c.1955 — Paul and Edna Matsusaki opened shop just southwest of 19th and Glendale Avenues.  Their nursery was named Toyo (“Oriental”).  He had originally learned bonsai in Japan from his grandfather, and had been practicing it again the past few years.  Paul also ran a landscaping business. A young man named Hideo “Leroy” Fujii learned landscaping and formal bonsai training from Paul.  Leroy then set up his own landscaping business with Paul’s blessings.

A small group of students met informally at Toyo Nursery to study the art of bonsai.  At the time, relatively few people in the country had heard of this gardening art.

1957 — Leroy Fujii visited San Gabriel Nursery & Florist in southern California where his brother Tad worked. While there, Leroy saw a demonstration by a rising teacher, John Naka.  John’s tree was closer to the ones in the early books than Paul’s were. So began an intense and ongoing study. Brother Tad Fujii also had the good fortune of having to chauffeur visiting workers from Japan who came to San Gabriel Nursery to style trees for sale. They would be picked up at San Francisco harbor. When their temporary work visas expired, Tad drove them back up to the city by the bay. While doing so, he would ask them many questions concerning bonsai. The resulting answers would be relayed to Leroy, who combined them with his own experience and observations.

1958 — Leroy Fujii attended the California Bonsai Society’s Spring show for the first time.  This was the second show the eight-year-old club had presented.  Leroy would attend most of the club’s shows during the next forty years.


1960 — By this time some of Paul Matsusaki’s students were holding occasional bonsai displays at the Heard Museum north of downtown Phoenix.  Paul learned about and contacted rising California Bonsai Society teacher and youngest founding member John Naka.  John came over to present a demonstration.


1962 — The Phoenix Bonsai Society was founded by Paul in the Fall following a well-attended interest meeting at the Heard.  About eleven others were co-founding members, including early exhibitors Leroy Fujii, Edward “Bud” Jacobson, and Chet Hutchinson, who would become the club’s first president.  The initially informal meetings and workshops continued to be held at Toyo Nursery. The first club show of trees was held at Town & Country Shopping Center, 20th St. & E. Camelback Rd.  Over the next three decades the club would exhibit at several other area malls and get many local mentions in print and on TV.

John Naka came over annually for digs, workshops, and shows (through 1978 when his then international lecture and demonstration schedule had fewer openings).  He demonstrated tree design for the Phoenix club at the opening of the Scottsdale Civic Center, and at the Desert Botanic Garden and Valley Garden Center.


1965 — Per pg. 52 of an otherwise uncited Phoenix Gazette article c.April, (“Gazette Staff Photo by Richard Wisdom”), this picture accompanied a four paragraph “Bonsai Showing Begins Saturday”:

“Demonstrating the art of bonsai on a pine, which is in the process of becoming a miniature, is Harry Roark, center.  Members of the Phoenix Bonsai Society, Mrs. Dennis McCarter of Paradise Valley, left, and Bill Jamieson, Bonsai president, observe.  Such dwarfed trees are to be displayed at the annual Bonsai Exhibit at Heard Museum on the Palm Patio.”


1967 — The American Bonsai Society was founded.  Among its ninety-nine charter members was Phoenix member Roseanne Elwinger.  Paul Matsusaki taught an evening course in bonsai for Phoenix College.  

1968 — A mimeographed semi-annual News 1968 was edited by co-founding member Joan McCarter.

The club met at the Desert Botanic Garden in east Phoenix, having put on annual shows there for a few years.  This had been due to the help of co-founding bonsai club member Alice Feffer, who had also been displaying award-winning entries in the separate DBG Annual Shows.


1970 — Paul Matsusaki died of a sudden heart attack on the eve of an April show at the Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum.  Soon after that Toyo Nursery closed when its lease expired.  As a tribute to Paul, with the new season in September a club yearbook was first published.  (It continues to be published today.)  Leroy Fujii was given the teacher’s mantle for the club’s nearly sixty members.

1971 — A Memorial garden was dedicated to Paul at the Desert Botanic Garden.  Per pp. 11 and 16 of the May issue of Bonsai Clubs International Bonsai Magazine, the club’s logo was thus:

1972 — David and Judy Meyer established the Tucson Bonsai Society after a favorable response to an early June show the Phoenix club assisted with at El Con Mall.  (David first became involved with the art after seeing the 1967 show Phoenix put on at Town & Country Shopping Center.)  John Naka began giving annual workshops also in Tucson, as did Leroy.

1973 — Phoenix club meetings were held at the Valley Garden Center near downtown beginning in the Fall (and running to the present day, for most of that time three Tuesday nights per month September through May).  Also this year, John Naka’s Bonsai Techniques was published in California, based on his beginner’s class mimeograph.  The book would quickly become one of the most valuable guides in the field.

The basic coarse soil mix formula in use today was developed based on what was successfully working in southern California.

The December issue of Bonsai Clubs International Bonsai Magazine included the following otherwise unattributed “Ume in Bloom – sketch from Phoenix Bonsai” (pg. 29; also reproduced on pg. 5 of March 1974 issue and pg. 27 of October 1974):

1974 — A “Japanese festival of the Living Arts” was held at the Valley Garden Center in April.  Developed around the club’s Spring show and sale, it would be held annually for five years. That summer Phoenix set a new record with 18 consecutive days of temperatures at or above 110°F.

1975 — The March issue of Bonsai Clubs International Bonsai Magazine included the following by Tom Heitkamp, OH (pg. 48)

“To The Late Paul Matsusaki…”

Green glare into white glare Shifted banded shadows Where he moved Beneath the lattice, Paused to muse On tender workings Of each Bonsai.Green man into white bands broken, Broken the broad back, branches, benches,  All down into banded earth alike, He strode, a moving coil, amid   impossible light, white arms,  Green hands under branches turning    Clouded growth into clear meaning. The mind holds fast this green and white, Caught in a strange calligraphy.   Wherein the vital figure is no more,    yet still both green and light endure.


1979 — The Memorial garden for Paul Matsusaki was moved to the Valley Garden Center and redesigned on a smaller scale.  Less than twenty years after Paul built the pond there, it was now a part of a tribute to him.


