My name is Chris Johnston. After studying bonsai for about eight years on my own and with the local club, I founded Sashi-eda Bonsai in 2000. I offered what I now know were the most basic of classes, and sold trees and tools. I met Boon Manakitivipart in 2001, as my frustration with the dearth of solid teaching in the Midwest was beginning to take its toll. Boon came to Kansas City for what I thought was going to be just another “Master Weekend,” where he would quickly style a couple of raffle trees, critique member trees, give a Master Class, and go away. What really happened is that I learned more from his workshop than I had ever thought possible. He spent the time teaching, not showing his technique with shears. The next year, he came back. Here I am decandling an exposed root (neagari) Japanese black pine to increase its density. I wanted to work on this tree the first year he was there, but it was too weak. He told me how to make it strong again, and the next year I had the pleasure of having accomplished that goal. It was a first small victory. When Boon told me about his Intensive classes, I knew I had to be a part of them.
Since then, I have attended as many of the Intensive classes as time and budget will allow, and will finish the course in the next couple of years. I knew nothing about bonsai when I met Boon. Almost everything I thought I knew about bonsai was either wrong or on the most basic of levels. With that in mind, my personal collection is undergoing an extensive culling and refining as I learn how to find better trees. It’s not a quick process without unlimited funds.
So here I am in October of 2004, wiring the sashi-no-eda, or primary branch, of a Japanese black pine at Boon’s Fall Intensive. I feel very fortunate to have met Boon at just the right time in my bonsai search to take advantage of the opportunity. I am thrilled to be part of the Bonsai Boon family.