Happenings at the Portland Japanese Garden

It's been an exciting year so far for bonsai here in Portland, Oregon!

Portland, through the newly opened Cultural Expansion at the Portland Japanese Garden, now has a permanent public bonsai display! Villager Michael Hagedorn has been working the Japanese Garden to establish the Ellie M. Hill Bonsai Terrace, and also create new cultural programs related to bonsai for the Portland community and beyond. We're excited to be a part of that in the months to come as bonsai here in Portland continues to spread throughout the community. 

Stay tuned for more updates as these ideas and projects come into fruition!

To view some more photos of the Ellie Hill Bonsai Terrace, visit



Happy New Year!


Greetings all!

Happy New Year from the Portland Bonsai Village! It's a new year, and lots of exciting things are in store for 2017! The village now has an excellent Board of Directors, to help run the Village and plan community organization and education. We're currently planning our 2017 events, and brainstorming up some new programs and ways to share bonsai with Portland and beyond! 

Stay tuned for more soon!


Andrew Robson

Director of the Portland Bonsai Village 




Groundbreaking Exhibition by the Pacific Bonsai Museum

Continuing the boldness of bonsai projects in the Village, the Pacific Bonsai Museum in Federal Way, Washington is unveiling another avant-guarde exhibit this April. In the words of the museum's curator Aarin Packard and Executive Director Kathy McCabe, here's the scoop:

“The concept for Decked-Out has taken nearly four years to become a reality,” explains Pacific Bonsai Museum Curator Aarin Packard. “I am extremely excited to see my vision realized, as my love for bonsai and skateboarding are brought together for the very first time. I am hopeful that this exhibit will further establish the artistic merit of both bonsai and street art within the 21st century.”

“Pacific Bonsai Museum’s 2016 Decked-Out exhibition interprets the ancient art of bonsai through the lens of contemporary artists,” says Pacific Bonsai Museum Executive Director Kathy McCabe. “We are honored to partner with northwest street artists to bring a once-in-a-lifetime experience to long-time and newfound fans. Don’t miss it!”

Exhibit Summary

Street art and bonsai collide in this first-of-its-kind exhibit. Decked-Out: From Scroll to Skateboard features 16 tokonoma style displays, each with a skate deck painted by the Pacific Northwest’s most talented urban muralists. The traditional environment for displaying a bonsai in Japan is a small interior alcove called a tokonoma. Much like the mantel above a fireplace, the tokonoma is a room’s focal point where cherished art and objects are displayed.  A tokonoma display consists of three elements: a bonsai, a hanging scroll, and a small accent plant or art object. The role of the scroll is to anchor the display both visually and thematically. Decked-Out reinterprets the traditional hanging scroll used in bonsai displays with modern skate deck art. Artists are paired with a bonsai to create a work that combines traditional motifs and contemporary styles, as a new interpretation of bonsai display is established. This groundbreaking exhibit combines the ancient beauty of bonsai with the emerging street art movement for the very first time.

Profiles on each of the artists can be found here:

Greg Brenden from Portland, OR will be creating kusamono (small accent plants) to accompany each of the 16 trees in the exhibit.

Join us on April 30th for an Opening Day Celebration that includes a bonsai demo, artist panel discussion, kusamono demo, a poetry workshop with the WA State Poet Laureate Tod Marshall, live painting, and an art station. More info here:



Portland Bonsai Village Project: Display Show

Villagers Matt Reel and Bobby Curttright along with Tyler Sherrod are dreaming up a project for the Portland Bonsai Village, a show similar to the Taikan Ten show in Japan that is focused on beautiful display and its elements, rather than focused on the trees, like the Kokufu Ten. They are considering it being a Northwest native tree show.

The show would be open to the public to enjoy, and it will include an educational aspect. Sounds pretty exciting to me and I’m eager to see what they come up with.

We’ll definitely be filling you in on the particulars as this concept gets firmed up...for now, it is one Village project underway. 

Photos courtesy Matt Reel


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Village Spotlight: Standmaker Austin Heitzman

While not achieving any notability for his hair color, which is sandy like so many other Portland Bonsai Villagers, Austin Heitzman is however quite tall, equalled only by the stratospheric Matt Reel. Otherwise he fits in with the others, blends I should say, with his affability. I should also mention that he makes nice stands.  

Austin is an award-winning furniture maker in Portland, Oregon, and a bonsai hobbyist. In 2013 he began making bonsai stands and has found acclaim for his innovation. Quite a handful (I don't know the actual number but it was more than a few) of his stands were used in The Artisans Cup show here in Portland recently, including several that were supporting award winning trees. 

