When KJ and I made the decision to sell most of our bonsai collection it wasn’t a hasty decision. It was something we thought about for a while. Easier for her I believe because she hadn’t been active in a while. It became much more difficult for me because most of these trees had taken a long time to collect much less get show ready. Each of these trees now has a new owner and for respect for their privacy we never talk discuss to whom our trees are sold.
Without question, we never took enough photos of our kids when they were young. Have often do you wish you had taken just a few more minutes to snap that “perfect” shot of the kids playing, sleeping, misbehaving or just being a kid. In similar way, how often have you had a tree that you appreciated to later sell it, or worse it dies and you are quickly reminded – I don’t have a single photo of that tree!
We joined Bay Island Bonsai in 2003 and like many who have joined this club we attended the show to sit and think – man we will never have trees this good. Well over time we did have the opportunity to obtain some high quality trees and even more fortunate to have been able to photograph them in the BIB annual exhibit of fine bonsai held each January.
Each of the following trees have been in a BIB show with some more than once and each of these trees now have new owners. It was a good decision for us to sell them and a better decision to have decent photographs of them. We can’t recommend to you sufficiently the importance of taking good photos of your trees. Perhaps you believe you have an incredible memory – we doubt it – and that you can recall the growth and maturity of your tree. However, there is nothing like being able to sit down and review the progress one’s trees have made over the years and especially if they have been made show ready. So let’s take a peek at seven of our trees that now call someone else’s backyard home!
Perhaps one of the best trees we ever owned and certainly in one of our very best antique pots. This tree came out of Japan, who couldn’t tell with this trunk, and it was styled by Daisaku Nomoto. The tree sits in a 150 year old (estimate) antique Chinese Pot with impeccable patina. On the reverse side is writing in Chinese, but we elected to put that in the back as to not distract from the tree being shown. The patina on this pot is in harmony with the trunk of this tree. William Valavanis was kind enough to feature this tree in his bonsai publication and I’m happy to say he sent us several copies to keep with us – thanks again Bill.
We had searched for a tree like this for over five years. We just happened on the pot at the Shohin show in Santa Nella, CA and immediately purchased it – long before we found the right tree for it. This tree will continue to develop and the foliage pads needed more work but we believe this is a beautiful tree.
This is a San Jose Juniper that was completely grafted with Chinese Juniper – Shimpaku. I happen to be going over to Boon’s one summer day and noticed this new tree in his yard. I inquired if it was for sale and he replied yes. We purchased it. At that time it had not been really styled, or at least not in a long time, and the trunk needed a bit more work. Sometimes it is just better to be lucky than good in acquiring trees.
This was the very first tree that we had in a bonsai show. Good movement in the trunk, nice shari and even interesting nebari. This was our signature tree for many years, and to an extent we still view it that way. This tree never won an award in our show, mostly because I believe we always had it on too low a stand therefore it was difficult to see. There are no regrets it never won, we never do have that regret, but we were very proud of this tree. Perhaps in large part because Jonas commented to us that he thought it was a good tree and we have “major” respect for what Jonas thinks about bonsai.
We wish you could see the entire movement in this tree as it is incredible. All of those that know us well realize how much we love literati trees. We had a significant number of them – and still do frankly. This tree was styled by Masahiko Kimura. Kimura didn’t say a lot in English to us other than “good tree.” That was more than sufficient for us!
Boon and I spent the better part of an afternoon discussing what type of pot this tree should go into. This clearly is not what most would think of the “standard or right” pot it should be placed into. However, there was just something that worked for Boon and us about matching this tree and pot. We estimate the tree to be a bit over 100 years old and the pot – who know and cares as it has a dignified style and patina. As Boon told me many time, if this was a white pine it could be in Kokufu. Well it wasn’t – so it never will be – but we did appreciate that Boon allowed in it his show.
You can’t really appreciate this tree without seeing it in person. It is about 16-inches tall and the trunk is at least five inches across. It is in a borrowed antique pot and it barely fit from front to back. The stand was borrowed from a very good friend who has perhaps the best stand collection in the US. If not, it would be close.
A superb white pine with “zero” scars on the trunk. Ah, I wish we knew more about pots back then as it would definitely have been in a different pot but this is the only photo we have of this tree so we appreciate it for how it is displayed. It was fun mossing this tree for the show.
Not the oldest, not the most ramified and not the oldest pot – but we like this tree. It was acquired after one of our BIB members passed away. We have traveled to Japan and have seen some of the most stunning Ume trees, but that is very rare in the US to see trees of that caliber. So we were very happy to be able to acquire this one. It bloomed just in time for the show.
This grape was rescued by a good friend from a vineyard that was being torn down. Various ages have been placed on this tree. Who knows but we do know it was old. It is in an old Japanese pot that matched the color of the grapes when they were mature. This tree when in full fruit was photographed and submitted to the World Bonsai Content and it did win an award – our very first. So this tree has great memories for us and still does as it still sits in our greenhouse producing large clusters of grapes every year. It also needs to find a new home when the time is right.
Our hope is that this post will encourage you to get off the couch, set up your camera on a trip and shoot some photos of your trees. We can assure you that every minute you spend doing this will be greatly rewarded in the future when you can look back and admire God’s incredible talent for creating nature.
Sam and KJ
P.S. We hope you enjoy the photography as much as we did photographing these trees at our annual show. If so, check out Blurb and pick up a copy or two of BIB’s annual show book.