The Puget Sound Bonsai Association was formed in 1973 and is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the education of its members and the general public in the art and culture of bonsai. Club members have bonsai experience that ranges from beginner to recognized experts in the art. PSBA holds regularly scheduled club meetings featuring demonstrations and educational programs by national and international bonsai artists. The club also stages public shows and participates in community events where members' trees are showcased. 


2016 PNBCA Bonsai Convention - Olympia, WA - October 13-16, 2016

Featured workshop: John Muth (Shimpaku Juniper) Sunday October 16th, 8:00-12:00 

Home-grown would be a good word to describe John Muth: tree grower, bonsai practitioner, pottery lover and owner of Bonsai Northwest, a regional hub for trees, classes, and supplies since 1985. As a teenager John first caught the pottery bug from his mother - Bonsai Northwest founder Sharon Muth - and later developed an interest in trees.

That interest has expanded into a tree nursery where future bonsai, after starting out in pots and receiving some initial rough pruning and wiring, spend up to 10 years in the ground. Then trees are dug up and repotted for another year before being sold. “It’s a lot of waiting,” quips John. He lays out a paradox: 90% of a tree’s journey from sprout to finished bonsai is spent with the grower, yet the process of finishing and refining each tree (the 10%) takes more hours than the grower ever puts in.  John would love to spend more time in Japan meeting and talking with growers about getting to that 90% mark. “You’re either growing, or finishing,” he comments, “not both.”

John works on a variety of trees and styles, teaches classes at Bonsai Northwest, and is in demand as a speaker at regional bonsai clubs for his knowledge, skills, and humor. His first-ever PNBCA convention presentation will focus on Shimpaku Juniper, his favorite tree thanks to its versatility, hardiness, and attractive small green foliage. Register now for John’s workshop Sunday October 16th.


Tips for Convention First-Timers

Does signing up for a four-day convention seem intimidating? For first-timers, we’ve compiled a few tips.

How do I decide what to do?

Sign up for workshops and demos as an observer. This is a great way to learn about different tree types, care and feeding, and styling strategies.  The artists will be talking about these things as they work. Do remember, you’re there to listen.

Sign up for artists’ critiques of trees. Critiques are more affordable than workshops, and sometimes more useful for beginners.  

Is it OK to take breaks and explore Olympia?

Absolutely! That’s why lunch is “on your own” every day.  Parking at the hotel is free, so you can come and go as you like.  Get outside and take a break! The waterfront and downtown are close by and full of eateries and interesting shops.


How much should I budget for auctions, raffles and vendors?

The more the better! But seriously, for a twenty-dollar bill you have a 1 in 52 chance of winning a raffle for a demo tree worth over $1000.  

 Bring cash or a credit card for the vendor marketplace. Many of these items are only accessible at the convention, as most convention vendors are private individuals who do not have shops.  Get there early, the best stuff goes fast! 

Is it OK to come alone, or better with someone else?

If you want to bring your spouse or partner who may not be interested in bonsai, they can shop or bike or hike while you geek out with the bonsai crowd. They can even bring a friend for the same great hotel rate.

And remember, spouses and friends can buy a convention meal plan for non-attendees so you can still enjoy breakfast and dinner together. Check the registration form for details.

I’m new. How do I meet people?

The exhibit!  You’re standing next to someone else admiring a tree.  What do you like best?  Maybe you’d prefer a different color pot.  Or maybe you’re wondering what the companion plant is.  Speak up! There’s a good chance someone within earshot knows the answer.

Sit at a different table for every meal. These are bonsai people; you have something in common with everybody!

The bar!  Whether or not you’re a drinker, the newly remodeled bar is enormous and a common late-night hangout. You might get to chat with the artists!

How do I pack?

This is October in the Northwest, folks. Remember there’s always the possibility of rain.

For the optional stone hunting expedition Thursday October 13, waders or knee-high waterproof boots are strongly recommended, along with pry bars, walking sticks, and backpacks for carrying stones.

If you’re skipping the stone trip, no waders, pry bars, or sticks are required! The bonsai dress code is casual and comfortable. That said, many people do enjoy dressing up for the banquet Saturday night.

What not to do

Don’t spend all your time with other members of your own club – you see them all the time. It’s a bonsai convention – why not branch out (or even ramify?)

Don’t miss the banquet (included in full registration). The magician will be working the crowd during the bar hour, then doing a mini-show. Dinner will be followed by awards, raffle, and auction.  

Don’t delay – register today!


2016 PNBCA Bonsai Convention - Olympia, WA - October 13-16, 2016

Lecturer: Josef Leibfried – Bonsai Ceramics (Saturday October 15, 1:00-2:30 pm)

Josef Leibfried qualifies as a bonsai early bloomer. His bonsai career kicked off with the gift of a bonsai tree for his thirteenth birthday. When it came time to leave home for college Josef chose to sell his entire tree collection, knowing the pressure of classes and studying would detract from proper care.

