Welcome to Peter Adams

Kate and Peter Adams

Kate and Peter Adams

by Cheryl Petty -- February 2, 2009K


Peter and Kate Adams have re-located to Washington State from England where he established a rich career, combining fine arts with bonsai and horticulture. He says he tries to emulate the tea master by being understated and helpful while guiding many successful international students and making many beautiful trees over the years.

One thing led to another, and he moved to the West Coast. He vowed to never collect more trees, and instead to concentrate on easel painting. But then he was given gifts of trees about eight years ago which started him building his collection now to around 30 (or 70 if you ask his wife Kate) or so trees.

The decade hiatus was a watershed for this talented and productive man who now has a renewed manic enthusiasm and he feels like a novice again, this time in love with the small tree. Before he had heros of trees, but now his interest is in the 10-16-inch size Chuhin style which he works on with Kate.

Kate Adams’ has a fine new book out Bonsai Easy Steps with 21 Species with illustrations by Peter. Peter has written numerous fine books, most recently Shaping Maples. You can visit Adams at his website


Adams was selected out of several thousand applicants to the prestigious Royal Academy in the 1950’s and was a contemporary of many fine artists such as David Hockney. His talent took him from portrait painting to advertising and to television where he made an animated film about bonsai. He was an illustrator for the army when he started making plans for his own Peter Adams’ Bonsai Nursery which he ran successfully for 30 years and had visitors from around the globe. The Royal Horticulture Society of London asked Adams to help them in the selection of judges for the Chelsea Flower Show in the subject of bonsai, after receiving the gold medal there for several years. Referrals from the society were sent for training at his nursery for their Wisely collection in Surrey.

Adam’s goal is to ldquo;open doors to a wider aspect of bonsai” with emphasis on the artistic and philosophical atmosphere. He has been writing a series of articles for Bonsai Focus under his column ‘Expert Opinion.’ He also creates design packages for individuals and their trees. He is currently involved in a three year program with Scott Chad’s students at the Lotus Nursery in Placerville, California. Adams also produces folio print sets of his very detailed bonsai drawings which are retouched by hand and sell for 10 in a set for $80.

Bonsai portfolio Trident Maple

Bonsai portfolio Trident Maple


The first step in Adam’s analysis is to look at the tree and discuss it while Kate photographs. While preparing to work on the tree, he creates black and white drawings that show where he wants to go with the tree and how to implement the first stages. Once the package is completed you have a guide to the future state of your tree including color diagrams with the ‘how to’ data, supporting text and horticultural notes pertinent to the species.


Adams had to leave 40 years of work and hundreds of trees in England, including many famous trees. One red Seigen Maple from Nagoya he imported in 1970 and a raft Trident Maple are some of the best trees outside of Japan. He had to leave everything because of USDA regulations which has a standing order not to import maples or two needle pines, of which he had many.

Published Golden StatementsThe Magazine of the Golden State Bonsai Federation Vol xxxii No.4 July/Aug 2009 p.10