care.

Informal upright succulent planting

This type of planting, as shown in figures 3, 4, 5, and 6, will take longer to complete (it helps if you’re more experience as well) but if you can find the right cuttings, a fair bonsai can be developed in about two years.

Look for cuttings with short internodes for mame size trees. For larger trees longer internodes will be satisfactory.

Study your cuttings and use the best available, like one with more branches. If no cuttings are available on your stock plant, develop one by pinching.

This style of cutting determines the length of time it will take to develop a bonsai. You can start with a trunk and a pair of side branches and then develop a top after the cuttings have rooted, but if you have all the basic branches at the time of the potting, the tree will start to fill out and be a nice bonsai in a year or so.

After you have selected your cuttings, complete all pruning and wiring before placing it in the pot. If the bonsai is small you may even wish to use the wire used for the no. 1 and no. 2 branches to secure the tree into the pot, as seen in fig. 4.

Soil is not put into the pot until the cutting is wired into the container and adjusted accordingly.

After the pot is filled with soil, it can be watered for the first time at least 24 hours after the cutting was taken, to allow the cut end to dry and reduce the risk of rot. After the drying time has passed, keep the soil evenly moist until it is rooted. After the portulacaria begins to grow, you can begin with liquid fertilizer. It can also be moved into brighter light if desired. Pinch every week or so as needed to develop into a fine quality bonsai.

The plant should be repotted the following year in the same container. Pot it slightly higher to expose and create surface roots as shown in fig. 6.

The portulacaria can live for many years without repotting, but while in training, it should be repotted every year for fast development.


For fast bonsai with portulacaria afra

1. Grow in light shade

2. Water regularly, do not let the soil dry out completely while in training.

3. Fertilize heavily (experiment).

4. Pinch new growth, at least weekly when growing heavily

5. Use pesticides with caution.

A sad note

A word from the editor

By Adam Lavigne

As usual, I will again solicit articles for publication. Anything bonsai, horticulture, or related arts I will consider for publication. Even if it’s a draft, we can finish the article for you.

Also, photos of past events, news of upcoming events, or stories from 30 years ago you wish to see reprinted or think are important, please submit them. The email is:

As you see in this issue, we reprinted a great article from Jim Smith, who left our earthly plane recently (imagine the study group that has formed up there, John Naka, Yuji, Joe Samuels, Ben Oki, Jim….). I hope you enjoy it and, more importantly, learned from it.

The convention this year has been a labor of love. As the nominal convention chair, I’ve had an interesting time. We began a new program of online registration and, as with all new things, there have been some snafus. But bear with us, everything will work out. Don’t miss out on it as this is, believe it or not, the first All-Florida program. We are lucky in this state to have true bonsai pioneers like Mary Madison, and Masters like Ed Trout, that it really behooves you to attend. Even if it’s just for one day. Check out the website links above if you wish to volunteer, exhibit a tree, or participate in the Club Night or Scholarship competitions.

Thank you and hopefully I’ll see you next month in Orlando.

Copyright 2018 BSF

The Florida Bonsai Magazine: February 2018

From the desk of the President

By Ronn Miller

Hi all,

I would like to give you a quick update on the status of this year’s convention. It is looking like it will be one of the best times had for all.  This year we are honored to salute our Florida artists. The team of 1st VP Reggie Perdue, Webmaster Jorge Nazaro, Ben Agresta and myself, led by 2nd VP Adam Lavigne, have been working hard to finish up the program and registration package.  This year will be a first for us as we are going to present the registration form online to make it possible for members to fill out and enter it without having to print, fill it out manually, and mail it in. Of course you can still mail your registration if you want to.

The theme this year is “A Legacy of Learning” and will feature BSF Legacy Award winners as our headliners. We have Ed Trout, Mike Rogers, Mary Miller, Jim Vanlandingham, Louise Leister, Mary Madison, and Mike Cartrett. We will also pay tribute to Legacy Award winners and to winners who are not with us anymore.

Additionally, other great artist will also be featured in the outstanding program that we have put together.  Adam Lavigne, Rob Kempinski, Hiram Macias, Reggie Perdue, Jason Osborne, Donnie Emenegger, and Vladimir Foursa will be performing demonstrations and workshops.

We have secured some fantastic material for both workshops and demonstrations. Our goal for workshop trees was for quality while considering the value. We will be showing pictures of the trees when the first convention newsletter is published.  Selection of workshop trees will be on a sign-up basis, the first person to sign up for the workshop will get first choice.