1980 — The July/August issue of Bonsai Clubs International Bonsai Magazine included an article by Mae Sage about her early experience with bonsai and involvement in the early days of the Tucson club, “How It All Started” (pp. 211-212)

1981 — The club was a co-sponsor of the reborn Japanese Festival of the Living Arts, now held at the downtown Civic Plaza.

1982 — John Naka’s Bonsai Techniques II was published, further extending the art’s possibilities in this country.  (Both of his books went on to be translated into four languages by decade’s end.)


1984 – John’s masterpiece eleven tree juniper forest, Goshin, became the first resident of the new North American Bonsai Pavilion at the National Bonsai Collection in Washington, D.C.

1985 — The Japanese Festival here was now called by its name Matsuri.  John Naka was honored in Tokyo by the Japanese Emperor for his international promotion of the art of bonsai.

1986 — Matsuri was held for the first time at Heritage Square, 6th and Monroe Streets.  Held there every year (except 1995 and 2020), this is the site of the club’s largest annual show.


1989 — Founding member Elsie Andrade was one of thirteen hundred people from twenty-right countries who attended the first World Bonsai Convention by the World Bonsai Friendship Federation in Omiya, Japan.  Thirty-three members were listed in our yearbook.


1990 — The club’s Plant Hardiness Survey was first conducted.

1991 — Forty-five members were listed in our yearbook.

1992 — The Payson Bonsai Club was founded by one of our members, Larry Mueller.

1993 — John Naka sketched a new black-on-white club logo for us using one of Leroy Fujii’s trees.  (Earlier in the year Elsie Andrade had asked Naka-san to do so.)  The first of a continuing series of August workshops featuring a California teacher was held with Mel Ikeda.  Subsequent years would see Jim Barrett, Ernie Kuo, Roy Nagatoshi, and Ben Oki.  All of these had been students of John Naka and others. Sixty-one members were listed in our yearbook.

1994 — A five-color version of our club logo was created for us by Grand Slam Productions of Phoenix on silk-screened T-shirts and polo shirts.

1995 — Matsuri was held at Patriot’s Park downtown due to construction at Heritage Square about a mile to the northeast. The club began fully-sponsoring shows in the Coliseum at the Arizona State Fair for the first time since Paul Matsusaki’s death. Fujii Notes, the club’s quarterly newsletter, was first published. Eighty-seven members were listed in the yearbook.

1996 — A suiseki, a naturally-shaped viewing stone, collected by long-time member Elsie Andrade, was nominated for and accepted by the National Bonsai Collection at the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C.  The Japanese Friendship Garden at the Margaret T. Hance Deck Park was dedicated.  Leroy’s large four-man olive was positioned just outside the entrance to the traditional teahouse and our sensei put on a one-man show on five long tables going to the tea garden’s main gate.

1997 — Elsie Andrade was elected to a two-year term as president of the American Bonsai Society.  She had also held that position twice for the Valley Garden Center and once for the Phoenix Bonsai Society, among many other offices.  The new season yearbook cover was orange. Ninety-eight members were listed.  Designing Dwarfs in the Desert, the club’s commemorative 35-year history, was published in late November.  (The cover is a black-on-green version of our club logo.)  An estimated 500 persons had been members of the Phoenix Bonsai Society from its start up till this time.

Other material up to this point which was not included in Designing Dwarfs has been put in this font and color.

And the club’s history continues:

1998 — The Matsuri display in February was followed the next week with a one and a third page article in the “Desert Nesting” section of the Tribune newspaper.  One b&w and four color photos illustrated the article featuring Max Miller and briefly covering all aspects of our art.  Robert Baran also contributed to the article [Feb. 28, pp. 1, 4] by Jeri Livesay (who would become a club member a couple of years hence.)  The summer workshop again featured John Naka protegé Ben Oki as our visiting teacher.  The new season yearbook cover was purple. For the first time, email addresses were beginning to be added to member contact information in the yearbook. On November 1, Leroy Fujii died suddenly shortly after his demonstration on the last day of the club’s display for the Arizona State Fair.  A standing-room-only assemblage of those he touched gathered later that week to bid him farewell.  Other club members passing on this year included: co-founding member Alice Feffer (January), Edna’s sister Frances Takemoto (March), and new member Ann Hunter (March).

1999 — A memorial calendar was published in January containing pictures of Leroy’s trees.  The club had February displays for both Chinese Week (Chinese Cultural Center, 44th Street, just south of the 202 Freeway) and Matsuri.  At the end of April/early May, the Tucson Bonsai Society hosted the American Bonsai Society’s Symposium “Diversity in the Desert,” with assistance from Phoenix.  Six of Leroy’s best trees were among those exhibited.  The Phoenix club got an Internet World Wide Web site as the latest forum by which it could meet its objectives.  Several of the pictures from the memorial calendar were republished on the web site as “Leroy’s Trees, Parts I” and “II”.  Ernest Hasan, in the club since 1993, was elected president.  The Huntington Botanical Gardens in Pasadena accepted the donation of Leroy’s large (four-man) olive, which had also stood at the entrance to the ABS Symposium.  The curator of the Huntington’s Bonsai Collection, and club friend, Ben Oki conducted the workshops in Phoenix, now held in late October instead of August.  The new season yearbook cover was green. Eighty-seven members were listed. A photo of Max Miller’s superb creosote bonsai finally made it to the cover of the American Bonsai Society’s Bonsai Journal (Fall 1999).  The tree was selected by Chase Rosade at the Symposium in Tucson to receive the Rosade Bonsai Studio’s Design Award.  Also to be seen in that issue was the BCI President’s Award-winning elephant’s food bonsai of Doug and Gail Acker (pg. 115).  The club had a display at the Horticultural Exhibition Building of the Arizona State Fair, concluding with a demonstration by Max Miller and Bill Mooney.  A trip to the Laughlin area was held to gather permit California junipers and other stock.  John Naka created Goshin II at the Golden State Bonsai Federation’s convention in Anaheim in November.  Several Phoenix and Tucson members were in attendance and were participants in the many workshops led by Naka-san’s key student-masters.  Members passing on this year included Gail Acker (March) and John Kinoshita (September).


