SABA May 2017 Newsletter

May 24, 2017

The 8th World Bonsai Convention in Saitama City in Japan from 28 April to 30 April was a great showcase for South African bonsai.

Hannes Fritz and his team – Denise Cain and Gary Howes – did us all proud with an excellent demonstration. Though their nerves must have been tingling – imagine working on a tree from Masahiko Kimura in front of hundreds of people! ­– but they were very professional.

Hannes also did a talk on African styles which went down very well with the audience. Do not be surprised if more overseas countries invite our artists for talks…. They did so well I wanted to jump on stage when they raised the South African flag!

Congratulations to the team and well done. I will try to write something on the convention (We will hold you to it - Ed) soon but I hope you all followed it on social media.

Congratulations also to Jonathan Cain, President of the African Bonsai Association (ABA), for being elected as secretary (Congratulations, Jonathan, - Ed) for the next four years of the World Bonsai Friendship Federation. It is a big honour and an acknowledgement of the great work he has been doing in the region.

We have a lot to cover in the newsletter and I am going to try to be as brief as possible.

International consultants

The term of the three international consultants for WBFF in Africa has come to an end and we are looking for new ones. The previous three were Lynne Theodorou (South Africa),  Neli Stoyanova ( Zambia) and Xavier de Lapeyre (Mauritius).

Jonathan has asked for nominations or volunteers to serve as consultants for the World Bonsai Friendship Federation (WBFF). Here is a brief summary of what is expected of them.

“International Consultants to WBFF to assist in carrying out WBFF’s objectives, each with a term coterminous with the term of the Chairman of the Board who either initially appoints the International Consultant or invites the International Consultant to remain in office. The primary goal of each International Consultant shall be to promote the art of bonsai in a manner that will advance international friendship and goodwill, in accordance with the objectives of WBFF.  As International Consultants will bring different talents and attributes to WBFF, each should use his or her talents and attributes in the best way possible to carry out WBFF’s objectives.  Some International Consultants may be skilled communicators who can explain WBFF’s mission to those unfamiliar with WBFF.  Others may hold (or have held) important positions, either in the bonsai community or otherwise, that enable them to strengthen WBFF or its regional members.  Others may be good negotiators who can build necessary bridges between different bonsai groups, again to strengthen WBFF or its regional members.  Others may be proficient in raising funds for WBFF or may themselves be financially able to give money to WBFF to help finance its activities and programs.”


Please send properly motivated nominations before 31 May to As soon as the nominations are in the SABA Exco will discuss them and make a recommendation to ABA.


 SABA convention in PE


Robbie de Witt and his team have been working very hard to organise the convention which you all know by now takes place from 16 to 19 November in Port Elizabeth.

Remember the early bird discount ends 31st May! We’ve had a good number of people registering early but would like some more. Why, o why do people wait until the very end to register when they can do it early and make the organisers life so much easier. Come on boys and girls, wake up!

The mayor of PE has also agreed to open the convention, the goodie bags are organised and the demonstrators are ready to go.


Autumn festival

Katrivier Kai is hosting the 3rd Annual Autumn Bonsai Festival with Harry Harrington, a professional bonsai artist, teacher and lecturer from England. This takes place from 16 to 18 June in George and is an opportunity not to be missed.

Those who’ve attend the previous autumn festivals will attest to the quality of the presentations and the wonderful show the club puts up.

Harry started bonsai as a hobby nearly 20 years ago whilst working as a gardener, and started working professionally as a bonsai artist and writer in 2000 after a back injury. His website starting life as a collection of private notes about Bonsai that were published as ‘Species Guides’ in 2001; the first comprehensive study of plant species suitable for Bonsai available online. Since that time bonsai4me has grown on an annual basis and now attracts over 1.5 million different visitors each year from around the world.

For more information on the festival and how to register, please go the club’s website.


We have really improved our communication thanks to Caroll Herman who is doing swimmingly with the website.

From time to time we get requests from people who start different groups to do it under the SABA banner. Remember if it is not under the SABA banner, it is not official. We will discuss a Whatsapp group at the convention in PE but at the moment feel no need for it as we have a Facebook page and a website.

A lot of the time people want to start their own groups for commercial purposes. SABA can and will not endorse any specific group or individual and will try to run our affairs as objectively and independently as possible for the good of bonsai and registered members.

The Facebook page has broken through the 1 000 mark of members and is lively. There has been some complaints that we allow to many overseas posts. We monitor them and delete those that we think do not attribute to our pool of knowledge. If there are others you don’t like please inform us.

Caroll has supplied the following stats about the website that makes for interesting reading.

  1.  1098 visitors with 81% new visitors and 19% returning visitors.

  2. Web is being used by 18 – 25 and 25 – 34 age group the most

  3. Most visitors come from the following countries:

    1. USA (b) UK (c)Japan.

  4. Most visitors from the following cities:

    1. Sandton:          = 17%

    2. Saitama:         = 5%

  5. Most visitors spend between 10 minutes and 30 minutes on the site.

  6. Most popular “landing” page (the first page users go to) and Time Spent on page, is the

    1. Gallery            = 23 %                         0:15 sec

    2. Clubs               = 15%                          2:50 sec

    3. Vendor            = 14%                          2:59 sec                

    4. Photo Comp    = 13%                          1:37 sec

    5. Events             = 11%                          3:27 sec

    6. News               = 10%                          0:31 sec

  7. On the Blog page, the most popular story by far, was the Rudi Adams Collection announcement & Rudi Adams story

  8. People end up on web through:

    1. Facebook:                    44%

    2. Google search:            33%

    3. Straight:                      17%

    4. Link back:                    6%

  9. 3 individuals signed up with SABA

  10. 3 requests for club info

  11. 32 followers (get notified when there is new news on the web)

  12. The “live” streaming of Hannes Fritz demo was followed by up to 43 at times.

  13. There was 0% page drops or “problems” since start of new web – thanks to Hetzner.

  14. Clubs who keep me up to date are to be thanked.  Quite a few have emailed with new contacts.

  15. Plan of Action:

    1. Get more clubs to promote the website on their newsletters and websites.

    2. Educate people to sign up.

    3. Actively punt for articles for the blog/write more articles.

    4. Get more input from clubs.

    5. Create more link-backs.

    6. Encourage clubs to advertise on “Vendors” page as the high percentage interest in it (14%) indicates there is a need.  We must decide if we can run a “free” trial for 6 – 12 months.