We are going to ask for volunteers for various tasks and we are in the process of setting up requirements. Volunteers will be eligible to get on the BSF Master List for rooms that will be exempt from taxes.  This saves a significant amount on your room. Payment for your room will have to be made to BSF before 1 May as the hotel requires us to pay for the rooms in advance. Information will be available for contacts and areas where you can volunteer in the first newsletter coming out soon. The newsletter will accompany the launch of the registration form.

I will be contacting vendors and sending registration information within the next week.

Ronn Miller

Bsf President


by Tony Green

When the fervor of bonsai took hold of me, I sought all the information I could find. I learned the history of bonsai. I subscribed to bonsai magazines. I watched videos about wiring and watering techniques. I researched substrate and light cycles. The learning materials I immersed myself in often displayed magnificent white pines, exquisite Japanese flowering quince, and majestic Rocky Mountain junipers. And slowly, another force grew inside me, nestled in right beside my bonsai fervor: zone envy—“an affliction whereby one desires to cultivate a species of plant outside their native zone.”

A plant hardiness zone (determined by the USDA) is a standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive in their location. Zones are determined by the average annual minimum temperature in winter and are divided into ten-degree increments. I live in zone 10b— the southeast coast of Florida.

One of Tony’s trees, a schefflera forest

The magnificent trees I saw in my studies needed a dormancy period during the winter, requiring winter temperatures far below those found in my zone. While I was able to cultivate tropicals like bougainvillea, schefflera, and ficus where I lived, I yearned to work on the great variety of trees I was exposed to in my studies. It was this force that drove me to apply for an internship at the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum in Washington, DC in the spring of 2017. *

The bonsai collection at the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum is world-renowned. Comprised of over 400 trees, the collection includes bonsai from all over the world, many of which have been donated by famous artists and heads of state. Some of the most famous trees in the world are in this collection, including Goshin by John Naka and the Yamaki pine, rescued from Hiroshima and in training since 1625. Truly, it is one of the top bonsai collections in existence.

Ironically, when I arrived at the Arboretum, the staff took great pride in showing me their collection of tropical trees. They had gone to extensive measures in their tropical greenhouses to mimic the warm, humid environment required for tropical trees to thrive—conditions I had always taken for granted in Florida.  I realized that, apparently, zone envy afflicts bonsai practitioners no matter where they live (Washington DC is zone 7a).

My first responsibility was to properly clean the water basins and keep the hoses neatly put away. Next, I was instructed in proper watering and fertilization. Then, one day I was assigned  a ficus which needed spring pruning

“We have this ficus that needs pruning. Why don’t you give it a shot? You can ‘go hard’ ” they told me.

Ficus natalensis

Apparently, a “hard” prune on a ficus is defined differently in mid-Atlantic regions than it is in sub-tropical Florida. My mentors looked at my finished work, mouths agape at my drastic “hard” styling of the tree. After that, they politely told me to “go easy” when it came to pruning. Once we overcame such communication hurdles, I was honored to be trusted to work on some of the most famous and valuable bonsai trees in the nation.

Japanese black pine de-candled by Tony

During my time there, I spent twelve hours a day, five days a week absorbing all the information I could about bonsai. I felt like a captive-bred fish finally released into a palatial lake, greedily absorbing all my new environment had to offer. I learned skills for maintaining various species, cultivars, and styles of bonsai. I gained understanding of how a tree’s age impacts the treatment and styling approach. I acquired new knowledge of extensive display techniques. Much of my time was spent interacting with public visitors to the museum, answering questions and educating people about the collection. Of course, I would not have taken away so much value from my experience if I had not been working with the knowledgeable, supportive staff I had guiding me through my journey.

At its heart, zone envy is a curiosity. It’s this curiosity that drove me out of zone 10b into zone 7a for more training and experience and allowed me to expand my horticultural knowledge. However, all people can utilize that native wonder, even within their own temperate zones. Everyone can test the limits of their zones, integrating species that are just on the edge or just outside of their temperate zone. It is this curiosity that takes us to places we never imagined and allows us to explore our creativity in ways we never knew were possible.

Michael James, interim curator and Tony, working on The famous Yamaki Pine

*If you are interested in an internship, follow this link for more info.

The Journey of the Sho Fu Brazilian Rain Tree Forest

By Kay Karioth and Mike Knowlton

The story of our Brazilian Rain Tree Forest begins where most all rain trees living in the United States began.  Jim Moody, well known Florida Bonsai artist, was sent in 1974, by his sister-in-law who was living in Brazil, five Rain Tree seeds. He planted them and as the seeds grew into trees, cuttings were taken from them.  Cuttings grow rapidly in the Florida climate and in no time Brazilian Rain Trees became a very popular new tropical species for Bonsai artists to grow.

