Private Collector Celebrates!

Private Collector Celebrates!

show-21Renjishi Doll

Last week we went over to Daijuen and helped them setup a special show for one of their customers. I’ve personally never met this customer so I don’t know his name or his face but what I do know is that he decided to put on a special bonsai show this year to celebrate his 88th birthday! (How cool is that?) The three-day show was small with only about 14 trees but what really got my attention was how the show was setup.  The collector is also a painter and he wanted to display his paintings during the show as well so we spent a good amount of time hanging paintings on the wall.  In this post, I’m going to share with you all the trees that were shown and many of the other things to see.

The Setup

The setup of the show was very basic just like any other small local show.  The room the show was held in was on the third floor which made it fun for us apprentices to carry many things up there.  Though I was happy that there was a (very) small elevator we could use to move the trees up and down.  All in all, the setup only took a couple of hours.

show-2Here are some scrolls for decoration.  The scroll with the fish is my favorite.

show-32Here’s a close up of the Tai (Red Sea Bream) fish.  This fish is highly prized in Japan and is usually only served during special occasions such as New Years.

show-3These blue covered tables are for visitors to sit down with a cup of tea to relax and enjoy the show.

show-4The show is starting to come together.

showHere is our visiting apprentice Jacques from France helping with dispersing old bamboo leaves in the small garden display.  I would love to see this kind of display in the US.

The Trees of the Show

The collector loves Black Pine and most his trees on display were Black Pines.  Daijuen and Aichien provided a couple of flowering trees to add color to the show.  From the looks of many of the Black Pines, the collector may have grown them himself.  I took these photos during the set up so there might be some setup items in the shot.

show-26Japanese Black Pine

show-25Needle Juniper.  When Chris Baker from Maryland was apprenticing at Diajuen, he was charged with cleaning and enhancing the deadwood features on this tree.

show-24Japanese Black Pine

show-22Japanese Black Pine.

show-20Japanese Cherry (Sakura) that’s about to bloom.

show-38Large multi-trunk Japanese Maple

show-13I believe this may be the collector’s best Black Pine.

show-14Nice red flower Japanese plum (Ume)

show-37A close up of the Ume flowers.

show-10Japanese Black Pine

show-39Japanese Quince known as Boke in Japan.  This type of quince from the Nagoya area flowers more often and doesn’t have thorns.  I’ll take that!

show-42Close up of the Boke flowers.

show-8Cascading Camellia that’s flowering.

show-36Here’s the close up of the pretty flowers.  I would like to see more camellias developed as Bonsai in the rest of the world.

show-7What? Another Japanese Black Pine? 😉

show-40Here’s a Japanese Quince called Chojubai.  The flowers are red and small.

show-43A close up of the Chojubai flowers.

A Few of the Accents

show-15Bronze dancer

show-21Renjishi Doll

show-28Wood carving

show-29Cool little root over rock Forsythia

show-30Pool Stone

show-19A mix of all sorts!

Some of the Paintings

The paintings were hung all over the walls and they undulated up and down over and around the bonsai.  Everything was mixed together so there was no individual display but more of a whole room display.


show-11This painting of deadwood on a tree reminds me of a tree I’ve seen before. I think it’s the shari and jin of a famous Needle Juniper Bonsai.

show-16Painting of an Ice Skater.  Ice skating is very popular in Japan.

show-18There was a good number of these sorts of watercolor paintings.  There would be some words with a flower/vegetable/fruit in the painting.  Perhaps they are short poems?

show-23A painting of two small boats in the water.

show-33I don’t believe the collector created this piece and may have been something he wanted to show that was in his collection.

Feel of the Show

show-46A feel of what the show looked like.

One of the main reasons why I wanted to share these pictures with you all is to give us some ideas of how we can display our bonsai in the future.  Most of the time, we tend to follow guidelines to what we believe is how to display bonsai.  Regardless if we like or dislike how the trees were displayed in this format, the more important part to understand is that there are many ways for us to display our bonsai and that we should explore different and new ways to do it.  Why not display bonsai with suiseki?  Why not display bonsai with paintings?  Why not display bonsai with sculptures?  Why not display bonsai with _______???

By no means am I discrediting the traditional ways of displaying bonsai because they are important and there’s a long history of it being very effective.  But instead of saying that the traditional ways are the only ways, let’s say that it’s one of the ways and we all should be experimenting with new ways to display our trees.


show-6On one side of the room we setup a small stage so that these two women could setup their string instruments to play during the show.  How classy is that?  These instruments made of kiri wood are called Koto and is the national instrument of Japan.

show-48Once everything was setup, the women laid a beautifully patterned fabric on top of the instruments.  I wish I was there to during the show to hear what they sounded like.


