It’s fascinating to watch the reaction of people who see a bonsai gallery for the first time. Parents explain to their children that the bonsai trees really are alive and that they are not fake trees.
Cameras are very much in evidence as people try and capture the magic of bonsai trees. There is much discussion about how you grow a bonsai tree and how it can survive in such a small pot.
For many bonsai enthusiasts their interest was first kindled at an exhibition or horticultural show when they saw bonsai trees for the first time.
Last weekend I saw lots of these reactions at the UK’s Royal Horticultural Society’s Spring Show. The weather was fantastic over the 3 days of the show and 24,000 people went through the gates.
Many of them found their way to the 2 bonsai gallery areas. One was organised by the Federation of British Bonsai Societies and displayed trees by several bonsai artists.
One of the trees on display was this magnificent Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia). It is shaped in the broom style.
The second gallery was by John Trott of Mendip Bonsai Studio. His display won a Gold Medal and included some wonderful specimens.
My favourite was this Japanese maple (Acer palmatum Deshojo) with its magnificent spring display of colour. This informal upright tree is about 55 years old.
Amongst the other bonsai trees were a 25 year old dwarf Japanese quince, a 45 year old cork-bark Chinese elm and a 90 year old English yew.
John has been growing bonsai trees for 30 years and has won numerous awards and medals. His website contains details about the workshops and courses he runs at his studio in south west England. The courses cover all levels – from beginner to advanced techniques.
One can only wonder whether some of the many people who bought bonsai trees at his stand will go on to become lifelong bonsai enthusiasts.