Pacific Bonsai Museum -The Natives

The last Bonsai stop of my journey took me to Pacific Bonsai Museum in Seattle. Check out the video below for an overview.

I had been looking forward to this after seeing the Mirai Live overview of the Natives exhibit and the panel discussion from the involved artists. I had hoped to catch up with Aaron Packard on my visit, but someone gave him the day off! Probably himself 🙂 Well deserved too. Next time Aaron.

Again, I was a little camera happy on the visit and took a serious amount of photos. After spending longer editing them than it took to actually take them, I’ve decided to split it into 2 separate galleries. One about the place and people I met there, and the other, this one, about the Natives exhibit. My photos as per usual, don’t do the trees justice as the sun was shining bright that day and put a lot of the tree detail into shadow. Whoever said it always rains in Seattle missed a great few days.

The ‘Natives’ was a great concept for a bonsai exhibit in the United States. Having been inspired for 3 weeks travelling, by some stunning trees in the landscape and some amazing collections of bonsai, I could see the attraction of getting so many species from so many great artists, together in one place. Add to that a funky art concept capturing the landscape from each trees habitat and even accents that reflect what can be found there, and you have yourself a great exhibit. I walked it twice, in company and on my own. A great experience. It was great to see and compare styles of work from the different artists. Some of Dan Robinson’s rugged trees caught the eye. I’ll have to get back and go see Dan’s place in person next time for sure. I got to see the bonsai that were missing from Ryan and Michael’s place as well. All the artists deserve a pat on the back, or maybe even a man hug for allowing their trees to be displayed here for the duration of the exhibit.

I have added snaps of the name cards were I remembered to take them. Only fair to give the artists credit. The info boards in each bay also were very informative and I have added those too. You’ll need to do a little zooming to see the text though. This may well be the biggest photo gallery yet from this trip. Simply put, go there and see them for yourself if you get the chance. You won’t be disappointed.

 

 

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Bonsai Mirai: The Elongating Trees

Is Elongators a word? Probably not, but I was tempted to use it. This is my final Mirai post covering all the elongating species on the benches and a few others that I need to fit in. Here’s the Spruce, Firs, Redwoods, Larch,  etc for your pleasure. Again I was impressed with the natives being used and how well they were conforming to bonsai techniques. Some great use of material using rock and wood stumps for planting as well.

I fell in love with Coastal Redwoods on this trip, the old growth ones, those on display at Lake Merritt and Pacific Bonsai Museum and of course these ones at Mirai. Time to put a little more effort into the one I have here at home.

Ryan, and team Mirai, thanks for the inspiration. It took me a few weeks to settle back with my own trees after my visit but now I plan to put this inspiration into use. See you all soon.

Next up, Pacific Bonsai Museum.

Bonsai Mirai: The Broadleaf Trees

At last, a smaller gallery 🙂 I wasn’t expecting a crammed deciduous/broadleaf section at Mirai but still some nice trees hiding on the benches. I know looking at the photos that I missed a few. Disttracted by those darned conifers 😀

Bonsai Mirai: The Junipers

Such a wide range of Native species Juniper on view here that I had to ask a lot of questions. What’s this one? What’s that one? Serria, Western, Utah, Rocky, California etc. Again the main feature was deadwood. Many are in early stages and some in the pics are totally raw but all have quality.

The first thing Ryan said to me was actually an apology for how the garden looked! I looked back wide eyed, you can see for yourself how it looked. What he was referring to however was the phomopsis issues on some of the junipers. He’s been discussing this on Mirai Live and the success so far this year in the use of nematodes to treat the trees to stop the roots being damaged by insect larva which in turn lets the phomopsis in. (I think I got that right!) Combined with the weather in the North West in the last few years, this had an impact on many junipers in the garden. All that said, it looks like he got it figured out as I couldn’t see much evidence on the trees now. Professionals doing the hard work and study on this sort of issue and then passing that knowledge on, has to be commended. It makes life a lot easier for the rest of us.

Here’s today’s gallery. I’m trying to do one a day so I can get this never ending trip finished on here. I’m sure you’re all bored by now.

Bonsai Mirai: The Pines

Here’s the first installment of the trees from Mirai. I’m starting with Pines. All the natives and some grafted species as well. Some top end deadwood to be seen.  All shapes, all sizes, raw and refined, an epic collection of trees and pushing the limits of what species can be utilised as bonsai.

Bonsai Mirai: The Place, The Team

Mirai. What can I say that can conjure up just what this place is like to visit? Some single words spring to mind, inspirational, awesome, mind-blowing, all over used words that truly fit this place but none actually can sum up my visit to Mirai. I have so many photos I’m going to split them up over multiple posts, but they don’t even start to express this place. I have spoken to people who’ve there before I made this trip and watched them struggle with the same lack of words. Simply put, just go there yourself.

I arrived late on in the afternoon with my head still buzzing from Michael Hagedorn’s trees but also thinking about how I’d be received by Team Mirai. It is a team for sure especially after the launch of Mirai Live back in March. You watch the streams, hear the voices, hear mention of names, and catch the odd glimpse of someone other than Ryan. But they’re there working hard in the background. I was about to land in on them, with my accent and interrupt their day. I needn’t have worried of course. Like every other stop on the Bonsai road, we were both warmly welcomed.

