This is an accounting of my personal bonsai history.
In 1977, my hobby turned into my first business. Bonsai etc. was a small retail shop, with just enough space for classes.
In the 70's, it seemed few people knew what bonsai was; within two years the shop closed. It was disappointing, but a learning experience for my future ventures.
If you are looking for history of bonsai in general please see the very thorough Robert Baran site
In 1984, I moved to a home on one acre plus, near Homestead, just south of Miami.
It was perfectly suited for a nursery business! Local residents and guests from all over the world visited The Bonsai Bench.
We soon added a five acre wholesale location, not far away (The Big Five). My brother Tom Stoute joined me. Today, Tom is creating bonsai in Virginia.
My daughter Angela Quinata also came on board. I'm sure her accounting and administrative abilities kept us out of trouble. No doubt my bonsai history would have been very different without either one of them.
During those years, the days were long and the work was hard. We created, grew and shipped plants all over the United States; to Canada, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas. But there was always time to try out new possibilities.
After a little experimenting, Tom found one of our 'weed trees' to be an excellent subject!
It wasn't long before we were growing this Leucaena glauca weed for bonsai.
Since its scientific name was such a mouthful, we called it Tropical Mimosa.
(It's not related to the Mimosa as grown in temperate areas. It looks like one, however, it is a tropical plant.)
I discovered another winning subject and proudly introduced the tropical Nashia inaguensis as a new plant for bonsai consideration.
Read the full story of the Bahama Berry.
In 1992, Hurricane Andrew devastated our home and both business locations. The damage was too great and the experience too traumatic to begin again.
|Portion of roof landed far from the house. (Tornado within hurricane.)||Five shadehouses were totally destroyed. One had recently been built.||Under these trees is Angela's Nissan. Sunroof leaked, the car ran!|
After Hurricane Andrew, I continued teaching at Fairchild Tropical
Botanic Garden in Miami. Adding to my bonsai history, I started a
newsletter which later lead to the book titled 'Bonsai with Tropicals'.
For many years, I traveled giving talks and demonstrations. I also spoke at many conventions over the years.
In 2002, I was a guest artist at the 25th annual Golden State Bonsai Convention in Sacramento, California.
At the 2010 Bonsai Societies of Florida convention, I was honored to receive their Lifetime Achievement Award.
I am currently writing Bonsai Banter, a newsletter companion to this site. It's free and I think you'll enjoy the personal stories and comments.
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Know the basics? Ready for more? Watch these amazing Colin Lewis bonsai class videos.
Craftsy sent me a copy of this class to review. Very impressed, we became an affiliate and receive a small commission on purchases. (Which helps support this site.)