At long last, I made it to a US National Bonsai Exhibition last month. The exhibit is held every other year in Rochester, NY, home to William N. Valavanis, the driving force behind the event. I wish I had gone sooner! Valavanis has done the impossible four times now, bringing together many of the best trees in the US to put on an outstanding event.
In no way was this a small undertaking. This year the event featured 175 displays comprising 320 trees – over 125 species – plus 50 suiseki. Over 1,000 visitors enjoyed the event.
I’d like to start today with photos from some of the prize-winning trees, including one of my favorites, a Rocky Mountain juniper.
Rocky Mountain juniper – ABS North American Award
Although I’m completely impressed with the tree, I was even more impressed to meet the tree’s owner – a young, mostly self-taught, enthusiast with a great eye and lots of talent. Congratulations on the accomplishment!
Another favorite is the wild olive below. I’d seen photos of the tree ahead of the event but getting to see it in person was a treat. I studied the deadwood and the form of the tree every time I passed it. I look forward to seeing it again in the future.
Wild olive – Evergreen Bonsai Award
Each of the award-winning trees featured great bonsai qualities. The willow leaf fig below has impressive taper and movement.
Willow leaf fig – Puerto Rico Bonsai Federation Award
The Sharp’s pygmy Japanese maple does a great job conveying the feeling of a maple in nature, and somehow the foliage still looked wonderful in September.
Sharp’s pygmy Japanese maple – Deciduous Bonsai Award
The medium-sized itoigawa juniper has a mix of deadwood and movement.
Itoigawa juniper – Medium Size Bonsai Award
The Nippon Bonsai Association Award went to a pine with classic pine qualities including attractive bark and good ramification.
Japanese black pine – Nippon Bonsai Association Award
The top prize went to an American elm. Look closely at the roots, the bark, and the ramification. It’s a very cool tree.
American elm – The National Award
Keep in mind, there were over three hundred additional trees to enjoy in the exhibit, including the following.
I’ve long admired ginkgo bonsai, and this specimen is now among my favorites.
I know far less about Ashe juniper, but find them just as easy to appreciate. The specimen below may have had the most graceful line of any tree in the exhibit. For kicks, try and figure out which way the tree points – or could point if you had your say.
Because the exhibition featured so many varieties, walking the aisles was a slow process as I was intrigued by the many varieties with which I’m not familiar. The mix kept the exhibit interesting and made it clear how much more there is to learn.
Japanese black pine
Japanese black pine
Blue moss cypress
Crimson frost red birch
And stay tuned – more news from Rochester coming soon!
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