In 1970, four members broke away from the Bonsai Society of South Africa, to form the Cape Bonsai Kai, which was an immediate success thanks to the foresight of these 4 founders who arranged public shows to promote the art of Bonsai. These shows continue to this day and are held annually in December, at the world famous Kirstenbosch gardens.
The kai has been fortunate in having senior members who have completed courses held by Japanese bonsai masters, either in Japan or USA. Over the years, this nucleus of advanced artists and growers have shared their knowledge with all members to ensure and guarantee the high standards of the kai. The pattern has continued over the years with members traveling to international conventions and imparting their knowledge on their return.
They have hosted many bonsai teachers such as John Naka, Ben Oki, Melba Tucker, Dorothy and Debra Koreshoff, Shigeo Kato, Vaughn Banting, Harry Tomlinson, Peter Chan, Mr I C Sui, Cheng Kung-Cheng, Marco Invernezzi and Budi Sulistyo.
The enthusiastic membership meet monthly and also for workshops in Cape Town. The year program is particularly well managed to ensure progress and knowledge of its members is continually advanced. For the last forty odd years this continuous handing down of knowledge, coupled with the technical and artistic skills taught to members by advanced growers, ensures that the standards of Cape Bonsai Kai and the magnificent trees belonging to its members, are highly respected throughout South Africa.
I am a proud member of Cape Bonsai Kai, and have been since I can remember.
Winning Exhibition trees of 2016
Image caption. Johan Lotz won a Rosette for this Juniper in Informal Upright Style as well as the award for Best Tree on Show. He was also awarded Best Novice.
Image caption. Rudi Adam won a Rosette for this Cork Bark Elm in Multi-Trunk Style
Image caption. Terry Erasmus won the F Mueller stand for this Japanese Black Pine 'kotobuki' in Formal Upright Style.
Image caption. Trevor Venables was awarded the Richards shield for this Ficus craterostoma for the Best Indigenous tree.
Image caption. Trevor Venables won a Rosette for this Juniper in Windswept Style.
Image caption. Hennie Nel's Atlantic Cedar.
Image caption.Terry Erasmus won a Rosette for this Japanese Black Pine in the Leaning Style.
Image caption.Johan Lotz received a Rosette - merit for this Ficus burtt davyi in the Root-over-rock style.
Image caption. Viky Petermann won a Rosette for this Pomegranite in Twin & Triple trunk Style. This tree was also promoted to Solitaire status.
Image caption.Viky Petermann won the Adam cup for this Cotoneaster in Root over Rock Style.
Image caption.Johan Lotz won a Rosette for this Juniper in Bunjin Style
Image caption.Trevor Venables won a Rosette for this Semi-Cascade Procumbens nana Juniper
Image caption.Rudi Adam won the Romyn shield for this Ficus burtt davyi in the Open Category.
Image caption.Kevin Kelly won Rosettes for this Portulacaria afra in the Multi-trunk style.
Image caption. Terry Erasmus won the C McDonald stand for this Japanese Silverberry in Upright Style.
Image caption.Hennie Nel won the Komono trophy for his Pyracantha in the Small 20-30cm Category, B. Coetzee cup for the Best Shohin and the Hennie Nel cup for the Best 3 Shohin
Image caption. Emile de Bruin was awarded a Rosette - merit for this Semi-cascade Japanese White Pine.
Image caption.Frik de Jager was awarded a Rosette - merit for this Galpinia tvl in the Komono category.
Image caption.Viky Petermann won a Rosette for her Penjing Landscape with Pyracantha.
Image caption.Phil Levitt won the Langley Cup for his Box Honeysuckle in the Shohin <10cm Category.
Image caption.Hennie Nel won the Welrose cup for his Ficus burtt davyi in the Shohin 10-20cm Category
Image caption. Cindy Rodkin won the Wells shield for this Chinese Maple in Forest Style.
Image caption.Jurie van Heerden was awarded the President’s cup for the tree with the most potential, for this Wild Olive
Image caption.Gail Theron was awarded the Niji trophy (Showmaster’s award) for this Japanese Black Pine
Image caption.Johan Lotz won the I Hofmeyr shield for this Pyracantha (Firethorn) in Cascade Style
Image caption.Phil Levitt won an award for this Ficus burtt davyi
Image caption.Kevin Kelly received a Rosette for his Ficus burtt davyi in Informal Upright style
The many benefits of joining a local bonsai club really cannot be stressed enough. If you are in the Cape Town area then please consider visiting Cape Bonsai Kai or one of the other local clubs. If you are in other parts of South Africa then take a look at the South African Bonsai Website for a full listing of clubs.
*The Juniper forest in the header image belonged to the late Rudi Adam, who was a very active member of Cape Bonsai Kai since the beginning. His presence at club events will be missed.