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  • Writer's pictureTom Lau

Visiting Master Boon Manakitivipart in Northern California

Traveling in the art of bonsai is a must. You will not and do not get better in this art form if you do not travel out of your comfort zone to learn from other people. On this family vacation I was able to sneak in two different locations that I have never been to before. And this one was Boon's place.

Just located outside of San Francisco Boon's nursery is filled to the brim with some awesome trees. I was lucky enough to catch Boon as he was coming back from Houston trip. Above Boon gets right to work with Adair Martin.

I have known of Boon since 2014 when I got serious about bonsai and was looking for other artists in California that I could possibly study under. Located in the Bay area it was not a too bad situation if I took up his intensive courses. But, through out the current time span I have been following Boon and his work on Facebook.

Another reason why I like traveling to other artist's location is that I get to see their growing system, their management style and most of all what does their trees styling look like. Bonsai is art and everybody will have their own spin on it so get out there and travel around!

One of the largest and crustiest looking Pygmy Monterrey Cypress I have ever seen. This badboy is about 3 feet tall and full padded out. Boon explains he had this tree for 12 years and the bark flakes up over time. He said he got this tree from Bob Shimon from even Northern California. I asked Boon if this type of tree will do well in Southern California and he said it should just needs to be watered more constant.

Water management systems is always a hot topic for me. I just love seeing how other people handle their watering needs in their own personal nursery. Boon is no exception. Everything is backed up with multiple valves with their own dedicated lines. Each tree also has either a Spot Spitter or a micro soaker hose. The above setup is slick as Spot Spitters only spray from the top of the emitter, but Boon uses holes in the wood stand to place a spitter in the perfect location to water only the base of the tree.

My favorite tree is the Ume trees or Flowering Apricot trees. So everywhere I go the first thing is ask and look for these trees. Boon assessment of these trees is make sure they bloom before you buy the tree and let them grow then cut back.

Above is another Ume with my lovely wife as the background for the tree. If you noticed that the leaves are curled and its an indication that the tree will bloom this coming winter.

The yard is sectioned into different light conditions and species and then by refinement. Every inch is covered with either hard tiles or DG. Makes it sure easier in cleaning up over green grass. I did like how he did not bury any of the plumbing but have them lay open under each bench supported by the cinder blocks.

Like all Bonsai Masters in California no visit is right without seeing some California Junipers in the backyard. Boon again did not disappoint as we saw tons of collected junipers in different stages of development.

Adair Martin is one of Boon's students and arrived to study under Boon for the week from back east. Here is Adair trimming his tree moments after he arrived and still have not unpacked but ran to visit and take care of this massive olive. If you are lucky enough to visit the National Show this year in New York you will see this tree in person.

Boon is just a gracious sensei jumping in having a teachable moment with Adair and my wife. My wife loves a small Olive clump I have and quietly listens in to hear any points she may try on that tree at home.

A beautifully kept cypress. You can not forget to trim this tree or it will just run away and lose its form quickly. As you can see its almost ready for its summer trim but boy does it look healthy!

Above is another favorite trees to admire is unique species of Japanese Maples. This Shishigashira is just awesome from the nebari to the movement of the truck to the pads. He has these trees under 35% shade cloth. Another growth management system you will see in all the photos are these fertilizer bags. I use a similar system but with disposal bags, Boon seem to use cloth bags and I did not get a chance to ask if he just refills those bags. Hmm a question to ask him online.

The last type of tree I spy on other artist is the quinces. Any type let it be Chinese, Japanese or even the European quinces just excite me. Boon's place did not disappoint as I did see several in development and show ready trees.

Here are three mother plants that Boon has as his proprogation central for this dwarf quince. Of course I left Boon's with a couple young-lings to take home. I'll probably have to explain in another post why I try to collect different chojubai strands of variety.

See more Umes hidden through out his place.

If you are looking for rough stock Boon got you covered too. I did not ask how much these Yatasubusa Elms went for but they sure had some sweet movement in them for the size of the container.

Its rare to get my son interested in plants but these pitcher plants caught his attention as he walked into Boon's place. He of course telling his Mom all about the plants also Boon! It was kinda embarrassing but hey this kid likes science!

Boon was such a grand host and even gave my son two plants to take home! Thank you Boon for letting my family and I visit you especially as you just coming back from from a long trip away from home. Thank you for the plants, my son has them on the porch on a suiban just like how you set it up at your house! Until the next post!

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