The Bonsai Conservatory


TBC_TreeThe Bonsai Conservatory 盆栽 温室 was established by Stephen Casmar in 1986 to share both the horticultural and artistic aspects of bonsai art with others. Stephen has been studying and enjoying bonsai for over 30 years. H e spent more than 3 - 1 / 2 years as a full-time apprentice 徒弟, studying Bonsai and Japanese Gardening under the famous artist, Susumu Nakamura , at the Shonan School of Bonsai in Yokohama , Japan . During his nine years in Japan Stephen also studied bonsai horticulture and propagation techniques under Hiroyoshi Yamaji at Sanshoen Bonsai Export in Shikoku Japan; Grass Plantings, (Kusamono), with Keiko Yamane in Tokyo, Japan, and also achieved an advanced certificate in the Ohara School of Ikebana.

H is start in this art field came in the unlikely gift of a bonsai tree from his wife, Polly while they were living in Rochester , NY . To learn how to care for this tree Stephen began studying bonsai with Bill Valavanis at the International Bonsai Arboretum in Rochester, NY. Stephen established The Bonsai Conservatory a few years later after moving to Cleveland , OH. Modeling his business after his mentor Bill Valavanis, Stephen focused on bonsai education, offering classes and workshops at his own studio as well as the Cleveland Botanical Garden. At about this time Stephen met Hiro Yamaji at Chase Rosade’s Bonsai Studio and Hiro suggested that Stephen pursue full-time study in Japan.
A few years after talking with Hiro the opportunity
to study as a full-time apprentice in Japan came and he and his wife moved to Japan , where they remained for the next nine years. After nearly four years of work as a full-time apprentice under Susumu Nakamura , Stephen opened his own bonsai business in Japan and exported trees, containers and tools throughout the world for 5 - 1 / 2 years.

During that time he had the good fortune of interacting with many of the leaders in the field such as Kawasumi Masakuni, of Masakuni Bonsai Tools, Saburo and Hideo Kato, Kiyoshi Yamagami, Susumo Sudo and many others. He has written articles for Mini-World Magazine in Japan, photographed numerous bonsai exhibitions including Koku-Fu for International Bonsai Magazine and was the subject of a one hour NHK (Japan’s PBS) documentary (The show can be viewed below - remember this was 1990!!) about Bonsai. Stephen has also exhibited trees at competitions in the US and Japan and has been a full member of the Nippon Bonsai Association since 1987.

A move back to the US in 1998 led to Stephen pursuing bonsai as a hobbyist, consulting with other bonsai enthusiasts and continuing his bonsai study by maintaining close contact with other bonsai professionals. H e continues to freely share his techniques and knowledge of the art with others. Stephen’s collection includes several trained bonsai masterpieces that he has been refining for about 25 years, after collecting them in the wild. He also has other bonsai in training as well as bonsai tools for sale. He no longer maintains an open garden or studio. You may contact him by email at:

Individual Design Workshops

If you are an advanced hobbyist with a tree you wish to refine or redesign, an individual workshop with Stephen may be for you. Using his thirty years of experience in teaching and cultivating bonsai he will share his techniques and knowledge to help you redefine your tree and develop a plan for your future bonsai design. You will work one-on-one with Stephen to improve the quality of your tree while increasing your knowledge and skills.

Advanced tools are available to help with your shaping techniques. These include the Lancelot angle-grinder chain saw, conventional chain saw, large tools (3-foot) including: concave pruner, spherical knob cutter, branch splitter, and root cutter, AutoMach Japanese rotary shaping tool and electric chisel, and more. Additionally, all standard tools including jin carvers are also available.

Registration is on an individual basis please email Stephen if interested. The cost of the workshop is $75.00 per hour with a two hour minimum.

The top movie is the section of the NHK program where Stephen is interviewed with Hiro Yamaji. The bottom movie is the entire NHK Bonsai segment.


The movies are a bit large but should start streaming fairly quickly.