This post to my blog is as close to real time as I have ever got; I am winding down from a loooooooooong weekend of participating in the annual Spring Bonsai Exhibit of the Bonsai Society of Portland at the Portland Japanese Garden Pavillion. It starts with the set-up, which begins Friday morning with tables, felt and backdrops placed in position. Friday afternoon we bring our trees up to the Pavillion for staging in the final display. Scott Elser coordinates and executes all the logistics of the show and has done so since I joined back in 2006. He generously donates the use of his display stands (many other club members do as well) to put together a very nice bonsai exhibit–one of the better bonsai shows held in the U.S. my not-so-humble opinion ๐Ÿ˜‰

The show opens to the public Saturday morning and the club has a critique Saturday evening; given by an invited guest…this year we were lucky to have 90 minutes with Ryan Neil. Last year we had Michael Hagedorn give our Saturday evening critique. I always look forward to this and count it as one of the better benefits of being a member of the Bonsai Society of Portland!!! I was able to take some photos of the exhibit to share with you and I did show a few trees and accents of my own ๐Ÿ˜‰ How about some images?


I’m sorry for the uneven lighting, my Nikon was in ‘auto’ mode as I had very little time to shoot before we ย tore the exhibit down…this is a birch in the club Tokonoma display presented by Dennis Vojtilla. Wonderful corky bark on this tree! It is huge! I helped Dennis load it up to take home today…definitely a two-person tree!

Next is a tree I brought in for the show, an Alligator juniper, Juniperus deppeana. You don’t often see this species used for bonsai and this one is 1600 miles north in latitude of where it’s native to. I find it does very well in the northwest climate:

Alligator juniper

A detail of the tree alone:

Alligator juniper

Directly across from this tree was this shohin display:

Shohin display

Chris's dwarf

An unusual ginkgo I contributed to this display I acquired from Anne Spencer, ‘Chris’s Dwarf’ in a pot purchased from Minoru Akiyama this February at the Green Club in Ueno Park in Tokyo, Japan. The smallest leaves you can barely see are about the size of a pinhead…they will increase in size over the summer. I put this tree in a purple pot for the contrast of this ginkgo’s golden fall color…we’ll see ๐Ÿ˜‰

And here was a real show-stopper–a larch forest entered by Lee Cheatle. How large is this forest?

Lee's forest

I waited for some unsuspecting guests to drift into the picture…just for scale ๐Ÿ˜‰

Lee's forest

I overheard Lee saying it’s just around 300 pounds…including the pot!

And in the corner to the left of this behemoth was stationed a Blue Atlas Cedar by yours truly…


I acquired this tree from Jim Gremel in the fall of 2012 at the PNBCA convention in Vancouver, WA. I traded a collected engelman spruce and a mountain hemlock for this tree. Potted in a Mike Hagedorn container. The accent to the left is a succulent I posted the flowers of in my last blog post, planted on lava rock; here’s a detail of that:

Graptopetalum rusbyii

My friend Pat Foldi won the people’s choice best shohin with a Frosythia from Anne Spencer. Also in a Hagedorn pot…do you see a pattern here?

Happy Pat!

O.K. now get out of the way so we can see the tree, Pat!


Ryan Neil made a special point to talk about this particular tree and that it is very unusual to see as a bonsai…

And very close by was a little gem I brought in–a tiny gardenia. Under Ryan’s radar for sure because you don’t see these in the U.S. often ๐Ÿ˜‰


I had more to share…a Common juniper you’ve seen before; CJ and an accent of native blackberry in a pot made by myself of a special clay from Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, MT. I used it because it fires bone white, which was the effect I was after; to represent a fallen tree at high elevation bleached by wind and sun:

CJ and accent

Bob Laws brought in a nice broom-style Zelkova

Bob's zelkova

Another tree from Bob was this lyrical sumac collected from his front yard in Vancouver WA

Bob's sumac

Right next door was a curious Lodgepole ย pine, Pinus contorta latifolia presented by Al Polito


Al also won people’s choice ‘Best Accent’ plant

best accent

Scott Elser brought in his engelman spruce in all its spring glory…

Engelman spruce

Jan Hettick made the stand for this out of blood wood…she told me it’s incredibly hard!

Jan's stand

A little clarification here–Scott’s design and Jan fabricated. A great result, I think! Kind of Arts and Crafts style with a softened geometry

And Jan doesn’t do just stands…here’s a nice lodgepole pine she shared with us

Jan's pine

And a couple of accents for you to savor ๐Ÿ˜‰

NW native fern

A Northwest native fern in a Mardella Brock pot


This one could have got an award! I hope you’ve enjoyed this post; I was not able to capture all the great trees and elements of our spring show…the best way to experience it is to attend in person…will I see you there next spring???