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 😀

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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.

The Amazing Point Lobos and That Other Place

When I was planning this trip of a lifetime I was in contact with many people about the best places to stop to see old growth trees. I managed to see most of them with a few escaping until the next trip of a lifetime. 🙂 One of my pointers was from Ryan Neil who said I HAD to make it to Point Lobos State Park for the Monterrey Cypress. Boy was he right! The Allan Grove in the Park is a magical place to walk and the photos just don’t do the wonder of the place justice. It’s a quiet spot, not to many people there on the paths so at many points you were on your own and able to soak it all in. The trees really tell a story of life on that coast with deadwood and character in abundance. Some amazing wild flowers and coastline as well, a great accent for the trees. Interesting to see the rust  fungus on so many of the Cypress.

Now, the other place, which officially is called ‘the 17 mile drive’, is a, you guessed it, a 17 mile private road around the headland at Monterrey over looking the sea and Pebble Beach Golf Course. You pay $10 for the privilege of taking this drive and getting to see the famous Lone Cypress on the rock and the Ghost tree. As a tree person I found the lone tree a bit disappointing after Point Lobos and the Ghost tree was a dead one nearby. There were literally hundreds of better Cypress across the Bay at Point Lobos and entry to the State Park was also $10. The park also offers up much more in the way of scenery. So there you go, tourist tip of the day. Photos of all below. Some general shots from the park as well showing the coast and the Sealions on the rocks. I’ll put the Lone tree last for you to compare.

 

 

 

Check it Out

Check out this inspiring exhibition by Ryan Neil at the Japanese Gardens in Portland. This blog post over on Phutu.com has all the information.

Check out Eric’s short video about the exhibition and listen to Ryan’s concept. I laughed when Ryan said he wasn’t striving to create controversy. He may not have been but the 5 exhibits are, for sure, unusual and you will have your own view on them. They are Marmite, you will either love them or hate them. My view, Why not? What better way to exhibit in the open air in a Japanese Garden?   Sticking them up on wooden poles would be predictable. This is a well thought out and in my view inspiring way to exhibit in this environment.

 

The Artisans Cup Website is Live

We’ve all been waiting for it and today it’s here! Check out the new Artisans Cup Retrospective website. Below are some words from Ryan and the great video.

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The Artisans Cup, the premier showcase of American bonsai that took place at the Portland Art Museum September 25-27, 2015, today launches a new site experience offering a comprehensive look back at the event. The site will feature facts, photos, and audio & video content highlighting the concept and creation of the show, as well as details and audio critiques of every tree exhibited.

 

Visitors of the new website will get a detailed look behind the scenes at the immense community effort that brought the exhibition to life. The countless hours of planning and hard work by the show’s dozens of collaborators and participants will be displayed through photos, videos, and notes from the organizers. In addition, for a one-time fee of $65, users will be able to purchase access to special in-depth content with insights into the competition and how it was run. This content includes audio from all three panel discussions held during the event: “The Future of Bonsai,” a forecast of the art of Bonsai with founders Ryan & Chelsea Neil; “Ask The Judges,” a chance to get inside the minds of the professionals who judged the exhibition; and the “Collaborators Panel,” a look at how the principles of Bonsai translate into art, design, and culture, featuring key creative collaborators that helped to bring The Artisans Cup to life. Subscription content will also include studio portraits of all 71 trees, along with detailed audio critiques of each tree from all five of the event’s judges.

 

As an organization, The Artisans Cup is dedicated to celebrating the beauty of time and the balance of nature, showing American Bonsai for the art form it truly is. A steadily growing subset of the millenia-old tradition, American Bonsai honors the past while pushing the artistic boundaries of what is possible. The Artisans Cup seeks to highlight the artists who are leading the way, while simultaneously inspiring a new generation of Bonsai enthusiasts to join the movement. On the heels of an overwhelmingly positive reception to its inaugural event, The Artisans Cup is looking ahead to its next event in 2020, and laying the groundwork for a show in one of New York’s finest art museums in 2025.

Video

Ryan Neil Demo at Bonsai San 2015

Thank You Bonsai Empire

The Bonsai Kid

Here’s a link to a fantastic article on Craftmanship.net about Ryan Neil and his journey towards this weekend’s Artisan Cup in Portland.

I’ve read a lot about Ryan in the past and some of that’s in here too but in a very open interview you can see just how much he’s put on the line for bonsai in America. I’ve been lucky enough to meet and work with him and can only wish him great success in his endeavours this weekend.

Click on the photo below to visit the article or ant of the links on this page.

Ryan’s Back

It’s not looking good for me making it over to the Ryan Neil workshops at Willowbog Bonsai in April. I’m truly gutted about it.

I can’t see Ryan making it to the UK too often and this is a missed opportunity. Having done a workshop back in 2013 I know just what I’m going to be missing.

Here’s a taster from 2013, the videos from the demo day.