Vaughn L. Banting

August 23, 1947 – October 11, 2008

Vaughn L. Banting was interested in the art of bonsai from his early teens forward.  He experimented with nursery material as well as trees collected from the wild.  These specimens were laboriously wired, pruned and trained into bonsai.

Majoring in Ornamental Horticulture and Landscape Architecture in college, he was drafted into the army and sent to Vietnam.

After his return, he and some like-minded people founded The Greater New Orleans Bonsai Society and in the same year he launched his Horticultural Service Company.

Vaughn learned from four separate bonsai masters from areas in California, Pennsylvania and New York.  Eventually he became a well known bonsai teacher and demonstrator himself and taught and lectured widely within the United States and abroad.

Brain cancer and four brain surgeries left him prone to seizures and wheelchair-bound, but he still enjoyed his life. After having to sell his business and bonsai collection, he kept working in his Zen garden, writing haiku and adding to his website,, which is still kept by his relatives in memory of this remarkable bonsai personality.

Special thanks to Vaughn Banting's sisters, who kindly gave me the permission to put this article onto my bonsai pot web pages.

Furthermore I would like to thank Mr. Stefan Ulrich, who found this article on the Internet, Mr. Guy Guidry, who made the contact with the Banting family and Mrs. Heike van Gunst, for the correspondence and translation. It is an honor to show this article here.


Bulb pot/bulb bowl collecting

During the Chinese Song and Yuan Dynasties and later during the Qing Dynasty bulb bowls (or bulb pots) were used as containers for flower bulbs, such as narcissus. Narcissus blooms were particularly popular around the time of the lunar New Year (late January - February) when the Chinese celebrate the coming of spring. They look a lot like bonsai or penjing pots in their architecture due to their shared characteristic of usually having feet but the similaritiy between the two types of vessels stops there, as bulb pots do not contain drainage holes. But I think my fascination with bulb pots stems in part from my appreciation of bonsai pots.

Bulbs were planted in these pots and then forced into bloom using only a medium of gravel and water.  The bulbs sat on top of the gravel and water was added to a level just below them assuring the bulbs did not rot but encouraging root formation instead.

I have always collected bulb pots even while I was maintainining a large bonsai collection and when I had to give up my hobby of growing bonsai for health reasons I simply increased the time I spent investigating and collecting bulb pots.  Bulb pots although sharing similar architecture to bonsai pots (as stated above) are usually made of porcelain often featuring Polychrome enameled decorations of one sort or another.  The motifs encountered on these pots often feature Chinese figures and reflect the type of day to day activities of the period. Of course these attributes only increase the delight provided the collector of bulb pots.

This is a detail from an antique scroll which featuries a bulb pot. It hangs in my living room serving to whet the appetite of the visitor who will later encounter the real thing as he or she make their way to the back to the den area where I keep my main collection.

A bulb pot planted with Narcissus bulbs was sometimes used as a companion planting to a bonsai as this scroll depicts.

I found this bulb pot in Germany by way of eBay.

I also found this beautifully enameled bulb pot through eBay

I found this bulb pot offered in an online antique store but I didn't add it to my collection because I prefer my bulb bowls or bulb pots to have individual feet rather than a solid foot, a prejudice I formed while growing bonsai.

I found this beautiful enameled bulb pot in Florida via eBay which featured its own handcarved stand. There were actually a pair offered but I talked the owner into selling me just one which was all I could afford.


It is a beautiful, well detailed, genuine guangxu period, Chinese yellow ground dayazhai ware hand painted planter pot; a rare and highly collectable piece (china circa 1894-1908).

The planter measures 7 1/2 inches long by 4 3/4 inches wide by 3 1/2 inches tall. The original carved wood stand measures 6 inches long by 3 3/4 inches wide by 2 3/4 inches tall.

There are no chips, no cracks, no damage, and no repairs. This piece is over 100 years old and has some fading color inside.

The empress dowager, cixi, was the mother of the tongzhi emperor; with control of the throne from 1861 until her death in 1908. Cixi designed a number of porcelain patterns produced at the imperial kilns at Jingdezhen, dayazhai being the most famous. All the appropriate marks are clearly evident on the piece.


These were a beautiful pair of bulb pots offered on eBay with intricately carved stands created just for them but unfortunately they exceeded my budget.


I won this delightfully decorated pot by submitting an absentee bid at an auction house.


I purchased this cobalt blue bulb pot from an online antique store


This pot was also captured by leaving an absentee bid at an auction house.


Notice it's unusual shape


Some where I collected another pot similar to this one but which also came with a stand but I still need to have that one photographed.


This was a pot that I bid on at eBay but was not successful in winning it and is only included here for the viewer's edification concerning styles of bulb pots.


This was another pot that I bid on at auction but was unsuccessful in capturing.


This similar pot I was successful in capturing.


This is actually a much larger pot but I did not bid on it. It is covered on all sides with a long poem.


Years ago when I first started collecting bulb pots I found several of these bulb pots at an auction house before their value went up. They all differ a little bit from one another as they were likely hand-painted on an assembly line.


I let this one go by on eBay but harvested the pictures they provided, again as before just to show the diversity in these pots.


This is a richly decorated bulb pot which had already been sold by the time I discovered it.


I was lucky to find this little gem of a bulb pot because it's quite unique. This pot has a body made out of Yixing clay instead of porcelain.


This unusual scalloped sided bulb pot is the only one like it in my collection.


This handsome bulb pot was listed on eBay but its price was beyond my budget at that time but now that I see it listed again I think I will make an offer.