The Bay Area Satsuki Aikokai welcomed visitors to their 23rd annual show of flowering satsuki azalea bonsai on May 19-20 at the Garden Center at Lake Merritt in Oakland, CA. BASA is one of the few bonsai clubs dedicated to one type of bonsai which makes the show a rare opportunity for lovers of bonsai to see well developed trees in a very colorful display. Many of the trees exhibited were brought to the US from Japan and illustrated the fine form and mature growth of their pedigrees. Vendors Sho-Ju-En and North American Satsuki Bonsai Center, who import satsuki from Japan, were on hand to sell trees to those interested in beginning or adding to their own satsuki azalea collections.

This year’s show featured activities throughout the weekend highlighted by a styling demonstration by sensei Johnny Uchida on Saturday, culminating with his beautiful demonstration tree being won by BASA member Dennis Hawkins. On Saturday the club offered a beginning satsuki azalea class taught by senior members Rick Garcia and Darren Wong. Students were given instruction on developing, wiring, and maintaining their small colorful trees, a good start to their budding collections. On both days members doing seasonal care on their own trees answered questions and provided insights on the specifics of growing satsuki azaleas.

BASA has always welcomed suiseki and viewing stones in their displays, believing they are a natural complement to colorful azalea bonsai. This year the California Suiseki Society was invited to show a separate display of their stones alongside the bonsai. This collaboration proved very successful, eliciting many questions and wide interest among visitors to the show. A variety of stones were exhibited, including desert stones, figure stones, and traditional mountain stones, with most coming from California locations, showing off the rich resources we are so blessed to have nearby.

Among the satsuki azaleas there were several notable trees among the many treasures displayed: the Gyoten by Gordon Deeg was the centerpiece of the show, exhibiting mature growth in a large silhouette enhanced by graceful movement in the trunk and a profusion of flowers; Darren Wong’s beautiful cascade Suzu No Homare in a Satomi pot was widely admired; Gordon also showcased a novel presentation combining several trees and an elegant sculpture in a singular statement; but perhaps the most moving display was the Yamato satsuki Ray Moore contributed to the show. All of Ray’s magnificent bonsai, Japanese pots, stands, and tools were destroyed in the Santa Rosa fires in October 2017. Reeling from the loss, but undeterred Ray rose like the Phoenix with the help of teacher and mentor Rick Garcia and has been aggressively building a new collection this year. The imposing Yamato stood as a tribute to Ray’s resilience and spirit, an inspiration to all.

If you missed the show this year we hope you can attend next year on the third weekend of May.