My Bonsai Adventure 2007

Graydon

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October 19,2007

What a day. We departed for California this morning. I am traveling a bit heavy as I will be gone for 20 days. Clothes, stuff, digital SLR and a loaner Digital HC Cam package. When we checked in to get our boarding pass I decided it would be better to pull the HDV Cam from the flight case and carry it on with me. For some reason I can't trust baggage handlers (sorry if you are a baggage handler). The airline was nice enough to carry the locked case to TSA and get it inspected in my view and allow me to lock it. I still felt better with someone else's DV Cam in my lap.

I was lucky to get popped for a "special" inspection going thru security. Good thing too as the inspector from TSA is a video production person on the side and we had a great 15 minute conversation while I was waiting for the rest of my party to clear. I think he just wanted to check out the camera gear and chat.

Nothing like getting up at 6:00 AM EST, traveling across the country and being exhausted but not being able to go to sleep. It's 5:00 AM PST and I did manage to get some sleep but it was not that good. Being from Florida I am accustomed to constant humidity as well as AC. I miss both.

Here is a link to the thread I started inquiring if I should blog the trip.

We will be off to attend the Yamato Bonsai Show in the morning. Looking forward to seeing some nice trees and seeing a demo by Johnny Uchida. I will also be meeting Jim Gremel and setting up a day to visit his nursery next week.

Hope to spend the afternoon in to evening in San Francisco proper and do some sight seeing.

I will update this tonight with some more rambling and plenty of bonsai photos. If I decide to shoot video at the show I will try to do a quick edit and post it to my server and provide a link.
 

bonsai barry

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Wow, this is more exciting than a Nancy Drew mystery. I wonder what will happen in the next chapter! Hope you have the time of your lives.
 

JasonG

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Welcome to the West Coast buddy!!!

Too bad you weren't coming just a little further north to Oregon.... Yamadori capital of America.....

If you have an extra few days let me know, I will make sure you guys are taken care of....

Have fun!!!

Jason
 

Graydon

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Welcome to the West Coast buddy!!!

Too bad you weren't coming just a little further north to Oregon.... Yamadori capital of America.....

If you have an extra few days let me know, I will make sure you guys are taken care of....

Have fun!!!

Jason
Thanks for the offer Jason. I had to decide on coming up to see you and your area or south from here and make the GSBF. The convention won out on this trip. Next time it will be here and north to you.

As far as the west coast - I do believe I love it. Nice weather, nice scenery and the traffic is much better than I was thinking. Glad to be here as the Florida weather was really beginning to whip me this year for some reason. I guess I do miss "seasons" but don't tell anyone.
 

Graydon

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October 20, 2007

I’ll try this again. My first attempt at posting this resulted in a crash, with the entire post gone as well as the video I was digitizing in the background. My bad. I guess I need to stick to one thing at a time. Good news is the photo upload finished before the freeze.

I’m so happy to be here in California. San Francisco is a great area. Coming from central “heat and humidity” Florida the weather here is the best. It’s only taken one day for me to forget what being soaked with sweat is like. Hell, I have even found an all Asian music video network. Happy times!

We had some time to kill before the Yamato Bonsai Kai opened this morning so I did a quick search on Google for some local points of interest. I found a Japanese Garden located walking distance from Centennial Hall so we parked for the show and hiked over to check it out. Nice place. Open gates and empty, about 3.5 acres. I liked the simple sign on the entrance fence asking for volunteers to help prune and shape trees on the first and second Saturday of the month. Bring pruners was the only requirement. We don’t have gardens like this in Florida. The dew was still hanging as we strolled our “private” garden taking it all in. What a quiet sanctuary, a great place to start the day.

The Yamato Bonsai Kai Annual Show was an experience. I spent a bit of time discussing the club with Tony Hayworth. 36 years and over 80 members is a good club. There seems to be quite a bit of talent in the club based on the quality trees at the show.

