US National Bonsai Exhibition Preparations Continue

Valavanis Bonsai Blog


My family, Monday Senior Crew and friends are all busy preparing everything for the US National Bonsai Exhibition. Actually we have slowly been preparing for several months here in Rochester for the bonsai, suiseki, display backgrounds, posts and more. But now we are in full mode, which means I had six McDonalds Sweet Tea today.

Today we purchased a new water hose so exhibitors can easily water their bonsai before bringing into the building for their “final acceptance.” There is a grassy area where it will be easy to water and do the final detailing. Some green moss will also be available for touch ups if necessary.


Blood, sweat, tears and even a hospital visit have been experienced to get everything perfect for displaying both the bonsai and suiseki in the exhibition. A new design for backgrounds have been designed, constructed and painted with special paint by Doug McDade, Tom…

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Growing a Good Nebari and Fat Trunk Base for a Ficus

Bonsai Penjing & More

A  good nebari (exposed roots just above the soil surface) and a large trunk base are perhaps the two most desirable features we all wanted for our bonsai. However, they take a long time to develop. Many of us buy pre-bonsai. At the nursery, we may dig below the soil level, hold the tree up, turn it around and tilt it at various angles to choose the best possible material but it is rare to find one with both a good nebari and a large trunk.

In this post, I want to share my experience building a good nebari, at least to my eyes, and a large tapered trunk for a Ficus microcarpa pre-bonsai. I bought this ficus about 9 years ago from a gift shop of a local Chinese restaurant. As in all mass-produced pre-bonsai, they usually have messy or unattractive roots and a typical S-shape trunk. What attracted me to this tree was the large trunk…

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US National Bonsai Exhibition News

Valavanis Bonsai Blog


It looks like the 2016 5th US National Bonsai Exhibition will be well attended. Nearly 600 guests have already pre-registered and they are still arriving daily. It’s fortunate our venue has 55,000 square feet to accommodate the visitors, over 300 bonsai, 50 suiseki and large vendor area. We also have a concourse with tables where visitors can sit, relax and enjoy the company of fellow bonsai hobbyists, and professionals too. The deadline for the weekend pass price has expired, but people are warmly invited to visit on Saturday or Sunday or both days to make a complete bonsai weekend.


The Award Banquet and Benefit Auction is sold out with 450 guests. Perhaps we should get a larger room for our next 2018 exhibition. With that number of people attending we will have a seating chart where you can write your name next to the table you would like to…

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Summer Pruning an Azalea Bonsai

Robert Nocher Shohin Bonsai

We did a little work this week on a large Kaho Azalea, which belongs to my friend Gerry. Gerry acquired this tree 2 years ago. It has a fantastic nebari but the apex was moving in the opposite direction to the lower trunk. We decided at an early stage that this had to be corrected.


The apex was air layered last year and removed from the tree at the start of this season


This is how it looks at the moment after some shaping and pruning of the foliage. I think it is looking a lot better now. It still needs more extension on lowest right hand branch and the branches on the left could be shortened a little more but that will come in time.


This is how it looked at flowering time last year.


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Confusion Over Fall Repotting-

michael hagedorn

I’ve noticed over the years a lot of puzzlement over the correct time to repot. Much of the confusion stems from placing too much weight on the exceptions to spring repotting. There’s a simple way of looking at it that might help decide when to repot.

ron-pulls-a-mandrake Ron pulls up a mandrake

When we repot, the tree is essentially given the signal, ‘Hey, it’s spring, let’s grow!’ Not necessarily on top…a tree repotted in fall doesn’t often grow on top. But the roots are often as active as if it were spring, because the tree is trying to regrow what was cut off. Then winter comes. And if we’re in the north, blasts of freezing weather can obliterate that tender root system, and kill the tree.

In general, only repot in the springtime.

If you must repot in the fall, do it only if you have protection from freezing weather, such as…

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Adam’s Art and Bonsai Gear, Tools and Sundry

Adam's Art and Bonsai Blog

I am proud to announce the new Adam’s Art and Bonsai web store.I’ll be offering shirts, American Bonsai Tools, one of a kind stands and pottery.
The full array of tools with pricing is
All shirts are screen printed to order

And will sometimes offer limited artwork runs like these:
To order, go

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