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When our family moved from Boulder, Colorado to Santa Barbara in 2017, we said goodbye to many friends, some of whom I’ve known for over 35 years. Included in that were many bonsai friends I made through the Rocky Mountain Bonsai Society (RMBS) including my teacher and mentor, Larry Jackel (now Curator of the Bill Hosokawa Bonsai Pavilion at the Denver Botanic Gardens). We stay in contact with our Colorado friends via emails, texts, phone calls and Zooms (and even in-person visits, pre-COVID, oh so long ago), but we definitely miss the regular in-person interactions we had with them.

The good news is that with our move to Santa Barbara, we have made many new friends and I’m grateful to have you folks at the Bonsai Club of Santa Barbara. Although, to get the RMBS members to be friends with me, I didn’t have to volunteer to be the club president…. Oh well.

Like many of you (I hope), I treat my trees like they are my friends, or as my wife likes to remind me, like my children (which may explain why I sent two of our kids to Bonsai Mirai to work as they would be better cared for there than at home). A few weeks ago I made a very difficult decision to sell 6 of my Colorado yamadori to a friend in Oregon because it was becoming too difficult to take care of them between finding (and paying for) winter dormancy locations for them. The southern California growing season was just too long and hot for them. Since I sold them to a friend, hopefully I will see them from time to time on my trips up to Mirai for classes. I am planning to keep my 6 remaining Ponderosa Pines and graft them over to Japanese Black Pine. Fingers crossed that the grafts will take. So if my bonsai are like friends, it’s now time to make some new ones to replace the ones I have recently said good-bye to.  Fortunately, re-potting season is upon us so now’s the perfect time, right?  Oh wait!! First, I need to sift a whole bunch of akadama, lava and pumice….         Jeff


For our upcoming virtual meeting on Tuesday February 9th, we have scheduled Mr. William Valavanis from Rochester, NY to present on the subject of forest bonsai. Please note that we have moved the meeting to an earlier start of 6pm PST, to accommodate the time difference for Mr. Valavanis and to allow him to present his wealth of knowledge on the subject. The format will include a slide lecture, Q&A, a
live look at forests in his studio and other trees in his indoor facility, and the possibility of a forest assembly demo if time permits. Mr. Valavanis brings decades of experience, having studied in Japan and as a longtime student of Yuji Yoshimura in the United States. He organizes the U.S. National Bonsai Show and publishes International Bonsai magazine. He was also the 3rd person inducted into the National Bonsai Hall of Fame in the U.S. National Bonsai & Penjing Museum in D.C., joining John Naka and Yuji Yoshimura. I encourage you to check out his website ( to see a gallery of his trees, a link to the now online version of International Bonsai, his catalog of bonsai and bare-root seedlings for sale, and so much more! We will email the Zoom link to the meeting later this week and also again on the day of the meeting.   Allan


Jeff Sczechowski, Allan Hemmy and Daniel Martinez gave a presentation featuring the bonsai design techniques of Ryan Neil via a video lesson that Jeff obtained permission to use from Ryan. Ryan used some of his own spectacular trees to show us three concepts: Balanced Design, Dynamic Design and Tension Design. Jeff also shared links of Ryan’s videos that the Club could access temporarily. And Ryan offered Club members a discount on monthly
memberships to his ongoing video demonstration lessons. Here are some excellent graphics Jeff created to explain the three design styles. There was also a test at the end, and I didn’t even flunk.




The 57th Winter Silhouettes Show will feature deciduous trees in all their leafless glory. In lieu of an actual show, there will be a virtual YouTube video, premiering February 6 at 12 noon. Trees from club members and invited guests will be on display. A short commentary of the trees, interesting facts and its owner will be presented by Tom Lau and Joe Galgoul. The Nakata-Komai award for excellence of instruction and encouragement in the art of Bonsai will be announced. In addition, an online auction of bonsai plants and related items will be held between Feburay 1-6 2021. For more information please see or contact Joe Galgoul at


The Golden State Bonsai Federation presents its annual Huntington Bonsai-A-Thon virtually this year (due to COVID restrictions). In the morning, Ted Matson, curator of the bonsai collection at The Huntington, hosts video tours of the bonsai courts, the Ben Oki Bonsai Nursery, and the “Lifelines/Timelines” bonsai exhibition. In the afternoon, Phillip E. Bloom, the June and Simon K.C. Li Curator of the Chinese Garden and Director of the Center of East Asian Garden Studies, introduces the garden’s new penjing court and discusses the history of this art form. Both sessions include time for questions from audience members. Free with reservation. Zoom link will be sent to attendees in registration confirmation email. Free with reservation Ernie