Owensboro resident shares his passion for miniature trees
May 14 – When local resident Brandon Hagan received his first bonsai tree 10 years ago, it didn’t survive the winter.
Little did he know at the time that his passion for miniature trees would soon blossom into a collection of over 50 bonsai trees.
Pronounced “bone-sigh,” Hagan said there are several different options for people looking to buy their first tree.
“Bonsai means tree in a pot or tree in a tray, so there really isn’t just one species of bonsai,” Hagan said from his garden.
His collection includes pines, Japanese maples, and Japanese elms, to name just a few of the plants on display in his suburban backyard.
“I just collected trees over the years and just added to the collection,” Hagan said.
Hagan said those looking to buy their first bonsai are looking at a price range of around $50 to $100 for a good tree that has been potted and shaped.
“Beginners should start with an easy-to-maintain tree,” Hagan said. “Maples or even a classic Karate Kid juniper, is a decently low maintenance tree compared to other things.”
Hagan said the key is to buy something you’ll enjoy, but he has some advice for someone looking to buy a bonsai tree as a gift for someone else.
“Everyone likes something different,” he said. “If you want to give your wife a gift, bring her because whatever you choose she might not really like.”
Allyson Hagan said she learned a lot about trees and how to care for them from her husband, including how the weather affects them.
“We keep most of our trees in the greenhouse, which is basically protection against frost, snow, hail, that sort of thing in the winter,” she said. “All things tropical stay indoors in a smaller greenhouse because they cannot tolerate lower temperatures or humidity than in a tropical climate.”
The greenhouse is important because it not only provides protection during the cold winter months, but also from the harsh weather that can occur throughout the year.
Allyson Hagan said the term in the Bonsai community for quickly bringing outdoor plants into a greenhouse during a storm is known as “Bonsai shuffle”.
While he typically spends an hour a day working on his bonsai trees, Hagan said that can vary depending on the time of year and what he has to do with the plants.
He recommends beginners take a few minutes each day to look at their tree and determine any maintenance needed. However, they must be careful not to do too much at once.
“There’s a saying that you should only do one insult at a time, so if you’re repotting the tree, don’t prune it,” he said. “If you prune the tree, don’t repot it.”
Hagan is interested not only in his own collection, but also in teaching others about trees and building a network of bonsai enthusiasts within the Owensboro community.
Although there are clubs around Louisville and Evansville, Owensboro does not yet have an official bonsai club, he said.
In the end, the important thing is to enjoy the trees.
“It’s very zen and relaxing,” Hagan said. “You can go home and just look at your trees and work on your trees and just enjoy the plants.”