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The 32nd Annual Bonsai Show Redwood Empire Bonsai Society (REBS)

August 22 and 23, 2015

Santa Rosa, California

It is the largest club sponsored bonsai show in the United States. Every fourth weekend in August for the past 32 years, the Redwood Empire Bonsai Society or REBS has exhibited its member’s bonsai for the bonsai enthusiasts and public. The first show may have started with 45 trees, but has since grown to 200. This year was no exception, offering 200 quality bonsai and a special display of more than 70 Shohin bonsai.

Kathy Shaner, club sensei and certified professional bonsai artist and instructor is responsible for each and every display of bonsai, including accent plants, art objects, and suiseki viewing stones. Kathy was taught in Japan by Mr. Yasuo Mitsuya, a highly regarded Master of Gendai or contemporary form of bonsai training. Kathy’s five-year apprenticeship was a first for Japan and the bonsai world. She became the first woman and first non-Japanese citizen to be certified by the Nippon Bonsai Kyodo Kumaii, the professional bonsai growers’ branch of the Nippon Bonsai Kyokai (Japan Bonsai Association). Kathy is the curator for the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt, Oakland, California. She travels throughout the United States and world giving demonstrations and lectures on the art of bonsai. REBS was established in 1981 for bonsai enthusiasts. The club is a non-profit organization for the purpose of educating and making the public aware of the ancient art of Japanese bonsai. The club promotes the bonsai art form through the conduct of monthly meetings, demonstrations, workshops, newsletters, and its annual bonsai show. REBS meetings are held on the fourth Tuesday of the month (except July and December) at the Luther Burbank Art and Garden Center, 2050 Yulupa Avenue, Santa Rosa, California. The public is invited.

The annual bonsai show is an opportunity for members to display their quality bonsai, as well as for new members to show their trees in training. The displaying of bonsai is an art form alone. Size, space, surrounding bonsai, accents plants, viewing stones, and other related art objects are all taken into careful consideration when displaying the bonsai. Bonsai (bone - sigh) means in Japanese roughly a tree in a pot. The bonsai artist must be thoughtful when selecting a pot, which complements the bonsai. Most bonsai pots are hand crafted works of art. However, the pot should not distract the viewer from the bonsai. The most important element of the bonsai is the trunk of the tree. It must show characteristics of old trees in nature, roots, broad base, movement, and bark. Branch formation and leaf size and shape come secondary.

The bonsai enthusiast knows the work and skills required to develop quality bonsai and then to prep the bonsai for exhibition. The first time visitor to the bonsai show is struck in awe by the miniature trees in small, shallow pots. They will ask, “How old is this tree?” Some bonsai are created from nursery stock and age is an easy question to answer. Other bonsai are collected from the landscape and wild, and therefore, only an estimated number of years can be given. Once the training of the bonsai is started, a more accurate number of years are known. The roots are cut, the foliage trimmed back, the branches are wired to develop movement and age, and the tree is placed in a pot. In Japan, there are bonsai in development (or training) for 300 - 400 years, passed from generation to generation. In a club like REBS, some members are lucky enough to own bonsai in development for over 45 years, those started from seeds or cuttings. And, where others have collected 300 - 400 year-old trees from the wild, they may have only started bonsai development in the past 5 - 30 years.

- George Haas

See the 2015 REBS Show Trees Photographed by Don Van Dyke August 22, 2015

Download the the list of trees photographed-(pdf)


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