First I heard that famous voice from the streams, Kendall was there somewhere. Little did I know that it was her saying goodbye and walking to her car in the opposite direction. Are we destined to never meet Kendall. She wasn’t there the next day either. Where were you Kendall? 🙂 Joking aside, I was gutted I missed getting to see you.

As I walked into the garden I saw two things. Instant impact of stunning bonsai was the first and second was Troy finishing off his day’s work. Some people you click with instantly in bonsai. We are all over the world, living in different countries, doing different things, but bonsai attracts, in the main, quality people but a few of these are kindred . Troy was one of these people. He’d obviously been warned that the Irish were coming! He knew who I was. I got to spend a little time with him later on talking bonsai, and about our trip and only wish he’d been about the following day to get to know him better. Every time he went to go home we ended up chatting on. Great to meet you Troy.

Ryan then appeared on hearing voices and man hugs ensued . I’ve met Ryan before at a rather special weekend in the snow at Willowbog Bonsai back in 2013 so man hugs were allowed 🙂 We had a quick catch up before he sped off to collect his son from day care. This gave me a chance to roam the garden, look at the trees and meet up with Arthur and Ricardo the techie guys behind Mirai Live. These guys are kept busy and the quality of their work is evident for all to see every week. It was great to grab some coffee time during my visit and sit chatting with these guys about Mirai Live and the plans for the future. What a great place to work. As you can see I managed to get a shot of me in the sweet spot that is the live studio 😉

Another Team member was Lime, and I’m gutted that I didn’t get a photo of us mate. What a story this guy has, but it’s his to tell. We had a lot in common and bonsai to connect us. A Portland Timbers fan as well, so we got to talk Football. Yes football, not soccer! I look forward to your Ireland trip in the near future my friend.

I have suggested that a ‘meet the team’ portion be added to Mirai Live, I think they were already headed that way but hopefully this post, more wordy than usual, fills in a few gaps for those of you who are Super Tuesday fans.

When Ryan returned we were all invited out for a meal in St Helens in a great spot called CCB, Columbia County Brewing. Food was amazing and the craic was mighty, if they knew what craic was of course. A great way to finish off a busy day. The plan was for me to spend time at Mirai the following day. Ryan had a Pines 1 study group there so I got to spend the day wandering the garden. I have so many photos it’s obscene. As a result I’m splitting them up into a few posts. Below is the gallery of the The Place and the people of Mirai. I’ll make a start on the trees in the next post.

My time at Mirai was special, both Allison and I were made feel at home and part of the team. We capped it all off with a trip into Portland with Ryan on the second night for a great meal at Jakes. Portland is my kind of City, I’ll be back. Too many friends, not enough time.

Crataegus Bonsai

After Crater Lake it would be hard to find anything in nature as inspiring on the rest of the trip. Therefore I switched to Bonsai for inspiration for the rest of the short time we had left :-). Leaving Klamath Falls we moved North West over the high desert and down into Portland. A chunk of this was done in the rain so we missed some mountain views along the way. It can’t always be perfect 🙂

My next stop was Michael Hagedorn’s place, Crataegus Bonsai. You should know who I’m talking about if you follow this blog. I reblog a lot of Michaels posts as they are always so informative and well timed for seasonal work. Michael also posts kusamono which as you know is also a major passion of mine. This was one spot I was really looking forward too. I had been emailing with Michael to plan my visit and although he had a class on, he was still keen for me to come.

The weather improved the closer we got and on arrival the sun was shining. We were met by Andrew Robson, Michael’s apprentice and shortly there after by Michael who was just finishing lunch with his students. One thing that stands out at every bonsai establishment I visited was the warm welcome, and here was no different. A very relaxed atmosphere and happy faces. This looks like a great environment to study. The Pacific Northwest is truly blessed with bonsai opportunities. Michael got the students to work and between times spent some time walking the garden with me. Andrew was also very helpful but I was pleased to be left to my own devices for a while and just study the trees.

And then a truly magical thing happened! My long suffering wife, who has had to deal with my addiction for 24 years, having hordes of people visit my house, catering for these visitors, etc etc. made a statement. ‘I get it’. Just three words, but I was floored. She explained that after Crater Lake and the amazing trees there, showing all the age and character that you could imagine, and then coming into a garden were the bonsai looked just like that, she got why I do this mad thing called bonsai. She swore me to secrecy and straight after I told Michael all about 🙂 I’ll get a stern look for posting this here too, but hey, live dangerously. So, if you have a spouse who doesn’t get it, take them to Crater Lake and then a tour of the bonsai spots in the Pacific Northwest. Real bucket list stuff.

I loved the variation in species at Crataegus and am fast falling in love with many of the American ones. Nice also to see Japanese Black Pines being developed from humble beginnings. I had a ball looking at the accents as well and Michael and I had a good chat about what plant types are used both there and back home. You’ll see from the photos that I didn’t miss many.

A massive thank you to Michael and Andrew for adding us to an already busy day.

The galleries just keep getting bigger! Apologies if there are any doubles but some are with the camera and some with the phone which causes me grief now I’m home. From here I moved on to Mirai, a little place in St Helens, you may have heard of it! I will be breaking it down into a few different post as the amount of photos I took was total greed!