U.S. President:  William Clinton (Jan. 1993-Jan. 2001)
Arizona Governor:  Jane Dee Hull (Sep. 1997-Jan. 2003)
Phoenix Mayor:  Skip Rimsza (Nov. 1994-Nov. 2004)
U.S. Population:  281,421,906
Arizona Population:  5,130,632
Phoenix Population: 1,321,045
Size of City of Phoenix:  456.7 sq.miles

2000 — In January, Cindy Read from California presented a lecture/demo on making saikei.  Also that month Mike Hagedorn from Crataegus Containers in Oracle, AZ presented an excellent lecture on the start to finish of pots. The display at Matsuri took place in February.  That month a second club was formed in the Valley, Bonsai of Scottsdale.  Phoenix member Fairlee Winfield was the founder and became the club’s first president.  Meetings were the first and third Saturday of the month at the Scottsdale Senior Center, and that club’s first show was held in early April.  Jim Claycomb and Bill Mooney conducted a short seminar as part of the VGC Spring Festival, “The Art and Philosophy of Bonsai.”  The Phoenix club acquired its own domain name for the Internet:  Rosarian Ken Jones gave a lecture on local fertilizing requirements.  The club participated in the Berridge Nursery “Art in the Garden” in late April.  Max Miller was elected Valley Garden Center President and Bill Mooney became its Treasurer.  For the first time in memory, no summer get-togethers were held after the End of Year Party.  In late June the club picked up a donation of 101 trees from the Mesquite Valley Growers nursery in Tucson, mostly junipers.  The new season yearbook cover was bright yellow.  Ben Oki conducted the early October workshops in Scottsdale as a joint offering of the Phoenix and Scottsdale clubs.  The club had a display at the Arizona State Fair, concluding with a demonstration by president Ernest Hasan and Robert Baran.  In early December, another Laughlin area dig was held and members in Phoenix had a small show of trees as part of a local Neighborhood Open House south of the Garden Center.

2001 — Mary and Peter Bloomer of Flagstaff gave an excellent slide presentation on suiseki in January.  The following month, the club displayed 45 trees, one suiseki, and one Chinese Scholar Stone during the weekend of the Chinese Week festival at the Chinese Cultural Center.  Fred Carpenter gave a brief interview to one of the local TV stations regarding our hobby.  Near month end our Matsuri display was presented.  In early April, long-time Tucson Bonsai Society member Areta Johnson passed away.  An article featuring interviews with George Cole and Robert Gustafson was published in the May 2 issue of the West Valley News ( “bonsai, satisfaction is bigger than the trees” by Beth Kristin Ott, pg. A3 ).  It included two b&w photos, one of Robert trimming a tree.  A member since at least 1988, Jim Claycomb was elected club president.  Enthusiasts from Scottsdale, Phoenix, Tucson, Mesa, and Flagstaff met in late July to discuss the possible formation of an Arizona Bonsai Federation.  (The idea turned out to be premature.)  The new season yearbook cover was light blue. Sixty-nine members were listed. The club participated in the Berridge Nurseries Fall Show & Demo in September.  Ben Oki conducted joint workshops for Scottsdale and Phoenix the following month.  The Arizona State Fair again saw a Phoenix Bonsai Society display, Oct. 11-28.  A December demonstration was put on at the Chinese Senior Citizens Center.

2002 — Chinese Week and Matsuri displays again were presented.  A Matsuri-timed article featuring Elsie Andrade was published in the Feb. 22 issue of the Arizona Republic ( “Small rewards, Patience pays off in perfect bonsai” by Janie Magruder, pg. E1-E2.  Color photo of Elsie admiring her 40-year-old olive and two b&w photos. ).  (The city tied its 1970 record with 28 days of temperatures 110°F+.)  September 21 had a demonstration for the Fall Festival at Berridge Nurseries.  The new season yearbook cover was red.  (Jim Baker of Baker’s Nursery continued his long-time friendship with and sponsorship of the club.  So indebted to Baker are the country’s 500 master gardeners that in October the group’s first scholarship was established in his name ( “Nursery owner quietly nurtures” by Janie Magruder, The Arizona Republic, June 25, 2003, pp. E1, E8 ).  The club had a display with demo at the Arizona State Fair.  November 16 and 17 we had the Ben Oki Workshop and Show at Baker Nursery.   (Phoenix for this year tied 1956 as the driest year on record with only 2.82″ of precipitation.)

2003 — Chinese Week and Matsuri displays were presented.  In late March we held a one-day Bonsai Seminar at Berridge Nursery.  A member since at least the year 2000, Mike Apostolos was elected club president.  Also in May, member Mark Sharples passed away.  At month’s end the club participated in a desert dig just past Globe, AZ.  (The city’s highest low temperature record was set on July 15: 96°F.)  In September a Silent Auction was held of the trees and pots from and in the memory of Mark Sharples.  The club had a display with a demo at the Arizona State Fair from Oct. 9-26.  A little late this year, in November the new season yearbook cover was white with black spiral binding and slick paper inside.  (Previous years’ bindings had been what is termed “perfect,” with two staples.)  The standard 32 pages were now followed by eight pages of b&w photos of representative club trees and displays from our website. Sixty-nine members were listed. November 22 and 23 we had the annual Ben Oki Workshop and Show at Baker Nursery.

2004 — A Mini-Matsuri was held on Jan. 24 at the City of Phoenix Japanese Garden at the Deck Park.  Chinese Week and Matsuri displays were presented in February.  The Inaugural Gathering of BIG (Bonsai In the Garden) was held on March 6 at the home of Fred and Edie Carpenter with a potluck brunch and collection viewing.  The Phoenix and Scottsdale clubs participated on April 24 in the Berridge Nurseries’ Art in the Garden Show & Display.  On May 19, our honorary teacher, Grandmaster John Yoshio Naka, passed away.  Doug Acker was quoted along with the Phoenix Bonsai Society[‘s web site] as a source for information on our sensei‘s life in the Los Angeles Times‘ obituary.  The club had a display with demo at the Arizona State Fair from October 7-24.  The new season yearbook cover was dark green, again with spiral binding.  November 13 and 14 we had the Ben Oki Workshop and Show at Baker Nursery.