Jim Moody died in 2003.  His grandson, Allen Carver, continued the tradition of working with and selling Brazilian Rain Trees.  In July of 2004 Allen was invited by the Sho Fu Bonsai Society of Sarasota to visit a club meeting and “do a demo” on Brazilian Rain Trees.  At the time he had never put together a forest.  He brought a handmade concrete slab and 5 trees that were approximately 4 years old.

At the end of each Sho Fu meeting, a raffle is held.  On the evening of July, 2004, one of the members, Vito Morrongiello, was lucky enough to win the forest.  It lived with him until 2008.  He was one of the first Sho Fu members to donate not only this forest but also other large trees to the Permanent Exhibit at Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota.  The Exhibit trees are owned by Sho Fu but because of the relationship Sho Fu has with Selby, thousands of visitors get to enjoy not only the Rain Tree Forest but all of the Permanent Exhibit trees.

Richard Dietrich has been curator of the Sho Fu Permanent Exhibit for approximately 8 years. During this time he spent hours and hours trimming and maintaining the Forest along with about 14 other specimen trees, as well as serving as a docent for the thousands of Selby Garden visitors from all over the world.

The forest was exhibited at the 2014 BSF Convention, at which it won ‘Best Large Tree’.  Tears flowed profusely among both club members and judges when Vito, who was in declining health at that time, saw the forest at the Convention and learned of the award.

Fast Forward to August, 2016.

In August, 2016, Mike and Lunetta Knowlton presented a program for Sho Fu on “Why enter one of your bonsai trees into a state or national exhibition – and if you do, what is entailed?”  The members attending the meeting appeared to be very interested and asked lots of questions.

On the way home from the meeting, Mike and Lunetta discussed several things:

1. What would it take to entice more Sho Fu Members to attend the BSF Convention each year in Orlando or the U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition in Rochester every other year?

2. Many of our members are just beginning their bonsai journey and do not have a tree that would be ready for a State or National exhibit.

3. Sho Fu has a wonderful exhibit at Selby.  Why not consider choosing a tree that the entire club could work on over a two year period and then, as a Club, submit it for Exhibit at the U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition in Rochester, 2018?

4. What tree would be the best choice to work on?  The Brazilian Rain Tree Forest! It is large; it is unusual; there are jobs for many members to work on during the time of preparation.

A proposal was written and presented to the Sho Fu Board.  The Board discussed it, agreed that the idea was a good one and agreed to support moving forward. In the proposal, the Knowlton’s recommended that the forest should be removed from Selby and moved to a place where the membership could work.  This way, several club members at a time could participate in the various jobs needed on an ongoing basis to not only care for the forest but also begin the two year process of preparation for exhibition.  The Knowlton’s volunteered their home location and that was accepted by the Sho Fu Board.

Work needing to be done on a daily, weekly, monthly, bi-yearly, and yearly basis:

Daily watering, timely defoliation, de-thorning, wiring, repotting, removing the wire, keeping new growth trimmed, regular fertilizing, regular application of fungicides and insecticides, and periodically taking the forest to Wigert’s nursery for advice on styling.

Other  considerations were:

Designing a new slab since the forest has outgrown the old original concrete slab it has lived on for 9 years,

Finding a wood slab or exhibit table large enough for the forest.

Deciding how the forest would be transported to Rochester, if it is accepted in the 2018 U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition.

This project is not only how one prepares a tree for a “formal show” but also, this is how a bonsai enthusiast works on all the trees in his/her collection. So, in reality, this project should help all Sho Fu members who get involved and enhance their skills as they work on their own trees.

Significant work on the forest started in the Fall of 2016.  Due to the size of the forest, while at the Selby display, it was not regularly turned to balance exposure to the Sun.  The back of the forest was weak in relation to the front.  BSF members who have Brazilian Rain Trees in their collection also know that due to its fast growing nature it requires aggressive trimming and thinning to keep it under control.

13 club members of  Sho Fu worked with Mike and Lunetta concentrating primarily on defoliation, thorn removal, thinning and trimming.  The forest was then taken to Wigert’s Nursery where Erik Wigert worked with Mike and Richard to thin unnecessary branches and to wire every branch in the forest (Ugh!  Two people working 5 hours).  Some of the bigger branches needed guy wires to facilitate placement.  Special efforts were made to get more sun into the center of the forest.

