Finally, I’m able to sit for a second and reflect upon the last week (or so, I’ve lost track of the days).
I can truly say “It’s Miller Time!”
Ahhhh, that’s good.
Like mothers milk.
It’s the Champagne of Beers you know.
It’s also a nice and mild poison compared to the liver abuse that occurred over the last week.
Do you wanna hear about it?
Ok, here goes……
The week started off pretty tame, on the last day of the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival, the Central Florida Bonsai Club had a show.
It was a very impromptu show; you see, the organizers of the Festival Centers events asked us, with but 13 days left, to invite our members to show our trees en masse.
And one just doesn’t say no to Disney.
So we put it together pretty quickly and it turned out surprisingly well.
There were many fine trees but I can’t show them all.
But I can show a few, and some winners too.
This is my friend Don’s Chinese elm on a rock.
A real cool composition with a panda.
The guests enjoyed it.
Disney was very glad we were able to participate and the plan is next year to maybe do a whole weekend with many more awards. They’re philosophy is to give the guests little surprises. And everything they do is first class. Here’s the sign they made for us.
The whole show was dedicated to Juan, our treasurer and corresponding secretary, who’s been working for a show like this since he became a part of the board.
Sadly, he passed away just a week before the show and wasn’t able to be there.
It hit me hard but I’m sure he’s smiling down on us now.
I made sure he was with is at least through his art; this was his tree in the show.
You will be missed my friend…
Speaking of friends, this is Dave’s tree, a ficus salicaria.
Aaron’s Japanese black pine, a cute little thing.
This is Alan’s buttonwood.
And Mike’ big hackberry, an alumni of the Japanese Pavilion display sponsored by Bsf.
Guaracha brought a bunch of trees….
….and his tree won the BSF Presidents Award, the big one in the back right.
It’s a tree from Puerto Rico that they call Palo Blanco.
I’ve never seen Guaracha so happy, you couldn’t wipe that smile off his face.
The winner of the best big tree was Alan with his bald cypress.
The ground cover not only has moss but native swamp ferns that grow where the cypress grow. Very nice detail.
Rick, my brother from another mother, won the best medium tree with his natal plum.
It was collected from a hedge down in Homestead after hurricane Andrew.
And yours truly won best small tree with my nea buxifolia.
Ah, it was sweet, but the day was just beginning.
That evening I got to stay at the Boardwalk Hotel because, with the end of the Festival, I had to pick up my big nea from the Japanese exhibit.
You remember this tree?
Here it is after more than 2 months.
Actually, this was today, it’s been a week since I picked it up.
It’s grown this much since then.
There was a mishap, and I should be more upset that one of the maintenance team got a little scissor happy and trimmed a little too close on the apex. But I’m not.
It’ll grow back quickly.
The most surprising thing is all the flowers it has this year.
And a little fruit too!
The evening before the pickup (which is at 7:30 am the next day) usually means closing the bar at The Boardwalk as we sit and argue about bonsai. There have been numerous stories made during those late hours, many I’m not willing or allowed to repeat.
We pick up the trees the next morning, and I meander back home and have a short rest for about two hours and then it’s some nursery work, which is never done (looking for an unpaid apprentice by the way…) and then it’s time to prepare for the Bsf convention. Maybe a quick nap. I have all day tomorrow….
Well, the next day I take my youngest son to the doctor for bronchitis.
And a chest X-ray.
It’s now Wednesday and the set up for the convention begins Thursday.
I need to prepare my tree for the exhibit, get all the workshop and demo trees I’ve been babysitting ready, get my sale trees and pots ready for my vendor table……
But only after I give a juniper styling lesson to my friend Cullen,who has also delivered my new business cards to me!
What do you think?
Designed and printed by Jato (www.gojato.com)
The good thing with Cullen here though, I can bounce some display ideas off his super creative mind.
I first came up with this.
And here’s another idea.
I felt that the first stand was too fancy.
The second piece of wood doesn’t elevate the tree high enough.
Maybe some bricks?
Most people liked this one when I posted it on Instagram.
I wasn’t so sure. Maybe a different companion?
It’s a neat display by itself.
Too big though.
Anyway, I’ll have to figure it out.
Cullen would like to do some styling.
Some styling beyond his own personal style, I should add.
I told him that he has the legs of a 40 year old hippie woman.
Tie dye socks with wing tips!
