THE Sunshine Coast Bonsai Club recently held its first show, displaying an array of trees nurtured and trained by members of the club, which is just over a year old.
The show was held at the Port Alfred Girl Guide Hall from December 1-3, and featured about 160 trees, many of which have been growing for 20 or 30 years.
Chairman David Brewis said he started the club with Liezl Kleynhans of the Port Alfred Garden Club after giving a talk at the Garden Club about two years ago.
Brewis has been growing bonsai for about 20 years, and the club has brought together almost 30 people with a similar passion, with varying experience in bonsai.
Members come from Port Alfred, Bathurst, Kenton-on-Sea, Alexandria and further afield.
“We are registered with the South African Bonsai Association,” Bewis said.
We’re one of the fastest growing bonsai clubs in South Africa.
“There has been a surge of interest in bonsai. In a year we got 28 members – we’re one of the fastest growing bonsai clubs in South Africa.”
Brewis said in comparison there were well-established clubs of about 40 years’ standing in East London and Port Elizabeth, with membership between 60 to 80 people.
“There are all ages of people growing bonsai. We’d like to encourage younger people. It’s mostly over-40s but we’d like to get more under-40s.”
Asked what attracted him to the art of bonsai, Brewis said: “It’s just so intriguing. There’s so much wonder and mystery about it.
“But with that comes misconceptions. Some people think it’s cruel to prune a tree and keep it small.”
Another method used by bonsai growers is to use wire to “train” branches to grow in a certain direction.
“Bonsais are generally healthier than trees in the ground because they’re taken care of and pruned,” Brewis said.
Brewis also said the art of bonsai was therapeutic and a good form of escape.
“It’s a nice hobby to have to keep you occupied and busy. You keep on learning – I keep on learning something about bonsai.”
Brewis also said the art of bonsai was therapeutic and a good form of escape. “I know a psychologist in KwaZulu-Natal who uses bonsai as a form of therapy for children and teenagers.”
The oldest tree on display at the show was a wild gardenia, which has been growing since 1950, owned by Margie Hammond. But Brewis said he had a wild olive that is estimated to be about 200 to 300 years old. From the Eastern Cape, the tree was already growing naturally small in a confined space and had developed a fat trunk.
“It just had to be trained,” he said.
Anyone interested in bonsai and the club can contact Brewis on 076-457-3218.