December 16th, 2006, 06:57 AM
Chikugo-En Bonsai Nursery
One of my favorite bonsai nurseries in the L.A. area.
18110 S. Western Avenue
Gardena, CA 90248
You can actually read about them in Bonsai Today #75 (there is a feature article there). First, everyone is VERY nice. Each time I have been there Mas and Gary and their two wives have been working in/around the store and they have always been helpful and full of smiles. Second, they have a great supply of pre-bonsai material. I can't always afford a finished bonsai, and it is nice to have great material to choose from that costs perhaps 50% less than if it were wired and transplanted in a pot. Third, Mas has an entire table of his personal bonsai on display, so you can examine some of his work and get inspired (even though it is not for sale). Fourth, they have some great finished bonsai for sale - including San Jose Juniper completely grafted with Shimpaku branches. Finally, they have monthly classes that are informal and fun - one of the few places in L.A. where you can still sit down with the store owners and study bonsai.
There are other reasons why I can recommend this nursery, but they are personal and I would rather not share. Suffice it to say that they are honest and trusting - and assume customers to be likewise until proven otherwise. It is a great quality to find in California.
December 16th, 2006, 12:10 PM
I was able to get some very promising serrisa there at a reasonable price... RIP.
June 3rd, 2008, 07:33 AM
I'm from NC and was visiting family in CA and couldn't pass up the opportunity to visit some bonsai nurseries during my visit.
After a few U-Turns I made it to Chikugo-En. I stopped in at Sunflower garden nursery assuming I had found Chikugo-En. They graciously directed me to Chikugo-En about a block up and on the opposite side of the street.
I met Gary and during our conversation I explained I was from NC and was a member of the Triangle Bonsai Society. Gary immediately responded with the name of one of our senior members whom he said he's known for years through conventions etc... The Bonsai world is small indeed. We spoke at length and he welcomed me to tour the nursery. They have pre-bonsai as well as some awesome finished bonsai. I could have stayed all day. The nursery is pretty small, but they make use of every square inch. If you're in CA this is a must see. Gary is a gentlemen.
June 3rd, 2008, 09:16 AM
June 3rd, 2008, 09:59 AM
Absolutely one of my favorite bonsai nurseries I have been to so far. I called and got directions from Gary and besides a trip thru Compton (insert west coast gang signs here) it was simple to find. Gary was a gracious host for sure and I met Mas and his wife (I'm sorry but I do not recall her name). I could go on and on and on and on about the material in the regular area. Top quality to say the least. I bet Gary told me something about every tree there, I had so many questions and he had a polite and informing answer for each of them. I did pick up some material.
Be warned it's cash only - no plastic. I am not a big fan of cash but luck has it there is a bank with ATM one block from the nursery. I was so excited I walked to the bank, popped in my card in the slot and proceeded with the transaction... until Bank of America fraud protection kicked in and froze my account! A couple of calls and I was back to the nursery with cash.
I'm still at awe when I look at the junipers I brought back. The grafting is impeccable. This is a must see place in the LA area for sure.
June 3rd, 2008, 10:06 PM
Oh Graydon - did you buy one of their grafted California junipers? They are amazing! But I thought the price was also amazing?
Originally Posted by Graydon
December 20th, 2008, 07:25 AM
Just visited the Ishii's yesterday. Every visit is a treat. I am sure there are a ton of nice bonsai people out there, and the Ishii's rate in the top 1%. Every time I visit I just want to buy something because they are so nice. Also their bonsai are EXCELLENT
Picked up a kishu shimpaku that had been grafted on San Jose juniper root stock about 15-20 years ago and has been container grown since. Also picked up a JBP cork variety (small one). You can't touch the quality for the price. They have really nice starter trees for 50 bucks (my cork pine cost $58). At the same time, they have some of the nicest bonsai in any collection in Southern California - and are the kings of technically advanced trees like California junipers with shimpaku branch grafts, etc.
No kotobuki pines at this time (they are sold out) but Gary says they are going to bring some more out next year. They had a ton of the kishu's, and were selling kishu shimpaku "twists" for $30 - $40. Also, if you are a good customer, this is the time of year when they hand out their calendars
December 20th, 2008, 07:32 AM
I have a philosophy why bonsai people are nice but it's long and boring. I tried once and the response was that I was over-medicated and drinking at the same time. Lets see some pics please esp of those high tech grafts!
December 20th, 2008, 08:13 AM
There is nothing to see of the grafts. Even the Ishii's themselves have trouble sometimes finding the grafts They just know that 100% of their kishu that come from a certain group are san jose grafts. The Ishii's are the kings of grafting. Even their white pine grafts on black pine stock are extremely good - and these are in my opinion the hardest grafts to pull off convincingly.
There was some question in another thread about the difference between different shimpaku varieties. I hesitate to definitively state how one is different from the other since in my experience junipers can change growth habit based on environment - particularly if comparing a juniper grown in full sun and heat in the SW versus a juni kept in a temperate zone. Here is the kishu next to a "standard" shimpaku that is in a similar state of roughness. The kishu is a much brighter green. I would also say that the growth is more tightly compact, though it is difficult to see in these photos since both trees have not been pinched in a long time. It is cold and wet here - my standard shimpakus only look "silvery" like this in the winter. I would normally describe their foilage as "dark green". (First photo is without flash, second photo is with flash)
December 23rd, 2008, 07:48 AM
Now I regret coming back to California this year. I could spend hours at this nursery just looking at the trees. Nice stuff Mr. Nut!