Bonsai Societies of Florida

The Bonsai Societies of Florida (BSF), founded in 1973, is a state coordinating organization having about 600 members who also belong to one of the 31 member societies, member societies at large and study groups, or who have chosen to belong as unaffiliated Members at Large.

The first bonsai club to be formed in the State of Florida was the Bonsai Society of Miami in 1964. Suncoast Bonsai Society in the Tampa area followed in 1965. The Gold Coast Bonsai Society organized in the Ft. Lauderdale area in 1967. The Pensacola Gulf Coast Bonsai Society (Pensacola) the Lighthouse Bonsai Society (Boca Raton area) and the Central Florida Bonsai Club were all formed in 1969.

In November 1970 John Naka made his first bonsai trip east to conduct a workshop for the Lighthouse Bonsai Society.

On Saturday, September 15, 1973, in Tampa, Florida, delegates from ten established Florida bonsai societies came to the organizational meeting of the Bonsai Societies of Florida (BSF). BSF was formed out of necessity because these early clubs wanted to host an International Bonsai Congress and the only way to do it was to get practice. So the first Florida State bonsai convention was organized and held by BSF in 1973. Then on July 2 – 6, 1975, in Miami, Florida, BSF hosted the International Bonsai Congress ’75. Since then BCI has returned twice for their annual convention and in 1993 it was held in conjunction with the World Bonsai Friendship Federation’s World Bonsai Convention.

The Bonsai Societies of Florida, now consisting of 28 member societies, study groups and societies at large, was the first statewide bonsai organization in the United States. When the folks in California wanted to form a similar organization, they looked to the BSF for help and guidance. The same was true when the delegates of various bonsai clubs in the southeastern United States wanted to form a regional organization, the Southeastern Bonsai Federation covering some ten states.

The Bonsai Societies of Florida logo tree is a double trunked Taxodium distichum or bald cypress, collected by Joseph N. Samuels, BSF President, in Palm Beach County on New Year’s Day, 1970. The tree was five feet tall when collected. It was kept in a 16 inch round training pot for two years before being transferred to a rectangular brown pot which enhanced the beauty of the fine feathery foliage of the tree. The tree died in the late 1970’s but an attempt is being made to “bring it back to life” by grafting whips to the old trunks.