The trees on exhibit were very nice. I would have liked to see better lighting to aid in photographing. Florescent lights don’t do much if they are as far away as these were but that is a small gripe about a great show. Great showing considering this was one club.

On a side note I believe that if the trees at this exhibit were placed head to head with the trees from the last 2 Florida State Conventions Yamato would come out the better of the two. That opinion may be slightly skewed because of my favor in trees and general dislike for tropicals. Did you know that Florida is second only to California in total bonsai club membership? So where are all the good trees Florida?

The demo was a typical audience pleaser “cut, wire and pot” preformed by the club sensei Johnny Uchida. The subject was a mature Japanese black pine that was reported to be 30 years of age and pot grown. It took about 90 minutes to complete and the audience was encouraged to ask questions throughout. Most were typical novice questions (I do mean that in a good way) and one response made me laugh. I believe the question was “how do you protect the trees for winter” or “do you bring the trees in for winter”. The response went something like this:

“You don’t. Just leave them outside”.

The questioner then added “but what if they are tropical”?

“Well, like what kind? Tony - doesn’t ‘so and so’ have some tropicals”?

“Yes he does”

What are they ficus?

“No, it’s not a ficus. It has flowers”

“Oh, is it a... a... a...um”

“It’s a bougainvillea. Is it a bougainvillea with purple or pink flowers”?

“Yes, like that. What do I do”?

“I don’t know. I would toss a sheet over it or take it in for the frost”.

For the record any club that does not know much about tropical is a club for me. It’s not that I hate tropicals, I just like non tropical more. OK, I don’t like tropical that much.

We spoke with Johnny for a few minutes after the demo. Very nice and a true statesman for bonsai. I wanted to find out when his nursery was open. We were going to try to make it on Sunday but he said his son was there keeping watch. Just a few blocks away and open until 5:00. We were off like a rocket.

I don’t think I said much for a half hour after arriving. Pines, maples and cedars everywhere. Nice azaleas and did I mention pines? After an hour of strolling I started looking at the price tags. Very reasonable. I guess the hard part would be shipping them back home. I pondered a few pines and George did the same. We decided it would be best to swing back by before they fly back to Florida and I head south to the LA area. Before I make a purchase I would love to discuss several trees with Johnny.


Enjoy today’s photos here. Sorry they have not been labeled, cropped or edited. Just trying to get stuff posted. No video tonight, I give up.

Tomorrow we are off to sight-see in San Francisco. No doubt the Japanese Garden in Golden Gate park is on the list. Not sure much bonsai action will be happening.
 

Smoke

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Hi Graydon, and welcome to California. Home of the California juniper and holding it's place in the best yamadori state catagory. Sorry Jason.

Don't forget to see the collection North, not very far from your area there in Hayward.

Till the 31st, Al

BTW, a friend of mine was at Kim's two weeks ago. He said most of the nursery is in shambles and 50 percent was dead. I wonder what happened? Too bad it was the premiere nursery in California. I may have to go just to see for myself.
 

Graydon

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Hi Graydon, and welcome to California. Home of the California juniper and holding it's place in the best yamadori state catagory. Sorry Jason.

Don't forget to see the collection North, not very far from your area there in Hayward.

Till the 31st, Al

BTW, a friend of mine was at Kim's two weeks ago. He said most of the nursery is in shambles and 50 percent was dead. I wonder what happened? Too bad it was the premiere nursery in California. I may have to go just to see for myself.
I will have to say the California junipers are pretty spectacular Al. I would love to have one.

Sorry to hear about Kim's. I was so looking forward to that visit. I will still plan on going and hope to find some stuff.
 

Graydon

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October 21, 2007

Nothing much to post about today bonsai related. I did find some true mallsai in Japan-town in SF. We saw them in a mall window. It was a Japanese run store too. Nothing worth shooting.

Had a great time in San Francisco doing the tourist thing. I must say that this is one of the nicest, cleanest and polite cities I have visited. It may be in my top 5 in the US now that I have spent a day there. Spent the time to walk Telegraph Hill and go up Coit Tower for the view. Wow. What a nice city.

