Some Images from the Royal Botanical Gardens Bonsai Show

The Bonsai Society @ RBG put on a show this past weekend that was both well-executed and well-attended. Here are just a few of the many excellent trees that were on display.

Toronto Bonsai Society Fall Show Gallery

The gallery of the recent TBS show has just been posted. Follow this link to see it, or click the image below.

As mentioned in a previous post, this show was professionally photographed by member Mike Pochwat. I am still in awe of the quality of his work. Check out the gallery to see for yourself!

Acer palmatum

Acer palmatum

Professional Image of Thuja occidentalis

This twin trunk thuja has progressed well since it was collected in Spring 2013. It was styled in the summer for the first time. While the foliage is still quite immature and lacking density, I am happy with where the image is going and it is becoming hard to imagine this tree without the lovely pot by Erick Križovenský’

It was shown for the first time last weekend at the Toronto Bonsai Society Fall Show and Sale. The entire show was photographed by one of our members Mike Pochwat, who is a professional photographer. When the full album is available, I will share the link here.

We are extremely fortunate to have such a talented photographer in our show, and that he was generous enough to take his time to photograph our trees. Meeting great people like this is just one of the many reasons why I always encourage bonsai enthusiasts to join a local club.

Happy autumn to everyone! A busy time of year for us cold-climate bonsai nuts.

Thuja occidentalis

Thuja occidentalis

Strong Canadian Presence in the 2014 US National Bonsai Exhibition

I recently received my Fourth US National Bonsai Exhibition Commemorative Album and have thoroughly enjoyed studying the over 200 top quality bonsai displays in what is widely agreed upon to be the best US National Exhibition to date. As you probably know, this exhibition and commemorative album is the product of the tireless efforts of William N. Valavanis. As I have come to expect, the album is expertly photographed by Joe Noga and professionally designed and annotated by Bill and his staff. However, what truly makes this year’s album special to me is the strong representation of Canadian bonsai art.

For decades, bonsai enthusiasts from Ontario and Quebec have traveled to Bill’s International Bonsai Arboretum  and other venues in Rochester to receive a world-class bonsai education. For many of us, this education culminated in an invitation to share some of our best bonsai in the 2014 USNBE. Members of the Karamatsu Bonsai Study Group in Montreal have exhibited their stunning bonsai at past US National Exhibitions, but 2014 marked the first time that special exhibits from both Quebec and Ontario bonsai societies were invited, making for a stronger Canadian presence than ever.

I counted fourteen displays from private collections in Ontario and Quebec and almost all of them were collected native specimens. Those who know me know that I firmly believe that our native species, especially Thuja occidentalis and Larix laricina, have the potential to be absolutely world class bonsai, even next to the mind-exploding yamadori of the west coast. It makes me extremely proud to see them well represented in this album and I hope that the Canadian presence at this important exhibition will continue to grow.

Bill was kind enough to allow me to reproduce some of the images from the album here and I have decided to focus on the Canadian trees. To fully appreciate the beauty of this exhibition and see more of the outstanding Canadian trees (not to mention the award-winning American masterpieces), you can easily purchase your own copy from Bill.



Preparing Displays for Toronto Bonsai Society Show and Sale

Here is one display I will have at the Toronto Bonsai Society Show and Sale this weekend. I hope to see you there!

Collected Thuja occidentalis with moss accent.

Collected Thuja occidentalis with moss accent.




Exhibition Gallery: Bonsai Society at Royal Botanical Gardens

Click here or the image below to see a gallery of over 60 trees exhibited by the Bonsai Society at Royal Botanical Gardens to honour the 25th anniversary of the twinning of Itabashi, Japan with Burlington, Ontario.


Blue rug juniper bonsai exhibited at Royal Botanical Gardens.


2014 Toronto Bonsai Society Show Photo Gallery

The Toronto Bonsai Society is extremely fortunate to have a member who committed much of his time and energy to professionally photograph every tree at this year’s Spring Show (not to mention updating and maintaining the website). It is amazing the difference a professional quality photograph makes (and also amazing how it highlights the flaws in our trees!). Thank you Dan… even if you photographed my Potentilla from the back… doh! 🙂

Click here for the full gallery, or the image below.

Collected Thuja occidentalis by TBS member Mike M.

Collected Thuja occidentalis by TBS member Mike M.

Bonsai Exhibition: June 14th & 15th 2014 at Royal Botanical Gardens

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Toronto Bonsai Society Show and Sale

Always a great event, I hope to see you there.

TBS Show Poster

A Few Images from the Toronto Bonsai Society Show

Despite is being a less-than-stellar year for fall colour, TBS still put on a good show. Unfortunately I didn’t bring the correct lens for the job so I wasn’t able to get far enough back to get most trees in frame. So here is a small sample of some trees that were on display at TBS.

I’m very proud of myself that I didn’t buy anything in the sales area, despite there being some nice trees that got snatched up pretty quickly.

… well I did buy 10 bags of lava rock, but soil doesn’t count 🙂

Very nice chuhin Japanese maple, trained by one of TBS's senior members for years from either a cutting or an air layer.

