Garden Club learns about the art of Bonsai trees


Dean Bulluck demonstrates Bonsai tree wire removal for the Rocky Mount Garden Club.


From Contributed Reports

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Rocky Mount Garden Club held its last seasonal meeting learning about the art of Bonsai trees.

Dean Bulluck spoke to the ladies in depth about the origin, growth and design of these forms of horticultural art. Bulluck, a Triangle Bonsai Society member, developed an interest in the trees as a child after seeing a display at the N.C. State Fair. He said the purpose of Bonsai is primarily contemplation for the viewer and a pleasant exercise of effort and ingenuity of the grower. It does offer a relaxing, therapeutic and soothing style of gardening for those that have the patience it requires, he said.

The art of Bonsai started as Penzai in ancient China around 500 A.D. by Buddhist Monks. As it traveled across countries it changed from a “clip and grow” angular style to the commonly known Japanese style. Japanese style bonsaiing incorporates a method of wiring, root manipulation and defoliating of plants to produce a smaller foliage and curvaceous style, most commonly recognized in America.

Trees will typically be planted in a specifically designed pot for growing or displaying. Pottery made for these growers are often shallow and are made with holes for wiring. Wiring, a unique style of manipulating the plant’s actual growth shape, is done using a specific type of steel wire and has a disciplined timing that is part of the uniqueness and patience of the practice.

A misconception of Bonsai trees is the idea they are inside plants. These delicate forms of greenery thrive in natural elements, making indoors environments too harsh and too dry for sustainable life. When displaying a Bonsai inside it will be on a stand with a traditional style scroll centered behind it. It will also have a smaller specimen, known as companion piece. The three pieces are specifically placed to cause the eye to continuously move.

Bulluck explained inside viewing should be saved for entertaining purposes and for shows, having a three-day maximum indoors. Trees store and grow nicely in shady areas with clean pine straw covering the pot and bottom of base during the winter months. Repotting and pruning is done prior to blooming in the spring. Some trees will withstand the need to be repotted for many years. Poor water drainage is often a sign the tree will need repotting the following spring.

The trees have a unique soil made of mostly volcanic rock, humus and volcanic clay. When replanting, Bulluck reminded the ladies this is a crucial time to prune roots and clean them sufficiently for future growth. Root pruning is a vital process and will vary slightly depending on the type tree.

Bulluck finished his presentation by offering a question-and-answer session. In that he explained the numerous styles of his personal collection on display. Bulluck invited guests to join the Triangle Bonsai Society in the Raleigh area monthly to learn more about the art of Bonsai or to use their website, www.trianglebonsai.com, for more information.

The Rocky Mount Garden Club has completed its season for monthly meetings. The season will start off again next fall when it will have a new slate of officers on board. The ladies are looking forward to continuing to serve the Rocky Mount community and will be extending their wealth of knowledge for gardening to a junior club starting later this spring.