I was lucky enough to get some great video on 2 occasions of a flock of cherry-headed conures. If there was one thing I wanted to see while in town it was them. I was told that you never know where they may be but we managed to find them more than twice. I'm a part time bird watcher ad these birds have become iconic in the city. My better half would not have been happy if I did not come home with photos of them. The video should make her happy!

Off to dinner now with an old friend here in the city. Tomorrow holds another trip to Japan-town for a visit to a Japanese hardware store (read - tools and more tools for my carpenter side) and then to the Japanese Tea House in Golden Gate Park. After that we need to push off and make our way across the Golden Gate Bridge and to places north. It will be sad to leave such a great city. Damn shame I don't think I could make a living here and live in a nice neighborhood.
 
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Attila Soos

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Thanks for posting these, Graydon.
For the rest of us, stuck in the office, it is a nice little virtual vacation, ..and it's free:).

When are you going to Kim's place? I feel like paying him a visit myself, after hearing about the alarming news on the state of his nursery.
 
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cubbie

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hey!
enjoying your trip diary. but, from a TROPICAL LOVER, surely there must be one or two tropical trees somewhere in California....... how about just one pic for me??????
 

bisjoe

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Our first house was a few blocks from the nursery, near where the Castro Valley BARTD station is now. I never actually met Johnny thought I spoke to him several times over the years. My first time there, just out of curiosity from passing by, is what inspired me to get started in bonsai. As mild as the weather is there, I lost a bunch of trees one winter when we had a sudden, rare hard freeze, that broke pipes all over the area. One of the fatalities was my bougainvillea.

Watch out for those fires when you head south!
 

Graydon

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hey!
enjoying your trip diary. but, from a TROPICAL LOVER, surely there must be one or two tropical trees somewhere in California....... how about just one pic for me??????
As soon as I can dump some video to disc I will post a clip of the sole tropical from the Yamato show. It was a tiny ficus of some sort. Nothing to get excited about. It was between a pine and a Japanese maple in the exhibition and I happened to catch it.
 

Graydon

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October 22, 2007

Another non bonsai day for us. We were able to hook up with an old friend of mine from back home. Karen is a flight attendant and got a few days off in a row. We invited here to tag along for our last few destinations in San Francisco.

We hit Japantown for Soco Hardware for my tools. Cool Japanese hardware store in the city. All sorts of stuff to check out and ponder.

After the hardware store we headed off to Golden Gate Park to visit the Japanese Tea House section. What a nice mature Japanese garden. We were slack jawed and busy clicking photos the whole time. George laid on the path to shoot under some low growing trees and some of the patrons had to make sure he was OK. It was a nice break to have green tea and cookies in the shade of some old trees and simply take it all in.

After the garden we visited some other areas that apparently were run by the grey squirrel mafia. The were so tame they practically jumped us for food.

For lunch we headed in to Chinatown. I love Chinatown in NYC but this one is bigger and better. I do believe the hills make it the best. Wandering here was a blast. The smells and the sounds were certainly what I had expected. Lunch had to be dim sum. It was great but I would say no to the Chinese broccoli next time. After eating we did some shopping and Karen introduced me do a new drink - bubble tea. It’s flavored tea (like jasmine or taro or green) with or without milk served cold. After mixing they add a scoop of these balls (or bubbles) of tapioca that settle in the bottom of the cup. The straws are oversized so when you sip you get the tea and the bubbles. You drink the tea and eat the bubbles. Odd but good.

We dropped Karen off and headed up to Evergreen Gardenworks. Nice drive for sure. The Golden Gate was a hoot and then we drove thru some beautiful areas. As we got closer to Brent’s the sun went down and the moon rose. Nothing like driving some switch-backs under a bright moon.

