Click for Menu >

Clark Bonsai Collection

  • Workshops
  • Articles
  • Videos


Medaka no Gakko is the name of an enriching summer school program offered by the Buddhist Church in Parlier. It was established in 1980 by parents who were interested in teaching children about their Japanese heritage and culture. Gakko has always relied on the participation of parents, grandparents and community members to work together to provide this experience for their children.

Medaka no Gakko means “school of little fish.” It is named after a Japanese song whose lyrics ask “Can you tell the difference between the teacher and the students?”  The song answers, “No, because everyone’s having a good time.”

Children who have completed kindergarten through seventh grade attend a two week program each morning at the Parlier Buddhist Church. The students participate in Japanese language class, learn about Japanese customs, create projects that incorporate their family crest or mon, and learn about traditions such as obon, bonsai, and ikebana, listen to Japanese folk tales and enjoy tasty Japanese snacks.

For the past several years, the oldest students have taken a field trip to the Clark Bonsai Collection to learn about this facet of Japanese art.  This trip has brought them to the Shinzen Japanese Friendship Garden for the past two years, where curator Bob Hilvers has explained some of the history of bonsai in Japan.  The students also learn about the classic styles of bonsai and the techniques to create them. The students then create their own bonsai.  They arrived at the garden with their own bonsai pot, which they had made in a previous class.  Each student was provided with a twisted cotoneaster plant, which they prepared and planted into their pot.  They learned to carefully distribute the soil with chop sticks. Finally, they learned about the responsibility needed for daily watering and attention to sun light.

This class is one of the seedlings that the Clark Bonsai Collection at Shinzen expects to grow into a robust educational program to bring bonsai appreciation to the Central Valley. This is one of our crucial missions. For the few members of the curatorial team fortunate enough to help, this was a wonderful experience.

New post on Michael Hagedorn

Be a Bonsai Sleuth: What is Needle Cast and What is Overwatering for Pines?

by crataegus

Many of the problems we see on our bonsai look very much the same. Needle Cast, a fungus, and overwatering, a care mistake, often look a lot alike.

Here are two photos that might help determine if you have one or the other of them in your yard:

This pine, a Ponderosa, has been overwatered. Notice the nearly equal lengths of browned tips. Whenever you see this, think, 'This soil has stayed wet for too long.' It may be because of water retentive soil, or perhaps it's been watered too frequently. Adjusting the watering pattern for this tree, or changing its soil, should solve this problem in a year's time.

This Ponderosa Pine has Needle Cast, a fungus. Notice the discoloration, the uneven browning of the needles, and the the green/yellow/red banding, especially in the green parts of the needle. The treatment for this tree is spraying with Daconil or a copper fungicide when the new needles are coming out. In most areas this means spraying in the springtime (though in some unusual areas such as the Pacific Northwest of the United States it can also be late summer and fall). It will usually take a year or two of careful management to get beyond this problem, so have patience.

Not that easy to tell apart, are they? And yet, identify which is which, apply the correction, and you'll likely have success. Don't identify it and you'll likely have what history buffs know for certain...a repetition of the same thing over and over and over again. And again.


GSBF Clark Bonsai Collection

P.O. Box 5382

Fresno, CA 93755

© COPYRIGHT 2018. Golden State Bonsai Federation

© 2014 Clark Bonsai Collection. All Rights Reserved. Registered 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization