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Phil Tacktill

Sub-Region: Southern California Coastal, Inland
State: California
Business: Teacher, Author, Lecturer - Jiu San Bonsai West

Biographical Information

My Background is a widely varied one: an Industrial engineer, a Hopital Administrator and Representative of the Managers of the New York City as well as owner/artist/sensei of Jiu San Bonsai Studio. I have a tree on display in the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. as well as Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, Brooklyn N.Y. Photographs of my Bonsai trees have appeared in various Bonsai publications numerous times as well as New York Times, Newsday. Has been a featured guest on several major TV stations. I have been a lecturer on Bonsai throughout the United States.

Please tell us briefly about your favorite cause/business/product in which you are involved that you would like to share with the general public and why.
I have been using several products that work well for me, but are not readily put to use by gardeners. They are: Superthrive, Cloud Cover (Wilt Pruf) and magnetic treatment of my water. I do not have any financial interests in any of these products.

Where can members get more of your advice?
At the meetings I attend, over the internet, or viewing my videotapes.

Background Information Briefly describe the climate where you garden now (climate zone, state, area) and any other areas where you have gardened in the past.
Zone 10, Mediterranean, coastal climate. I gardened on Long Island, New York for 50 years.

How long have you been gardening?
I have been gardening for 50 years.

What triggered your interest?
I am not aware of anyone inspiring my interest in gardening until I bought a home and discovered that grass did not grow naturally, that it had to be seeded.

What is your specialty, expertise or claim to fame?
Bonsai - all forms. I pride myself on my ability to simplify the creation and care of Bonsai, making it easier for people to enjoy the art form without the frustrations.

What formal education do you have?

 Phil's Plant Recommendations

Japanese Art of Miniature Trees and Landscapes
He was my Bonsai sensei.

Japanese Homes and Their Surroundings
This is my BIBLE for any construction work in my home and my garden.

Bonsai Techniques One
He was also one of my sensei.

  Phil's Favorite Websites

What formal horticultural training do you have?
Studying with many of the Bonsai masters over these many years.

What is your favorite garden or plant-related topic? Tell us a little about them.
Bonsai and Saikei. Bonsai is the art of dwarfing and maintaining trees in containers, etc. Suiseki is the art of appreciating rock. Both require using one's imagination.

What is your biggest gardening pet peeve? Tell us about it.
Not having enough time!

How much time per week do you spend gardening?
Not enough - there are too many things that have to be done before I can give it my complete attention.

How much time per week do you spend working at the business of gardening, such as consulting, reading, writing or talking about your gardening subject?
Retired - but, accumulating material for a book.

What gardening or horticultural clubs, societies, or organizations (or any other interest) do you belong to?
Bonsai Society of Greater New York (past president), Bonsai Clubs International, Golden State Bonsai Federation, California Bonsai Society, San Diego Bonsai Society, San Pu Kai, San Diego Horticultural Society, Cacti and Succulent Society, TLC, Ishi Atama (Rock Appreciation), Rare Fruit Growers San Diego, Quail Botanical Gardens., National Arboretum, Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.

What other biographical information would you like to share?

Gardening Questions

What do you like most about gardening?
I find it very therapeutic, as it relaxes me and stirs my imagination, unleashing my creative drive.

What do you dislike most about gardening?
Nothing - it is wonderful. It has its losses and its gains, which is the wonderment of LIFE.

What individual has influenced your gardening interest the most? How?
What stimulation my interest in gardening, and specifically Bonsai, were three people: Yuji Yoshimura, Frand Okamura and Joan Defire. These three people, relatively unknown, produced their art for the beauty, not for their ego, and opened my eyes to see and try to capture that beauty.

What is your favorite place or activity in the garden?
Gardening in it's entirety.

What is your favorite time in the garden?

What is your favorite public or private garden in the world? Why?
Ritsurin Park, Takamatsu, Japan.

What is your favorite color in the garden?

If you could grow only one plant, what would it be?
Pine - because of it's consistency of color, which is reassuring and comforting.

What plant have you tried to grow that has given you the most trouble? Or, what plant would you like to grow and can't, and why?
Acer palmatum. Between the Santa Anas and the very poor quality water here in Southern California, I cannot grow them.

What is your favorite gardening outfit or costume?
Worn T-shirt and dunfarees and work shoes.

Do you have a gardening philosophy you would like to share with other gardeners? What is it?
To enjoy - gardening should be an adventure which represents the gardeners personality and loves.

Who is your own favorite gardening personality on TV, radio or in print? Why?
Tom Piergrossi.

What is the one question about gardening you would really like people to ask you?
What should I do?

And what's the answer?
Try! Try! Try! Failure is just one step in learning.

What is a garden myth you hear frequently which you know is untrue?
People recite 'Rules'.

And, what is the reality?
The reality is, Bonsai and gardening can be an art form, and the best one can hope for is guidelines.

What group or kind of person do you think would benefit most from the advice you can give on gardening?
Everyone can learn from what I have to offer, especially the people that are intimidated.

Would you like to participate, or can you recommend someone who you think should? We're always looking for more expert gardeners to tell about their philosophies and give their plant recommendations contact us and we'll get started.

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