I’ve been wanting to write a blog post about this tree for sometime but what to write about it, it’s challenging to decide. There could be several possible topics that could be written about it but what I will attempt do convey is how this tree developed beautifully throughout the years but how it also became a symbol of friendship.
Around 2005(2006) when I was responsible for bringing in guest artist to Puget Sound Bonsai Association for their monthly meeting demonstration. I brought in Boon Manakitivipart to the club since I’ve taken his bonsai intensive class before and he is an excellent teacher. When Boon got here, I took him on a tour at the Elandan Gardens. At the time my friend Don Guilliams ( who started with the club about the same time I did) volunteered to go with us on the trip. During the trip I wanted to buy a nice collected tree to develop into a bonsai from Elandan (Dan Robinson). I asked Boon to help me select a tree. He picked this cascading Hemlock. I vaguely remember him saying that this tree could be developed and be shown in a relatively short time. I got the tree and initially styled it. As much as I could I kept it healthy but still some branches died back.
Throughout the years I’ve brought it to study groups and workshops to be worked on. Among some of the bonsai artist that have seen and help refined it were Michael Hagedorn and Walter Pall.
It has developed nicely and I have used this tree as part of my garden show displays. During those times my friend Don Guilliams have always half jokingly and half seriously shown interest in buying it from me.
One year, I was needing to bring in some cash for my business and as hard as it was, I was looking to sell the best bonsai in my collection. My friend Don was there and ready to help. It made it easier to sell it to him because I know Don will take very good care of it and I’m still able see it (although he jokingly said, I will have limited visitation rights). Don immediately took on the task of improving this tree. It was my original intention to repot the tree but never found a pot that I like. Don repotted the tree into a taller pot. Don also got Michael Hagedorn to masterfully refine this tree. The result is a world class bonsai tree.
About a month ago, Don, moved to San Diego ( a place he always wanted to retire). San Diego is a beautiful place but unfortunately not a place for a high altitude and a cooler loving tree like a Mt Hemlock. A good friend that Don is, he gave me the first opportunity to buy the tree back from him. I gladly bought the tree back from him and now back in my possession.
Now when I look at this Mt Hemlock, I think of my friend Don. Through the years we’ve stayed connected through our love for bonsai but Don has always help me with other things mainly with my business, as he helped me get connected with the NW Flower and Garden show people and referred me to several folks. As a former executive, he has given me invaluable advise.
Bonsai is a great endeavor, you can take great tree like this 300 year old Mt. Hemlock, that probably could have lived happily up in the mountains for another 300 years, put it in a pot and make it even better for us short-live humans to enjoy. While doing bonsai, you may run into people like Don that their friendship is greater than the bonsai trees themselves.