This Sunday the Central Florida Bonsai Club had it’s annual pilgrimage down to Mary Madison’s nursery in Lake Placid.
I usually drive but the A/C in my van isn’t working and I didn’t want to subject anyone to that.
One of my readers and new study group members, Barbara, met me at my place at 8 Am and we then drove to a predetermined and strategically placed rendezvous point (a Starbucks) and met up with Steve and Mark.
After a wrestling match with the best three out of five falls winning (it was close, Barb’s a tough wrestler) we drove down in Mark’s car.
From my nursery it’s about two hours to Mary’s.
The Starbucks helped.
There is not much to see on the way to Mary’s, except clouds, strip malls, orange groves and cows so I’ll skip right to the arrival.
In the pic above, starting from the left: Mary, behind Mary so you can’t really see her is Betsy (sorry Betsy), Alan is in the back and Barb is on the right.
There’s Steve with a little tree
Mary has all sizes of buttonwood from small to giant, as you’ll see.
Sandy soon got there and we all went shopping.
Barb and Sandy.
Mark and Mary
The newest (or mew-est) member of the nursery staff is Holly, she’s kinda adopted Mary
I’m not sure what it is but cats like to chew on my fingers.
On to the trees.
I’ll just post the pics with a little commentary.
This is what’s called an establishing shot
This cascade was not for sale
look at the roots on this one
It’s amazing that a tree that is named for its straight growth can also be so twisted
I mean, look at this one
It’s hard to follow the trunk but it is one tree
I can see it turned on it’s side with the top jinned
Can you see it? She only wanted $1200, which is a real good price.
I’ve taken a better pic of this tree before
I love this cascade
This is the famous “Senryu” or mystical dragon. It was named by John Naka
This little tree was in the 2013 BSF convention
When we make a trip down as a club Mary always makes lunch for us. And provides beer (alcohol makes for easier sales).
She is one of the sweetest ladies in bonsai but she can still hold her own (If you’ve hung around me you know what I mean).
And she seems forever young, she is in her eighties but still is a first class collector, outpacing even her much younger helpers.
We all got too many trees
Which ones are mine?
You’ll have to wait until the next post.
I’ll show you how I processed and styled them.
The people from the club that attended were Betsy, Alan, Sandy, Steve, Mark, Phil, Barb, Michelle and Cullen.
What is surprising to me is that there weren’t more people.
I took a lot of pics to show but that’s all they are.
There wasn’t a requirement to purchase anything, even though she appreciates it. Mary is a legend in Florida (and the world). There is only one Buttonwood Queen and there won’t ever be another.

The two pieces of knowledge I hope to impart to you with this post: looking at pictures of trees in books or on the Internet cannot teach you what a tree should look like in real life. Bonsai is a 3 dimensional art. Photographs, no matter how well executed, just do not show you depth.
Go see real trees, real bonsai. Your art will improve because of it.
And two, bonsai is not just trees. People are what makes bonsai special; the stories and techniques a master like Mary can talk about are priceless. That’s why we should embrace other bonsai people.
Much of what is known about bonsai is just not written down and the only way to learn it is to ask questions.
And you can’t ask questions unless you go see those who know.
Will I see you next time?

8 thoughts

  1. I’ve really enjoyed meeting other people into bonsai. Joining a club was one of the best decisions I have made. Seeing my club member’s trees really helped me to understand how different it is looking at pictures you see compared to personally standing in front of a tree.

    I was talking to my club’s president at our last exhibit at the state fair and he mentioned that you might be doing a workshop for us in the future so maybe we will meet in person before too long. There are quite a few of us in the Indy club that are into ficus.


    1. It’s the truth. You have to see good bonsai to make good bonsai.
      Scott (Indianapolis club prez) and I have been talking about me making a tour of your area. It won’t be until June 2014 but so far we are working on Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Ft. Wayne. Scot thinks there are some more clubs interested so if you’re in the Midwest talk to your club officers.


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