Sorry it’s been so long between posts but I’ve had a busy life, a Holiday parties, an all day, multiple event demo/carving/private session, and a second private session since,  trees to water, kids to pick up from school etc, etc, etc. Plus I need to sleep and all. 

Anyway, it’s also taken me a while to edit all the pics (all the pics!). As I might have mentioned in the last post, the lighting was a challenge at the venue (the beautiful UNC Nutrition Research Intitute). My poor iPhone 5s and its camera were going crazy trying to focus. 

A note: I think I got all the trees but I am probably wrong about that. So I apologize if I did miss your tree, and, consequentially, if the pic is not the best. If you see that I missed your tree(s) or it is a bad pic, send me your photo and I’ll add it. 

Also, I’m not going to identify the owners of the trees for privacy reasons, even though they were identified at the show. This blog has a large reach and the exhibitors don’t need to be worried about their trees. Although I do identify some professionals for their exposure. And I’ll keep the comments to a minimum. Maybe……. 

Ready? Here goes!

 A mugo pine, a carpinus caroliniana and a  celtis occidentalis. 

A sweet taxodium grouping.   

Surprisingly, a Virginia creeper (parthenocissus quinquefolia) by Owen Reich.  

 A larch from Bill Valavanis   

Some “larch cones”. If I could grow any tree out of zone, but to do so, I had to sell my soul, it would be a larch.   

And another Bill Valavanis tree, a Japanese maple.   I have to comment here. I’m picking Bill’s tree because Bill can handle the comment. There were many people who asked me “What do you think of the twin trunk?” Or said “I’d cut that off!” Or some such thing. 

My answer was always, “I like the tree, it took great technical ability, great patience and diligence to grow it.” And I meant it. To explain, a classically styled Japanese maple tends to not have a twin trunk like this. Or, if it does, the split isn’t so high up in the trunk. And one trunk should be bigger, taller than the other. But I didn’t really say that to any who asked. Why? Because it’s Bill’s art. I wasn’t taught to view art with a hypercritical eye the way almost all bonsai practitioners do. I just don’t understand it the obsession with picking another artists tree apart. Don’t get me wrong, if the owner asks, I’ll look at details, but there’s a huge difference between solicited and unsolicited advice. Bill wasn’t asking. I like the tree, because it’s just annoying enough to make you look at it again and again. And that, my friends, is one purpose of art, to get you to look at it.  


Next we have a juniper, I believe that Danny Coffee helped to get it ready for the owner.   

And then this cool tree, another juniper, but this one a shimpaku grafted onto California juniper stock.  Classically coifed. This trees owner actively sought criticism and I believe he’s going to turn the front clockwise a bit.  

Next grouping is a Korean hornbeam, a beauty berry and a shimpaku juniper.  

Next, a georgeous and well ramified sweet gum.    

The companion stands out, though I never figured out the berry.   Looks like holly to me. 

A pseudocydonia, Chinese quince.   

And next to it is a great little seiju elm.   I am partial to the small trees. Unfortunately, they get drowned out in shows like this. Shohin are twice as hard to make into convincing trees. And I don’t like the shohin groupings you see in shows. I believe (and it’s my belief) that to stuff three or more trees together actually lessens them.  

This next one is cool. It’s a twisted pomegranate. 
 Look at the detail!   It looks like the Whomping Willow from Hogwarts!

Next up is a grouping of ilex serrata.  You see why I thought the berries earlier were holly fruit?  

This is a display I didn’t get a good pic of. The tree is a hinoki cypress  I love the non traditional moon photo in the background. 

Here’s another grouping that I didn’t get a good shot of.   An azalea, and a shimpaku juniper.  

This is an awesome example of a trident with almost perfect moyogi characteristics. 
 I’ll also use the photo to show you how much I had to edit the pics to make them viewable. This is the original photo.   The white marble caused my iPhone to super expose the background and lose details and colors. When I got close for detail shots, my iPhone was fine.   But as soon as I pulled back it was a horror show.    

Edited for your protection. This is another well crafted juniper. 

I love the natural deadwood on it.   It’s not overdone. 

This is a tree called a water elm.   It’s not an elm, but a related species called planera aquatica.   It does grow in the water too. 

A trident maple grouping by fellow Floridian Mike Rogers, one of the best but least appreciated artists in Florida.   