Austin sent me a few photos of his recent work, which I share here. Lot of unusual choices in woods and forms, but based on traditional ideas. Hope you enjoy them!

For more about Austin's work, check out his website: 

More about other Villagers in future 'Spotlight' blog posts. We're also working on getting our Village T-shirt for sale here on the website...stay tuned.

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Pacific Bonsai Museum offers Founding Memberships

One of our Villagers to the North, the Pacific Bonsai Museum, has just released this news:

Nestled amidst towering conifers, Pacific Bonsai Museum is unlike any other museum. In a grand outdoor setting with the elegance of a fine art museum, the Museum boasts over 100 bonsai, the most diverse public collection in the United States.

Pacific Bonsai Museum connects people to nature through the living art of bonsai. People have asked how they can help care for our renowned trees and support our work to honor the history and traditions of bonsai while evolving the art form and now they can.

Whether you are a fan of the Museum, a bonsai enthusiast or someone who envisions growing our premiere collection, launching groundbreaking exhibits, expanding our facilities and being the most visited bonsai museum in the world…join today! After all, how often do you get to be a founding member?

A cultural gem, Pacific Bonsai Museum offers contemporary and traditional bonsai exhibits, group tours, education and special events. Open free of charge six days per week, the Museum welcomes 30,000 visitors a year from nearly all 50 states and more than 20 foreign countries.


Come to our flute benefit concert at the Artisans Cup-


Come to our flute benefit concert at the Artisans Cup-

If you're coming to the Artisans Cup in September, do reserve Saturday night, the 26th. Andrew Robson is studying flute in a masters program at the Yale School of Music. Also a bonsai aficionado and writer of the blog the Bonsai Herald, Andrew has donated his time and musical artistry in a benefit concert for the Portland Bonsai Village. We're thrilled he's going to play for us!

To reserve a ticket to this benefit concert, please go to our Indiegogo campaign and choose the 'Flute Concert' perk. Look forward to seeing you there-

Flute concert tickets

More about Andrew:

St. Louis native Andrew Robson is an emerging flutist and teacher. Andrew is currently pursuing graduate studies at the Yale School of Music with Ransom Wilson, and has previously studied with Mark Sparks, Jennifer Nitchman, and Julianna Moore. Andrew was the recent winner of the St. Louis National Society of Arts and Letters Woodwind Competition, and was named a Presser Scholar by the department of music at Truman State University.

Andrew currently performs as a flutist with the Yale Philharmonia, and has been privileged to play for some of today's great conductors such as Valery Gergiev, Peter Oundjian, Ward Stare, John Adams, and Shinik Hahm. As an advocate for new music, Andrew has worked with composers such as John Adams, Chris Theofanidis, David Lang, Katherine Hoover, Bryce Dessner, and Jesse Limbacher.

An enthusiastic teacher, Andrew is currently a Teaching Artist for Yale's Music in the Schools Initiative and teaches lessons to undergraduate students at Yale University. Andrew has also published with the National Flute Association's publication, The Flutist Quarterly.

Andrew plays on a flute made by the Wm. S. Haynes Flute Company in Boston. In his spare time, Andrew enjoys being outside and working on his bonsai trees.



Indiegogo campaign blazes through the tape-

At the finish of our Indiegogo campaign we raised $19,055 from 114 funders in 35 days. Our hugest thanks to everyone!

Because we were 191% funded, the Portland Bonsai Village will be able to get going sooner than anticipated. We'll be in touch with all of you about our progress, such as when our website is finally live, our future plans, and how you can benefit.

Also because of the campaign's success at passing our funding goal, it won't just disappear from Indiegogo. It will be searchable for a long time yet, and you will still have the ability to donate. If you've not yet seen the ridiculous videos, take a moment:

Portland Bonsai Village's Indiegogo campaign

Thanks to all!

Michael Hagedorn and the entire Portland Bonsai Village crew





Portland Bonsai Village passes Indiegogo goal-

A big update on the Indiegogo campaign to fund the Portland Bonsai Village: A day ago we went over our $10,000 goal! We're at $10,400 and counting.

Many of the campaigns on Indiegogo reach 150-300% funding for a good reason: The goal jumpstarts a project, but most projects could use more to insure the success of the venture. So, if you've been wanting to donate, there are still 22 days to do so!

Visit the Indiegogo campaign

Thanks so much to our community, which is quite a bit larger than we thought...