Cork Bark Oak – A Brief History

Gene Lynch is a Veterinarian by career and bonsai hobbyist by love of trees and the Japanese art form. Gene is a founding member of the Redwood Empire Bonsai Society (REBS), Santa Rosa, California, which was established in 1981. However, Gene was much involved in bonsai long before REBS. In 1966, he collected acorns from the public street in Novato, California. The acorns came from wonderful Cork Bark Oaks (Quercus suber) that lined the street. Gene took the acorns to his home in Petaluma, California and planted them. This was the start of several specimen bonsais.

In November 2020, Gene announced “Unfortunately, I am not longer able to care for the bonsai trees in my collection. I have nearly 80 trees, many of which are show quality. Among the trees that I will be selling are collected junipers, oaks, grove plantings, and many other trees both deciduous and evergreen. Trees will be shown by appointment only.” And, the sale of Gene’s bonsai collection began immediately afterwards.

One of Gene’s Cork Bark Oaks was labeled “NFS” (Not for Sale) and earmarked for donation to the Golden State Bonsai Federation (GSBF) Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt (BGLM), in Oakland, California.

This particular oak was selected by the BGLM curator Kathy Shaner to be a permanent part of the bonsai garden collection. The bonsai is small to medium in size. Its trunk is twisted with lots of movement for its size. The cork bark is thick and pronounced. Its canopy well shaped and styled. It is a powerful, very masculine bonsai.

In the winter of 1989 – 1990, the freeze in Petaluma lasted two weeks. All but one little branch died as a result. It sprouted out of what remained of the trunk. Gene trained a new top from the upper most sprouts. Gene did most of the styling to the Cork Bark Oak.

On December 4, 2020, Gene said final good bye to his Cork Bark Oak. The bonsai was delivered to the BGLM the same date. Upon arrival, Kathy Shaner, Director Gordon Deeg and Volunteer Bob Gould marveled at the Cork Bark Oak. The bonsai will undergo examination by Kathy, added to the collection’s inventory and placed in a prominent display site. It will be repotted in early spring and likely be given a new, distinctive pot.

Further information about BGLM can be found at its website  Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt – Museum of masterpiece bonsai. (

Gene Lynch and his Cork Bark Oak, December 4, 2020, Petaluma, CA, U.S.A.
Photo by Laurel Lynch

My Bonsai Show

By Jim Scholz

I invited my two brothers and two sisters to this year’s Redwood Empire Bonsai Society (REBS) Bonsai Show. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, our annual show was cancelled. I was very disappointed because my trees were in good shape and I was looking forward to getting together with my brothers and sisters. So, I decided that I was going to have my own bonsai show.

(L to R) Shohin: Black Pine, Oak, Black Pine, Shimpaku Juniper;
San Jose Juniper, Root Over Rock Elm
(L to R) Juniper, Sierra Juniper, Austrian Black Pine

I rented a room with an outdoor patio at the Flamingo Hotel in Santa Rosa, California for August 23, 2020, the same date our cancelled show was scheduled. When Susanne and I arrived at the hotel I requested two 6-foot tables to be placed on our outdoor patio. I covered them with a couple of white sheets and arranged my stands and trees on the tables.

My family was impressed with the display. I said a few words about the history and style of the trees, and they decided they would vote for their favorites. Best of Show went to my root over rock elm, second was my large Austrian black pine that I have owned for over 30 years. Third was my Sierra juniper that was collected by Ned Lycett from the California Sierras. Then they asked which was my favorite and I seriously had to admit that I love them all. We had a good time and I felt like I had a successful bonsai show.

Root Over Rock Elm – First Place (3 years in training)
Austrian Black Pine – Second Place (6 years in training)
Sierra Juniper – Third Place (3 years in training)

2020 REBS (Virtual) Show

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions on in person gatherings, the REBS annual August 2020 Show was cancelled. The following back yard images are member bonsai. These bonsai are representative of the trees that would have been shown in the annual show.

Tiger Bark Ficus
Ficus microcarpa 
In training: 15 years
Olea europaea
In training: 5 years
Korean Hornbeam
Carpinus coreana
In training: 25 years
Ginkgo biloba 
10 years in training
10 years in training
California pepper
Schinus molle
60 years in training
Corkbark Elm
Ulmus parvifolia ‘Cork Bark’
20 years in training
5 years in training
Garden Juniper
Juniperus procumbens nana
20 years in training
Japanese Maple
Acer palmatum
20 years in training
5 years in training
Coastal Redwood Grove
Sequoia sempervirens
20 Years in training

Trident maple
Acer buergerianum
12 years in training
Crab Apple
Kusamono Accent Plant

Trident Maple
Acer buergeranum
22 years in training
Dwarf Pomegranate
Punica granatum nana
5 years in training
Coastal Redwood
Sequoia sempervirens
25 years in training
Contorted Hawthorn
Crataegus monogyna ‘Snakethorn’
4 years in training
Fern Accent Plant
Chinese Elm
Ulmus chinensis parvifolia
9 years in training
San Jose Juniper
Juniperus chinensis ‘San Jose’
25 years in training
Pygmy Cypress
Cupressus pygmaea
10 years in training
Cork Bark Oak
Quercus suber
In training for 36 years
San Jose Juniper
Juniperus chinensis ‘San Jose’
In training 27 years
In training 32 years
Utah Juniper
Juniperus osteosperma
In training 36 years
Japanese Maple
Acer palmatum
In training 47 years
Sierra Juniper
Juniperus occidentalis
In training 31 years
Grass Accent Plant
Japanese Black Pine
Pinus thunbergiana
40 years
Japanese Maple Kiyo Hime
Acer palmatum ‘Kiyo Hime’
40 years
Olea europaea
8 years in training
California Coast Live Oak
Quercus agrifolia
Burning Bush
10 years in training
Japanese Maple Laceleaf
Acer palmatum var. dissectum
12 years in training

A special thank you to the REBS members who contributed their bonsai images above.

Craig Thompson
Michael Murtaugh
Bob Shimon
Gene Lynch
Garth Gordon Hoka
Nancy Schramm
Ivan Luckrich
Alan Murakami
George Haas

Next year’s annual show hopefully will be the fourth weekend, 28 & 29 August 2021 at the Veteran’s Memorial Building, Santa Rosa, California.

REBS Virtual Show

Since our annual August show was cancelled due to Covid-19 outbreak and current stay at home restrictions, REBS members are encouraged to share their work on preparing to show trees during the medical crisis.

Here are some examples of bonsai that may have been shown if the August show took place:

Once a number of show trees are submitted, there will be a slideshow posted to the REBS web site.

REBS members should submit their show tree images as jpeg, high resolution 300 ppi, to the Web Site Manager at Identify the species and list the number of years in training.