2005 — Chinese Week and Matsuri displays were presented.  PBS founding member Edward “Bud” Jacobson passed away on March 4th (a memorial service would be held in April at the Phoenix Art Museum) and Richard “Dick” Selkirk also died this month.  Our multi-color club logo replaced the black-on-orange version background on the club menu page of our website.  In late March we held a one-day Bonsai Seminar at Berridge Nursery.  In May, Marcia Colliat, a member since at least 1994, was elected club president.  (Tucson tied its 1987 record with 39 days of temperatures 100°F+.)  The Phoenix club had a display with a demo at the Arizona State Fair from October 14 to November 6 (closed on Mondays).  The new season yearbook cover was medium/dark blue with spiral binding.  For the first time ever, NO pasted-up paper draft was used: the final electronic draft of the yearbook was downloaded to the printer’s computer and produced therefrom. Fifty-nine members were listed. November 19-20 saw another wonderful workshop headed by Ben Oki.

2006 — A smaller-than-usual 2-day Chinese Week display was presented at the end of January, as well as the usual large Matsuri one a month later.  Roy Nagatoshi conducted a late April workshop.  After a few years of work by several club members, the IRS finally granted our society 501(c)(3) status in May.  The Golden State Bonsai Federation voted to allow clubs from adjacent, bordering states to join, and PBS promptly took the steps to join the GSBF.  Over the summer Max Miller presented a series of Beginner bonsai classes at the main Phoenix library.  (On July 21 the official recorded high was 118°F.)  Doug Acker died at the end of September, and a memorial service was held at the VGC.  The club had a display with a demo at the Arizona State Fair from October 13 to November 5 (closed on Mondays).  Ben Oki conducted two workshops and the club had a display at Baker’s Nursery on November 18-19.  The new season’s yearbook cover was red, and this edition was dedicated to the memory of Doug Acker.  Joining us as a sponsor this year was Kim’s Bonsai Nursery in Phelan, CA.

2007 — The Chinese Week and Matsuri displays were presented in February.  We had two tables at Berridge Nursery for their annual Art in the Garden event in April.  In May, Ken Roberts, a member since 2004, was elected president.  In June Mike Magee, Kerry Boehmer, Max Miller, and Jamie Sims constructed a new stand used to display the large bonsai trees at Baker’s Nursery.  These large trees were styled by Leroy Fujii and Doug Acker.  Mr. Baker’s large pistachio was also in the grouping.  The club yearbook was vetted by an editorial board during the summer.  (The city gained a new weather record in late August with 29 days of temperatures 110°F+ this year.)  Available at the first meeting in September, the 48-page black spiral-bound yearbook’s white cover had our four-color logo tree and there was a color photo inside of Doug (with Frank Goya and Ben Oki).  New sponsors this year included Bonsai by the Monastery (GA) and Green Desert Bonsai (AZ). Sixty-nine members were listed. A dinner in honor of Max and Shirley Miller (soon moving to Iowa) was held in late September.  The club had a display with a demo at the Arizona State Fair from October 11 to November 4 (closed on Mondays).  Ben Oki conducted three workshops and the club had a display at Baker’s Nursery on November 10-11.

2008 — The Chinese Week  and Matsuri displays were presented, and former member and long-time enthusiast Chuck Wiegand passed away in February.  (The National Weather Service decided to have the monsoon season here officially run from June 15 to Sept 30, no longer just starting on the third consecutive day when the dew point averaged 55 degrees or higher.)  During the summer a committee reviewed our plant list and a major revision resulted, presented in the salmon-colored cover yearbook that also had color photos of our nine mentors.  The changes were also brought to the web site, along with a handy “To Join” button.  Also in August, Joan McCarter and Elsie Andrade presented a short workshop.  The club had a display with a demo at the Arizona State Fair from October 10 to November 2 (closed on Mondays).  The Valley Garden Center held a one-day Fall Festival in which we participated in early November.  Ben Oki conducted two workshops and the club had a display at Baker’s Nursery the following week-end.  The December issue of the Desert Botanical Garden‘s Sonoran Quarterly included an article with photographs on “Miniature Desert Trees” by member Tom Gatz.  Also this month, member (since 2002) Jim Jeffries passed away at his home in Santa Clara, NM.

2009 — The Ted Matson Critique and Lecture was held in January.  Ken and Carol Roberts were interviewed for a small article, “Graceful, serene bonsai trees are small wonders” by The Arizona Republic‘s Laura Trujillo.  The Chinese Week and Matsuri displays were presented in February.  The Southwest Flower Garden Show at the University of Phoenix Stadium in March hosted a display by us.  Our alternating-year display for “Art in the Garden” at Berridge Nursery took place in April.  In May, Jamie Sims, a member since 2002, was elected club president.  June saw the on-line archiving of many past copies of our Fujii Notes newsletter.  July was the hottest month in observed weather history here (since 1896), having 15 days with a high of 110 degrees or more and every day with a high over 90 degrees.  The average of the high and low temperatures was 98.3 degrees, a record.  The July/August issue of the Golden State Bonsai Federation magazine contained an article on pp. 15-16 about the bonsai history section of our web site.  Long-time club friend and sponsor James R. Baker of Baker’s Nursery died on August 31 at age 86.  (See 2002 above and Designing Dwarfs in the Desert, pp. 34 and 68).  Our 50-page yearbook this season had a pale green-gray cover, and included two new sponsors: Reed’s Woodworking and West America Import and Export, Inc.  Ninety-one members were listed. The club had a display with a demo at the Arizona State Fair from October 16 to November 8 (closed on Mondays).  At the GSBF Awards Dinner in early November in Riverside, CA, Joan McCarter and Elsie Andrade (along with Tucson’s David Meyer) received their Bonsai Basics Teacher Certifications.  Ben Oki conducted two workshops and the club had a display at Baker’s Nursery on November 14-15.  Long-time and former member Sunao “Rex” Tsutsumida died at age 87 on December 12.