Since this show was a celebration, there were also nice flower arrangements within the room.

show-44Nice group of orchids

show-45Close up of one of the orchids.  They always amaze me!

show-41Not sure of all the flower names here but very pretty.

So there you have it.  Another bonsai show setup and another man turns 88 years old.  I hope you all enjoyed the photos.  Sorry I’ve been sparse on the post lately but with the show season, wiring work and new apprentices to manage, I haven’t had much time to write post (or answer many of my emails).  The good news is that the show season has just ended and it will be repotting season soon.  The post should be coming a bit more regularly from here on.

Thanks for attending the show!


If you’re looking for more to read, check out this new post at on how a rainwater collection and Reverse Osmosis system was setup.  Please subscribe if you like the blog.  Here’s a preview:

I’ve posted the results below with a little write up about what I did in hopes that it may give you some ideas if you have poor water quality like me.   I’m now using a combo of collected rain water and reverse osmosis water for my trees.

Here’s what my new overall set up looks like: 


P.S. If you are actively reading this blog, I would appreciate it if you subscribe to it (right column of the blog). This is one of the best ways for me to know how many people are reading. Thanks!


14 thoughts on “Private Collector Celebrates!

  1. Ray Stagner says:

    Truly a different concept in showing our trees.. The mixture of paintings or sculptures seems totally acceptable..and a great way to increase attendance to our show.. The additional art forms should compliment the bonsai trees

  2. Deborah says:

    Our group in Yakima WA hold an annual exhibit in May of each year. I have been looking for new ideas and ways to show our bonsai. Thank You so much for this great inspiration. The seating for visitors is unique and lovely. Is that a Japanese umbrella about to be opened in the center? I would like to see more photos of this show.

  3. Peter,

    Are the Boke quince available anywhere here in the US? I really like them.

    Saw Rusty Tchernis yesterday at the Brussel’s Bonsai Spring Preview Sale. He said that he is heading over there soon to work with you for a couple of weeks. I would love to be able to do that sometime. Love the posts….keep them coming!


  4. Stephanie Walker says:

    This post is very grounding. It encompasses the spectrum of life and the journey of it. Timely in many ways… As spring emerges in the States and winter begins to slumber, this post reminds us of our embracing connections. Connections to bonsai, to Earth and to one another. Thank you, Peter, for sharing this ever so important birthday event. We all have much to learn from it.

  5. Bruce Winter says:

    I too would like to see more camellia bonsai, they were said to be a favorite of Tokugawa Ieyasu. For many years I’ve searched for Camellia branches to layer but have found very few with interesting movement. Thanks for another facinating post.

  6. Penny Pawl says:

    Peter, bring as much of this stuff (paintings, tree, statues) back with you and I’ll bet many of us would buy it!! I love the paintings! Penny

  7. Paula Murphy says:

    Hi Peter, I am brand new to the art of Bonsai, just started with Spfld. Ma.Bonsai Society. I loved your blog-pictures of show. Thanks so much. Paula Murphy

  8. Ed Curlee says:

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful idea. There have been so many bonsai shows for the public to enjoy that they may have become passe. Combining the art of bonsai with another art seems like a perfect solution to increase attendance, Thanks for the idea.

  9. excellent post as always Peter! I always look forward to them 🙂

  10. Sandy Vee says:

    Peter you post was very much appreciated

  11. Tea Flowers says:

    […] (Prunus mume) flowers. Once again we find ourselves borrowing from Peter Tea. This photo and the next three photos shown here are from a post that Peter just put up that […]

  12. jefflahr says:

    I agree, if we creatively consider different style of venues to display our trees, then we can only increase the opportunities to show them off. One of my favorite displays was a long running show that Walter Pall did in a BMW showroom. The setting was very contemporary and really showed the trees off in a unique way.

    On a side note, I can only hope to have similar passion for bonsai (or anything!) when I’m eighty-eight years old… that my kind of role model.

  13. cherylas2009 says:

    Hi Peter, interesting show. gives a person more ideas on laying out a show. I liked the red flowered Ume. Do we have any like that in the US? The closest I have is a dark pink which doesn’t look as dark as that one.

  14. John Cavey says:

    Hi Peter

    Some Ideas here for our annual show in Australia /NSW / Wauchope.



Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: