The Bay Area Bonsai Associates, affectionately known as “BABA,” held their 30th annual exhibit last weekend at the Lake Merritt Garden Center in Oakland, California. BABA is one of the best known Bonsai organizations in the Bay Area and their exhibit lived up to expectations. Their trees have improved rapidly in the past few years, evidence of club members’ dedication to bonsai. Notably absent, however, from this year’s exhibit, was longtime member Ruben Guzman. Guzman, an active participant in the Northern California bonsai community since long before I started almost 20 years ago, recently passed away. Some of his trees, including the San Jose juniper below, were displayed in his memory.
San Jose juniper – in memory of Ruben Guzman
BABA chose an early winter date for the event which gave visitors a good opportunity to appreciate the many deciduous trees on display.
Mountain of moss
Crabapple – Malus zumi, Golden Hornet
There was also a good selection of broadleaf evergreens and conifers, including the large California juniper below.
Japanese black pine
As always, BABA presented a good selection of good bonsai, making the event one I can look forward to year after year. Congratulations for the past 30 years!
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Daniel Dolan says
Thank you for the great images of California Bonsai.
The Flowering Apricot is especially beautiful.
Can you please explain the design/styling principle which seems to govern all Coast Redwoods? This tree, of all trees, is renowned for its extraordinary ……..height.
Why is it that every Coast Redwood I have ever seen, though I am from Chicago, is styled as a thick stumped shrub?
I am certain the lack of vision is my own….but it seems the hypnotic attraction of massive trunks appears to be misconceived when planning the proportions of Coast Redwoods Bonsai. There are no 12″ tall-12″ trunk Bald Cypresses. Many are over 4′-0″…….which considering the girth of their trunks seems appropriate.
bonsai eejit says
Great trees, especially those native junipers and eye catching Apricot.
Hi Daniel – great question! I’ve often wondered the same thing. A few ideas come to mind. I think one of the bigger reasons is the “hypnotic attention” you mention – people like trees with fast taper. As many redwoods are collected in this shape, it’s natural to continue training them in the this style. We can think of these as “near-view” bonsai, trees that are appreciated at their actual size. “Far-view” bonsai represent larger counterparts – think of a broom-style zelkova. It’s certainly possible to create redwood bonsai that suggest the typical silhouette of mature trees, but these would have difficulty conveying the massiveness of the giants. While not true to the typical shape of mature redwoods, the short, stumpy redwood bonsai suggest more of the massiveness, if in a very different style.
Much of the same could be said for black pine bonsai. Mature black pine in nature don’t typically resemble the hefty specimens we see in bonsai shows. Bunjin-gi pines capture this natural feeling well. Rather, pine bonsai with powerful trunks suggest collected pines – “near-view” bonsai that are appreciated as full-sized specimens.
Thanks for asking – I’m looking forward to hearing what others think on the topic.
Judy B says
I’ve never really understood the stylings of redwoods myself either. And to be honest, don’t feel a strong indentification to actual trees… But bonsai is full of interpretations of the artist, as it should be. I also wish that there were more than ONE style that is used for redwood. Anybody???
Brian Van Fleet says
Looks like a great show! That trident is especially natural and has a great, quiet feel. The umes are at peak too, either great timing, or lucky owners!
chris Ross says
Someone should post a picture of Jay McDonald’s redwood that graces the Marin bonsai club’s Marin county fair bonsai show every year in July. Anybody got one of those to show these good people?
Donald Burr Meeker says
I greatly appreciate your website, it is new to me. The pictures and related text are exceptionally well done.
On the Redwood questions I have often felt the same, sorry to say I haven’t seen the aforementioned Jay McDonald tree. I’ll make the effort. I have an old friend in Oakland who has, what my eye says, an excellent redwood bonsai, tall and expressing the nature of the tree unusually well. I’ll try to get a couple of pictures and forward to you for your consideration. Meanwhile congratulations on a job very well done. Donald B. Meeker
The technical stylistic used in each of the plants are perfect. It really is a wonderful exhibition.
And the cool thing is the dominance of native plants of the United States.
Congratulations for anniversary.