Another long time Sho Fu member, Tom Friend, constructed a beautiful new concrete slab that kept the same shape but was enlarged about 2” around the perimeter.  Also, Tom provided a deeper center core that made more room for soil.  Finally he provided numerous drain holes and short feet on the slab to promote drainage.

Also, Tom finished a large Cypress slab that the Knowlton’s had purchased in North Florida.  The slab will be used as the table for the forest in the formal display.

Early Spring, 2017

Following several months of observation and input from a number of bonsai artists, Lunetta, Mike and Richard worked all day with Erik to once again wire the branches and to take apart and repot the forest.

 Since the final styling included turning and moving certain of the trees in the forest, the ‘doormat’ of roots had to be carefully but substantially reduced. Following two months in a shade house, all of the trees had recovered and in July another process of wire removal occurred.

The forest was then allowed to grow in full sun for the next several months with minimal trimming and once again was defoliated and re-wired in early November with the help of four other Sho Fu members.

January, 2018

The forest trees have quickly grown a new set of leaves and we received a ‘call for trees’ from Bill Valavanis for consideration to be part of the 2018 National Bonsai Exhibition. Pictures were taken of the Forest, both ‘naked’ and fully leafed out, and sent to him.

And the saga continues………..

Find out if the Forest was accepted in April edition of The Florida Bonsai Magazine!

5th Annual Winter Bonsai Silhouette Expo, December 2017, in Kannapolis, NC

By Barb Hiser

As a native Floridian, I honestly didn’t know what to expect at a “winter silhouette” bonsai show….working mostly with tropicals, our trees look about the same year round except trimming slows down in the winter.  Attending this show for the first time in 2016 was a sure way to change my initial “ho hum” expectation into a jaw-dropping reaction!  I finally understood how “those people up north” could actually enjoy bonsai other than tropicals! The same way we defoliate our tropicals to view the structure (among other reasons), the nature of the deciduous tree during winter is magical and allows the viewer to see a completely different tree.   Attending the 2017 show did not disappoint; in fact there were vendors, outstanding demonstrations and workshops, and spectacular display trees.  It looks as if it is growing every year.  And the venue is elegant, establishing a beautiful backdrop for the high quality trees in their winter best.

Florida was well-represented by artists who envisioned a Florida tree in winter:

Chris Denton (Shefflera Arboricola, banyan style)

Notice the incredible ramification and movement: perfect for a silhouette tree.  Even the judges marveled at the ramification of this Arboricola.


Adam Lavigne (Carpinus caroliniana, American hornbeam, and celtis laeavigata, sugar berry )

A signature feature of Adam’s displays is his unique stands, and these 2 displays didn’t disappoint.  The uro and the hollow trunk add incredible interest and age to both beautiful trees.  If these trees could talk, what would they tell us of a storied past?

Carpinus caroliniana above

Celtis laeavigata below

Rob Kempinski (Main tree-Ficus salicaria)

Rob is an excellent bonsai artist, and he is equally known for his unique displays, always telling a story and with many layers of mystery.  Curiosity abounded with his display at Winter Silhouette, and the responses from viewers ranged from a ‘time machine’ to  ‘Steampunk’.

Bruce Hartman (Ficus microcarpa ‘Green Mound’)

Bruce’s display was an entry in the Club Night event at the annual BSF convention 2017, made by Team BSOB.  It represents lava tubes, with the active volcano clearly visible in the back.  The display was put together, planted, wired, and even the hand painting of the volcano scene, all during the time allotted for Team Night.  The display was then auctioned and Bruce had the winning bid.

Seth Nelson (Ficus microcarpa ‘Green Mound’)

Seth says he inherited this amazing tree from Jim VanLandingham, and has recently made redesign changes to the 30 yr old tree. He describes the process:   “turn and change the angle….remove thick unattractive aerial roots,” but no other branches were removed. His intention was to be “respectful to the old bonsai while bringing in a new perspective and level of refinement. “ Seth says Jim V. was excited to see his tree in this new light, and it won the Best Tropical Award!  (see Awards below)

Sam Ogranaja (Main tree: Premna macrophylla, Stinky Lady)

Sam’s display made a statement about Hurricane Irma and the resulting devastation.  Hurricane survivors often write on their exterior walls or window coverings as a way to alert officials of someone in the building or to simply vent their frustration, (‘Go Away Irma’). The main tree is actually a tanuki graft, well integrated into the driftwood and fitting in perfectly to the scene left in Irma’s wake.

Mike Rogers (Lagerstroemia, crepe myrtle, ‘New Orleans’)

Mike did this planting about 10 yrs ago for a Kawa club demonstration. The trees were grown from cuttings and air layers, and Mike wanted something a little different from the average group/forest planting.  He’s very happy with it,especially in silhouette, and I personally second that!

