Shanti Bithi Nursery has one of the most extensive collections of bonsai trees available for sale on the East Coast. Many of our specimens are imported from Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan. Others have been created by our gifted bonsai specialist, Saeko Oshiro. Saeko learned the art and techniques of bonsai from her grandfather
in Japan when she was a young girl. Saeko is also an expert garden designer.
The photos on this page are a tiny sample of our available selection. In the near future we will post photographs of more of our beautiful bonsai.
Bonsai Classes at Shanti Bithi Nursery
Most classes at Shanti Bithi Nursery are taught by our gifted in-house Bonsai specialist, Saeko Oshiro. Saeko learned the art of Bonsai from her grandfather while she was still a child in Japan. She moved to the Stamford area after several years at a Bonsai nursery near Boston, and Shanti Bithi has had the good fortune to benefit from her valuable knowledge and outstanding artistry for the past 18 years.
Each class that Saeko teaches covers both basic techniques and artistic ideals. Small classes (6 to 10 people) allow for plenty of hands-on guidance, and students can ask questions throughout the class. Both beginner and intermediate students will feel comfortable and have fun while learning to create their own Bonsai in a friendly and unpressured atmosphere. Classes are held on Saturdays from 10:00 A.M. to 1 P.M., and on Wednesdays from 10:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M.
If our class schedule doesn't fit into your schedule, why not consider arranging a private session with Saeko at your convenience during the week? Or get a group of friends together and arrange a "Bonsai Party" at Shanti Bithi Nursery. Imagine what wonderful party favors everyone will take home!
Please phone to reserve your place in any class: (203) 329-0768
Spring Class Schedule ~ 2013
Complete class descriptions appear below this list.
The cost of each class includes all materials other than tools, except for the Bring Your Own Tree Workshops. Students may purchase new pots at the BYOT Workshops for a 20% discount. *** Please bring your own tools with you to class. If you do not have tools, we will supply loaners, but we strongly recommend that every Bonsai student have their own Bonsai shears and a few other important tools. Class participants can buy tools at 20% discount on the day of class.
Please phone to reserve your place in any class: (203) 329-0768
CLASS WITH WALTER PALL
Near the end of October 2006, Bavarian Bonsai Master Walter Pall (www.walter-pall.de) spent two days at Shanti Bithi Nursery. On Friday, October 27th, five students, including Shanti Bithi’s own expert, Saeko Oshiro, took a day-long Master Class. Each student provided his or her own plant material, and benefitted from the Master’s suggestions and assistance regarding both their own trees and the trees the others brought in. Photos and descriptions of the day’s work and achievements are below.
|Walter Pall and the class study Berni's large pine.This giant branch going out the door was considered unnecessary!|
|Berni wires the remaining branches. He will make the large stump at the left into an interesting jin at another time.||
The Master appears to be happy with the result thus far.
|Saeko with Walter Pall and his assistant for the weekend, Christine Hayward (standing).
Walter Pall checks the trunk and branch structure of Saeko's Kingsville boxwood. When they removed the top layer of soil, they discovered that this starter plant has two separate trunks, joined by one slender root.
|Saeko has opened up the canopy by pruning away a lot of branches and foliage.||All the small details claim the attention of a true bonsai artist!|
|Walter Pall studies the bushy juniper that Mike will work on. Now that Mike has reduced the canopy considerably, he and Walter discuss the next steps.|
|New jin and shari are visible in their early stages, including a newly burned area. Mike wires the remaining foliage.||Finished for now. The wedge under the pot indicates the future planting angle.|
|John brought in a tall juniper with interesting lines.He already had ideas about how he wanted to style it. Walter Pall agreed with him.|
|John meticulously wires every branch.Graceful lines are already evident.|
|Charlie pruned and wired his clump-style quince in short order.Saeko contributed an azalea from Shanti Bithi's collection for him to work on.|
Walter Pall makes some suggestions.And the job is soon done!
LECTURE/DEMO/CRITIQUE BY WALTER PALL
torrential rains and gusty winds, an intrepid group of Bonsai enthusiasts
turned up at Shanti Bithi Nursery for the opportunity to observe Bonsai
Master Walter Pall at work as he transformed a challenging piece of
garden-grown material from bush to Bonsai. Most brought in one of
their own Bonsai trees for critique by the Master.