Very nice chuhin Japanese maple, trained by one of TBS’s senior members for many years from either a cutting or an air layer.

Very interesting pot by (I think) Horst Heinzelreiter. A creative pairing with this tree that I think works extremely well with the fall image.

Great pot by (I think) Horst Heinzelreiter. A creative pairing with this tree that I think works extremely well with the fall image.

It wouldn't be TBS without some Eastern White Cedars.

It wouldn’t be TBS without some Eastern White Cedars.

Shohin English Oak, 12 years from seed.

Shohin English Oak, 12 years from seed.




Bonsai Society at Royal Botanical Gardens Exhibition

My local club, the Bonsai Society at Royal Botanical Gardens, had our first club exhibition this weekend. Bonsai@RBG was founded almost exactly 4 years ago in October 2009, and we were all proud of the exhibition our young club was able to produce.

Approximately 60 tree were displayed, all on stands and most with accompanying accent plants. We had no backdrops for many of the trees and we thought this would be an issue, but were pleasantly surprised with the feeling of openness that it gave the show. It was nice to be able to walk into the room and gaze across the entire exhibit. Of course, backgrounds are always more desirable in a formal display setting, and this is something we will work towards for future shows.

One of the amazing things about our show was how we all pooled our resources to make the best possible displays. Many of our members do not have stands, so we pooled together everything we had and paired the best stand with the tree, regardless of owner. Similarly, members provided accent plants and scrolls to elevate the display. Without this mutual support, the show certainly would not have come together as well as it did.

Enjoy the pics below of some of the trees I was able to photograph. Most are blurry because of the low light, I had to turn down the shutter speed and of course forgot my tripod.


A panoramic view of the back wall where some of the larger bonsai were displayed alongside some nice antique scrolls. None of us are experts in displaying bonsai with scrolls, but I think it is safe to say that they added to the beauty of the display.

Fall 2013 Bonsai Events in the Greater Toronto Area

Bonsai Society @ RBG Fall Exhibition


Over 40 bonsai well displayed, including some rarely seen trees by American Bonsai Artist Nick Lenz.

When: 10:00 – 5:00 pm, October 12-13

Where: Royal Botanical Gardens, Burlington ON

Cost: Free with garden admission.

Toronto Bonsai Society Show & Sale

qd12One of North America’s oldest clubs. Always some great trees and often great deals to be had at the sales table.

When: Saturday October 19, 11:00 -6:00 & Sunday October 20, 10:00 – 5:00

Where: Toronto Botanical Garden, Toronto, ON

Cost: Typically around $5.00 with discounted rates for seniors and children.


Chrysanthemum Show

While not strictly bonsai. the Japanese Garden Club will be hosting a Special Demonstration Day on Sunday November 3rd which will include bonsai lecture(s) and demonstration(s).


Toronto Bonsai Society Show/Sale + Larch Needle Plucking

The Toronto Bonsai Society Spring Show and Sale is being held June 15 & 16 at Toronto Botanical Gardens in the Garden Hall. This event has been happening for decades and is surely the largest and most consistent annual exhibition of bonsai in the GTA. The sales tables are a great place to pick up pots, bonsai, pre-bonsai, tools, and books. I’ve bought several trees from TBS shows/sales, including the one below which I am currently prepping for the show.

With their vigorous summer growth, larch develop needles in all sizes and all directions, and the same goes for shoots (although less-so with mature larches). Two simple things can be done to minimize the wayward bushiness of a summer larch – reducing spring fertilization, and needle plucking. Reducing fertilization is pretty self explanatory – if you are trying to “bonsai” your larch (instead of develop the branches/trunk) don’t fertilize it until the spring growth hardens off.

Needle plucking is self explanatory as well – try to make your larch look like a Japanese white pine. This involves plucking (by hand) all downward growing needles to clearly define the underside of the foliage pads. Downward growing buds/shoots should be cut with scissors. Excess horizontal needles can also be plucked, although be careful not to remove all the needles from a growing center. Also, needles that are growing along the branches in between buds should be plucked, although these are usually only an issue on young (1-2 year old) branches.

Branch before plucking

Branch before plucking

After plucking downward needles

After plucking downward needles

Summer wire application on larches should be minimal unless you are something of a masochist (larch are best wired in spring as the buds start to colour up). However when prepping a tree for show there is nothing wrong with wiring  the odd branch, again with the goal of defining the underside of the foliage pads.

    Branch looking a little droopy.

Branch looking a little droopy.

After minor adjustment with wire.

After minor adjustment with wire.

After work

After work


Prepping Yew for Show

This tree still has at least one more growing season to go before the crown has filled out properly (there are several empty spaces when viewed from above). Nevertheless, I showed it for the first time at the Toronto Bonsai Society’s Fall Exhibition.
To prep it I removed guy wires, plucked some needles, adjusted the positioning of some branches, scrubbed the bark and deadwood, applied some dilute lime sulphur, mossed the soil surface, and oiled the pot and bark.

Before prep

Before prep


After prep

After prep