Susquehanna Bonsai Club

The premiere bonsai club of south-central Pennsylvania

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Check out the new video page!!! Susquehanna Bonsai Club

Hey all followers, viewers and members of the Susquehanna Bonsai Club blog. Check out the newly added video channel page on our website! Currently we have 4 video links posted for videos concerning the Susquehanna Bonsai Club. 

If you have an Youtube account and have posted videos concerning the Susquehanna Bonsai Club send me a message! I’ll review the video and if all checks out I’ll post a link to your video as well for all our viewers!



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Hershey Gardens Bonsai Exhibit 2016 – Susquehanna Bonsai Club

The Susquehanna Bonsai club had another great bonsai display once again at Hershey Gardens in 2016. Before we get to some photos here is a note from the club membership chairperson Roxanne Kamin:

Join us in congratulating this year’s winners of the Hershey Garden Exhibit Peoples Choice Awards.  The 2016 favorite was Jesse Cook’s Zelkova. A beautiful tree which reminded all of us of fond childhood memories. Next was Val & Jim Kopenhaver’s  Cypress Forest.  Congratulations to Jim, as he has won a People Choice  award two years running. Ron Bates rounded out this year’s top awards with his Euonymous. Mike Anderson’s Blue Atlas Cedar was also a strong contender. SBC wishes to congratulate each  of the winners. We also want to thank all of the SBC members who donating their time and trees to the 2016 exhibit.  ~ Roxanne

1st place 2016 Peoples Choice Award (chose by the public viewers)


2nd place:


and honorable mentions:



Here are some other pics from the exhibit. Or you can click HERE and check out the exhibits video on Youtube

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Also club member Roxanne was asked to answer a few questions by a local news channel, Penn Live, who posted the video HERE. Check it out!!

As always, thanks for reading!




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Hershey Gardens Bonsai Exhibit 2015 – Susquehanna Bonsai Club

The 2015 Susquehanna Bonsai Club annual exhibit at Hershey Gardens.


(click on first image to enlarge and scroll through gallery)


(click on first image to enlarge and scroll through gallery)

Once again the Gardens enjoyed a successful exhibit, with over 100 more visitors than in 2014 casting their ballot for their favorite tree. Join us at a future meeting where we will present Carl, Jim and Bob with their awards. A hearty Thank you to all of the SBC members who exhibited trees, managed the care and feeding, set up and took down the exhibit, and shared their weekends working and teaching the public about bonsai. We couldn’t have done it without you! 

Roxanne Kamin

Thanks for reading 🙂

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David Knittle – Susquehanna Bonsai Club

I apologize for such an extremely longtime since the last post on the Susquehanna Bonsai Clubs blog. A combo of extremely limited time and technical difficulties is never a good mix.

 Back in February of this year, the club had speaker David Knittle do a presentation on properly displaying bonsai and the different materials used to display bonsai particularly tables/stands. Dave is a very well-known wood craftsman who for many years handmade high quality wood furniture. Dave at one point found an interest in bonsai and the methods of displaying them and decided he could put his craftsmanship skills into making wooden display tables/stands for bonsai. Dave’s bonsai displays are sought after around the world and in high demand. Please enjoy the gallery below of Dave’s presentation to the Susquehanna Bonsai Club.

(Click on first image to enlarge and scroll thru the photos)

Sorry again for such a long time between post. Thanks for reading!

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Hershey Gardens Bonsai Display – Susquehanna Bonsai Club

This years Hershey Garden Bonsai Exhibit has come and gone!

 This year’s exhibit ran from October 11 through November 9. Historically, this has been a very popular exhibit with the Hershey Garden’s visitors and is a great way to introduce the public to the Susquehanna Bonsai Club and was once again this year. As in prior years, visitors to the exhibit were encouraged to vote for their favorite tree and SBC will be offering recognition awards to the three top entries. The exhibit was held in the Butterfly house as before and was such a beautiful and great setting to display some excellent bonsai. So if you didn’t have a chance to visit the Hershey Gardens Bonsai Exhibit this year or you would like to remember how great it was, just click on the first image of the photo gallery and enjoy!

As always, The Susquehanna Bonsai Club appreciates all its viewers and visitors to our site! If you are local and have an interest in bonsai please stop by one of the clubs events and check us out! Thanks again!!

On a side note – The local news station, WGAL, did a great write-up about The Susquehanna Bonsai Club and its exhibit at Hershey Gardens. Check out what they had to say and what a few of the club members had to say during their interviews. Click on the provided link to view the article :

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MidAtlantic Bonsai Societies’ Exhibition – Susquehanna Bonsai Club

This past April was the annual Mid Atlantic Bonsai Societies’ Exhibition. The Susquehanna Bonsai Club had 3 members who displayed bonsai at the exhibition. A job well done to those members who had bonsai on display representing the club! Also a special thanks to club member Sean Smith who supplied the photos of our club members bonsai!


