David Wong/Daily Journal
Sei Boku Bonsai Kai show organizer Gordon Deeg works on one of his Japanese maple bonsai trees. Such trees will be on display this weekend at the San Mateo Garden Center.
The art of bonsai or the aesthetics of miniature tree grooming can be daunting to a newcomer, but attending Sei Boku Bonsai Kai’s bonsai show can help.
Sei Boku Bonsai Kai is a San Mateo-based bonsai club and is hosting its 30th anniversary event where attendees will observe works of club members and have the chance to buy their own bonsai tree from vendors.
One of the vendors at the event is Nancy Schramm, who runs a local nursery, Carmen’s Nursery, founded by her grandfather in 1937.
“I grow bonsai starters and dwarf conifers, rock garden plants and some unusual edibles and some succulents and so I will be taking plants with me to the bonsai show that are less expensive plants that have not had any training done to them,” Schramm said.
She believes that bonsai draws people because those involved are passionate about what they do, are interesting to talk to and are willing to share their experience.
“Most people are fascinated by plants that can be so very old, because bonsai, the real wonderful trained bonsai, can be a hundred years old, some can be two hundred years old, and it’s like seeing perfection miniaturized. You look at some of these trained plants that have had daily care for throughout their life and ... the branches, the structure, the form is exquisite,” Schramm said.
Besides the trees themselves, the custom wooden tables that display bonsai are the purview of Jerry Braswell.
“Its like making micro furniture, it’s really high quality woodworking and I’ve designed some of my own and I do traditional designs, as well and [customers] can order from me and tell me what they want [in terms of design],” Braswell said.
According to Braswell, clubs such as Sei Boku Bonsai Kai ask him to come every year because he is the only woodworker on the West Coast that only makes stands for trees.
“I’ve been a woodworker for 30 years, I was a cabinetmaker, then I retired from cabinet making and went full time into making bonsai tables and stone daiza, (the stands for the stones),” Brawsell said.
When a woodworker such as Braswell forms a stand, he or she wants to emphasize the tree and not the stand, most of the time they want to complement the tree — if a tree is ornate, then the stand should be ornate as well, for example.
Gordon Deeg is one of the organizers of the show and he is hosting the featured guest for the show, bonsai expert David DeGroot, who will conduct workshops and demonstrations
DeGroot is an award-winning designer and author who has studied and practiced bonsai since 1972.
“I think that we put on one of the best shows in California, we have a fairly large club, ranging from San Francisco to Saratoga, all the way out to Antioch — those members will be exhibiting trees from the best bonsai in Northern California,” Deeg said.
Sei Boku Bonsai Kai meets at the San Mateo Garden Center on the fourth Wednesday of every month at 7:30 p.m. In addition to the show, vendors will have bonsai trees and bonsai supplies for sale. Raffle prizes will be offered and include various gardening items, according to Irene Hall, a director from Sei Boku Bonsai Kai.
The Bonsai Show is on Saturday and Sunday, June 1-2, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the San Mateo Garden Center, 605 Parkside Way. Admission is free.