Barbara Hiser (Coccoloba uvifera, Seagrape. – Juniperus chinensis ‘Shimpaku’)

This sea grape started on the island of Puerto Rico and has made its debut in the United States over the past few years. New growth is reddish, and in warmer months leaves can be reduced to the size of a half dollar or less. Actually in the tropics where this tree grows naturally, it holds its leaves all year so this is a Floridian’s impression of a winter tree!

This ‘Shimpaku’ (on the stand) is early in its life of display but can only get more beautiful, proudly representing the Juniper family. This tree was part of the collection of Louise Leister. We arm-wrestled for it, and I won!

The highlight of this beautiful event was distribution of Awards and each was a well-deserved recognition for the skill and passion of the artists, respect for the individual tree, and dedication to the advancement of bonsai.

Best Conifer: Adair Martin (Japanese White Pine). This tree was grafted 20-25 yrs ago onto a yamadori Lodgepole trunk with deadwood and shari.  Adair says it’s actually 2 grafts: one is the drop branch on the right and the other is the crown. Beautiful tree, skillfully worked.

Best Deciduous Tree:  Tom Bjorholm (Carpinus caroliniana, American hornbeam).  This native forest of American Hornbeams makes a stunning presentation in silhouette.  I can only imagine how it looks in full leaf and in the fall with a smattering of small delicate yellow leaves.

Best Display:  Mac McAtee (Persimmon, Diospyros rhombifolia).  Incredible attention to detail brought this display to a whole new level!  The artist made the stand of persimmon wood with a tile top, and on the front is a cut out of a persimmon leaf.  This possum loves persimmons, as you can see him eating, and the picture is from a magazine cover from the 1920’s; the figure is holding a string of dried persimmons. The table cover is dyed a shade to mimic the color of many persimmons.

Best Tropical:  Seth Nelson (as described above)

ABS Award for Best Native:  Gary Clark for his snow scene with native American Hornbeams (Carpinus caroliniana).  These are separate trees in separate pots, and it was assembled at the show on Friday night. There was a little turtle tucked up under the fallen log, and it was only visible by getting up close and personal with the display! This was a show-stopper and there was a cluster of viewers admiring it most all of the weekend.

Bonsai Glamor Shots

Joe Noga spends hours at each show taking professional photos of each tree.  It takes 20-30 minutes or more per tree.  Here’s a peek at what it looks like behind the scenes.  I felt like a ‘stage mom’ as my trees got photographed!

And speaking of photographers, phone cameras were everywhere!  Here’s a classic picture.

I hope you have an idea of what a spectacular show Winter Silhouette is.  The upcoming date is December 1-2, 2018. Admission is free.  Here’s a link for more info

See you next year!

Happenings around Florida

The Bellota Bonsai Auction

Please rsvp here if you are interested in joining the auction at Agresta Gardens

The Bsf exhibit at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival 2018

This years exhibit begins on February 28th and runs through May 28th, in the Japanese Pavilion at Epcot in the Walt Disney World Resort. There are 21 of the finest bonsai in the state on display for an estimated 6 million guests to spread the Art of Bonsai not only to Florida but to the whole world. Don’t miss this years offerings!

The 4th Annual Multi-club Picnic

3rd Annual Lighthouse Bonsai Society Auction

The 45th Annual Bsf Convention-May, 2018

The schedule-

A brand new club

We are proud to announce a new club that has just formed in the Ocala area, called the “Forest Bonsai Society of Ocala”. The president is David Cutchin and if you would like info, send an email to

Welcome to the World of Florida Bonsai!

From the Editor

By Adam Lavigne

I hope you’re enjoying reading the new version of The Florida Bonsai Magazine as much as I am putting it together. I find the collaboration with different authors very stimulating and refreshing.

If you would like to submit an article for publication, the deadlines are the end of March, the end of May, the end of July and so forth, every two months with publication months of February, April, June etc. Simply send the article as a plain text email, with photos either attached or sent separately, I can format it for publication.

The types of stories we are looking for are first person accounts of bonsai activities, styling or horticultural techniques on trees in your collections. Upcoming events from your club activities, memorials or remembrances of past Florida or American bonsai practitioners, and anything else bonsai related you may find interesting.

I will be reprinting, as best I can, some old articles from the print version of The Magazine, so if you can remember something you loved from, say, 1993 or 2001, send me the article.

The email is

© 2018, Bonsai Societies of Florida

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.