It's Sunday afternoon and the Award Ceremony brunch just came to an end. A grand finale for a grand exhibition! I'm glad to share with you the three winning trees, good for $18,000 worth in prize money.



Third place (I)

Rocky Mountain Juniper by Amy Blanton

Juniperus scopulorum, estimated 450 years old. Four years in training.

Origin: Rocky Mountains

Container: Modern Chinese

Stand: Jasen Eider


Rocky Mountain Juniper bonsai tree


Chelsea and Ryan Neil with Amy Blanton



Third place (II)

Japanese White Pine by Konnor Jenson

Pinus Parviflora, estimated 60 years old.

Origin: Japan

Container: Modern Chinese

Stand: Austin Heitzman


Japanese white pine bonsai



Second place

Sierra Juniper by Tim Priest

Juniperus occidentalis var. australis, estimated 300 years old. Five years in training.

Origin: Desolation Wilderniss, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California

Container: Chinese

Stand: Japanese


Sierra Juniper bonsai



Overall winner

Rocky Mountain Juniper by Randy Knight

Juniperus scopulorum, estimated 650 years old. Five years in training.

Origin: Rocky Mountains

Container: Antique Chinese

Stand: Austin Heitzman


Artisans Cup winner Randy Knight


Rocky Mountain juniper by Randy knight


Randy Knight with Chelsea and Ryan Neil



Best accent plant

Accent plant placed with a Coastal Redwood, by Randy Knight

Best Accent plant of show


Accent plant


Artisans Cup 2015




UPDATED: Artisans Cup Retrospective

The Artisans Cup took place about four months ago and changed my perception of what a Bonsai event could look like. One key novelty was how transparent the judging was organized; the five judges' critiques for all 71 trees were recorded and are now made available as part of a membership.

So the retrospective website has finally launched and I couldn't wait to get in. After purchasing the membership ($65) you have access to beautiful studio photography of each tree displayed at the Artisans Cup, 71 in total. Each tree has been reviewed by the five judges separately, and their critiques have been recorded. Inside the retrospective website we can listen to these critiques, which is probably the main reason you would consider purchasing the membership access.

I personally found it highly interesting to hear the critiques, most of which took about 2 minutes per tree for each of the judges, so about 10 minutes of information per tree. If you think about it, something this transparent has never been done in any Bonsai exhibit. So it's refreshing as well as educational.


So what to expect?

Right below you'll find the studio shots of the four winning trees. I listened to the critiques and share with you what I personally found most interesting. That should give you an idea, right? And for the 67 other trees you will have to pay the $65 fee. Either way, check out the retrospective membership website yourself.


Winning tree of artisans cup

The overall winner, a Rocky Mountain Juniper, estimated 650 years old, by Randy Knight.


The most striking part of this tree is the massive deadwood in front of it. Boon noticed some parts of it look very old, while other parts look a bit more human-made. Walter Pall mentions the masculinity and sheer power of the deadwood, but thinks it is too much. David DeGroot talks about the conflict of the horizontal and vertical lines in the deadwood; but adds it works well for the tree.

I personally would have loved to see additional photos of this tree. Inside the retrospective website, each tree shows one photo. The quality and backdrop are absolutely amazing, but man I want to see that deadwood from close-by. By the way, did you notice the display table is artistically missing one foot?


Tim Priest tree

2nd place, a Sierra Juniper by Tim Priest, only 5 years in training.


Peter Warren talked about the pot combination and said it was superb, matching the size and weight of the tree. But the foliage pads are not mature enough. Boon also mentioned something similar; the branches don't match the aged appearance of the trunk. Colin Lewis adds that the branches are perfectly formed around the massive trunk.


Konnor Jensen

Japanese White Pine by Konnor Jenson.

The judges talked a lot about the interesting composition here. A big table, also a big pot, perfect a little too ornate (Colin Lewis). Walter Pall clearly loved this tree too and liked the exposed roots...


Mike Blanton

Rocky Mountain Juniper, estimated 450 years old, by Amy Blanton.

David DeGroot added that the canopy looks beautiful, but that it might be a bit too large. Boon's main critique was in the Jin on the left hand side; which is less matured than the Shari on the trunk.


More photos? See our Artisans Cup post.