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American Bonsai Blog

American Bonsai Tool & Supply Co. Blog

Our Trip to the National Bonsai Exhibition

Brad Booth

This is our second trip to the 5th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition in Rochester, NY.  This event is put on every two years by William N. Valavanis and his team, it is a fantastic bonsai experience. We shut down the shop early to catch our plane to Buffalo, NY - we're off!

What's great about this trip, from other trips, is that Cullen's parents live in Buffalo, specifically in a small town called Elma, which is about 90 minutes from Rochester.  Cullen's parents, David and Sue, are very accommodating!

The Mariacher's residence is a beautiful, peaceful property.  There is a field of clover and chicory in the back yard where the deer play!

We found David's stockpile of reclaimed wood, it wasn't hard to miss.  He is a financial advisor but has been working with his Stihl chainsaws since 1980.  We picked out a few pieces to bring back with us to build some custom bonsai stands, we call them Grandstands.

You may remember reading about this Spruce forest planting on our about us page.  It is in need of some serious work, but no time this trip, we are off to Rochester!

The scenic countryside drive to the exhibition in Rochester was beautiful.  It was full of rolling hills, very old barns, defunct properties, and animals.

We made it, now off to setup!

The big day finally came!  The ceremonial Saturday morning ribbon cutting commenced the 5th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition. 

The Ribbon Cutting at the grand opening of the Show

Unusual for Rochester, it reached a sweltering 90+ degrees inside the sports facility, however, the show must go on!!

As hot as it was, we stayed super busy and enjoyed meeting many new faces. All of the trees in the exhibit were gorgeous! Unfortunately, photography of the exhibit trees was prohibited.

The Award Banquet & Benefit Auction took place at the nearby Burgundy Basin on Saturday night. The banquet was sold out, a packed house with 450 in attendance. It was a fantastic dinner with a great group of people.

There were some great items on the auction block. Below is our very own Nick Sweat as an auctioneer ringman keeping watch over all bids on the floor!



While not at the show, we enjoyed some local food and drinks. We had some delicious buffalo wings and a Buffalo staple, Beef on Weck, at the Bar Bill Tavern. As a tradition, we tried the local taco joint on our hunt for the best taco in America. We also let off some steam by crushing a couple buckets of golf balls at the driving range - work hard, play hard, here at American Bonsai Co.. 

Our last night in New York was spent in Elma with Cullen's parents before our early departure Monday morning. For as tough as the weather is in Buffalo, it sure can be beautiful. We look forward to the next U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition in 2018!

39th Annual Mid-America Bonsai Exhibition


We took a trip up to Chicago to attend the Mid-America Bonsai Exhibition held at the Chicago Botanic Gardens. It was a fantastic event and a wonderful opportunity to see our bonsai friends new and old. Thank you to those who stopped by our booth, we are looking forward to seeing everyone next year. 

Here is a quick glimpse of the event, enjoy!

Larch in the Park


The story of this Japanese larch, Larix leptolepsis, started 40 years ago by one of William N. Valavanis' students during one of his Introductory Classical Bonsai Courses. For 35 years, the owner trained it and cared for it until the larch came back to Bill five years ago. Bill has since refined the tree and removed a few branches.

Several different containers were considered and the bonsai finally ended up in a handmade container by Dale Cochoy. A round container was finally selected because this bonsai, like other fine bonsai, often look good from several sides.

The aged bark and cones on this Japanese larch add to the dignity of the composition. Lichen on the lower trunk and a few dead branches enhance the refined beauty of this classical bonsai.

This very old larch bonsai is now in the possession of the Frederik Mejier Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, MI. Prior to the Curator of the Gardens taking this tree, we took it for a stroll throughout the Gardens, enjoy.

2015 Growing Season Competition, and the winner is...


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As this years growing season comes to an end, so does our 2015 Growing Season Competition. The Grand Prize winner is Aarin Packard with his Mugo Pine, Pinus mugo.  Aarin is the curator of the Pacific Bonsai Museum located in Federal Way, Washington.  Below, you can see Aarin's progress this season from Febuary, through August. 