U.S. President:  Barack H. Obama (Jan. 2009-Jan. 2017)
Arizona Governor:  Jan Brewer (Jan. 2009-Jan. 2015)
Phoenix Mayor:  Phil Gordon (Nov. 2004-Nov. 2012)
U.S. Population:  308,745,538
Arizona Population:  6,392,017
Phoenix Population: 1,445,632
Size of City of Phoenix:  518 sq.miles

2010 — On January 21, the University of Arizona in Tucson recorded a wind gust of 73 mph, a state of emergency was declared in Maricopa County, Flagstaff picked up between 35 to 40 inches of snow in the past four days, and voluntary evacuations were taking place in Sedona due to the near-record flooding forecast for the Oak Creek.  Flood stage was 14 feet, however, it was forecast to reach a river stage of near 20 feet.  This was just how our state was affected by four back-to-back powerful Pacific storms which were resulting in a state of emergency also being declared in five flooded California counties and bringing heavy precipitation throughout the Southwest.  (From the 18th through the 22nd Phoenix received 2.05″ precipitation.  Total January rainfall this year was 2.13″ compared to a .83″ average.)  By this time, David Meyer was less involved with the Tucson Bonsai Society due to health issues.  In February the club presented a display at Matsuri only this year.  March saw a display of trees at the Maricopa County Home & Garden Show at the University of Phoenix Stadium.  The March/April issue of the Golden State Bonsai Federation magazine contained “Growing Bonsai Under Extreme Weather Conditions,” an article with photos by member Cheryl Sykora on pp. 32-35 about tree requirements in Wisconsin and Phoenix.  A Bougainvillea Workshop at Gardener’s World with bonsai artist Cindy Read was held in April.  On June 17 Jim Andrade, Elsie’s husband and partner for 53 years, died.  (The club made a donation in his name to the American Lung Association.)  The club set up a Facebook page as of July 23.  Reiko “Ruth” Fujii, the widow of our late sensei Leroy, died on August 4.  (They were married from 1951 until his death in 1998.)  On September 15 the first of the club’s new slideshows and other videos were uploaded to the club’s YouTube account by assistant webmaster Eric Zimmet.  The 50-page yearbook this season had a tan cover against the four-color logo, and included the new sponsor Valley of the Sun Koi Club, Inc.  The club had a display with a demo at the Arizona State Fair from October 15 to November 7 (now closed on Mondays and Tuesdays).  As it would turn out, this would be our last year participating at this venue.  Ben Oki’s workshops at Baker’s Nursery were held November 13-14.  The December 2010 issue of Phoenix Home & Garden contained an article on pg. 53 by Cathy Cromell, “Scottsdale Gardeners Carol and Ken Roberts Explore the Art and Science of Bonsai.”  Our newly renovated homepage debuted on December 13.  The last morning of the year saw a wintry mixture of snow and hail with the appearance of snowflakes in the Metro Phoenix area.  (The day before a foot of snow was recorded in Flagstaff, closing parts of Interstates 17 and 40, the two major thoroughfares in northern Arizona.)

2011 — The Ted Matson Critique and Lecture was held in January.  The club participated in February’s Matsuri. By request Robert Baran specifically wrote a History of Bonsai article for the multi-lingual Belgium-based website  March saw a second club display at the Flower & Garden Show at the Cardinals’ Stadium.  The club’s first annual Spring Show at the Valley Garden Center took place on April 9, and the following weekend saw another “Art in the Garden” at Berridge Nursery.  In late April, an older article by Robert was also published on-line, The Synergy of Magical Miniature Landscapes.  In May, Jim McEown, a member since right after Matsuri 2008, was elected club president.  Also, Eric Zimmet spearheaded the website’s Tree Gallery project as well as the separate website, Bonsai of the Week.  And long-time member Fred Carpenter died on May 23.  A somewhat rare huge dust storm (reminiscent of those regularly experienced during the summers in the 1960s and 70s) swept through the Phoenix area on the night of July 5.  A trio of large dust storms (smaller than the early July monster) on July 18 and then another single large one on August 18 also covered everything in the Valley and briefly caused Sky Harbor Airport to be closed.  A record was set this summer for number of days above 110°F: 33. The 52-page yearbook this season had a white cover against the four-color logo and script in red “Celebrating 50 Years.”  It included the new sponsor West America Import and Export, Inc.  Eighty members were listed. Ben Oki’s workshops at Baker’s Nursery were held November 12-13.

2012 — Ted Matson and then Phil Tacktill presented demo/lectures in January.  The club participated in February’s Matsuri.  In early April visiting bonsai master from India Urvashi Thacker gave a talk before the club.  As part of the new appearance of Facebook pages, our page now included many historical details in its Timeline.  And then, by request, Robert Baran specifically wrote the What is Bonsai? article for  On April 21 the club held a very successful second Spring Show in commemoration of Phoenix Bonsai Society – Bonsai Show 2012.  There were some 107 items displayed in an artistic and educational manner with demonstrations and even a 7-1/2’W x 7’H x 32″D tokonoma (display alcove) built by Frank Harris and assembled with the help of Val Engermann. (The tokonoma would be disassembled and stored until its next uses.) Many club members participated and assisted.  Ken Roberts was in a TV-5 spot the day before the show and Carol Roberts and Jim McEown were in one on TV-3 the morning of the show.  Then throughout July, Mike Mantsch and Alex Gray spearheaded the building of a new and much better organized storage shed with good roof. Significant work was also done on the adjoining garage roof at the Valley Garden Center.  The Sept/Oct issue of GSBF’s Golden Statements contained a double feature: the cover photo, by Frank W. Harris, was of a Ginkgo Forest by Richard Robinson, and pp. 17-20 had an article (also by Frank, with assistance by Artie Apostolos) with twenty-six photos of trees and stones from the 50th Anniversary “Phoenix Bonsai Society Bonsai Show April 12, 2012.”  The three PBS Legacy Trees of Leroy Fujii and Doug Acker were successfully re-potted Sunday morning, Sept. 9, by the Re-Potting Team of Richard Robinson, Tom Gatz, Bob Gomez, Ken Roberts, Chuck Journey, Laurylie Norman, Gene Goerke, Ardie Apostolos and Mike Apostolos.  Elsie Andrade pruned the trees on Saturday in preparation for the project.  Our 52-page yearbook this season had a dappled tan cover against the four-color logo.  It included the new sponsor Mt. Fuji Garden Center.  Too late for the yearbook was another new sponsor, Sanctuary Bonsai.  On October 16, Matsuko Edna Matsusaki, 97, formerly of Fruitland, Idaho, passed away peacefully in her sleep in Kent, Wash.  Edna had been a charter member of the Phoenix Bonsai Society which her husband, Paul Matsusaki, founded in 1962.  Ben Oki’s workshops at Baker’s Nursery were held November 10-11, and sensei was assisted by David Nguy.

