Getting ready for the USNBE

In 2012, my Chishio Japanese Maple was accepted into the 3rd US National Bonsai Exhibition in Rochester, NY. Truth be told, it was a bit premature to show on a national level; although looking back on it now with that perspective may indicate some personal growth, so it’s not altogether bad. I made the decision to enter the maple over the hawthorn in 2012, because I thought I could get better refinement out of the hawthorn in the two years between ’12 and ’14. Here was the exhibition book photo of the maple in 2012:

A great album, page 42 not withstanding, and is available here at Bill’s website.

This year, my hawthorn was accepted into the 4th USNBE on September 13-14 in Rochester, NY. It was the American Bonsai Society John Naka Award Winner in 2012, and a tree I collected in 1999, as a stump. Everything above the trunk has been grown over the last 15 years.

I spent a lot of time in 2012-2013 looking for just the right pot, in preparation for the show. An old cream oval with just the right amount of patina. This one was close; the size was perfect, but when it arrived, the glaze was more of a clear coat than a cream color. It’s a 1st generation Yamaaki, Katoaka Akitsugu, who made pots from 1928-1964.

So, in March, the hawthorn was planted into the new old container, and allowed to grow freely for a few months to encourage the bark to exfoliate.

As soon as the tree was accepted, I turned my attention to tables and accent pieces. Jerry Braswell is a talented craftsman, and had several options to consider. Which table would you pair with the hawthorn?




Not a bad choice in the bunch, right?

Accents…I consulted a few trusted friends and went with the recommendation of a pool stone. Here is the one I found, from China:

I hope to plant a native accent in it from a favorite nearby collecting area. I have a few on the bench that I’m considering.

Finally, a scroll…maybe. It’s a muted autumn full moon scene. Once the table arrives, I’ll begin working on the display composition and post an update.


Right now, the goal is to keep the leaves healthy, growth strong, and begin to source moss after the 2nd driest July in Alabama’s recorded history. Wish me luck!

You didn’t think I’d forget the display table selection, did you? #3.

Thanks for reading!


4 thoughts on “Getting ready for the USNBE

  1. A beautiful tree! I think the pot is a brilliant choice too. Please excuse my ignorance/lack of knowledge Brian, could you please explain to me what you mean by allowing the bark to exfoliate? I’m not familiar with that term.

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