Tag Archive: Minoru Akiyama

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???


March Madness

I see another month has slipped past and with spring officially upon us, it seems our green friends are all waking up at once! The frantic rush to get all re-potted begins as we duck in and out of rain showers, blustery wind and chilly nights. The weather seems to be all over the map and I always wonder how the delicate flowers of spring manage to make it. We had a sunny day this week, so I got the camera out and took some shots of some spring bling…

Grass Widows


A wildflower in the Iris family, Grass Widow, is late to bloom this year. It usually flowers a month or more earlier here in Portland. My Calypso orchid is right on time, faithfully opening March fifteenth, just like last year:






They are tiny just now, just under three inches tall but will get twice that tall during their month long bloom. Something less showy is the Western saxifrage in a kokodama style planting:

Western saxifrage



Western szxifrage


The ย flowers are so delicate and airy, this accent plant would put some spring zing into a bonsai display ๐Ÿ˜‰Bird's foot violet


Bird's foot violet


Can you believe I’ve had this plant for twenty five years this spring? Makes one stop and think about just how old some things really are…How about some trees? This little Horse chestnut I grew from seed is looking good:

Horse chestnut


My dwarf ginkgo, “Chris’s Dwarf” got a new pot this spring, one bought at the Green Club sales area in Japan last month from Minoru Akiyama:

Chris's Dwarf


I think the gold leaves in the fall will really look nice with the colorful pot. Next, an Arizona alder cutting from a tree I collected nine years ago:

Arizona alder


And here’s the mother of the cutting above:

Arizona alder


Both trees are under six inches in height. And a privet clump given to me by Michael Hagedorn in one of his pots…starting to become one of my favorites:



A Japanese maple, Acer palmatum, turning twelve under my watch:

Japanese maple


A forsythia from Anne Spencer:



Another ginkgo, “Chi Chi” from Anne Spencer in a new pot from Marius Folda:



Another purple pot intended to show off the ginkgo’s brilliant yellow fall leaves…will have to keep you posted on that. And another shot taken a few days later:



Interesting to see the difference the exposure of the photo makes on the pot color. A tiny Arctic willow cutting in a Jim Barrett pot:

Arctic willow


My red-flowering currant is starting to bloom; large tree, nearly three feet high:

Red-flowering currant


Close-up of flowers not quite open yet:

Red-flowering currant


A shohin-size version of the same species:

Red-flowering currant


I’ll leave it there for now. I hope you are staying on top of the ‘spring frenzy’ enough to smell the flowers ๐Ÿ˜‰