Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Joining a Bonsai Club

I first became interested in bonsai in around the year 2000, but at the time I was unaware that there were clubs which could help me to develop my bonsai skills.

So I did a little reading and then set off to buy my first tree. At the time I wanted to keep my bonsai indoors, which meant my options were limited.  It will come as little surprise that one of my first attempts was a Ficus.

Unfortunately I misinterpreted some of what I read and it didn’t take me long to kill my tree. I cried the day I realised that, after one too many defoliations, my little tree had run out of energy to fight me and that it would never put out any more foliage.

Happily I was not put off that easily and I soon went looking for my next victim.

After a few failures I finally learnt how to keep my trees alive but in the process I put little effort into styling them. With hindsight I realise that I was no longer trying to grow bonsai, just keeping potential bonsai as house-plants.

All that changed in 2007 when I visited a local bonsai show and was persuaded to join the club.

I was hesitant to attend my first meeting because I didn’t know how I was going to fit in among a group of strangers, many of whom had years of experience, but I needn’t have worried. Everyone was very friendly and helpful and joining the club changed my life.

At the time I knew an elderly couple who shared my love of bonsai but grew their trees entirely for their own enjoyment. I often discussed bonsai with them and one discussion sticks in my mind to this day.

When I mentioned how much I enjoyed attending the club’s workshops and how I appreciated the help I got from some of the more experienced members, the woman was unimpressed. She felt I should be styling my trees on my own. Of course I didn’t let her argument deter me.

It was only several years later that I finally got the opportunity to see that couple’s trees and I hate to say that I was really disappointed by what I saw. But as I said in my previous post, not every tree has to be a show-stopper. If they enjoyed their trees, that’s all that really matters.

That’s not to say they wouldn’t have benefited from joining a club. I’d recommend it to anyone who’s keen on letting their trees develop to their full potential.


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