The Bonsai Nursery, Honiton
Just outside of Honiton is the Bonsai nursery. It’s a very small plant nursery but packed with fascinating plants, some of which are 30 or more years old.
It’s run by Irene, who has been growing miniature trees for over 50 years. She is a real expert and can give you advice about caring for a new bonsai, growing your own and looking after your miniature trees through the various seasons. Not only that Irene will take care of your valuable collection while you are on holiday or nurse it back to health if it’s a little sickly.
Winner of a gold medal at the Chelsea Flower show Irene is an authority on every aspect of bonsai and saikei.
Bonsai involves growing a single tree, whereas saikei are miniature landscapes formed from rocks and sand, groups of trees and sometimes models of houses and people. They can be grown in containers or on slabs of concrete raised up to about waist height on pillars.
Bonsai is the Japanese art of growing miniature trees and making them look very old. The skill is in keeping the trees in proportion and making sure that they have sufficient nutrients and water to keep them alive. The difficulty of this is increased because the containers are very shallow, so they dry out very quickly in the warm summer months.
The trees are shaped by holding the young branches in place with wire and by careful pruning. When I visited the nursery Irene was busy trimming back some Chinese Elm trees to make a little thicket of trees.
In Japan they use their native evergreens, for example pine, spruce and juniper, as well as some beautiful deciduous trees. Irene has some lovely miniature acers that she has been growing for a number of years; you can see one in the picture. At the time of writing it’s the beginning of April, so it’s just starting to come into full leaf. The tiny leaves are in exactly the right proportion to the tree thanks to the care and attention to pruning that it’s received at the tree nursery.
I’m sure that you will find a visit to the Bonsai nursery a fascinating and informative experience. However, it’s not a hobby for the impatient. It takes many years to grow a specimen that looks as good as Irene’s do but it’s well worth the wait.
The Nursery of Miniatures
Tel: 01404 42617 during normal office hours
If you live in the UK but can't get to Honiton and would like to buy your own tree click on the link and look for the section on Bonsai on the page that opens.
The nursery is situated just off the A35 at the top of Honiton Hill and is open to visitors 10am - 5pm Wednesday until Sunday. Closed Mondays except Bank Holidays.
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