The Wild Atlantic Way

A few snaps taken on my Donegal trip.

 

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Bonsai Inspirations at Lake Tahoe

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Like a kid in a candy store I was drooling in awe of the scenery and especially the trees during this recent trip to Lake Tahoe California/Nevada.   I jokingly commented to my family that if I only had a shovel, I might be going home with one of these gnarly trees.  I didn’t get any laugh but rather dirty looks,  they know I’m crazy enough that I might do it.   But rest assured, I didn’t do that, instead, I took some photos.  The photos however will not do justice to translate the awesomeness of this place.  I saw many ponderosa pines, manzanitas, very old cedar (incense cedar), oak type of shrub with beautiful crackling bark.  There were trees that would have taken very little work to make them into a beautiful bonsai.   In fact, there is a place I will visit before leaving Tahoe, it’s called the “bonsai rock”.  I will include…

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40th Mid-America Bonsai Exhibi

Valavanis Bonsai Blog

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The Midwest Bonsai Society held their 40th annual exhibit on August 18-20, 2017 at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, IL. Having attended, exhibited and selling all 40 of the exhibits (except for two when our home burned down seven years ago) I can say the quality of the trees is improving, especially with the professional category in my opinion. There are many more companion plantings displayed with the bonsai and this year there are many more suiseki on display.
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Best of Show: Twisted trunk pomegranate by Dr. Gary Andes
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First Prize in the professional division: Kahima Japanese maple by Wm. N. Valavanis
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Second Prize in the professional division: Japanese black pine by Mark Fields
Kathy Shaner from California spent considerable time, all day on Friday, judging the bonsai and making comments for improvements for the exhibitors.
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The many parking lots were full on Saturday, but crowds visiting…

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Bonsai Club in Tyrone Anyone?

I’ll do whatever I can to help promote bonsai in Ireland, and have done so across the island in recent years, both locally here in Northern Ireland, and in Leinster and Munster. I’ve tried to get Tim up and running in Connaught but the rural nature of the area has made that hard work so far, but we won’t give up. Come on Galway!

So, over the last few months I’ve been chatting with Paul up in Omagh, County Tyrone and he’s keen to try and get a club or small study group off the ground. He’s just made a Facebook page to help garner interest and I said I’d give it a push from this end as well. I’ve committed to helping him get it off the ground with a few sessions and see how it goes. It will be based in Omagh town itself and will cater for those interested in bonsai on that side of Northern Ireland and indeed, Donegal as well.

If you follow this blog from the North West of Ireland and have always wanted a bonsai club in your area, this is your chance, don’t miss it. It takes someone with the motivation to get the ball rolling, and Paul is that man in that place right now!

This is a link to the Facebook Page, go and say hello and express an interest and we’ll keep you up to date with what’s happening as things progress.

Snowdonia

I was on my travels again last week, this time in Wales. We were popping over to see Coldplay in concert in Cardiff but added on a day to take in Snowdonia National Park and visit with a few bonsai friends.

These were taken in and around the park, not great weather sadly but sometimes the mist adds to the mystery. Some nice hawthorn in the valleys and of course great views.

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.

 

 

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 😀

Coastal Redwoods

Having seen Sequoiadendron Giganteum I was keen to see the best of the Sequoia Sempervirens or Coastal Redwood. This meant taking a bit of a detour between Redding and Klamath Falls. We left Redding and headed west through some beautiful country in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest dropping down into Redwood National and State Parks. Stunning views along the way and even the roadworks at a landslide on the 199 didn’t bother us as we got to stop and see a stunning river gorge.

Our first stop proper was the Lady Bird Johnston Grove of Redwoods. A compact walk through old growth Redwoods with loads of character and a quiet spot with very few tourists about. We were able to stroll through and take it all in. Another one of those special moments on our trip.

We then moved on to Prairie Creek, home of the BIG Redwoods which were a treat to behold. I had a stiff neck the next day, and no wonder, after staring skyward for long periods of the day.

Photos just don’t capture the immenseness of these trees. It nearly takes you to have someone standing in each photo to help capture the scale of what you are seeing. These trees are survivors with many showing signs of fire damage. The deadwood in many places was as exciting to view as the living.

I’ve added some wildlife pics and coastal shots too. A coastline that doesn’t get talked about very much but stunning. I’ve tried to make the images run chronologically but they may be  mixed here and there with some from the camera and some from my phone. Enjoy. Next up is Crater Lake, probably my favourite piece of America so far, and that’s saying something.