Contrary to our expectations, we found that Walter Pall’s reputation
for brutal assessments is entirely undeserved. While his assistant,
Christine Hayward, continued the extensive wiring work, Walter Pall
spoke kindly and informatively about each person’s tree, no
matter how humble or unkempt. We all learned a lot, were completely
entertained, and nobody left in tears!
|Material for the styling demonstration is a garden-grown 'Kingsville' box-wood, about 50 years old, recently dug and with its entire root ball still intact.Walter Pall explains that removing young, small, and crossing roots near the surface reveals the larger, older roots, immediately making the tree look both older and stronger.|
|This tree has an interesting nebari and a powerful trunk that splits into two trunks very low on the tree. The inside branching pattern is tree-like.As Walter Pall pruned away branches, he explained that the optical weight of the tree as a whole becomes smaller as you reduce the volume of foliage.|
|At the same time, the optical weight of the trunk becomes larger in proportion to the amount of foliage, making the tree appear more powerful.Walter Pall asks the audience to consider the possibility of removing the secondary trunk, which he is holding, for a more dramatic styling.|
|The secondary trunk was voted off the tree! The result is a much more compact Bonsai.||Most of the pruning and wiring is finished. The canopy has been drastically thinned and opened up. Now sunlight can penetrate to the inner branches.|
|Almost finished. The branches have been wired, right down to the tiniest ones. The canopy is airy and open, and the overall impression is of a huge, old tree growing in an open field. The root area is packed with potting soil to encourage new root growth. The root ball has been left intact to minimize further stress to the tree. In spring, two thirds of the root ball will be removed, and the tree will go into its first Bonsai pot.||Walter Pall's assistant throughout the demonstration, Christine Hayward, is a gifted artist as well as an experienced bonsai enthusiast. At the end of the day she presented us with a pen and ink sketch of the "finished" tree as it might look in a shallow pot.|
TREE CRITIQUE BY WALTER PALL
|Audience members' trees are lined up on the table awaiting their turn under the Master's eye.Walter Pall makes suggestions for improving a mimosa that has become very leggy.|
|A “Sumo” style hornbeam gets a twirl on the Master’s turntable.||An unusual variety of pine has received a substantial branch thinning, and one small branch has been wired upward to create a new apex.|
|A bushy ‘Shimpaku’ juniper begins its transformation into the austere and elegant literati style.|
Bonsai class with Mike Pollock & Kevin Goveia
Mike Pollock is a passionate bonsai hobbyist and a member of the local Yama Ki Bonsai Society. Mike planned to demonstrate "refining" techniques on a tree that had already been styled as a bonsai. Kevin Goveia is also a member of the Yama Ki Bonsai Society, and an experienced bonsai hobbyist. He is also a gifted potter and graphic artist., and had planned to present a segment on how to choose the right pot for your bonsai.
|For his demonstration Mike chose a tree in the Informal Upright style, from Shanti Bithi's large collection of 'Shimpaku' junipers. Refining includes cleaning the bark with a wire brush, removing branches that are unnecessary for the tree's design, thinning the foliage, and extensive wiring.After Mike has brushed the bark, it looks red instead of brown, and the direction of growth is visible at close range. Tiny insects that may have been living under the loose bark have been evicted. Mike's plan included cutting off the tree's lowest branch, which is now lying on the table.|
Then everyone's plans for the presentation changed. Saeko Oshiro, Shanti Bithi's in-house bonsai expert, suggested that the long curving line of the trunk made this tree a good candidate for the bunjin or Literati style. Mike took on this challenge -- a transformation that required a lot more work (and time) than Mike had counted on. Kevin good-naturedly put aside his own planned presentation on how to select the right pot for a tree, and became Mike's extra eyes, hands, and drawing skills.
|Mike continued to cut off the lower branches, while Kevin envisioned how this tree might look in the bunjin style, and began a sketch. Mike used an X-acto knife to refine the cuts, and pliers to peel back the bark, creating jin (dead branches) and shari (areas where the bark is peeled away), giving the tree the appearance of age and hard experiences.||Kevin shows the audience the general shape of the future Literati bonsai on paper. Much more foliage still has to be removed.|
|Now only the foliage at the top remains, while all the lower branches are lying on the table.||Kevin wraps a branch with wet raffia. The wrapping protects the branch from breaking when it is bent. For the bunjin or Literati style, at least one upper branch should grow downward at an acute angle. On this tree, downward growth is going to be a test of the artists' skills.|
|Mike wires the wrapped area, while Kevin plans their next move.||Both artists study the tree, deciding on the best angle for the trunk. They have placed a wedge under one corner of the pot to simulate how they might place the tree into the new pot (in foreground), chosen by Kevin.|
|Two large upper branches are pulled downward with guy wires.||After taking the tree out of its original pot, Kevin removes old soil from the roots before pruning them. The new pot, with wires in place and gravel in the bottom, is visible at lower right. Junipers can be successfully repotted (by experts!) at almost any time of the year.|
|Mike gives the newly-potted tree a thorough drenching. Fresh bonsai soil is extremely dry, and repeated watering is needed on day one to ensure that no dry patches remain, and to wash out the fine dust from the new soil.||The new bunjin. A wooden peg is stuck into the soil to mark the front -- the viewing direction that shows the tree's best features. Most bonsai have a front, but great trees, Mike pointed out, look good from many directions.|