One of the most rewarding Home and Garden Show exhibits, the Baltimore Bonsai Club, is in the Horticulture Hall building at the Maryland State Fairgrounds this weekend only. The club is offering one of the best garden bargains you could ever find.
The art of containerizing wild trees comes from China. It is the specialized form of gardening known as bonsai, which means “tree in pot,” from the Chinese phrase pun sai.
From China, bonsai spread to Japan where it became an art form. Today bonsai gardening is practiced all over the world.
If you ever wanted to know more about it or try your hand at creating a bonsai, this weekend is a great time to start. The Baltimore Bonsai Club is offering the plant, the container, the soil, the wire and—most important—the instruction and lots of expert advice and all this for only $50. Believe me, this is a bargain.
And what a friendly bunch of people they are! Jim Sullivan, a retired engineer from Bowie, Md., was clipping away at a gorgeous Scots pine that he has been training for 35 years. It is a beauty. When asked how he learned bonsai he said that he had been involved with it for many years but really got serious when he joined the Bonsai Club of Bowie. That club no longer exists, but other clubs that are part of the Potomac Bonsai Association are centers for collective knowledge and a great place to learn.
Sullivan said that he has about 200 planted containers in his collection and that, “Some people would say I am disturbed to have so many bonsai to maintain while others would say it is a good start.”
Sullivan said he has learned which plants work best and what they need to thrive. All the members with whom I spoke agreed that they had become better gardeners when they joined this club and started to learn from more experienced members. But they also agree with Barry Figard, club President, that “the best teacher is your own experience.”
The specifics of what to use, how to plant and how to care for bonsai are too numerous to write in this space but there is bountiful information available on the Web. John Griffin of Columbia, Md. says that two of the best sites are bonsai4me.com and bonsaoempire.com.
For more information about the club, their schedule of events and plant information go to baltimorebonsiaclub.com. Maybe I will see you at their booth this weekend.