Congratulations Aarin on a job well done. 

February 2015




August 2015 Submission

Additional winners will be notified directly by August 29, 2015. Thank you to all who participated in our 2015 Growing Season Competition!

Say Hello to My Little Friend...



We set out to make a heavy-duty, versatile tool.  One that could take on large material - a statement piece

It is made to please professionals, attract yamadori collectors, frighten shohins, and be worthy of a good ol' nickname.  Most would call this a 'root cutter', but we digress.  It does cut roots flush to the root mass, but also effectively removes material along the trunk, cuts branches with a slight concave, and can even act as a splitter. 

Flush Cutter Specs
This large tool is made from 400 series stainless steel.  The 400 series grade stainless is great for holding and maintaining a sharp edge, and it has a high-resistance to corrosion and oxidation (rust).  It weighs in at 3lbs 2.6oz and is 16 inches long.  The width of the cutterhead measures 1.375" and has a sharp flush cutting edge.  The extended neck creates clearance and a greater range of motion.  Like all of our tools, it is covered under our 2 year unconditional warranty.

Where can you get one?, and for those that want one right away, you can pre-order now and save $30. 

Pre-order here:

We stand behind all of our products.  If you are not satisfied with your pre-order of the Series 16 Flush Cutter, return it within 30 days for a full refund. 

If you choose to pick one up, let us know what you think.  Thank you for the support! 

- Cullen

share your experience #americanbonsai

2015 Bonsai Societies of Florida Convention


Artist Demonstrations
Guy Guidry, David Degroot, Stacy Muse, & Mike Lebanik

Club Night

Club members getting their bonsai material ready to be judged

Club Night judging by Guy Guidry and David Degroot

7 Participating Clubs

Sunday Night Awards Banquet

Thanks for looking, feel free to share with your friends!  See you next year!

Introducing the 6" Stainless Steel Pick


Cullen here, as recommended by bonsai artist and eccentric bonsai blogger, Adam Lavigne, (Adam's Art and Bonsai Studio Nursery) we are now adding a 6" model of our stainless steel soil pick for working with smaller material. The orange pick in the photo is our 6" model printed in ABS plastic. Using 3D models, we can feel and use the product before beginning the manufacturing process.

Additional product information can be found on the product page here.

All New Aluminum Drainage Screens


We like to think about new ways to solve problems bonsai artists have, simple to intricate - in this case, super simple!  Plastic drainage screens can lack rigidity needed for the job, so for the first time ever (to our current knowledge!) we are offering heavy duty, anodized aluminum, drainage screens for bonsai containers. 

Each screen is CNC laser cut and then anodized clear to prevent oxidation of the aluminum.  They are reusable over and over, no waste! 

Our heavy duty anodized aluminum drainage screens come in two sizes, 1.50" and 2.25" squares. Drainage screens available here:  1.5" Screens & 2.25" Screens


Here is a technique I developed using our new rigid screens on a pot that doesn't have wire tie down holes, no drill needed. 

- Cullen

American Hand Thrown Pottery


American Bonsai supports American artists! Each AB container is hand thrown and created by bonsai potters right here in the USA.

All pottery is made from high quality stoneware clay and fired at 2,200 to 2,400 degrees making a very durable, frost-proof, and nonporous (vitrified) container.

Check out the first run of our pottery here

American Forests


We have partnered with American Forests in an effort to sustain native trees across the United States. American Bonsai is committed to planting 500 native trees across the United States every year.

In addition, we also plant one native tree for every American Bonsai tool purchased. Your support goes directly toward rebuilding the natural forests of North America.

American Forests, the oldest national nonprofit conservation organization in the country, advocates for the protection and expansion of America’s forests. Since 1990, they have planted more than 45 million trees in forests destroyed by human action and by natural disasters.

2014 Bonsai Societies of Florida Convention


We had a great time at the 2014 Bonsai Societies of Florida 41st Annual Convention! We feel so fortunate to have met so many enthusiastic and friendly people in the community. We hope to see all of you again at the next convention!