What can bonsai look like outside of Japan? The Noelanders Trophy provides a compelling answer: pretty great.
This year’s award winners are a mix of European and Japanese varieties. The judges had many great bonsai to choose from – the winners were among the fullest and most meticulously prepared trees in the exhibit. Thanks to the Bonsai Association Belgium for providing today’s photos. [Update: all photos have been removed until further notice.]
The top award, that of “Best Bonsai,” went to two trees this year – a Japanese yew and a Sabina juniper. Both trees are standouts in that they have great deadwood, well-defined silhouettes, and especially in the case of the yew, mature branch pads.
Best Bonsai, Taxus cuspidata – Bonsai Museum Alcobendas (Spain)
Best Bonsai, Juniperus sabina – Xavier Massanet (Spain)
The award for Best Deciduous Tree went to Tony Tickle for a collected Hawthorn. This raft style tree was 26 years in the making! Read more about it on Tony’s blog, Bonsai & Yamadori from Tony Tickle.
Best Deciduous tree, Crataegus – Tony Tickle (United Kingdom)
Among several outstanding shohin displays, Mark and Ritta Cooper’s took top honors. The display featured Pinus parviflora, Trachelospermum asiaticum ‘nana’, Pyracantha angustifolia, Acer palmatum, Zelkova serrata, and Juniperus chinensis ‘itoigawa’.
Best Shohin – Mark and Ritta Cooper (United Kingdom)
The display deserves recognition for several reasons. Most importantly, each tree is an outstanding specimen. It’s hard enough to find six small trees that look good at the same time, but it’s really difficult to find six that go so well together.
The Cooper’s display manages to provide good contrast among both varieties and styles. The pots, too, offer good contrast, with a painted hexagon, green, pink, and yellow ovals and two unglazed rectangles.
Note too the direction in which the trees point. Each tree leans inward, creating triangles that keep the viewer’s gaze focused within the display.
The Bonsai Association Belgium recognizes their own with an award for best tree by a member. The winning tree was a Chinese juniper. The trunk has good twists and movement from top to bottom and the foliage is compact and suitable for the style of the tree.
Best Bonsai of a Member of the BAB, Juniperus chinensis – Peter Gielen (Belgium)
In addition to recognizing top trees in the above categories, the Noelanders Trophy recognizes several “Nomination” bonsai. The first is a European larch by Giacomo Pappalardo.
Nomination Bonsai, Larix decidua – Giacomo Pappalardo (Spain)
The trunk is massive and twisty for such a compact tree, and the branches complement the trunk well.
A far more serene scene is suggested by Pedro Hervás González’s olive.
Nomination Bonsai, Olea europaea sylvestris – Pedro Hervás González (Spain)
A large ezo spruce with multiple sinuous trunks earned Luis Balino a Nomination Award.
Nomination Bonsai, Picea jezoensis – Luis Balino (Spain)
The Nomination Shohin Award-winning display featured Pinus thunbergii, Ligustrum obtusifolium, Premna angustifolia, Elaeagnus pungens, and Juniperus chinensi ‘itoigawa’. The mix of varieties is good – the pots are colorful and avoid repetition is size, style and shape.
Nomination Shohin, Jose Acuña Cruz (Spain)
Not pictured is a Nomination Bonsai Award winning Pinus mugo by Italy’s Mauro Stemberger. However, another tree of Mauro’s, a Scots pine, received recognition in the EBA/ESA exhibit held concurrently with the Noelanders Trophy. Tune in Friday for the photos.
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