PAUL MATSUSAKI  (May 10, 1906 – April 4, 1970)

II.     PAUL MATSUSAKI  (May 10, 1906 – April 4, 1970)

       To Paul Matsusaki’s many students he was affectionately known as the “professor.”  But he insisted that “there isn’t a man living that is himself more than a student of the Bonsai.”  Paul believed that these dwarf trees can be and do different things to many people.  “To architects the Bonsai provides a study in unpredictable nature; to the interior decorator it provides natural simplicity in contemporary design; and to others it is either an expression of beauty like a classical painting or a means by which ‘today’s busy men’ can relax.”
       “But to me,” Paul once explained, “the Bonsai tells something of human life.  Growing as it does in a limited state, the Bonsai retains a powerful will to exist.  No man’s life runs smoothly; we are all faced with hardships, yet, unlike most men, the Bonsai, without ‘cussing’ or giving up, continues to endure.  They always seem to be so patient with us.”
       The first rule of success, according to Paul was, “to study the nature of the tree’s natural environment,” thus to understand the plant’s particular requirements of soil, climate, humidity, water, and food.  “Trimming and shaping a dwarf tree requires skill and understanding but results will always prove rewarding.”  He also recommended that unless a person was willing to devote daily care to his Bonsai, he should find another hobby.
(from Designing Dwarfs in the Desert, pp. 26-27)
[The above photo was originally published in The Phoenix Gazette on Saturday, April 27, 1968, pg. 17.]


These four b&w pictures of Paul at his workbench c.1963 are scans of photos which Michael Wm. Longstreth loaned to RJB along with Mike’s unpublished college paper, “The Professor’s Bonsai.”  (Designing Dwarfs, pg. 36)
Edna Matsusaki
(b. April 22, 1915)
( Designing Dwarfs, pg. 47)“She has been responsible for hundreds and hundreds of cups of coffee, many mouth watering desserts, bushels of sifted Bonsai soil and gravel, a place to pot trees, plants she has sought in the nursery to become future Bonsai — and much, much more…”