While we are torching Jin and wiring branches, I get a delivery.
A reader has asked me to grow and develop a ficus for him in the more hospitable climes of good old Orlando FLA.
The pics he sent didn’t really show the size and scale. It’s a big ficus.
I’m honored that he trusts me enough to take care and style this tree. It’s a fine specimen.
I shall not disappoint Tom.
Time to chase Cullen out, I have to load my little minivan with a lot of little trees.
As you can see, we have three very knowledgable and talented men for our headliners this year.
Ed Trout, fine artist and the true gentleman of bonsai.
Enrique Castano, botanist, scientist, bonsai guy extraordinaire.
Peter Warren, soft spoken yet knowledgeable, a questing journeyman bonsai artist trying to find his way in the world.
The thing about these three men, they all share the ability to work on any tree, they are all humble, and when they teach, they learn as much as they teach.
I can’t possibly relate the amount of work the team put in (you’d think I was bragging) the number of people we touched (I would say twice as many as last year) and the amount of alcohol that was consumed (if you haven’t been to a Florida convention, you, my friends, haven’t been to a convention).
Not to mentions the sheer size of the sleep deficit I accumulated.
I am still recovering.
Here are a few pics I collected during the convention.
Stacy Allen Muse (who designed the logo) had some trees in his booth.
This is a great treatment of a standard S-curve Chinese elm.
This is Ed wiring up a ficus salicaria in a workshop.
We had some friends from Louisiana drive all the way just to see him.
I’ll be making that trip in September for the Greater New Orleans Bonsai Society.
Peter did a spectacular job on this big ilex.
As well as Enrique
If you’re thinking of booking an artist, here’s a caveat, Peter cleans up after himself.
I guess we were working him so hard that he defaulted to apprentice mode.
In between all this my son graduated from high school.
He’s the shaggy, long haired freak in the green.
This was just Friday.
On Saturday we had a youth competition supervised by the great Jim Van Landingham.
And who should win it but my bud, Benjamin!
He’s the author of his own blog, check it out (jaminwithben.weebly.com)
It’s a lot of work moving trees and making sure those green M&ms are in the silver goblets for the artists.
With the amount of running I did, I think I might have lost at least ten pounds.
But Saturday night was the killer.
Or should I say, Sunday morning.
You see, I left the hotel Sunday morning and was back to the hotel on Sunday morning.
All I can say about that: there is one spectacularly bald Englishman in the world who can truly handle his tequila.
We still had Sunday and Monday to go.
I did get to sit in on a workshop.
Cullen (you remember him of the tie dyed socks?) has a pregnant wife who was about a week overdue.
Was….she gave birth over the weekend, of course, and Cullen couldn’t attend the convention.
So I sat in on his workshop.
This was his tree, a bald cypress.
It was taught by the indomitable Peter.
Who was still standing.
And this is the tree after.
We had the banquet and auction and overall the convention was a success.
But eventually the convention was winding down, the last demo had both Enrique and Ed working on some buttonwoods.
If you get a chance to see any of our three headliners, even if it’s a four hour drive, go.
You will not be disappointed.
I apologize for the lack of photos but there is a video on Facebook that shows the entire exhibit (you’ll have to sign in to Facebook to watch it click here) and Arturo’s pics are way better than mine are anyway.
And then there was the cleanup.
What a week.
I came home, unloaded my junk and took a look around.
Wow, everything’s grown.
Do you remember the hackberry from the last post?
It’s grown at least 4 inches.
Don’t believe me?
Didn’t believe me, ye of little faith.
Now I get to sit back, relax with, my beer, in the quiet, I barbecue some chicken for the fam…
….looks good doesn’t it?
And enjoy the sweet fragrance of frangipani wafting through the nursery.
And now…wait, I didn’t show you my exhibit display.
Here you go.
Totally different than what I was originally showing.
It wasn’t award winning but it wasn’t embarrassing either.
I did very well vending. Better than I had ever done before.
American Bonsai tools were a big hit (www.americanbonsai.com) and I see nothing but good things coming out of them.
As a last word, I would like to thank everyone very sincerely and deeply for all the hard work that went into this last weeks events and for allowing me to participate and play my small part in them.
The list is too long and if I started to name names, I’d surely forget someone.
Thank you all.
You know what? I think I’ve hit my stride, I could do it all again soon, who has plans for next week?