This is a zelkova, I believe. Very tree-like. I love it.    

A great exposed root black pine.   One of my favorite. 

Then we have a black pine on top, a ficus salicaria on bottom and a Chinese juniper on the riser.   For some reason, the ficus was misidentified on the cheat sheet as a ficus subulata.  

Here’s a surprising one, a crepe myrtle. 
 Very well done. Especially the dead wood.   

This next grouping consists of  an unusual but cool Japanese maple. And grass. The number in front of the grass actually belongs to the crepe in the previous pic.  I was taking pics during set up so the identifications are a bit difficult at the time of this writing. If I get something wrong, please, let me know.  

My trees, a dwarf jade with a euphorbia companion. 

And a carpinus caroliniana  

This display pretty cool.   From the left, trident maple, cork bark elm, and a Korean hornbeam.   


  I love the cascade especially. What’s next? 

 Aha! One of my co-conspirators display.  
 Representing the James J. Smith collection at Heathcote Gardens, we have Seth Nelson’s submission: A ficus microcarpa “kinman”.  You would not believe how many people wanted to cut off that big aerial root. It was like dogs marking their territories. 

 Another ilex serrata.  This one has loads more berries. 

An impressive hinoki   

A white pine and a dwarf hinoki forest.   Note the alternating fabric swaths. 
The most controversial display. 

Rob Kempinskis post industrial chines wax factory set.   

Ilex vomitoria “schillings”    

And a large ficus salicaria (again misidentified, this time as a ficus nerifolia)   

Then we have a Rocky Mountain juniper that was recently on display at the Artisan’s Cup in Portland.   

This grouping was unique. Juniperus  procumbens nana.  The slab is iron discs made by Boudreaux’s Iron.  

Even the companion was on steel.   

   The whole display won the People’s Choice award. 

After that we have an elegant Chinese juniper (and a seriously bad pic. I’m so sorry)  

An Austrian pine by Bill Valavanis.   

 This next is a mixed planting with:red maple, Japanese hornbeam, spirea, dry land blueberry, and something called withe-rod. By Arthur Joura of the Asheville Arboreteum.  It’s tough to have a mixed planting because you have to make sure the plants can grow together as far as light and water requirements are concerned. 

A procumbens nana bunjin.   

A big Japanese white pine grafted on Japanese black pine rootstock, recently styled.   

A small azalea   

This next one surprised me. A schefflera arboricola.   

This is my friend, Bobby’s, celtis lævigata. It won best in show.   

  This display had intensive thought involved in it.  
It was lit by its own spot light.    That grass is perfectly in season for the feel and the display. 

The tree is a laurel oak.    

I love the unmossed soil surface…. I bet that annoyed some. 

And the winter, Native American scene.   It ties it all together.  


The next tree is a procumbens nana planted in a feather rock.  The Rock is recessed into the stand as well. The little pine on bottom is a not identified. 

 A natural style Japanese maple.  

And a penjing planting, on a marble slab, of ulmus parviflora.   The ramification on it is impressive. If I would pick my favorite (as Seth keeps bugging me to do) it would be this penjing. The colors, the skill, the composition, they all just work. And I don’t tend to like penjing. Well done sir. 

And that all the pics I have. Sorry if it takes forever to download, but there were over 60 trees. 

I’d like to thank the organizer, Steven, for organizing, and for Rob and Seth for putting up with me for the weekend. 

What a great show, right?

 Will I see you next year? 

10 thoughts

  1. Thanks for the virtual tour! Lots of interesting winter-themed displays there. The ilex stands with berries really caught my attention.


  2. Thank you so much for all the work I enjoyed so much it just went on and on. I wanted to study them ended up taking couple sitting 🙂 I really enjoy all your blogs and your sense of humor.


  3. I liked the twin trunk maple as well. It’s different sure, but the ramification is so astonishing that the removal would be such a waste. I never pay much attention to what the critics have to say. I’m the one who has to look at it every day, and if I didn’t like what I saw, I would change it.


  4. I have been reviewing this as I make my first trip to Winter Silhouette 2016 in a few days. As a newbie, it’s very unnerving….yet stimulating….to see such beautiful displays. The American Indian winter scene really touched my soul. Thanks for the beautiful pix and the comments. See you in NC this weekend!


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