HISTORY OF THE CLUB
The Pikes Peak Bonsai Society was founded on May 9, 1987 by Sonya Alford, our first president. Sonya had made some bonsai while working at the greenhouse of the Horticultural Art Society here (1438 N. Hancock) and had been asked by the management about starting a bonsai club. Ross Huddleson, Charles "Charlie" Richards, and Mary Alice Ayling were among the original members, and these four are still participating in our group. Sonya contacted the Rocky Mountain Bonsai Society president in Denver, Dick Meleney, who sent down member Allan Hills to be a guest speaker at the first meeting of six members and a few guests. (Sonya and Ross had participated in the Horticulture for the Pikes Peak Region Spring Plant Sale previous to our club's founding.) The Denver club held their 17th Annual Bonsai Show in June at the Denver Botanic Gardens. (These shows continue through the present and several of our members regularly attend the two-day display of some of the state's finest trees in minature.) The first set of our club by-laws were presented at our Aug. 25 meeting.
The Nov. 12, 1988 meeting had a showing of the rented Bonsai Clubs International (BCI) audiovisual program, #11, "the National Bonsai Collection." Fifty slides and a 16-minute cassette tape showed the trees in 1976 when the Collection was first introduced and also in 1986. A nationally distributed article, "Bonsai: Minature Fascination" by Edwin Safford of the Providence Journal was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette on Dec. 8. For our local version of this article, it included two color photos by Bob Jackson, one of Larry Estes' "evergreen in terra cotta pot" and one of Sonya's blooming bougainvillea, which she had started long ago in that greenhouse. Plus there was a small sidebar about our club. (On Dec. 10 the article was printed in Denver's Rocky Mountain News, but without any local informnation.) Sonya was still president, and we met on the second Saturday of each month at the Horticultural Art Society offices. The Feb. 11, 1989 meeting screened the BCI audiovisual program #12, "Introduction to Bonsai."
Jim Summerville was our club president in 1993 and Mary Alice was secretary. Monthly meeting notices were sent out on colored paper postcards. The October meeting opened with the 58th Annual Penrose Apple Day parade south of Colorado Springs, followed by lunch and a dig of small junipers in East Penrose. Master gardener Harold Sasaki of Denver gave a demo at the Colorado Springs Senior Center on Nov. 13 at 1 p.m. (This long-time friend of our club has been an instructor at the Denver Botanic Gardens since the late 1970s. The previous September he had participated in the International Bonsai Arboretum Symposium in Rochester, NY, and in July, 1986 he had given a lecture-demo on Ponderosa Pines in Washington, DC at the joint BCI/American Bonsai Society convention.)
Harold Sasaki (right) with assistant [Larry Jackel] after his demonstration at International Bonsai Congress,By 1996 a more or less monthly single-page newsletter was being mailed to all members. (In 1997, at least, and titled "bonsai journal" it would be edited by Marie Walling on two sides of a sheet of colored paper.) Club dues were $10 per year. Club meetings were usually held at either the Colorado Springs Senior Center (1514 N. Hancock), Los Robles Nursery café (918 W. Costilla), or private members' homes on the second Saturday of the month at 10:00 a.m.
July 1986, Washington, D.C.
(Bonsai Magazine, BCI, Vol. XXV, No. 6, November/December 1986, pg. 20)
In July 1997, the ABS Convention was held in Denver and Harold Sasaki gave a demo on Englemann spruce and a workshop on Black Hills spruce. A 10th anniversary party celebrating the organizing of the club was held in September 1997. By that Aug. 9, the Pikes Peak Bonsai Society's big annual show was at the Donaldson (aka Asian) House, 1123 N. Cascade Ave. on the campus of Colorado College, just north of downtown Colorado Springs. The show featured a demonstration by Harold Sasaki, and the show's coordinator was Mary Alice. Subsequent single-day shows at this venue were held on Aug. 8, 1998 and Aug. 14, 1999. The two-day show format would begin Aug. 12-13, 2000 and then Aug. 11-12, 2001. Long-time club member and master gardener Pete Apostolas would also regularly demonstrate, assisted by members such as Rick Ruggles and Ross Huddleson.
