January 9, 2010

Seems like Bonsai West is Bonsai Best


A grove of tree's in the Bonsai style, is amazing, and now, this is all I want to make for our garden. I am so inspired!

The selection of Bonsai pots and containers at Bonsai West was impressive, and not only we're they beautiful to look at, they were surprisingly affordable. I can't wait!!!

Bonsai West is located in Littleton, MA, which is just west of Boston, and twenty minutes from our home. Many people may recognize them from their exhibits at the New England Spring Flower Show, but their nursery is even more amazing to visit. It has the largest collection of masterpiece bonsai for sale in the country.
The Bonsai West collection contains trees from all over the world and features many works by first-generation Japanese American Bonsai artists living on the West Coast during the second half of the 20th century.
These old specimen bonsai include works by Mr. and Mrs. Hatanaka, Mr. Yamasaki, Roy Nagatoshi, Mr Ishii, Mr. Marata, as well as contemporary artists including Nick Lenz, Kenji Myata, Michael Levin and Guy Guidry.





On these short winter days there seems to be little to do beyond taking out the trash, or looking for the dogs, to make sure they are not gorging themselves on Brussels Sprouts! But this Saturday, we decided to act on some impulse, since I was whining about having no energy to do anything, and we headed off to Littleton, Massachusetts to visit one of the premiere Bonsai nurseries in suburban Boston, Bonsai West.

Our good friend Glen is a very knowledgable horticulturist, and is responsible for much of what goes on at the nursery, and I knew that we had to visit for everytime he see's us, he invites us to visit, and see the collection that has so many people talking and coming back for more. But, you see, that is my little problem, I knew that if I visited such a place, that I would not be able to resist myself, and that my wallet would be a little, or lot, smaller.


Joe poses with a Taxodium which has just started to be trained into a Bonsai
I was impressed, as was Joe. So much so, that I know deep inside out brains, a little Japanese gland called the Ambigula japonica, excreted a good dose of a hormone called Bonsaitonin asiatica and before we knew it, we were under the influence. Hortus endorphinitis they call it, and it's terribly difficult to get rid of. You just sort of have to let it run it's course, for there is no cure. We both had it once years ago, and the empty bonsai pots are still stacked under the benches in the greenhouse. Needless to say, we left with everything from Akedama soil, to two massive trained, yet immature Taxodiums that took up the entire back of our SUV. Oh yes, and two roled tubes containing Bonsai West 2010 calendars.

We'll be back.


Bonsai in winter are sometimes more interesting than in the summer, particularly deciduous ones. In our New England garden, they would need to protection from the elements, although not from the cold. Here, it's the cycle of thaw and freezing that kills many of these trees, for they are in little soil, and the best solution is to either keep them in an unheated hoop house, one which keeps them just above freezing, or move them to an unheated barn or garage where the temps never move above 38 degrees, or so. Hovering around freezing is ideal, and we sometimes keep larger plants in the shed where we keep our lawn mowers with a space heater added for extra heat to keep the shed around 34 degrees F, or we keep the on the stone floor of the cold greenhouse. Either way, Bonsai are not as difficult as you may imagine, and most people loose them simply because they try to keep them in the home, or let them dry out too much in the summer. We find them now, as adults, rather easy and carefree, as long as we keep them somewhere where we pass frequently in the summer, near a hose, and have a safe place for them in the winter. NOTE: Most bonsai nurseries will store your plants for the winter for a small fee, which is what most people do, so don't let that keep you from trying a magnificent specimen from becoming the focal point of your garden.
If you live in New England, be sure to check the BONSAI WEST demonstration list on line, as well as their lectures. They run for informative demo's for beginners, to elaborate training courses for those who are slightly more informed. After seeing their greenhouse classroom and some of the 'student's work ( they sell all the supplied you will need), now I am all set to take their Yamadori Larch class on March 6. Can't wait!

Outside, in the vacant display garden, some plants remain out to take the full force of winter. This small tree, which l looks a bit like an Ulmus parvifolia if I had to guess, looks absoulutly stunning without leaves, and bathed in the late sunshine of a crisp January day.



I was moved by how the snow here, reminded me of my many trips to Japan. So pieceful, and quiet.

These bonsai stands looked like mushrooms stuck in the snow.

Pines are never as lovely as when trained as Bonsai.Imagine these in your summer garden.


Bonsai are miniature versions of full grown trees. These are not those crispy,dry Junipers one sees in malls sold at the Holidays, but carefully trained and cultured trees, available in many species. The deciduous ones are just as interesting to look at without their leave, in the winter. In a photo, they looks very much like their full-sized versions, don't you think?

3 comments :

  1. Matt, Thank you for you very kind words. I wish I was there to show you all of the nooks and crannies but I am sure you found them anyhow. I am very happy you and Joe liked the taxodium that I styled. G

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  2. Matt, what a great nursery! I lost my tender Bonsai two years ago when the greenhouse froze to 6 degrees....a few I had worked on for twenty + years. The groves are the best, you can almost hear birds singing in the miniature canopies,( if it's a nice one...)inspiring post!

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  3. OK Glen, it's a deal! Besides, you are still going to train this for us, right?

    Take care.

    BRIAN.......miniature birds, hmm.....

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