Cathy is retired after a career in information technology and Mark works in the area of pharmaceutical drug development. They have lived in San Diego for the last 20 years, but have resided in many places such as Arizona, the San Francisco Bay Area, Colorado, Bahamas, and France. Besides their active participation in the San Diego Bonsai Club, Mark and Cathy belong to the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, and collect and repair antique clocks. It turns out that many bonsai people have old clocks that need to be repaired, which they gladly do. However, these days they prioritize bonsai over clocks. They also volunteer at the San Diego Bonsai Club’s bonsai pavilion at Safari Park, which has an extensive collection of bonsai.
FAVORITE BONSAI-RELATED QUOTE
We have been studying bonsai for only five years so our favorite quote relates to our relatively short experience with bonsai and the challenge in choosing good material: “It will never be a bonsai”. Someday, we hope to have skills good enough to prove that statement wrong.
FAVORITE TREE SPECIES
Since we are still experimenting with various species we have not settled on a favorite species yet. Some of the more interesting trees are different types of junipers, sweet gum, coast live oak, and trident maple. Part of the fun of bonsai is to learn how different trees grow in our environment and how they respond to training.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN BONSAI?
We were looking for someone to trim the seven black pines we have in our yard and eventually we were introduced to the San Diego Bonsai Club and Fred Miyahara who later became our teacher.
WHO HAVE BEEN YOUR MOST INFLUENTIAL MENTORS IN BONSAI?
We have several good teachers including Gary Ishii, Fred Miyahara, John Jackson (curator of the San Diego Bonsai Pavilion at Safari Park), and most recently Ryan Neil. All of these teachers have taught us the basics and helped us improve our skills, but more importantly they make bonsai fun and they are our friends.
WHY ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT BONSAI?
It is interesting to see how design and style perspectives change as technical skills improve. A tree that was difficult to style becomes easier as experience is gained. The more people we talk to and learn from the broader the perspective becomes.
THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON WE’VE LEARNED THROUGH PRACTICING BONSAI IS
Patience in design and the importance of developing healthy trees.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE FOR THE FUTURE OF BONSAI?
For us bonsai is a hobby, an all-consuming hobby, but still a hobby. We want it to be fun. We hope that good teachers and suppliers of bonsai material will continue into the future so that others can have the same type of opportunities we have had so far.
WHY DID YOU WANT TO BECOME A PATRON OF AMERICAN BONSAI?
It is very simple. We have taken some classes from Ryan and we have seen how hard Ryan and Chelsea work to make bonsai the best that it can be. We felt we had to contribute to that type of dedication and work ethic.