Creating Bonsai — The Hidden Gem of Gardening in Niagara

When the first COVID-19 lockdown hit Ontario in March 2020, Ronald Estella felt isolated.

Like many people did during the pandemic, Estella began to explore her love for gardening. He finds that bonsai brings him peace and relaxation.

According an investigation in April, more than half of respondents said they felt isolated, anxious and depressed during the first days of the pandemic. Yet over 75% also found immense value in gardening during this same period.

Bonsai is the Japanese art of growing and training miniature trees in pots, developed from the traditional Chinese art form of penjing. The word “bonsai” is a Japanese term that literally means “tree in a container or pot”.

“I wanted to create a Zen garden in our garden, so that I could incorporate my fascination with gardening as well,” Estella said. He decided to take gardening lessons.

Estella and his wife, Maria Mendoza, slowly transformed their garden into a Zen oasis. With bonsai growing in their garden, pedestals and benches were installed almost monthly as the collection grew. Even the facade of the house has been arranged to show their passion for art, pleasing passers-by with the zen design.

For Estella, bonsai provides a sense of tranquility and is also a way to honor her late mother.

His mother, who died three years ago, was an avid gardener. Estella’s enthusiasm for gardening was already there before his mother’s death, then he stumbled upon bonsai by chance and began to deepen his knowledge of gardening.

“When I’m outside, I keep looking at the trees,” Estella said. “I can imitate them on a miniature scale. I like trees because I try to figure out what I can do with my little trees.

The idea of ​​making it a small business quickly germinated. His dedication to bonsai cultivation prompted the creation of Dragon Arts, and his name highlights the various art forms related to bonsai, such as penjing, the Chinese art form of creating landscape scenes with miniature scale, and Suisekis, Japanese art. stone appreciation.

Dragon Arts offers a wide selection of trees that both beginners and enthusiasts can enjoy and become part of the living art collection. It also offers services, including bonsai lessons for beginners and amateurs, and personalized penjing.

He said his classes not only focus on landscaping, but also include turning plants into a miniature version.

Shortly after Dragon Arts opened in mid-June, one of Estella’s works was recognized by Ontario Bonsai Society and was voted to become the group’s cover photo.

Dragon Arts is the “first of its kind” in Niagara and features many rare bonsai species.

Estella and Mendoza travel to different locations outside the region to search for specimen trees that could be turned into bonsai.

With a limited supply of special organic ingredients and materials that are scarce in the region, the couple have to travel almost weekly to places like Toronto, Markham and Hamilton, to collect suitable pots and substrates – such as stone lava, pumice, akadama and organic compost – and specimen trees.

Running a family business is not easy, but Estella appreciates the social connection with the community which, in turn, appreciates her well-tended plants.

“We wanted to let people know that there is now a garden in the Niagara region,” he said. “They can enjoy the beautiful scenery at any time.”

For more information, address and opening hours, please visit them at Where Bonsai and Penjing on Facebook.

Cyan Ko is a Centennial College journalism student doing a summer internship in Niagara

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