The September 1998 meeting was at Sonya's in Lake George, CO, where she lived from 1989 through 2008.
Lynne Ryder was the club president at the beginning of 1999, followed by Ross later in the year. On May 1, 1999 a spring show was held at Los Robles Nursery. An azalea workshop with Harold Sasaki up in Denver was the mid-June meeting. The non-private home meetings for the rest of 1999 and throughout 2000 were all at Los Robles Nursery.
In January 2000 a reorganization of the club led to an experiment without formal officers, the responsibility for each monthly meeting being undertaken by one individual member. (For the next twenty-one months, the club's newsletter would be titled "Bonsai News" and continue to be edited by Marie Walling, followed for a few months by Mary Alice.) The local chapter of Ikebana International invited us to bring some of our trees to display during their March 15, 2000 meeting at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Harold Sasaki conducted a workshop on May 13 at the Senior Center for us. And the June meeting was a car-pool trip up to Harold's nursery in Wheat Ridge, outside of Denver. The club was again invited to bring trees to display at the Japan-America Society of Southern Colorado meeting at the Fine Arts Center on October 21.
At the start of 2001, the year-long experiment with no officers was ended and Pete Apostolas was elected president of the Pikes Peak Bonsai Society. On March 23, the Colorado Springs Gazette included an article by reporter Dru Wilson about the club. Harold Sasaki, Pete Apostolas, and Mary Alice Ayling were quoted in this good overall introduction to bonsai. In April, the non-private home meetings were moved to just the Senior Center as we said good-bye to the Los Robles Nursery, which was closing. On May 4 Harold Sasaki conducted a demonstration-workshop at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs. On May 19 Pete Apostolas conducted a Beginning Bonsai Workshop at his home. Starting in October 2001 through April 2003, the monthly mailing of the club would be titled "Pikes Peak Bonsai Society of Colorado Springs Newsletter." It was edited by fairly new member Larry Rohr.
The 2002 show (Aug. 10-11) was held at the Japanese-Chinese Language House of Colorado College, behind 1196 N. Cascade.
In 2003 the club dues were raised to $20 per year per family. The May 2003 meeting was up at Harold Sasaki's nursery. In June the first e-mailed version of the newsletter was made as an alternative to standard mail, with Claudia and Jim Eley as editors. The monthly was simply titled "Pikes Peak Bonsai Society." Living in Green Mountain Falls, the Eley's most years in June would have club members meet there, dig small trees, collect rocks and moss, and finish with a potluck lunch. An Aug. 16 display and sale was held as part of the Community Hands-on Art Day at the Fine Arts Center. A one-day show on September 6 was held at the Worner Center of the Colorado College, 902 N. Cascade Ave. This is the campus' student union building. On November 8, Harold Sasaki conducted another workshop here.
From June 19-20, 2004 the Pikes Peak Bonsai Society participated in the Rocky Mountain Bonsai Society's annual show at the Denver Botanic Gardens. That September saw a second club show here at Colorado College's Worner Center.
On Sept. 10, 2005 the club's new official web site debuted at www.phoenixbonsai.com/PikesPeak Bonsai.html. The logo in use shortly afterwards at the top of the pages was this modified photo and text combination based on an existing design:
From Oct. 22-23 the club's annual show was again held at Colorado College's Worner Center. Bill Fox was elected president in December.
Our May 2006 meeting was at Cliff Broyles' and the following month saw a dig at Claudia and Jim Eley's. From Sept. 23-24, our annual show was held at Colorado College's Worner Center. Gazette reporter Shari Chaney Griffin visited on Saturday and had an article in the next day's paper (pg. Metro 3), "Variety of plant types on display at bonsai exhibition". On Saturday we also held our first "Peoples' Choice" vote during the show. Pete's fiery Japanese maple forest was named as the most favored by the visitors throughout the day.
The first edition of the club's yearbook was published in January 2007, dedicated to our founder Sonya Alford (who would soon rejoin our meetings). This useful guide was spearheaded and includes photographs by Cliff Broyles, who would continue to at least co-edit these annually for most of the next six years.
