I became a retail nursery officially in September 2002. Since the mid 1980’s I have been a grower of Bonsai stock trees.
At that time I had about 60 Bonsai trees of my own and realised that in my lifetime, they would never achieve the aged status I was seeking. The trees that appealed to me the most in the books I read were the trees that had been collected from the mountains. (Yamadori).
Since the mountains west of Brisbane (the Great Dividing Range) don’t yield the much sought after Pines or Junipers I was craving, I decided I would have to grow my own wild trees that I could then work on after they had achieved some age and potential.
In Japan and China, they have fields of trees that are especially developed for the use in the art of Bonsai. This is what encouraged me to become a grower of Bonsai stock trees .I have been lucky enough to see some of these fields in Japan in 1993 and again on a recent trip to China.
The nursery has grown out of this passion, friends gather here to share my love of Bonsai and we all learn from each other. My philosophy is that ‘you are here for a good time, not a long time’ and doing the art of Bonsai takes me to a good place inside myself.
One of my husband’s hobbies is Suiseki which is an art on its own but often features with Bonsai. Selby is also the designer of the gardens on the property and has incorporated my love of Bonsai and some features of the Asian style garden into our Aussie garden.
Some of the people who I have had the opportunity to connect with either through their demonstrations, workshops and/or tutorials both here and overseas should be acknowledged as it is the sharing of their cumulative knowledge and workshop experiences which is the foundation of my own skills. Being a grower of bonsai stock trees for many years has been a learning experience in itself.
|Tom Yamamoto, Hatsuji Kato||Japan|
|Peter Adams||USA previously UK|
|Kevin Wilson||Spain previously UK|
|Harry Tomlinson, Craig Coussins||UK|
|Robert Stevens, Budi Sulistyo||Indonesia|
|Dan Robinson, Ryan Neil||U.S.A.|
And the many Australian artists who have been ever so patient.
Books are a treasure, not always understood at first but some are by my side like knowledgeable friends.
Through my nursery at the beginner courses and the monthly workshops, comes my opportunity to be able to share this information and passion with you. This is the ‘show me – tell me’ part of learning.
I have found that Bonsai knowledge seems to come to you in small bits, like a grain of sand at a time but before you know it, you have a sandpit. Tess Simpson
I had the privilege of attending a workshop with Tony Tickle from UK and a great bunch of guys from all over Australia. It was a great opportunity for us to learn from overseas tutors.
The workshops were part of the ‘bonsai week’ featured at the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection.
AABC Conference held late May here in Brisbane. Great to Marc Noelander at work again. I have been feeling very inspired since that weekend and I am hoping my Bonsai will benefit from all this exposure to another great talent.
2016 Auckland Bonsai Show
This is a most beautiful and aged Bonsai of the Mugo Pine Family. I thought it looked most beautiful, congratulations to the artist.
Peter Warren from the UK was the demonstrator / educator of design.
I was most impressed with Peter. His ability to reach people of all levels of Bonsai with his simple explanations was most impressive. This piece of material, a pine didn’t have a lot of options but with time it will round out to be a nice Bonsai.
This Selby at Hobbit Town. Being so close with the conference in Auckland, I would have been in trouble if he didn’t get to visit this famous site. I just love the very old trees on the site, Monterey Pines.
July – I am back on the Bonsai trail, checking out the styles of Bonsai in Vietnam. I was most impressed. Met some very wonderful people who were only too happy to share their time with us. The demonstrations interesting and I met a few more of my heroes.
We also went into Cambodia to see the Fig trees that are growing all over the ancient temples of San Reap. There is a dilemma for the authorities over there as to whether the figs are destroying the buildings or holding them up as they crumble with age. They are a great draw card for tourism.
September - Guangzhou, China. Conference with over 200 Bonsai on display. The demonstrators were working a Juniper Shimpaku stock some 200 – 300 years old. Not going to see that here!! I don’t think you could go wrong with this stock!
We went on to the opening of a grand building – Museum for Suiseki in Alashan, Inner Mongolia. Seriously some of the stones on display were a big as a small car. It was a very grand affair and I must admit that I was ‘gob-smacked’. I have never seen so many beautiful stones. Most come from this region and the variety was amazing.
The desert was beautiful as were the people. Wonderful, very friendly and just loved to have their photos taken with our hairy men and blonde women. Westerners are still not that common in this part of the world. I could ramble on for pages on this part of the trip.
That year saw us having private holidays in Europe (nope, not a Bonsai in sight). Ops, forgot that there was one on a roof top restaurant garden. Hard to believe I know but Selby has always had an interest in Athens, Greece, Turkey, ancient ruins etc.
Venice and the Dolomite mountains behind was a plus for me. Leaving Venice on a cruise ship with Pavaroti (tenors) playing over the speakers and you stand on the top deck staring down at the churches below (18 stories up on the top deck) was a very moving experience.
Another OMG experience but different from Alaska.
Tess Simpson and Bill Valavanis (USA) working on a stunning old Juniper (30cm high) November 2013
Bill had the following to say about us:
“We took a visit to Northside Bonsai an excellent and clean bonsai nursery run by Tess and Selby Simpson with a wide variety of plants and pots too. I’ve visited the nursery before and selected the great Seiju elms used for the 2009 convention where they were used for my demonstration. Their nursery continues to shine and has loads of good bonsai for bonsai enthusiasts as well as a large assortment of trees for the general public to start them off on the wonderful world of bonsai. One of their large bougainvilleas, small for Chinese standards, was just beginning to come in blossom. Tess showed me some interesting new plants she is propagating for future introductions.”
Tess back in Alaska in 2013. I just love the place
I have to share the following picture. It is of islands just off the coast of Valdez. A sight for Bonsai eyes. Nature is truly wonderful!!
Just who is watching who here??
BCI World Conference in Denver, Colorado USA June 2012
Selby and I attended the world conference and had the pleasure of watching some truly inspiring Bonsai Artist at work.
Dan Robinson did some marvellous carving work on some collect trees.
The tree in question was dated at about 600 years old.
Marc Noelander drew this picture then created this Bonsai. I have never seen such an accurate pre drawing of how the tree will be styled into a Bonsai. He definitely has my admiration of his talent.
Ryan Neil, another talented artist tutored a workshop with students working on Mountain Junipers.
All of the collected specimens were rehabilitated for 12 to 18 months prior to this workshop.
Selby and I (Tess) attended the official of the Bonsai Area inside the Denver Botanical Gardens.
As you can see from the photos, they have a wonderful Japanese Garden, some of the trees are about 600 years old and came from Japan.
Did you see the squirrel on the rock? We weren’t the only visitors to the garden!!!
Rocky Mountains in Colorado
We went exploring into the mountains, looking for old pines, Colorado spruce and Bristlecone pines.
The Jin and Shari work done by nature was fabulous to see. Never saw a bear though!! Found out that is why the guides wore bells – to frighten bears away from us and it also lets them know that we are near so they are not startled!!!
CHINA 2010 – Bonsai Clubs International Tour
This is a Podocarpus or common name, Budda Pine. A stunning species that I feel most Australians overlook particularly when they grow so well here in Queensland. It fruits here in Brisbane and has attractive small bluish fruits.