A Small Tree Grows in High Point: Brownlee Currey Talks Bonsai

If you’ve visited the Currey & Company showroom at a market, you’ve probably noticed the ornamental trees and shrubs strategically placed around side tables and occasional seating.

But what you might not realize is that what you’re walking through is essentially President Brownlee Currey’s personal garden.

Currey is a bonsai enthusiast and has cared for his own personal collection of over 100 miniature trees since he was 12 years old. The bonsai that decorate the showroom of almost every market are the Brownlee trees.

All bonsai in the Currey & Company showroom are owned by President Brownlee Currey.

“It’s taking a very personal thing and putting it in a very public space,” admitted Currey, but he thinks the green oasis in a bustling showroom gives the eye a place to rest for a moment. and serves as a great conversation starter. “Most gardeners recognize it as something special,” he said. And when people in the conversation start throwing out their Latin names for different plants, that’s when he knows he’s met another plant lover.

Currey will share the history of the art form and his love for it, as well as tips and advice for growing bonsai, in a special talk this Friday, October 21 at 3 p.m. in the Currey Showroom & Company, IHFC M 110.

Bonsai with Brownlee Currey will be on Friday, October 21 at 3 p.m. in the Currey & Company Exhibit Hall

Bonsai is the Japanese art of growing and training miniature trees in shallow dishes or pots. Bonsai trees, when cultivated with care, can look like fully mature trees and can live to be 100 years or more.

Bonsai peaked Currey’s interest when he was 12, so his mum sent him on a 6-week course at a local nursery, while his dad, who is a gardener, helped him look after the plants. ‘them. “My dad did a great job keeping these plants alive while I was in college,” Currey said. “He’s a connoisseur of plants.”

After college, Currey moved to Chicago — “terrible for bonsai,” said Atlanta native Currey. But his plants survived.

Later, in 2010, Currey visited Japan for the first time. It was a lightning moment in terms of understanding the art, he said. “With my own eyes, I could see what was possible.” There he saw perfectly realized plants where horticultural discipline was evident on every leaf, branch and twig. And he learned the calendar-based techniques needed to care for bonsai trees: repotting in late winter, trimming and pruning in mid-spring, fertilizing in early summer, wiring and bending evergreens in the end of summer.

Bonsai Currey & Company

Strategically placed bonsai trees in the Currey & Company showroom give the eye a chance to rest in a busy space.

“This hobby is in its infancy in the United States,” said Currey, president of the Atlanta Bonsai Society, where he lives. The clubs are important for people wanting to learn more about bonsai and needing foundational training, he said, and intensive learning events are available across the country.

In the meantime, it’s possible to find out more about Currey himself later this week. And given that Currey & Company was first known as The Garden Source, it seems the most appropriate place to learn.

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