Find indoor bonsai in the Marin Bonsai Club beginners course – Marin Independent Journal

In this age of oversizing and instant gratification, the intricate and patient art of bonsai could easily be overlooked, but not if the Marin Bonsai Club has anything to say about it.

The club, founded 65 years ago and now with 50 members, offers two evening classes in July to encourage Marin residents to think small and grow a tree.

“Students will learn the basics of turning a pre-bonsai tree into something that will grow into a beautiful bonsai tree that could be passed on to the next generation,” says Tung Dao, Novato resident and president of the Marin Bonsai Club.

Dao grew up with a mother who was an avid gardener, so he wasn’t intimidated when, in college, he bought a bonsai growing kit from seeds. Later, he says, he would learn that growing bonsai from seed is “the slowest way to make bonsai.”

That won’t happen in these Marin Bonsai Club workshops.

Each student will receive a tree suitable for beginners, planting materials and instructions from the more experienced members of the club. Classes will be limited to 8 or 10 students.

Bonsai, the Japanese art form of growing and shaping trees into miniaturized forms, “has recently reached all corners of the world, with each region adapting bonsai to their local trees and creating new styles never seen before.” , explains Dao. . “It’s a love shared around the world for trees and the joy of creating one.”

Photo by Diane Matzen

A juniper created during a previous bonsai workshop by the Marin Bonsai Club.

While, says Dao, “people have experimented with exotic and unconventional bonsai, such as rosemary, grape, local species and even poison oak,” most bonsai usually focus on plants that have a woody trunk. which can be trained to be small, with the most popular species being Japanese black pine, Japanese maple and junipers.

“We generally appreciate interesting trunks, beautiful branch development, and sometimes the history of a tree can play a role,” he says.

And this is where skills and training come into play.

“Bonsai is easy to learn and do, but it takes a lifetime to master and even masters are continually learning to the point of realizing how much they don’t know and are really still beginners,” says- he. “How’s that for a Zen riddle?”

Susan Sullivan, who joined the MBC club four years ago, did so after taking one of its beginner workshops.

“We each received a juniper and learned how to find the bonsai hidden inside,” she recalls. “We pruned and wired with a lot of help from our teachers and over the next four years I brought my tree to club meetings where members helped me prune, wire and repot my tree.”

Today, with patience and the help of the club, she also manages to grow several other bonsai trees.

“Bonsai artists should start with patience and an appreciation for the trees,” Dao explains. “People have to learn how and when to water them and when to work on them. Trees need to grow and beginners tend to overwork their trees.

Beginners will learn that bonsai trees do best outdoors in a sunny spot, that a water check should be done daily, and that a senior member should supervise pruning and other major operations.

Trees, he notes, “require a little more care and attention than a pet because they cannot communicate with you if something is wrong, but the reward for the successful development of a bonsai is however extremely satisfying”.

The president of the Marin Bonsai Club, Tung Dao de Novato, with his collection of 30 bonsai trees.  (Photo by Tung Dao)

Photo by Tung Dao

The president of the Marin Bonsai Club, Tung Dao, from Novato, with his collection of 30 bonsai trees.

Candace Key, former president of MBC, agrees.

“Bonsai trees are fascinating to everyone because of the successful illusion of a mature tree growing in a pot,” she says. “It seems like magic, especially when they learn that those oaks, junipers, maples, really all the trees we’re creating bonsai with would be mature trees if we planted them in the ground.”

Details: The Marin Bonsai Club Beginners Bonsai Workshop will be held from 7-9:30 p.m. July 19-26 at the Terra Linda Community Center, Room 4, 670 Del Ganado Road in San Rafael. The cost is $65, $55 for club members. Reservations are required either online or by sending a check with your name and phone number to MBC at PO Box 1461 in Ross. For more information, visit

Marin Bonsai Club meetings are held at 7 p.m. on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at the Terra Linda Community Center. Membership is $45, $65 for families and $25 for students. Membership includes opportunities to observe demonstrations, one-on-one instruction, and field trips to nurseries.

Show off

If you have a beautiful or interesting Marin garden or a newly designed Marin house, I would love to hear about it.

Please send an email describing one (or both), what you like best, and a photo or two. I will publish the best in the next columns. Your name will be published and you must be over 18 and a resident of Marin.

Unmissable event

• Bid on one of 17 peace signs, decorated by local high school students, at the Students4Peace art auction from June 27 to July 10 on and all proceeds will go to humanitarian charities in Ukraine . The decorated peace signs will also be on display at the Marin County Fair June 30-July 4.

PJ Bremier writes on home, garden, design and entertainment topics every Saturday. She can be contacted at PO Box 412, Kentfield 94914, or at [email protected]

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