Club member Bob Findley’s Elm


Club member Ken’s Forest


Club member Ron Bates Hinoki Cypress

Thanks for reading the Susquehanna Bonsai Clubs Blog post.

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Bill Valavanis – Forest Planting – Susquehanna Bonsai Club

On Thursday, February 27, 2014, we had another club meeting with world-renowned bonsai artist Bill Valavanis. Bill gave us an incredible lecture/demo regarding how to make a proper bonsai forest planting. However, prior to the demo a couple of awards were handed out for the clubs display at this past falls Hershey Gardens Exhibit. 

Click on the first image to enlarge and scroll

Bill Valavanis – Bonsai Forest Planting Demonstration


Bill Valavanis took us deep into forest planting but also gave great overview information such as there are five different classifications of group plantings: Classical, Natural, Seasonal, Tray Landscape (Saikei), and Grass

Seasonal and Grass plantings frequently are created for a specific purpose then taken apart. Saikei or tray landscapes are intended to represent a scene in nature and are composed of many different trees as well as natural and/or man-made objects. TheClassical type adheres more closely to the traditional Japanese way of preparing and presenting trees. The Natural style more closely represents how the trees might be viewed in nature. 

Going a bit deeper into the forest, Bill explored the Single Root System and Multiple Root System approaches to Forest Bonsai. The single root system involves taking a single tree and laying it down and training at least five branches to grow as individual trees. After preparing the tree, including making some cuts on the trunk, it is placed in a growing box long enough and deep enough to cover the trunk with two inches of growing medium. New roots will start from the cut areas of the trunk in 1-2 years. The Multiple Root System approach, which Bill used for his demonstration, is a forest planting composed of multiple seedlings or cuttings of different trees. Most frequently all the trees are of the same species in a forest planting but variations in color or growth habit across the trees can add an interesting effect. 

Bill also distinguished two styles of Single Root Forest Bonsai, the Raft Style and the Sinuous Style. The Raft Style is created from a relatively straight tree and does not have much depth of field since the individual trees will be in a straight line. In contrast,the Sinuous Style is created from a trunk which is not straight or is curved for the forest creation and the finished product will have a more natural feel and more depth of field since the trees will not be in a straight line. 

Design Factors to consider when creating a forest Bonsai include Focal Point and Eye Movement – whether the composition “moves” left to right or right to left; Composition and Spacing – plant on irregular lines from front and side views and use of varied spacing between trees; Trunk Thickness and Height – the main tree is highest and thickest and other trees should be irregular in height and smaller in diameter; Trunk Lines — avoid crossing trunks in formal upright plantings; and Silhouette – wide triangular silhouettes create a definitive impression and usually fill most of the container while narrow and one-sided triangle silhouettes create a suggestive impression and usually large areas are left un-planted or filled with flat stones. 

Utilization of the design factors creates an Appearance of Forest Bonsai characterized by the following dichotomies: Near (tall trees in front) or Distant Vies (tall and heavier trees in the middle section); Realistic (use of stones, ferns and ground covers) or Idealistic (trunk placement emphasized by the bare essence of composition) feeling; and Definitive (vanishing point defined) or Suggestive (vanishing point created by the imagination) impression. 


Bill’s slide show and commentary beautifully illustrated the design factors and appearance of Forest Bonsai.


 Bill used 2-3 year old Japanese Larch for his Forest Planting demonstration. The trees were grown in different size containers, causing variation in height and trunk girth. He chose a blue pot to show off the Spring and Fall colors of the Japanese Larch. 

For the assembly of Bill’s forest, the largest trees was placed in the pot first on a hill then two supporting trees were chosen and placed with the main tree. This grouping was placed on the left side of the pot, creating a left to right focal point flow from the heavier to the lighter concentration of trees. Bill then positioned an additional ten trees, starting with larger trees and working to the smaller ones. The placement of the trees resulted in an asymmetrical triangular outline. 

Bill suggested that if you are having trouble with the trees holding their position, use a heavier soil or put some water on the soil. Tie down the trees and remember to finish tightening the wires by adding a Z-twist to the tie down wires on the underside of the pot. Undesirable unneeded branches are removed, generally cut the heavier ones and leave the lighter branches. Do not soak the pot when you water, rather water the composition from the top and allow water to run through the pot. And, finally, if you are going to wire the trees, do it in the summer and wire all the trees.

Please enjoy the following photos of Bill Valavanis’s demo of creating a bonsai forest planting.

Click on the first image to enlarge and scroll

 Thanks for reading.