My name is Mark Fields. My
passion for bonsai began at about age 9.
I was born in 1959 and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. My dad was a landscape contractor, as I am
today. He used to purchase and dig
nursery stock from a nursery, Line's Nursery, down the street from where we
lived. Occasionally, I would go with him
and was wandering around the nursery one day and found some little mugho pines
that the nursery owner had lined out and was training in the ground. I asked the owner, Mr. Line, what he was doing
with them and he said that he was training them as bonsai. I began asking him
more about them and visited him more often.
A few days later he loaned me two books he owned from the Brooklyn
Botanic Garden, "Handbook
on Bonsai: Special Techniques" and "Handbook on Dwarfed Potted
Trees, The Bonsai of Japan" and
told me that I would learn more if I read them. He showed me how to start and grow plants from
cuttings, how to prune properly and other skills I would practice as I grew
older. He passed away in the early
My dad used to bring home shrubs in the back of his truck which were removed
from a job and discarded. When I saw an
interesting looking trunk or shape I would remove it from the truck and pot it
up. Most would die within days, some
would survive for at least that years growing season. It was great practice and I learned a lot.
When I married and moved out of my parent’s house into a double in 1979 I moved
my bonsai there. The neighbor next door
noticed that I was growing bonsai and told me his father-in-law used to do
bonsai. He went back to his house and
got his wife and introduced me. I told
her the story about how her father got me started in bonsai and that he had
loaned me his two Brooklyn Botanic Garden handbooks more than a decade before. She told me to wait a minute and went back
into the house. A few minutes later she
brought out those very same books and told me to keep them. I was stunned.
They are now a part of my book collection and I still use them as a
reference to this day.
About that same time I discovered a bonsai nursery on the
southeast side of Indy called Mendel Gardens. There I began a relationship with the owner,
Max Mendel. He sold starter trees,
supplies, offered free advice and critiqued my trees when I asked him to. He became my second mentor and taught me much
of what I know about bonsai today. I
called him the father of bonsai in Indiana.
I spent many weekends wandering around his nursery. He introduced me to the Indianapolis Bonsai
Club, which I joined. I have been a
member of that organization since 1979 and was president from 2009 - 2012. Max passed away in the mid 1990's and I bought
a few of his trees and his personal set of Masakuni tools which I
In October of 2004 I traveled to Europe where I met and befriended
Danny Use and his wife Ingrid at their Ginkgo Bonsai Center in Laarne, Belgium.
I went back there in October 2005 and worked for Danny a couple days.
I talked them into traveling to the US in June of 2008 to headline the
Mid-America Bonsai Alliance in Indianapolis, their first time here in the US.
They invited me to their nursery in April of 2009 where I spent 2 weeks
straight working side by side with Danny on many of his world class bonsai
specimens. It was truly an amazing experience and I learned so much. I am a much better bonsai artist because of
I worked for a major pharmaceutical company here in Indy from 1980
– 2010. I also owned and operated my own
landscape business, Fields Landscape Concepts, LLC, which I founded in 1983 and
closed in 2006. As part of the landscape
business I sold bonsai, pre-bonsai and supplies to club members and fellow
enthusiasts since the early 1980's. In
2011, with a gentle push from friends such as bonsai artist and author, Craig
Coussins, and bonsai artist Warren Hill, I founded my own School of
I am married, for the second time, with 2 grown children from my
first marriage and a granddaughter and a grandson. My wife Allison delivered
twins, a boy and a girl, in November 2007.
So I am experiencing sort of a second life so to speak.
With the twins coming along, I was looking for something to do at
home rather than being gone every evening landscaping. In 2006, with some prompting from my wife and
IBC club members, I decided to start a website and open a new business, Bonsai
by Fields, LLC. I perform
demonstrations, lectures and workshops using a wide variety of trees. I also vend at a few major exhibitions
throughout the US.
I recently updated a list of bonsai artists I have either seen in
demonstrations, lectures and workshops.
They total more than 60 at this point.
Names such as the great John Naka, Mas Ishi, Yuji Yoshimura, Danny Use, Ryan Neil,
Masahiko Kimura and Bjorn Bjorholm are among them.
In the fall of 2013, I finally realized a dream I have always had
of travelling to Japan to visit some of the bonsai nurseries there. I was also able to see one of the major
exhibitions there, the Taikan-ten, held in November in the city of Kyoto.
I hope you like what you see here. If you have any questions feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org