Updated April 2018
ALOHA! I write this update as we prepare to start to reissue our FBnews monthly email newsletter and as "Fuku-Bonsai Enters a New Era!" Myrtle and I began bonsai as newlyweds in 1962 and in 1973, we moved to the Big Island of Hawaii to start Fuku-Bonsai as Hawaii's first certified nursery and in a short time, we had shipped to all states and a few international countries. In 1985 the Fukumoto sole proprietorship nursery evolved into a Hawaiian corporation to own and operate both the 12-acre Kurtistown Fuku-Bonsai certified export nursery and the 17-acre Fuku-Bonsai Center in upper Keauhou-Kona. We had an ideal location and potential to be an international bonsai attraction to compliment the Big Island of Hawaii's then developing Kona-Kohala visitor destination area!
But in 1989 we sprayed defective Benlate contaminated with weedkillers and our dreams ended with losses of over $30 million! We struggled and we needed the protection of Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in 1994. Two years later we paid off all creditors 100% + interest and the bankruptcy was cancelled. We lost the Kona Fuku-Bonsai Center, retrenched to Kurtistown, and opened a modest center. Contamination prevented growing Brassaia so we mastered and made Dwarf Schefflera our new specialty. We fought an epic losing legal war with DuPont who kept us in court for over 16 years. Although we received a Benlate product liability settlement in 1994 and a DuPont fraud settlement in 2007, the net total after taxes and legal fees and costs was less than 10% of our losses. Life is not fair and while it is easy to be bitter, instead we created the highest quality, highest-value, most successful bonsai for anyone anywhere who can grow houseplants!
We've made major progress in reinventing Fuku-Bonsai. In January of 2013, we began publishing the monthly email JOURNAL OF TROPICAL AND TRUE INDOOR BONSAI and in doing so, we accelerated progress dramatically. Jerry Meislik, Ryan Chang, and Jay Boryczko and others contributed articles and we all learned a lot together! Unfortunately in November 2014, just short of two years of publishing, our computers crashed. The monthly email newsletter made possible significant progress and new products have significantly improved!
RETURNING TO OUR BONSAI ROOTS
When we began bonsai in 1962 bonsai was a secretive activity with no published tropical bonsai information or suitable plants available. Student success soared after the first mimeographed handbook was printed and Myrtle's backyard nursery supplied suitable plants. We've built the hobby, the nursery, and educational activities together and in 2012 we celebrated 50 years of marriage and bonsai! From the beginning, we focused upon creating and offering only the highest quality products, teaching, and focusing on customer success. Our easy-care Hawaiian Lava Plantings are popular for gifts. We continually improved and Premium Potted Bonsai now includes an older larger 17LS8 that is ideal for training into larger bonsai. Custom Collection includes increasingly older bonsai and we are now offering Premium Large Bonsai (PLB) including some of the top Dwarf Schefflera Bonsai in the world! The 2007 Introductory Workshop Package (IWP) with its pre-trained "prepared bonsai stock" was a major breakthrough and success and has taught thousands of beginners. The 2014 Premium Introductory Workshop Package (PIWP) that features an older more developed plant and larger components have become more popular for those who take the workshops at Fuku-Bonsai and it is often cited as the high-light of their Hawaiian vacation. That's really great!
CREATING AN AMERICAN FORM OF BONSAI
From the start of Fuku-Bonsai, we focused on high-success tropical bonsai that could grow year-around in home and offices and outdoors when night temperatures are above 55°F. We begin training our "NURSERY BONSAI" from when they are very young seedlings or cuttings so all have trunks with character, multiple trunks, low branches and shallow compact root systems. "Sumo" upright heavy banyan styling is used in our lava plantings, have their roots extended for "Roots" which has become our popular innovative styling that are ideal for "Root-over-Rock" plantings. "Hawaiian Dragons" are our fun bonsai with twisty-turny trunks that are the favorite of creative non-traditional customers.
With a full range of trees produced to "model standards," we can create nice trees with a range of styling with the efficiencies of larger scale production to create highest quality at very high value reasonable prices. But a large part of oui "old plant bank" includes bonsai in training for over 40 years and as I get more time to work on these exciting trees, bonsai training here is increasingly exciting. I especially enjoy when past customers return and schedule workshop time. If they have a challenging project in mind, I try to select a few trees that fit their ideas and I may be working on my latest challenge while monitoring and making input on their project! As other times, the returning workshop visitor works with me on my projects and they learn the latest techniques being developed. Much of the activity here centers around new and more effective use of our unique new Hawaiianite universal fertilizer.
