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About Dennis Makishima
Photo courtesy of Mark Costantini ,San Francisco ChronicleDennis Makashima was the first to introduce aesthetic pruning in the United States.  His tree work combines horticultural science, bonsai aesthetics, communication with clients and creative interpretation of the small trees in urban situations.  To date, Dennis has successfully pruned over 10,000 trees, conducted 200 pruning projects and taught 500 workshops and classes across the United States and abroad. Moreover, he has consulted at arboretums, large public gardens and significant private estates. Most rewarding of all, Dennis apprenticed with over 50 professional aesthetic tree pruners since 1989 and cherishes his role as teacher to others.

Dennis’s interest in pruning started in 1980, when he practiced on a friend’s tree. Since there were few pruning book available, he used trees in natural settings and attractive material in urban gardens as his models.  Within a few years he generated enough pruning clients and accounts to do this work part time.  Then, in 1984, Dennis left his job as a produce manager to work full time as an ornamental tree pruner.

Having worked on thousands of trees over the years has helped him understand trees as the living entities they are, to be cared for and respected. Though basically self taught, his training was enhanced by his association with Merritt College in Oakland, California.  He first attended Merritt College as a student and later became an instructor in the Horticulture Department.

Furthermore, to better understand tree aesthetics, Dennis took his first bonsai lesson in 1982. He had the wonderful opportunity to learn from bonsai pioneers in California.  Their teachings combined the styling and caring of trees with the traditions and philosophy of the bonsai art form. The respect for nature, the trees on which he worked, and the creative process of fellow practitioners was always emphasized.  To date, his bonsai collection numbers over 500 trees, many of which are featured in the 2002 edition of the Sunset publications Bonsai Book.

Dennis Makashima’s Career Achievements

  • Created the Merritt College aesthetic tree pruning program
  • Served as President of the Golden State Bonsai Federation
  • Organized a professional aesthetic pruner network
  • Authored “The Bonsai Teacher Development Guide” and “Bonsai Basics” Packet, both of which are being used nationally
    Trained for 18 months as a bonsai apprentice in Toyohashi, Japan under the tutelage of Bonsai Master Yasuo Mitsuya
  • Received Horticulture Certificate from Merritt College, 2001


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