The Bay Area Satsuki Aikokai’s 16th annual exhibit included evidence that good satsuki azalea bonsai stock is available if you look in the right place. In this case, the right place is Japan. A number of the club’s members visit Japan regularly to study bonsai with Suisho Nakayama. The trees below were purchased at his nursery and shipped, recently, to California, after completing a 2-year quarantine in Japan.
Satsuki azalea at a fun stage of development
Satsuki azalea – a bit further along
I didn’t remember to write down the varieties of the above trees, but I did get information for the tree below. The display card read: “Eik(w)an [=a garland] (seedling of Asahi Zuru Taisho Era) Rhododendron indicum cv., (L) Sweet, Ericaceae.” In addition to azaleas and rhododendrons, the Ericaceae family includes cranberries, blueberries, huckleberries and heathers, among others.
Satsuki azalea ‘Eikan’ – 40 years old and still in training
It’s hard to convey this tree’s size in photos. Here’s a close-up of the trunk.
Satsuki in training – trunk detail
A combination of shredded Australian sphagnum moss and Mountain moss (Yama goki) cover the kanuma soil to retain moisture. Nakayama recommended planting these trees in very large and surprisingly deep (around 12″) pots to help them recover from the bare-rooting and shipping to California. After a couple of years, the trees will return to bonsai pots.
Of course, the main reason to visit azalea bonsai shows is for the flowers. Here are some favorites from this year’s exhibit along with translations, when provided.
Fukuju (happiness & longevity)
Miyuke (Imperial visit)
Chiyo no Homare (Glory of 1000 years)
Kanuma no Mai (Dance of Kanuma)
Kinpai (Golden cup)
Sai no Matsugaki
Hikaru Genji (Shining Genji Clan)
Other varieties with great names included Kakuo – feather of a crane, and Hito Mebore – love at first sight.
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