2013 — On January 22, Ted Matson gave a demonstration on the treatment of deadwood and the carving of Jin and Shari.  Jim Barrett conducted two workshop sessions on February 2 for us.  A fast-moving storm on February 20 left snow-like precipitation in some parts of the Valley.  The club then participated in late February’s Matsuri.  Wayne William Harrison (member since 2011) passed away on March 3.  A successful third Spring Show was held in April.  In May, eight-year member Frank Harris was elected club president. In mid-June we added mobile device access to our basic website information.  The dry month of June, with no daytime highs lower than 104°F (and no nighttime lows below 76°F) ended officially with days of 116, 119 and 115 degrees — however some quality backyard thermometers in the Valley did reach at least 120 and 121 degrees on that second-last day.  In mid-July, we added a Member Site section and Online Store to the website.  The October issue of the ABS “Bonsai in America” newsletter included a two page article by Cheryl Sykora, “Hydrogen Peroxide, Root Rot, and Azaleas.”  Our 54-page yearbook had a pale goldenrod cover behind our four-color logo.  It included the new sponsor Bonsai Care & Watering Service by Laurylie.  Ninety-two members were listed. The bi-lingual Indonesia-based website,, included a short original article “The History of Kusamono” by Robert Baran.  Frank Harris restarted publication of our Fujii Notes newsletters towards the end of October.  The November issue of the ABS “Bonsai in America” newsletter included a half page article by Cheryl Sykora, “The Value of Critiques.”  Sensei David Nguy conducted the November 16-17 workshops at Baker Nursery.  (This would be our last event at that venue as the family then closed the nursery.)  And the 2.78 inches of rain we received on November 21-22 was over four times the usual monthly average of 0.65 inches for November.

2014 — On January 21, long-time member Bill Mooney passed away.  The club participated in Matsuri from Feb. 22-23.  A successful fourth Spring Show was held in April at the Valley Garden Center, a week after we participated in the Art and Flower Show at the Phoenix Art Museum.  Over the course of several evening hours on July 3 the first blinding dust storm of the monsoon season swept through central Arizona, grounding flights at Phoenix’s main airport for nearly an hour, and downing powerlines and trees around the Valley.  The high winds and rain knocked out power for some 25,000 residents.  On September 8, the heaviest rains ever recorded to hit the Phoenix area in a single day fell this morning and swamped especially the East Valley.  Phoenix Sky Harbor picked up 3.29″ with most Valley cities in the 2 to 5 inch range.  For the year, the city had only received 2.22″ through the day before.  The storm was actually a hybrid of the Valley’s seasonal storms and Tropical Storm Norbert.  Our 54-page yearbook published this September had a pale gray cover behind our four-color logo.  It included the new sponsor Wabi-Sabi Import Export LLC by Araxi Hovhannessian.  Sensei David Nguy conducted workshops at Whitfill Nursery on November 15 and 16.  The next month, member Nick Nociforo blogged about his experience at the workshop.  On December 11 Tom Thomas, a member since 2012, passed away.  The year ended with snow throughout Arizona down to North Scottsdale and rain in the Valley on December 31.

2015 — On January 9, our website became accessible on all mobile devices iPads, iPhones, Android and Tablets along with desktops when it was moved from a physical device to the cloud through the efforts of Eric Zimmet, Carol Roberts, and Robert Baran.   The club participated in Matsuri from February 21-22.  A successful fifth Spring Show was held at the beginning of May at the Valley Garden Center, and a few days later co-webmaster Eric Zimmet was elected club president.  On July 1, now out-of-state member Cheryl Sykora was announced as being in the final group of artists whose 70 bonsai compositions were chosen for exhibition in the Artisans Cup in Portland, OR in September.  An intense desert duststorm or haboob covered the Valley on August 11, knocking out power for 10,000 customers, causing diversion of several in-bound flights from Sky Harbor Airport, and leaving half an inch of rain in an hour.  A new and improved issue of Fujii Notes was published later in the month. Thunderstorms on the last day of the month brought damaging winds in excess of 60 mph and dropped around one inch of rain — a month’s worth — in just under an hour.  The severe flooding across the Valley was mixed with power outages for 70,000 customers and Sky Harbor was closed for over an hour.  This carried over into the following day, resulting in still no electricity at the VGC and, apparently, the first-ever cancellation of our inaugural meeting of the new season.  Our 56-page yearbook published this September had a pale cream cover behind our four-color logo.  Eighty-five members were listed. Librarian and two-year member Barbara Miller was selected for a privately-donated scholarship to attend the Golden State Bonsai Federation Convention in Riverside, CA at the end of October. (She would write a 2-1/2 page essay about her experiences for the January 2016 issue of Fujii Notes.)  Sensei David Nguy conducted workshops at Whitfill Nursery on November 14 and 15.

2016 — In mid-January we had a demonstration during a regularly scheduled meeting with guest artist Ted Matson. February 20-21 we had a weekend workshop with Sam Adina, and then the following weekend was our Matsuri display.  About this time most of the general bonsai history on our site was transferred to the dedicated site.  April 8-10 saw our Spring Show at the Valley Garden Center, which included critiques by Cindy Read.  In May our website was reissued using the WordPress content management system.  When we reconvened in September, for the first time in 43 years the day of the week was different: we now meet on Wednesday evenings at the Valley Garden Center.  This change allows us more room to have conduct business and workshops simultaneously. (We had taken almost a year to discuss, plan and announce the change.)  Our 48-page yearbook published this September had a white cover behind our four-color logo tree. Cindy Read was back on October 8 and 9 for another set of weekend workshops. Sensei David Nguy returned for a series of workshops on November 12 and 13 at Whitfill Nursery. The first weekend in December saw the Great California Suiseki search hosted by Cindy Read and Elsie Andrade.