The hotel (the only one near Brent) is fine but my internet connection sucks. It is wireless but if I want signal I need to sit outside my room and tilt my head just so... and that is a big pain in the you know what. These updates are late as I can only do this and upload when I have signal. The photos will have to wait until I head back by San Francisco for a night on my way south.
 

Graydon

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October 23, 2007

I’m not really sure how to describe Evergreen Gardenworks. Wow is a good start.

We arrived in the morning and Brent gave us the full tour. He’s got 10 acres but I would estimate the trees and stuff take up about 2.5 to 3.

We started the tour in the hoop houses which are pretty cool. Not too big or too small. Packed wall to wall with some of the smaller material Brent sells. We moved on to the new shade house Brent has been building. Again we saw more stuff than I could take in.

We passed by a few rows of large junipers. Large may be an understatement.

Next were row after row of trees in the ground in raised beds. Crabs, apples, elms, hawthorns and more. Smallest stuff is several inches in caliper. Larger stuff is big, real big. We passed many empty rows of raised beds nicely laid out with white flags on 3’ centers. Now I know what we will be doing.

On to the black pine and juniper area. Brent has some pines. Brent has so many pines it should be a crime. This was larger to wow type material. It was so nice to see row after row of named cultivars. It may have taken me an hour to go thru this area on my hands and knees saying holy crap at nearly every tree. More on these pines later...

Next was “the jungle” as Brent calls it. There were at least 1,000 trees in pots packed in a small area. This is what we will be doing - chopping roots balls and doing some nebari work and planting them in the ground so they can gain vigor and build some nice nebari. I can’t tell you how many species are in this area. I can tell you they are all big and fat most of them have lots of potential. These were some of the trees Brent brought when he moved here. They have basically been left alone for 8 years. Those years have created some very special trees.

Wow that was a lot... but now Brent was taking us out back. Out back? More stuff? As we rounded the corner we saw he big stuff. Japanese maples stood out in fall color. Big ones too. Spruce, elms, crabs, more maples, gingko, all super big. Some of these are parent trees for scion and some are just plain big. Incredible.

Next was the display area with some of Brent’s finished and nearly finished bonsai. Nice stuff here as well. Only makes sense as he can pick out whatever he wants.

Last stop was the workshop with tools and the fridge with beer and other drinks. Oops, there is beer.

The tour and question & answer session lasted about 3 hours (three hours!) and it was time for lunch. After eating we got started on the trees. Brent would pull them and George and I would remove the bound pot and chop the root mass with a saws-all. Slow going until we got a system down. Chop pot and slice off bottom of root ball, hose down, rake out roots and trim for nebari. Load in wheel barrow and move to field, dig hole and plant. Repeat until the end of the day. At one point Brent started using the chain saw to top prune stuff and remove suckers and escaped roots.

We washed up and came inside for dinner. Good meal and wine with great conversation. Time for bed.
 

Graydon

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October 24, 2007

Back to the grind of prepping trees for planting in the ground. OK - it’s not a grind even for a vacation. I must admit I am working at least as hard as I do at work but no complaints. The scenery is beautiful, the company is entertaining and educational and the meals are great.

Lots more elms today along with some sweet Japanese maples and other maple species. Plenty of apples and crabs as well. There were a couple of hornbeam that I would love to have when they are dug in a couple of years. Some of them are mystery trees to me but they still look good. Our goal is 100 trees in the ground and it looks like we will make that no problem.

We are all off to visit Jim Gremel tomorrow. He suggested we bring Brent along for the trip and Brent agreed so it looks to be a fun day. Jim is hosting a Marco Invernizzi workshop so we will get to check that out and meet Marco as well as crawl Jim’s nursery.

Bad news - my digital SLR camera took a dump. I went to snap some shots of the tree work in progress and nothing. No screen no shutter no anything. I thought it was the battery but it charged fine. This is a bummer as there is so much I would like to shoot and now I am without camera. It’s under Canon warranty but that does me no good right now. I can send it in for repairs when I get home. I am considering getting a new model shipped to me in route. I think I’ll sleep on it. At least I still have the HD video camera.
 

