A Visit To The Pacific Bonsai Museum

Valavanis Bonsai Blog


The Pacific Bonsai Museum, nestled within towering conifers is a unique collection of bonsai from countries bordering the Pacific Rim. The peaceful atmosphere of the displays and well maintained areas draws one into a special world to quietly experience the beauty of bonsai. The museum is located in Federal Way, Washington, near Seattle on the Weyerhauser Campus.


Weyerhaeuser Company opened the bonsai collection in 1989, in conjunction with the Washington State Centennial celebration. The bonsai collection was established to symbolize Weyerhaeuser’s long-term commitments to its customers, its community and its forest resources. At the end of 2013 the corporation gifted the entire collection to a new non-profit, The George Weyerhaeuser Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection, known as the Pacific Bonsai Museum.


Bonsai artist David DeGroot was the curator for the  first 25 years and did a remarkable task of establishing a collection of over 150 trees from Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea…

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A Visit To Elandan Gardens

Valavanis Bonsai Blog


Elandan Gardens is a beautiful and unique six acre natural oasis featuring the bonsai artistry of Dan Robinson. The garden opened in 1993 in Bremerton, Washington which is a short distance from Seattle. This is an excellent location to appreciate the art of bonsai pioneer Dan Robinson who introduced power tools to the bonsai world. Dan’s bonsai are truly unique, and clearly show the respect he has for old, ancient trees surviving the elements of nature. Dead tree trunks, an and snags are prominently displayed with the bonsai as well as interesting stones. He enjoys explaining how and when he collected his world class bonsai revealing secrets of nature one might miss when casually seeing the trees. Most of his bonsai include signs which explain the history and other interesting facts about the trees.


Elandan Gardens was built on reclaimed land, which was formerly a landfill on the Kitsap Peninsula…

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Meet Gerald Rainville

Valavanis Bonsai Blog

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Nestled in the rainforest on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, Canada, is the bonsai nursery of Gerald Rainville. Here thousands of Japanese black pine, Sargent juniper, Dwarf Japanese garden juniper and Dawn redwood can be found from young seedlings/cuttings to developed 33 year bonsai.

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As a young lad in 1972, he began growing plants and started his first landscape business with his classmate when he was only 13 years old in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He discovered bonsai in 1976 when Hiroyoshi Yamaji, Sansho-en Bonsai Garden in Kokubunji, Takamatsu, Japan on Shikoku Island, visited Montreal on an exchange program during the summer Olympic games. After graduating from high school in 1977 he entered horticulture college to get a basic background on growing plants. In 1980 Gerald traveled to Japan to become the first apprentice to Mr. Yamaji for about three years. During his training he was fortunate to be accepted…

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Walking Above Hermanus


Our walk this morning took us along the contour path, westwards from the Visitors’ Centre, then up Elephant Path to Rotary Way.  From there we went east until we eventually arrived at the top of the Kanonkop Path, which we descended back to our starting point.  The weather was perfect for walking, but we underestimated the time, so some of us had to break away in order to get back in time for other commitments.

The walk was 10 km long and we went through plenty of recently burnt fynbos, giving the botanists lots to enthuse about.  The pictures come mostly from Liz, who had her camera at the ready throughout.  There were also some good birds on display, including Cape Rock Thrush, Cape Rockjumper, Ground Woodpecker and Verreaux’s Eagle.

We really stretched our legs and had a good time, enjoying the splendour that surrounds us!

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Spring in Namaqualand


We started our trip to Namaqualand with a visit to the West Coast National Park, where we stayed in the Duinepos Camp.  This allowed us the opportunity to see the wild flowers at Postberg (along with many visitors from Cape Town, as it was a Saturday) and also to look out for local birds.  Being late winter, the migrant waders were still absent, so we had to be content with the resident population. This still provided plenty of species and we started off with a good few.

After two nights we proceeded up the coast to Velddrif, where we again concentrated on water birds, before heading north to Rocher Pan.  There was virtually nothing to see there, so we set off for Kamieskroon and the Kamieskroon Hotel, where we were to spend 5 nights.

Namaqualand Route Our route in Namaqualand

On Monday I had only one thing in mind and that was…

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Gill’s Birthday Bash at Robertson



Gill kindly invited ten old friends to join her for her 80th birthday at the historic farm, Riverton, where we stayed in Barry House, an old building reeking with tradition and Barry family memorabilia.  We didn’t all know each other when we arrived on Tuesday, but by the time we had to leave this morning, the ice had been well and truly broken.  For those who had known one another in the past, it was an opportunity to renew and rekindle old friendships.  Gill and Pam did a wonderful job keeping us well fed and Renee and I made the most of our chances to do some birding.

The latter was amazing right on our doorstep, when, yesterday afternoon, on a short walk, we saw African Fish Eagle, Martial Eagle, African Harrier-Hawk, Booted Eagle and Black Sparrow Hawk, all within a period of around 5 minutes!!  All in all, with…

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Preparing for the Fernkloof Flower Festival


For the past few days a group of very dedicated and energetic people have been gathering flowers, building displays, making arrangements, identifying specimens, printing photographs and beavering away to get this annual spectacle underway.  Tomorrow is opening day, and if the images shown below are anything to go by, it is going to be a beautiful event.

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Perdeberg Revisited


We last walked on Perdeberg in February last year.  It was beautiful, so we decided to go again, this time in Spring.  It was still good but very different.  There were many flowers as can be seen from the pictures below.  The Gladiolus debilis was in flower and there were wonderful Adenandras along the path.

Eighteen walkers set out, but we split up as some did not want to go the whole way.  We even managed to lose Piet and Martha along the way, but luckily they were found and all was well.  The weather was good and the breeze in our faces on the return was welcome.

I was pleased to see a number of birds, including Black Harrier, Jackal Buzzard, Common Buzzard, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Yellow Bishop, Cape Grassbird, Grey-backed Cisticola, Rock Kestrel and Blue Crane, but I could not find the Hottentot Buttonquail, which was my aim.

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