TRUE INDOOR BONSAI™ is just over 50 years old and is already approaching the grandeur and maturity of the priceless masterpieces of Japanese Bonsai that are hundreds of years older. Fuku-Bonsai's oldest Custom Collection are over 40 years in training and the customer success rate is much, much higher than Japanese-type temperate climate bonsai! We've come a long way and I'm increasingly excited about the research in progress and the innovations that we'll be introducing in the future.
One of our older Custom Collection Roots in a 25"x15"x2" rectangular plastic pot shipped to Bob Sun of Pennsylvania in May 2017. It is featured in an article at www.fukubonsai.com/3a1c1.html that showed how his tree was packed for shipment.
Bob has also grown traditional outdoor bonsai and had purchased a smaller Custom Collection shipped earlier during colder weather. It is shown behind him and has not had any problems.
Another more recently shipped Custom Collection was one of the first tall vertical pinnacle rock plantings that was grown from seed started about 22 years ago and rock planted about 8 years ago. Kevin Byars of Canton, Michigan wrote:
"Enclosed are pictures of the trees I have purchased from you. From left to right is a 2 year old potted (Roots) , and then of course my (custom collection) tree which has become my pride and joy. It is truly a beautiful tree. Next up is a beginner workshop tree, and last but not least, my premium workshop tree that I decided to plant in a column. It just started putting out new leaves and is looking great. The durability of these plants is incredible. I am VERY happy with them. I also wanted to personally thank you for answering ALL my questions about my tree. Its obvious you take great pride in ensuring that people get the help they need . Thanks for everything David! I'm sure I will be talking to you soon!!"
In both above cases Custom Collection was sent to those with previous traditional bonsai experience and this seems to be an increasing trend. Some are forced to give up their outdoor collections when they move to a different climate or to apartments. Others grow both forms but are enjoying our True Indoor Bonsai because they can purchase high-potential trees at reasonable prices and enjoy completing the training. Those who are willing to teach really appreciate our workshop packages that feature pre-trained prepared bonsai stock and all needed components. These are convenient and their students who want to grow bonsai indoors have a very high success rate.
Equally common is that True Indoor Bonsai is increasingly a multi-generational hobby and it's a delightful experience when we host grandparents, their adult children, and grandchildren at workshops at the Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center. It is very common for us to be teaching children 5 years old. We've had such multi-generational repeat workshops and the common interest bring the families closer together!
But we also have had visitors with just one person in the group having a very deep interest and who wants to spend a lot of time at Fuku-Bonsai. The rest of the group goes off to see nearby Volcanoes National Park or special places in the Hilo and Puna area and comes back to pick up the bonsai person. Usually there's never enough time and we continue the class via email and photos.
FUKU-BONSAI IS COMMITTED AND GROWING FOR THE FUTURE!
As professionals it's our responsibility to supply the finest possible bonsai stock and provide educational materials on how to exploit and enhance their potential. We will have the capability of shipping thousands of Introductory (and larger, older Premium) Workshop Packages in the future to supply those willing and able to teach bonsai to others. We will have increasingly advanced workshop materials and I'll been writing more educational articles for posting on this website and as part of the next edition of the workshop handbook. Fuku-Bonsai has developed a multi-model production flow protocol incorporating quality-control culling standards at each step. So our oldest plants are also our highest quality plants. Like a proud parent, we enjoy watching watching our trees develop and there's a bit of pride and sadness when we send off promising trees out into the world! We include cultural information and offer assistance by email, newsletter, or phone. Our comprehensive educational website supports customer success!
As Myrtle and I turn over Fuku-Bonsai management responsibility to our successors, we hope they will continue the values that guided my bonsai career since 1962. We hope Fuku-Bonsai will always promote True Indoor Bonsai as a populist hobby in which everyone can experience success and celebrate man and nature in harmony. Mahalo to the stockholders, staff, associates and customers who have supported us and made Fuku-Bonsai possible! You're cordially invited to visit! ~~~David (firstname.lastname@example.org)
You are cordially invited to visit the Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center and Hawaii State Bonsai Repository in Kurtistown on the Big Island of Hawaii. Kurtistown is on Volcano Highway 11 about 10 miles from Hilo and 20 miles from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Enjoy our exhibit collection which is amongst the most varied in the world and include Japanese bonsai, Chinese penjing, Tropical outdoor bonsai, and our True Indoor Bonsai specialty. Select from one of the largest displays of certified-grown bonsai that can be packed for you to hand-carry to all parts of the United States, or we'll ship! Experience a unique visit to a working bonsai nursery and feel free to talk story with our staff. Take a bonsai workshop and have it shipped home. Meet individuals who can continue to assist you after you return home! For more information, phone (808) 982-9880 or email email@example.com
E KOMO MAI . . . come discover the serenity of nature, the beauty of bonsai, and the spirit of Hawaii!
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