Spain trip garden series: PART 2- Alcobendas Bonsai Museum

MACH5

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The Alcobendas Bonsai Museum was my second bonsai related visit while I was in Madrid recently. Alconbendas is a neighbourhood just northeast from the center of Madrid. The museum opened back in 1995 and its collection is comprised of over 300 bonsai although not all are on exhibit at any one time. The bonsai belong to Luis Vallejo, long considered the father of Spanish bonsai. Many of these trees were acquired by well known Japanese masters which include Kimura, Hiroshi Takeyama, Kunio Kobayashi and Shinji Suzuki among others. Several may be already famiar since they have appeared many times in Bonsai Focus magazine (among other republications) and won many awards at important exhibitions including the prestigious Noelanders Trophy.

Through a mutual friend, a meeting with Mario Komsta was arranged. Mario is considered today one of the top bonsai artists in Europe and he is chief curator at the museum. His reputation is well deserved judging from the exemplary work he has done in designing and maintaining the museum's collection since 2008. Mario walked me through the entire collection telling interesting stories as he went along. In addition, he showed me the nursery behind the museum where many masterpieces where being either redesigned or restored.

The museum is rather small but beautifully designed by Luis Vallejo himself. Everything flows and complements the bonsai. It is done in a simple, modern style combining man-made materials such as concrete with natural ones like large stones and wood all influenced by Japanese esthetics. The museum is considered to house one of the best collections of bonsai outside Japan.

On a personal note, many of these trees have long represented the gold standard for me. It was so good to see and study these trees in person. I left reenergized and inspired. Enjoy!







































 
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This place has been on my bucket list. Incredible photos thank you.

If you don't mind, what brought you to Spain? I think you have been before according to my photo folder which contains photos I believe you took of David B.'s garden. I am trying to plan an extended trip for late fall next year any tips on visiting Spain?
 
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Thanks for sharing! Is picture 8 a Thuja? I love that tree. I’ve been really excited about Thuja lately. You’ve got that impressive Thuja I’ve seen here this year right @MACH5 ?
 
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Thank you for sharing the photos. Back in 2003? maybe a year or two later or earlier, I had the pleasure of taking a 4 hour workshop with Luis Vallejo at a MABA event in Milwaukee Wisconsin. He is a really nice guy and a really good teacher, and a really good artist. It is a pleasure to see his work. Thank you for sharing.
 

MACH5

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This place has been on my bucket list. Incredible photos thank you.

If you don't mind, what brought you to Spain? I think you have been before according to my photo folder which contains photos I believe you took of David B.'s garden. I am trying to plan an extended trip for late fall next year any tips on visiting Spain?

Matt, from time to time I have to travel for work. This time was back to Spain. I have been looking forward to visit this museum once again. Last time it was back in 2011. I could see how much more mature and developed some of their trees were. Last time I was there I believe it was in the fall of 2015. I went to David's place but never made it to Alcobendas. I highly recommend it!
 

MACH5

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Thanks for sharing! Is picture 8 a Thuja? I love that tree. I’ve been really excited about Thuja lately. You’ve got that impressive Thuja I’ve seen here this year right @MACH5 ?

It sure looks like one! It is a hinoki originally created by Mr. Kimura himself. Outstanding piece! I don't believe they have any of the wonderful thujas that grow wild here in the north. They of course have other awesome native yamadori.
 

MACH5

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Thank you for sharing the photos. Back in 2003? maybe a year or two later or earlier, I had the pleasure of taking a 4 hour workshop with Luis Vallejo at a MABA event in Milwaukee Wisconsin. He is a really nice guy and a really good teacher, and a really good artist. It is a pleasure to see his work. Thank you for sharing.

What a great opportunity Leo! Never met Luis but sure looks like a nice guy. He has a wonderful sense of aesthetics. He has designed many beautiful non-bonsai gardens throughout Spain and beyond.
 

MACH5

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Going back through these images it’s wonderful to see such a large range of species. And all so well done.

Judy one of the goals of the museum was to house a diverse number of species. There is a good mix of imported Japanese trees as well as native yamadori, many collected by Luis himself. I was told by Mario that they do not expect to be adding any more trees to the museum as they have only a team of three artists that work on them daily.
 
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Thanks for sharing M5! It's good to see more European works around here.

Do you know by any chance if Mario has Turbinata or Phoenicean junipers? I think they're called Sabina Negra in Spanish. But I am having a lot of trouble on finding the simplest pieces of information about Mediterranean junipers at all. I'm hoping someone native to that area, or at least the countries they grow in, could provide some hints.
All I got right now is "Somethings they live, sometimes they die. We don't know either.".
 

MACH5

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Thanks for sharing M5! It's good to see more European works around here.

Do you know by any chance if Mario has Turbinata or Phoenicean junipers? I think they're called Sabina Negra in Spanish. But I am having a lot of trouble on finding the simplest pieces of information about Mediterranean junipers at all. I'm hoping someone native to that area, or at least the countries they grow in, could provide some hints.
All I got right now is "Somethings they live, sometimes they die. We don't know either.".

I don't believe so. Most of not all junipers were from Japan. I did not see any native ones. Perhaps try contacting Mauro Stemberger. I know he has worked on many sabinas and is very familiar with their horticulture. I would try and PM on FB. You can mention my name. Hopefully he'll respond.
 

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