NEW & OLD FUKU-BONSAI CUSTOMERS
We like to get emails from old customers, visits from new customers, and emails from new customers too. This article about one or each --- but all three extra interesting and consistent with our values and goals!
1. On June 2, 2018 I received the following email:
David, I thought you might like to know we bought this Bonsai from you on our 25 wedding anniversary 30 years ago. As you can see, it is doing well in the traveling container we prepared in order to take it on long drives between our summer and winter homes. Feel free to use the picture and information. Thank you for giving us this reminder of life together. Phil Kenney
It had just one photo and I asked for info and another.
On June 8, 2018 I receive the requested photo plus more info.
Aloha David, attached is the picture. I hope it is suitable. We travel from our Maryland home in the spring for the best summer weather in northern Michigan. After returning to Maryland in the fall we prepare for the best winter weather in southwest Florida. As you can see from the former picture we carefully package the Schefflera for the long drive. We obtained the plant in 1988 on a trip to Maui. We returned once since then on another honeymoon trip. The plant's root system has caused the lava rock to split so I have it wired together. Of course we soak it in water for a few hours every Saturday and fertilize it every other week. We have a friend in Clearwater, Florida who was so impressed with the Shefflera she ordered one from you. I think it reminds her of our friendship. Phil Kenney
SOME COMMENTS BY DAVID: It's wonderful to see our plants doing so well and I hope other old customers will send us photos and stories too. In 1988, they purchased the tree from Dan's Green House, our Fuku-Bonsai Authorized Retailer and Maui Representative (and still our largest oldest account). Then we were growing Schefflera (Brassaia actinophylla), but in the following year, we sprayed DuPont Benlate that was contaminated with weed killers that caused over $30 million of hard damages and the contamination forced us to switch over to Dwarf Schefflera (Schefflera arboricola) which is easier to train as bonsai compared to our former Brassaia. Phil has done a fine job in shaping and keeping the Brassaia to a nice shape and size. Mahalo to both of you with all warm wishes for many more happy anniversaries! ~~~David
2. INTRODUCING DEBBIE & BILL ROSTISER OF ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA
In the photo above, Bill (left) holds his Premium Introductory Workshop Package (PIWP) Roots with Fuku-Bonsai Senior Plant Manager Michael Imaino (right) holding Debbie's PIWP Dragon. Debbie holding a HS8 small Dwarf Schefflera rock planting that she'll give as a gift to a friend, and the prepared stock that goes with the Introductory Workshop Package (IWP).
Normally Edison Yadao is our primary workshop instructor, but Eddie was off and Mike had a chance to jump in to teach workshops again! On a Hawaiian vacation, the Rotisers searched "bonsai," found us, and learned about the workshops after they got here. They had a chance to compare the IWP and PIWP and both chose the larger older package. But they bought an extra IWP as Debbie plans to give a class to a friend or relative. So that makes four plants going to one address to qualify for free shipping. This deal goes along with free workshop supervision and assistance at the Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center. We love it when our visitors get a good deal! Here's what they each wrote on the "Fuku-Bonsai Workshop Feedback Questionnaire:"
BILL ROSTISER: "We got an education from David and we go training on our bonsai from Michael. It is worth every penny we spent to grow a tree in bonsai style."
DEBBIE ROSTISER: "We have always admired bonsai but never thought we could do it. After the class and talking to David, we realized that we could do it and our confidence will continue to grow as we refer to the website and possible continuing classes. Fuku-Bonsai provides numerous starter plants with three different and distinct designs that we are exited to work with and look forward to watching how ours will change. We highly recommend Fuku-Bonsai for anyone who would like to start this hobby!
I still enjoy teaching but I try not to because Edison and Michael do it better, as they only cover important points. I have a bad habit of over-loading information and my students sometimes seem to leave in a "shell-shocked" wobbly condition. So I talk story before and after the workshops and that seems to work better.
3. Here's a really nice report on one of our most interesting Father's Day gifts. On June 11, 2018, I received an email from Bradnyn Fujioka as follows:
Hello, My father is expanding his Japanese garden in Kahului, Maui and I'm looking to get him a bonsai or two. I'm wondering if your indoor bonsai for sale will adapt well to the outside climate of Kahului, Maui? Or if you have other recommendations that would work better? I'm looking to spend around $300 - $400. I look forward to hearing back from you. Thank you
Wow, that's a very generous budget and I really try to give Hawaii shipments a good deal as the shipping costs within Hawaii is a lot lower. So I replied that with the 20% Custom Collection sale if they wanted to spend $400, they should look at Custom Collection priced up to $500. They couldn't find any so I proposed a 17LS8 @ $400 less $80 plus a Premium Introductory Workshop Package ($75) and I threw in free shipping to total $395 to just come into the high end of their budget and included a photo of a really nice 17LS8 and PIWP. I reasoned that those who enjoyed a Japanese garden would also enjoy a bonsai to work on while in the garden. Item 17LS8 is great high-end gift for a person with some horticultural and artistic skills and the PIWP (Dragon) would also be a doable challenge with both fitting into the budget. Bradny phoned in the order, the plants were shipped, and on June 20, 2018 I received:
Hi David, my dad is very happy with his gift, which was a gift from my brother and I. I appreciate you taking the time to send a photo of the plant and kit! Below are a few paragraphs of how this sale began and ended...
I emailed email@example.com to inquire about a Father's Day gift for my dad. My dad has some experience training bonsai in the past and also has a Japanese Garden which he is in the process of expanding. David responded to my email in a timely manner with some general information about bonsai and also some suggestions. He suggested I take a look at the Custom Collection which was 20% off and the Premium Introductory Workshop Package.