In mid-March 2008, the club participated in the two-day Spencer's Lawn & Garden Centers Success Show with a demonstration and educational display. We would be in the show for at least the next six years as well. On April 12, Harold Sasaki conducted an excellent workshop/critique of trees here for 22 of us. Our annual show was held at Colorado College's Worner Center from Sept. 27-28. In November, Steve Alford (Sonya's son) took over the monthly notification duties and for the next two years produced a detailed newsletter with color photos. David Conlin was elected our next president in December. Robert Baran was Vice-President and Charlie Richards continued as Treasurer.
At our February 2009 meeting, the club had a hands-on making of custom pots with clay the club had purchased. The pieces were slow drying, would be fired in a few weeks, and be ready for taking home in April. This workshop would be repeated the next two years. Archival copies of our newsletters were now on-line as of late June.
Starting with a design that had been custom-embroidered on members' shirts over the past few years, member Harve Wolfe's artistic granddaughter presented us a modified logo example which underwent suggested changes that were voted on by the members throughout the summer. In early September a new logo was officially accepted by club members to act as our brand:
This logo was added to our web site pages and put on both a large 30x72" banner and a 24x36" sandwich board for advertising club activities, thanks to the efforts of Henriette Gregorio.
As a prelude to our fall show at Colorado College's Worner Center, Fountain Valley News and El Paso County Advertiser and News on Sept. 23 ran a story with color photo by Janet Huntington on the lower right front cover and two b&w photos from previous shows on pg. 66. The caption to the first photo for "The Ancient Art of Bonsai Grows in Fountain" was captioned "Bonsai artist and historian (l to r) Robert Baran and his son Kenny Asher show off a fine example of a bonsai from Douglas Fir." (The tree was actually a medium-sized slant-style Ponderosa Pine collected earlier this year, and used with the kind permission of its owner, Cliff Broyles.) The Sept. 26-27 show held at Colorado College's Worner Center was followed the next day with an article in The Gazette. "Bending the Bonsai Rules" by Maria St. Louis-Sanchez (pp. A3, A5) was based on interviews with Steve Alford, David Conlin, and Robert Baran and primarily was about the tiny tire swing which Steve had hanging from one of his trees (and which he also was offering for sale in three sizes). Two b&w photos by Jerilee Bennett were included, one of which was looking out through the new shohin/mame (bonsai under 12" tall) stand we had. Our year-end luncheon with gift exchange was held at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort, thanks to assistance by Mary Alice Ayling. This would be repeated the next three years as well.
A club-run demo/workshop was held in May 2010 at Bill Fox's house. For a fee, participants could have either a dwarf myrtle, orange jasmine, or Chinese elm, which they then initially shaped. A summer show was held for the first time on July 17-18 at the Citadel Mall. The response was outstanding. Bill and Pete made the local Fox 21 Morning News on behalf of the club. Our fall show was held Oct. 16-17 at Colorado College for the eighth year, this time with a well-received workshop feature.
Again, a club-run demo/workshop was held in May 2011 at Bill Fox's house. For a fee, participants could have either a Ligustrum (privet), Sageretia (Chinese sweet plum), or Ulmus (Chinese elm). Our fall show was held Oct. 22-23 at Colorado College, for the ninth year, again with a workshop feature. At year end a new administration was elected: Pete Apostolas as President, Bill Fox as Vice President, and Cliff Broyles as Treasurer.
June 2012 saw a joint BCI/ABS convention in Denver, again, and Harold Sasaki was one of the participants. The club's 2012 annual show was that Labor Day weekend at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Fifty-one persons total participated in our two workshops both afternoons. Thirty-five persons attended our demonstrations. Eleven new members joined us over the weekend, and also one member returned after being away a few years. In early November we had a workshop on the banks of the Arkansas River at Seufer's Tree Farm in Cañon City. And also that month Pete and Bill conducted a Basic Bonsai Workshop at Harlan Wolfe Ranch.
An ongoing listing of the last several years' worth of our previous meetings' activities can be found here.
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