Ben Oki's famous Chinese hackberry (Celtis sinensis). Mr Oki donated it to the Pacific Bonsai Museum where it now resides and stands as one of the crown jewels in this amazing collection.
RIP Ben Oki, respected and loved American Bonsai pioneer, teacher and friend to countless bonsai enthusiasts. Here’s part of a post on from Verso, the blog of the Huntington Botanical Gardens where Mr Oki was curator of the bonsai collection (written before Ben Oki’s passing)… “When Ben Oki first saw a bonsai tree as a curious youngster of six, he asked his father what bonsai was. “It’s something people do when they retire,” his father explained. Luckily for the world of horticulture, Oki didn’t wait that long to start.
“The curator of the bonsai collection at The Huntington, Oki is one of the world’s leading masters of the art of bonsai. Trained under the tutelage of legendary master John Naka, Oki has devoted more than four decades to the art and has received so many honors as a teacher himself that several prestigious awards bear his name, including the Ben Oki International Design Award sponsored by the Bonsai Clubs International…” Here’s the rest of the article
Here’s something Ted Matson a bonsai artist and student of Ben Oki wrote… “Sorry to announce the passing of Ben Oki this Friday from a heart attack. We lost a great American bonsai master who faithfully served in the shadow of his sensei, John Naka, but was a top artist in his own right with a sense of style and technical skill that made huge impact in more ways than we all realize. I know that he was very influential in my bonsai career and it’s a personal honor to help carry on his legacy at The Huntington.”