Ever since I developed an interest in bonsai I’ve always had a predisposition toward native trees, or perhaps more precisely trees that grow naturally around me. Having grown up in a rural area of Northern California I was surrounded by beautiful Oaks, Redwoods, Bay and Cypress. The problem I immediately ran into when starting out in bonsai in 2002 was that almost everyone used Japanese, Chinese and nursery varieties, not varieties native to California. At first I found this to be extremely odd, until I learned the simple explanation behind it.
The lack of knowledge of native species around me has been an ongoing source of frustration for over ten years. In that time I have come across some people who are using native species in quite beautiful ways. When I was a beginner, Tim Kong showed me dozens of Redwoods and Oaks in his yard that he collected from the Santa Cruz mountains. In 2005, while doing some investigating of both Monterey Pine and Monterey Cypress techniques, I ran across a reference to the Monterey bonsai club in an old issue of Golden Statements. I visited the yard of Katsumi Kinoshita, the long-time sensei for the Monterey club. Not only was doing natives, but he was doing them quite well in a style that matched the trees around him. I also visited the Monterey annual show a couple times to see his trees and those of other members.
Monterey is a really beautiful place, I appreciate it for the native stands of Monterey pine, the nice Coast Live Oaks and above all the native stands of Monterey Cypress that are along the coast in town and at Point Lobos State Reserve. Here then a gallery of images of Monterey Cypress, both bonsai and full-size tree.