On March 28, 2012 Matthew's family from Hayden Lake, Idaho arrived at Fuku-Bonsai.  It was very easy to see that he was already very interested in bonsai.  Matthew's parents Michelle and Mark Manteuffel had learned about Fuku-Bonsai from a travel guide book: "HAWAII; OFF THE BEATEN PATH" so the 250 mile round trip from their Marriott Waikoloa had been carefully planned to compliment his bonsai interest.  Very quickly, he understood the basic concepts of Fuku-Bonsai's True Indoor Bonsai which is probably the easiest and most suitable for northern Idaho.  Michael Imaino was available for walking Matthew through creating his first bonsai with an Introductory Workshop Package (IWP-8 / Workshop I). 

        From a nice selection available, Matthew selected a heavier single-trunked tree with a lot of character. The prepared bonsai stock is the key component of the 10-item kit and this tree was about 2 to 3 years into training.  In a 2" nursery pot, it's been root-pruned 2-3 times,  trunk pruned several times with some taper in the lower trunk, some aerial roots, and nice branches.

        For his demonstration tree, Michael would move an odd tree that happened to be in a non-standard container into an 8LS8 model standard. In a production run, Michael can complete a transfer potting in just a few minutes. But he took his time to give Matthew a preview and to ask questions. 

        The mechanics of potting are simple to understand to create good drainage, using the plastic separator, and the need to secure the tree so it won't shake, and actual potting.

         The challenge is to visualize the tree in a scenic environment. Some potting media covering the surface roots was removed to begin the assessment of the tree ---  the strong points to exploit --- the weak points to downplay or to be off-set by using the accent rock --- how to position in the container, etc.  By working with a tree that already has a lot of character, Matthew very easily grasped the basic horticultural and the aesthetic design concepts that set bonsai apart from common potted plants. 

         Twenty minutes later, the newly potted trees were being water saturated and Mike explained the need for good drainage, thorough watering weekly, special houseplant nutrient strategy, and air-water exchanges to keep the tree healthy.  Sister Aubrey, Mark and Michelle sat in on the workshop.  We enjoy this family and Myrtle and I had a chance to learn about life in Idaho and we shared differences of living in Hawaii.
        Matthew with his first bonsai!  I teased him that he's either pretty good or that we made it "too easy" and it's likely a bit of both.  But he produced a really fine "first bonsai" that was far better than my first tree almost 50 years ago!  Sharing and teaching the next generation has become a nice break for Michael and me.  Michael began with Fuku-Bonsai in 1983 and is the president of our non-profit Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation that offers the bonsai educational activities at the Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center. 

        Michael packed the plant with the necessary agricultural stamps to allow it to be handcarried home with some Mylar insulation so it could be safely tucked into a suitcase and protected from the cold enroute home to Idaho.



        I have always been interested in Bonsai, but never knew where to get started. I read a few books, but they were confusing and contradicting.  I then found the Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center where I met a very friendly artist Michael Imaino and Dave, the master behind it.  They spent much of their day teaching me the basics and had me choose a small tree. They walked me through the potting and wiring it down, and then the future care.  Overall I had a great time and learned a lot.  I will definetly be working with them and their company and recommend them greatly.


        This was truly worth a trip "off the beaten path."  What a treasure to learn from a master --- an experience my son will never forget!



         Fifty years ago when I began in 1962, there was very little information about bonsai and we learned by doing and making mistakes.  We learned that books on Japanese bonsai did not work on the trees that grew in the tropics.  Over time we learned that almost every plant needed a separate book as general bonsai books that tried to teach everything recommended what may work on some plants but not others and too often good advice on how to handle specific trees applied only to those trees.  It's no wonder that beginners are confused!

         Fuku-Bonsai is very successful because our instruction and written materials apply to our Dwarf Schefflera specialty that are used in the workshops.  We advise on the specific plants grown in the potting media that we use and supply including Nutrient Granules that is a very difficult to obtain 6-40-6 ultra slow release houseplant fertilizer.  Over the years, we've come to recognize that our True Indoor Bonsai are based upon a totally different set of conditions from all other forms of bonsai. 

          We know how to grow it in our unique Kurtistown climate where we may get 175 inches of rain annually, but several weeks in a row where it may be almost continuously drizzling, followed by weeks and months where there's no rain at all.  this required us to formulate our potting media to be very rapid draining to prevent root rot.  It required us to train our plants to be drought-resistant to reduce our watering expenses. We don't baby our trees and they have strong survival qualities as we try to make them "customer-proof!"

          We believe that many are interested in bonsai but don't know where to start.  Too many start with a high level of enthusiasm only to drop out and fail because they were not successful with their first outdoor bonsai workshop tree because they tried to grow  them indoors.  We believe that to nurture an interest in bonsai that the first experience must be successful.  We can help and supply workshop kits for those who can grow houseplants.  We believe that Matthew has an excellent chance to be successful and we hope he stays in contact and email us if he needs help.  It's a really joy to host families like the Manteuffles.  They appreciated our efforts and left a very generous donation and we'll use it to help others!  ~~~David


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Fuku-Bonsai Inc.
FUKU-BONSAI WORKSHOP PACKAGES are available in larger quantities by prior reservation for introductory bonsai programs for garden clubs, youth groups, or other organized group activity. For quantity discounts, quotations, or reservations, please contact:
        David Fukumoto, founder and president, Fuku-Bonsai Inc.
        PO Box 6000 (Olaa Road), Kurtistown, Hawaii 96760
        Phone (808) 982-9880; FAX (808) 982-9883
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