An Appreciation for Monterey Cypress

An Appreciation for Monterey Cypress

California natives Monterey Cypress

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 - a general lack of knowledge of native species.

Over the past ten-plus years, I've felt an ongoing sense of frustration by this knowledge gap. Thankfully, 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 he 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 Cypress bonsai by Katsumi Kinoshita, started around 1950.

I appreciate the beauty of Monterey 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 Natural Reserve. Here then a gallery of images of Monterey Cypress, both bonsai and full-size tree.


If you're as fascinated with California natives as I am, especially with those in Monterey and the coast, let me know in the comments! 

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  • JF Simpson on

    I live in San Francisco and would like to buy a pre bonsai Monterey Cypress specimen.

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