2017 — The January issue of the Phoenix Home and Garden Magazine included a 5-page, 10-color photo-illustrated article about member Tom Gatz’s landscaped desert yard and his bonsai collection, “A Flourishing Refuge” by Lori A. Johnson.  The second week-end in January saw a two-day Ted Matson workshop.  February 25-26 saw our display at Matsuri.  Earlier than in past years, our seventh Spring Show took place the weekend of March 11-12 at the Valley Garden Center.  Cindy Read, again, presented a critique of trees for the show.  In May, seven-year club member Richard Robinson was elected club president. June 20 had an official temperature of 119°F in town, although some backyard thermometers registered at least 120°F.  The day before was 118°F, the day after 117°F. A new record of 118°F was set for July 7 — the previous record of 115°F had stood since 1905.  Our 50-page yearbook published this September had a white cover behind our four-color logo tree and now included a glossary of bonsai vocabulary words. One hundred and thirty-one members were listed. Member Craig “Coach” Johnston’s entry won the “Pay my way to Riverside” contest and the club paid for his registration to the Golden State Bonsai Federation’s annual convention from October 25-29.  Upon his return, Coach shared with the club what he had learned.  November 11-12 saw another successful Fall workshop with sensei David Nguy, this year at Dig It Gardens, 3015 N. 16th St.  On November 18 at the Japanese Friendship Garden, along with the Scottsdale Bonsai Society and the Nakama Bonsai Kai we co-sponsored a five-hour long Bonsai, Pottery & Ikenobo Ikebana Exhibit.

2018 — A photograph of one of Carol Robert’s junipers was on the cover of the Winter 2018 issue (Vol. 41, No. 1) of the GSBF’s Golden Statements magazine. The tree’s reddish live vein stands out in front of the white deadwood trunk. On February 23 our honorary sensei Ben Oki died at age 91.  The club’s show was our participation in the Japan Week Matsuri on Feruary. 24-25.  Our eighth Spring Show was held April 7-8, and Robert Baran came to town to give a short history of bonsai as a lead-in to his critique of trees. Our 50-page yearbook published this September again had a white cover behind our four-color logo tree. The Fall workshops with sensei David Nguy took place on November 10 and 11, again at Dig It Gardens. On November 17 of this year we co-sponsored a six-hour long Bonsai Pottery & Ikenobo Ikebana Exhibit at the Japanese Friendship Garden.

2019 — On Saturday January 12 a Ted Matson workshop was held at Dig It Gardens. A massive Pacific storm moved into the state the night of Wednesday February 20 and by its end on Friday afternoon had made a winter wonderland in northern Scottsdale, Carefree, Cave Creek, and other nearby areas. Areas around the Valley received between an inch and two of precipitation from the storm. On Thursday Phoenix set a new record for most precipitation in 24 hours with 1.01″ of rain (the old mark was 0.73″ in 1973). Phoenix set a new “lowest” high temperature Friday of 47 degrees. Barbara Gray, who with her husband Alex joined our membership in 2004, died on the morning of February 22 after about a week in the ICU. The club participated in the Japan Week Matsuri on February 23-24. Our ninth Spring Show was held from April 6-7, and our guest mentor, Gay Lynn Goetzke, did the critique of trees. Members of our late sensei Leroy Fujii’s family visited the show, made a donation, and dropped off a card that included the following message: “Leroy would be honored and humbled to know that, although it has been 20 years since his passing, his basic principles continue to be reiterated. Bonsai meetings were a lifelong highlight for Leroy. We are forever grateful to all who brought such joy into our father’s life.” In May, Ernest Hasan was again (1999-2001) elected club president.  In late summer, our revamped website on a new host was debuted. Our 52-page yearbook was published in September again with a white cover behind our four-color logo tree. One hundred twenty-two members were listed. On October 12 founding member Joan Hosdowich “Hozy” McCarter died.  Arrangements were then made to safely relocate her bonsai, pots, koi fish, and books. In late October members Susie Kingston, Liz Mantsch, Jenna Williams, and Val Engermann became Certified Bonsai Basic Instructors at the GSBF Convention in Riverside. (And thanks to Elsie Andrade for her hard work and dedication in assisting and facilitating the certifying process.) California master Boon Manakitivipart, aka Bonsai Boon, presented a demonstration for us during our November 20th meeting. Two days later a severe afternoon thunderstorm dropped 1-inch hailstones and up to 3″ of rain southwest of Phoenix before leaving smaller hail and 0.83″ of rain by the time it reached Sky Harbor. On November 14 sensei David Nguy shared his unique Black Pine development techniques on the first day of the weekend workshop, and then on Sunday it was a bring-your-own-tree workshop.


U.S. President:  Donald J. Trump (Jan. 2017-Jan. 2021)
Arizona Governor:  Doug Ducey (Jan. 2015-Jan. 2023)
Phoenix Mayor:  Kate Gallego (Mar. 2019-present)
U.S. Population:  331,449,281 (2020)
Arizona Population:  7,151,502 (2020)
Phoenix Population:  1,608,139 (2020)
Size of City of Phoenix:  519.11 sq.miles