But he wanted to stay involved in bonsai, and decided to commit himself to the study of bonsai ceramics. He found plenty of basic information available in the U.S. about selecting pots and matching them to trees - but also noticed a lack of general knowledge in the bonsai community about the history and qualities of bonsai pottery, especially high-end and antique pots.

Josef began making connections with individuals and nurseries in Japan, hunting down information and importing fine handmade pots. He confesses to being fascinated by every aspect of bonsai ceramics, from traditional wood-burning “dragon kilns” to the evolution of glazing styles. 


Josef is convinced that a greater respect for bonsai pots as works of art is integral to raising the standard of bonsai in America. He comments that with more American bonsai practitioners owning mature and highly-refined trees, interest in exemplary pots is surging - hopefully signaling the end of planting venerable and excellent trees in low quality, mass-produced pots.

Josef Leibfried’s lecture on “Bonsai Ceramics” Saturday October 15th is included in convention registration. Don’t delay, register today!

One of Josef's pots: Nakawatari era (ca. 1800-1911) antique Chinese with shirokouchi glaze


Convention hotel news: Renovation and Rebranding

The convention venue, selected almost two years ago, has been upgraded by the recent relaunch of the former Red Lion as Hotel RL, following an extensive renovation the past year. The lobby now features a coffee bar serving Victrola coffee, and comfortable new seating enhances the former reception area. Guest rooms and meeting rooms have all seen substantial upgrades. 

“It was a significant change and improvement,” commented a recent guest, adding that he’d be happy to have guests and family stay at the hotel. “The tone of the place is changing to feel more modern.”

Click here to read the full article in The Olympian newspaper.

The clock is starting to tick down on the deadline for early registration. Contact Hotel RL now to secure the low convention rate of $89.00 per night plus tax (king/queen).


Sunday July 17, 2016 - PSBA Summer Potluck and Bazaar - Center for Urban Horticulture, 1pm - 4pm


Sunday July 17th 2016 --- 1pm to 4pm

Center for Urban Horticulture 

Thanks to everyone who attended and brought wonderful dishes and desserts!  Attendees also went home with some great new pots and trees to fill out their collections.


2016 PNBCA Bonsai Convention - Olympia, WA - October 13-16, 2016

Convention Featured Artist: Matt Reel

Following an eight-year apprenticeship in Japan with Shinji Suzuki, Matt returned to the US in 2014 and is now located in Portland as a member of the Portland Bonsai Village. Matt is known for his broad expertise in a wide range of conifers and deciduous trees, as well as his knowledge of bonsai pots and bonsai display aesthetics. Matt is increasingly in demand as a presenter, due to his highly refined styling of trees, combined with his appealing manner. He also serves as a caretaker of bonsai for serious aficionados. Matt’s work on a large juniper was featured in the January 2015 issue of the Japanese bonsai magazine, Kinbon (http://crataegus.com/tag/matt-reel/). 

As of July 7, there’s still a chance to register for Matt’s convention workshop on Tsukomo Cypress. Register now for a chance to learn from Matt!

Convention Innovations 2016

Stone collecting trip

This year’s convention features for the first time a full-day stone hunting expedition to the nearby Skokomish River on Thursday October 13.  Organized by PSBA “stoners” and led by well-known daiza carver Patrick Metiva, this trip is your chance to play rock hound for a day. Explore amid beautiful Northwest fall scenery and search the riverbed for suiseki in the rough. Participation is limited to the first 20 registrants, so sign up now for this one-of-a-kind experience.

Bring-your-own Tree

No, not BYOB, bring your own tree! Following the success of these sessions at the Portland PNBCA convention, workshop attendees will have the chance to bring their own material. This is a great opportunity for advanced practitioners, who may not normally sign up for workshops. Even trees that are fully refined can benefit from another point of view.

As of July 7, we still have openings in bring-your-own-tree sessions with two of the convention’s featured artists. Daisaku Nomoto is a Koko-Fu prizewinner, people! Suthin Sukosolvisit “is really gifted with shohin; he can take a normal looking little juniper and turn it into a sweet little tree.”

Don’t miss out on the chance of personal input from leading artists. Register today!


June 26 & 27, 2016 - Bob Shimon Workshop and Demonstration

Bob Shimon was our guest artist for the June 27th general meeting and also be conducted a workshop on Sunday June 26th. Bob had several of his nationally recognized yamadori (collected from the wild) redwoods available for use in the workshop and attendees were all very pleased. Bob also styled one of his collected Redwoods at the June 27th General Meeting and a lucky PSBA Member won an outstanding tree in the raffle!

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