Bonsai Club Bonanza
VIENNA – More than 20 years ago, Jim Lindley was bitten by the bonsai bug.
Before taking up the Chinese and Japanese art of growing and shaping miniature trees, the Williamstown resident liked to plant full-sized trees in his backyard.
“And then, once I ran out of room, I needed to go into something a little bit smaller,” he said.
His first project was a ficus his wife, Edie, had received as a gift.
That tree, about a foot high, was one of more than 50 on display Saturday and Sunday for Bonsai Days at Scots Landscape Nursery in Vienna. It was the fourth year for the event, which featured works by members of the local Ki No Kaze Bonsai Club, for which Jim and Edie are treasurer and secretary, respectively.
“My goal is to have a plant that looks old, that people can look at it as a piece of art,” Jim Lindley said.
Fellow club member Danny Weaver said some people don’t realize bonsai is more than a hobby.
“It is a hobby, but it’s an art form before it’s a hobby,” said Weaver, who is “training” more than 200 bonsai trees on his property in Parkersburg.
Training refers to the way bonsai trees are shaped and maintained at their miniature size to look like a much older plant. Techniques include root and foliage pruning, using wire to direct the tree, keeping it in a small pot and controlling the amount of fertilizer, sunlight and water it receives, Weaver said.
Weaver waters his bonsai every day, and is often working on them until sundown after getting off work. On a good weekend day, he might spend 10 hours on his passion.
“It’s very time-consuming, but it’s satisfying too,” Weaver said.
The oldest bonsai Weaver had on display was a cascading juniper he’d pruned and shaped so it looked like a tree growing out of the side of a mountain. He started training it in 1989.
“It’s a living art form, and it never stops. You never finish a tree until it dies – or you die,” Weaver said.
On Sunday, the second and final day of the display, friends and fellow bonsai enthusiasts, along with regular Scots customers, stopped by to inspect the club members’ work.
“I love them,” Belpre resident Jackie Goodman said of the trees. “It’s a challenge to grow them. … I wanted to see just what other people have done with them.”
Goodman had a bonsai several years ago and received a new one as a Mother’s Day gift this year. She was contemplating whether to take one or two additional trees home with her Sunday.
Bonsai Days gives club members an opportunity to share their work with the public and find other people who share their enthusiasm.
The club usually meets on the second Sunday of the month on the third level at Scots, although the next regular meeting won’t be until August. The club’s members offer demonstrations, answer questions and discuss their work.
The group has about 19 paying members and more on its mailing list. Edie Lindley said they’re always looking for more members, and people interested in joining can reach out by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the club’s Facebook page.