Graydon

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Thanks for the updates. Disappointing about the camera, though.
Yeah, it sucks. I just ordered a replacement body and should have it by Friday (gotta love Fed-Ex). Will sort out the repair issues later.
 
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I’m so happy to be here in California. San Francisco is a great area. Coming from central “heat and humidity” Florida the weather here is the best. It’s only taken one day for me to forget what being soaked with sweat is like. Hell, I have even found an all Asian music video network. Happy times!

We had some time to kill before the Yamato Bonsai Kai opened this morning so I did a quick search on Google for some local points of interest. I found a Japanese Garden located walking distance from Centennial Hall so we parked for the show and hiked over to check it out. Nice place. Open gates and empty, about 3.5 acres. I liked the simple sign on the entrance fence asking for volunteers to help prune and shape trees on the first and second Saturday of the month. Bring pruners was the only requirement. We don’t have gardens like this in Florida. The dew was still hanging as we strolled our “private” garden taking it all in. What a quiet sanctuary, a great place to start the day.
Graydon, thank you so much for blogging this trip! I have enjoyed your photos so far.

Centennial Hall is where Bay Island Bonsai holds their exhibit each year, too. Great to know it's not unknown among other bonsai clubs. I did not know, however, that there was a Japanese garden so close. I will have to look it up next time I am there.

The Yamato Bonsai Kai Annual Show was an experience. I spent a bit of time discussing the club with Tony Hayworth. 36 years and over 80 members is a good club. There seems to be quite a bit of talent in the club based on the quality trees at the show.

The trees on exhibit were very nice. I would have liked to see better lighting to aid in photographing. Florescent lights don’t do much if they are as far away as these were but that is a small gripe about a great show. Great showing considering this was one club.

On a side note I believe that if the trees at this exhibit were placed head to head with the trees from the last 2 Florida State Conventions Yamato would come out the better of the two. That opinion may be slightly skewed because of my favor in trees and general dislike for tropicals. Did you know that Florida is second only to California in total bonsai club membership? So where are all the good trees Florida?

The demo was a typical audience pleaser “cut, wire and pot” preformed by the club sensei Johnny Uchida. The subject was a mature Japanese black pine that was reported to be 30 years of age and pot grown. It took about 90 minutes to complete and the audience was encouraged to ask questions throughout.

We spoke with Johnny for a few minutes after the demo. Very nice and a true statesman for bonsai. I wanted to find out when his nursery was open. We were going to try to make it on Sunday but he said his son was there keeping watch. Just a few blocks away and open until 5:00. We were off like a rocket.

I don’t think I said much for a half hour after arriving. Pines, maples and cedars everywhere. Nice azaleas and did I mention pines? After an hour of strolling I started looking at the price tags. Very reasonable. I guess the hard part would be shipping them back home. I pondered a few pines and George did the same. We decided it would be best to swing back by before they fly back to Florida and I head south to the LA area. Before I make a purchase I would love to discuss several trees with Johnny.
I agree with you about the lighting in Centennial Hall. It's difficult to get good photos in the natural lighting, and a camera flash always puts a shadow where you least want it. I hope they do formal photos of the trees after.

I would also agree with you about Johnny Uchida. He is a real gentleman, and very fun and interesting to talk to. We go by his nursery every January.

Keep up the great posting!
 
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Chinatown is fascinating. On my first visit to the Intensive, my wife and I took a mini vacation at the same time. We stayed in an old hotel in Chinatown. While prowling along on foot, we happened down a side alley and came upon a fortune cookie factory! Two ancient Chinese women were taking the cooked cookie blanks off the even more ancient machine and putting in a fortune and folding the cookie before it cooled and hardened. They were working at their own pace, and some cookies didn't get done, but they didn't care.

I tried to get them to understand the I Love Lucy candy line episode in pantomime. We decided that we should leave before they called the cops.:rolleyes:

P.S. Good luck with the camera!!
 
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