After thinking it over, I decided to order the 17LS8 entry-level Custom Collection Sumo Banyan and the Dragon (PIWP-D). David offered free shipping on this particular package and it was sent out the next day via FedEx. My dad received his package on Maui a day later. He absolutely loves the gift and keeps saying how "cool" it is. He treats the plants like his babies by taking them outside every day to get direct sunlight, even though it is not necessary.
I would like to thank David and Myrtle for their top notch professional service. My entire experience throughout this transaction could not have been better. I am now thinking of ordering a Premium Introductory Workshop Package to grow at my house in Colorado. Best wishes to www.fukubonsai.com and I look forward to working with you again in the near future! Aloha, Bradyn
SECOND MORE CHALLENGING WORKSHOP
Dan Brenner of Port Townsend, Washington had taken a PIWP Root-Over-Rock on a previous visit and brought a large photo that he had taken off the foil, that he was ready for another challenge, and brought grand-daughter Madison Moore for her first. Michel was available, he had an idea for a stick tripod to extend roots and had prepared it.
Madison went first and had no problem with her PIWP Roots to do a nice Root-Over-Rock. She wrote in the feedback: "I wish I had more knowledge of how to take care of my new bonsai years down the line (trimming, repotting, things to look for, what is considered good and bad.)"
Over the years, we've learned that we can get a lot of straight roots if the top tree was well supported and roots drop straight down. The top of the stick tripod was tied together and sharpened and held the "dragon to be" with the roots facing down. Then it was a simple matter of filling the foil cone, securing with tape, topping with spaghnum moss, and creating aeration holes. Although it went very quickly, it showed good planning. Dan wrote: "An excellent workshop, my second, full of outstanding training. Nothing should be left out."
As a working nursery, we need to focus on production, but the workshops are an opportunity for us to try new things too! We get good feedback and customer follow up will confirm if a specific procedure works for customers too!
SOME FINAL COMMENTS BY DAVID:
I'm a bit of an "old-fashioned dinosaur" who was born too early for the Computer Era! But I'm now 78 years old, started www.fukubonsai.com in 1999 with MSFrontPage which is really obsolete. We're probaby the only bonsai website that doesn't have a shopping cart and I get a lot of complaints from those who just want to buy quickly and efficiently. I still don't do Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. I handle all emails one-by-one and try to give prompt personalized service and think that Fuku-Bonsai has the best customers in the bonsai world! The above are just a few of the recent examples.
I think it really would be great if a bonsai outlives its owner-trainer to be passed on to a special family member or friend. But for bonsai to achieve this, it needs to have a whole bunch of specific horticultural traits. First it must be a superior, durable, plant with a clear record of being able to survive even without perfect care. It must be long-lived and I believe that Fuku-Bonsai's Dwarf Schefflera will easily outlive me and we are well into successor planning so the next generation of Fuku-Bonsai managers will be able to supply the next American bonsai generation with a full range of True Indoor Bonsai gift bonsai, introductory workshop packages, premium potted bonsai, and increasingly more mature custom collection and old bonsai.
Fuku-Bonsai is a certified nursery that ships to all states. In the future, if production grows, we may again ship international. Dwarf Schefflera is likely amongst the very few plants that can grow successfully all over the world where there is interior heating and air conditioning. Bonsai is complex and requires extensive planning, discipline, and commitment. This was made more difficult when defective Benlate caused hard losses exceeding $30 million and forced us into a battle for survival. As we enter a new era, I believe Fuku-Bonsai has demonstrated its ability to do extensive planning, and has the discipline and commitment to be a national True Indoor Bonsai pioneer, leader, educator, and supplier. Please help us spread the word to all who are interested in bonsai that True Indoor Bonsai can and should be the most popular and successful bonsai!
It's really great when I get an email that one of our "fast-track study group" or an old bonsai friend or veteran of several advanced classes who plans to visit with enough time to do an advanced bonsai project together. Usually I have several larger more complex projects waiting to be done and I try to hold back to allow others with some experience to participate. The more the person knows before taking a Fuku-Bonsai workshop, the more complex advanced instruction is possible. So for first-time beginners who plan to visit a few months or so in the future, I email and suggest they mail order and put together a Premium Introductory Workshop and send me a series of step-by-step photos and captions as a Word document. This is very effective as they write the captions first of how and what they plan to do with a notation of when a photo is needed. If they have the discipline and ability to do such planning, they will have an excellent bonsai future!.
This was the greatest lesson I learned from the late grand master Saburo Kato of Japan who I consider my most important professional bonsai mentor. I had the privilege of working with him as he planned his 1980 International Bonsai Congress presentation in Hawaii where he presented the extraordinary "Bonsai no Kokoro" address (www.fukubonsai.com/5a2.html) and where he created "Peace Forest" that is now in our care at the Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center (www.fukubonsai.com/5a3a.html). Training bonsai is not about cranking out a large volume of bonsai by just repeating a formula. Each tree has individual characteristics that should be celebrated and emphasized. But trees also have weak points and training deemphasizes what we call defects. The best bonsai are the result of a lot of study and a lot of luck!
I look back to 1962 when I started. Then bonsai was a cult-like secret of old Japanese men who would not teach anyone anything. I thought they were being secretive, but with every year, i think they just didn't know the basic horticultural principles that are used to create bonsai. Each year I learn more and I've tried to share it on the website. I look forward to being involved as the Rostisers make progress. I invite anyone who is serious about learning bonsai to join our study group and make progress at your own pace. We've come a long way and we'll help!
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