Bonsai Societies of Florida
The Bonsai Societies of Florida (BSF) – founded in 1973 as the first statewide bonsai organization in the United States – is a state coordinating organization numbering over 650 members who either belong to one of the 27 member societies, member societies at large or study groups, or 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 was organized in the Ft. Lauderdale area in 1967. The Pensacola Gulf Coast Bonsai Society, 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.
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. On Saturday, September 15, 1973, in Tampa, Florida, delegates from the ten established Florida bonsai societies came to the organizational meeting of the Bonsai Societies of Florida (BSF), and the first Florida State bonsai convention was organized and held by BSF later that same year. 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.
As the first statewide bonsai organization in the United States, BSF was asked to provide help and guidance to California bonsai enthusiasts who wanted to form a similar organization. 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, which covers 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 1970s but an attempt is being made to “bring it back to life” by grafting whips to the old trunks.