2020 — At the beginning of January, the education committee selected four-year member Bill Price as the 1st recipient of the David Nguy Foundations Scholarship. On January 18 we hosted a one-day Ted Matson workshop. On February 1 and 2 we participated in the Ikebana Art Exhibit with Bonsai 2020 at the Japanese Friendship Garden. As the Japanese Matsuri was moved to a new venue this year — at the Steele Indian School Park, 300 E. Indian School Rd., about 4 miles north, with major questions about available parking, uneven walking surfaces, proximity to the light rail and exposure to theft, and evening security for the February 22-23 event — the Board had earlier in the year elected for the club not to participate. More energies were directed to the Japanese Friendship Garden event. On February 23 we did hold the Spring 2020 Beginner Repotting Workshop at the Valley Garden Center. By this time, the Sonora Suiseki Club of Arizona had been formed by some of our members, with meetings at 7:00 pm on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at the VGC. Local media personality Jan D’Atri presented “My New Obsession — The Art of Bonsai!!” as the first half of her March 7 podcast which featured an interview with our president Ernie Hasan. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all events beginning with the March 18 Member-only Swap Meet, our annual LA Bus Trip a few days later, our Spring Show with Critique in early April, and our April meetings were canceled. The Valley Garden Center itself was closed until May 1. On March 31 Gov. Ducey ordered what was originally supposed to be a one-month-long “Stay home, Stay healthy, Stay connected” policy instituted for the state. Beginning on April 2 and continuing for the next few months we posted a series of photos on our Facebook page and website comprising our Virtual Tree Show 2020. On April 26 our 102°F temperature broke the record set in 1992 by one degree. As the VGC was closed into summer, our meetings for the season had ended.  We did hold our first Zoom teleconferencing meeting on May 20th hosted by a few of our Mentors.  This was an update for beginners as they had been missing support from our regular meetings. At the end of May, Bonsai Boon Manakitivipart came over from California and conducted a 3-day study group for six of us, all properly masked. Our 52-page yearbook was published in September with a light purple cover behind our four-color logo tree. By October 16 three new temperature records had been set this summer for Phoenix: 145 days of 100°F or more, 53 days of 110°F or more, and 14 days of 115°F or more. (The previous records, respectively, were 143 days in 1989, 33 days in 2011, and 7 days in 1974.)  A very successful Beginners Workshop was held on October 25. All December meetings, workshops and events were cancelled because of the rise in COVID cases in the state.

2021 – All meetings, workshops and events were cancelled in January because of the rise in COVID cases in the state. Our monthly emailed newsletters included more links to bonsai-themed videos from across the country and beyond. On February 27 we held our annual Spring Repotting Workshop for Beginners at the Valley Garden Center.  Sam and Vergi Adina drove in from Stockton, CA on March 20 with a number of pre-purchased as well as still-to-be-sold trees for further developing by our members.  The following day we held our annual show outside at the Japanese Friendship Garden, this year replacing the usual two-day indoor VGC location.  Tickets for this were sold online for each hour starting from 10 am through 3 pm to maintain proper COVID distancing. Cheryl A Sykora’s article “Regional Bonsai Care,” which included info on her experiences in Phoenix and also those of Araxi Hovhannessian in Mesa, was published in the Vol. 55, No 1 issue of the American Bonsai Society’s Journal. In May, Gary Davis, a member with us since 2014, was elected club president. He soon afterwards posted a video of his garden on YouTube. A slow-moving monsoonal storm dropped two-and-a-half inches of rain on the West Valley on Sunday July 25; Scottsdale received over four inches of precipitation throughout that weekend. This year’s monsoon in Phoenix is already wetter than the two previous seasons combined. This July was the wettest July since 1990. A video interview in Vietnamese with sensei David Nguy and his wife Dung at their Chino nursery was posted by Nguoi-Viet on Facebook in August. A record temperature was set on September 9 of 111°F, a degree above the 31-year-old previous record, 8 and 7 degrees above normal for the date. Our 48-page yearbook was published with a teal cover and one hundred members were listed. On the night of September 27, member and wife of past President Jim McEown, Tina McEown, died of COVID complications. Early in the morning of November 1, 8-year member Roger Hansen passed away. On November 17 sensei Sam Adina was at our open workshop meeting, and four days later we participated in the Japanese Friendship Garden show. Early in the morning of December 3 member Dr. Lloyd Gillum died in his sleep. Sensei David Nguy held a workshop December 11-12 at SummerWinds Nursery. Channel 3 and the Garden Guy while doing a live spot at SummerWinds did a quick interview with Ernie Hasan and one of his collected junipers.

2022- Outdoors we held a repotting workshop on January 22 at SummerWinds Nursery, a forest workshop on February 19 at the Valley Garden Center, and a bonsai for beginners class at the Japanese Garden Center on March 6.  On March 20 we had several tables with trees set up at the JGC during their Spring Haru in the Garden festival.. April 2-3 saw our Spring show at the VGC with a bonsai class by sensei David Nguy. Long-time member and former club President, VP, Treasurer, Secretary, Librarian, Mentor, and Historian Penny Schneck passed away in mid-July. The new season started out with the first meeting being attended by 61 people on September 7 and being video-recorded. The new 54-page yearbook was black spiral bound with a white cover bearing a 60th Anniversary emblem. Past member Mike McGee, who had been Joan “Hozy” McCarter’s friend/business partner, passed away in June and his family now donated a number of potted up Portulacaria afra that he had been raising.

The November 2 meeting with a critique of trees was also videotaped.

2023 – On January 8 we had a show at the Japanese Friendship Garden, rescheduled from the original December 4 date which was rained out. In mid-February former club president and mentor, Dr. Kenneth Roberts, Ph.D., passed away suddenly. For the first three months of this year, average Phoenix temps were the coolest since 1998 (which itself was the coolest since 1979), with about a third of an inch more precipitation in 2023 than normally received during this same period. With 1.47″ of rain in March alone, Phoenix exceeded the normal by .64 inches. Our Spring show at the VGC took place April 1 and 2. These two slide shows remind us of some of our members’ creations there. On the morning of May 1, 7-year member “Coach” Craig Johnson passed away. This month Bill Price, a member since the 2015-16 season, was elected president. On August 1, Phoenix set its new record of 31 consecutive days with temperatures at or above 110°F, breaking 1974’s of 18 days. The new 56-page yearbook in September was black spiral-bound with a Barbie pink cover. One hundred and seventy-nine members were listed. September 10 set a new record for the most days in a year with temperatures over 110 F: 55. Richard Newton, Member Communications officer, with us since 2021 passed away unexpectedly the last week of December.

 2024 — Our New Year show at the Japanese Friendship Garden, originally set for January 7, was postponed one week due to weather. Legacy bonsai trees were installed behind the gift shop there before the presumed storm. On March 2 we participated in the Annual Bonsai and Pottery Exhibit at the JFG, sponsored by our club and local Arizona pottery artists. Our Spring Show at the VGC took place April 6 and 7, with a demo by sensei David Nguy.