Tiny trees big hit with Sandusky club|Bonsai Club shows how to make a little bush out of a mighty tree

SANDUSKY Sandusky High School's cultural center was filled Sunday afternoon with literally living wo
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



Sandusky High School's cultural center was filled Sunday afternoon with literally living works of art whose origins are rooted in Asia -- and in small pots.

Throughout the day, Sandusky's Bonsai Club showcased the art of Bonsai, an Asian art of miniaturizing trees, for an estimated 150-200 aspiring Bonsai artists and admirers.

The 89 Bonsai trees on display, ranging from evergreens to azaleas to maple trees, were virtually the same as the trees one sees every day, only smaller.

Bonsai Club president Paul Decker demonstrated the process for inquisitive onlookers.

Decker said most regular trees, no matter how big they grow, can be made into a Bonsai tree.

The word Bonsai literally means "plant in a pot, tray, or container."

"The Bonsai tree is layered," Decker said. "You try to get the branches away so the sun light can get in ... It's part of my interpretation how the tree should look."

Decker said constant pruning of leaves and roots and different-sized pots are used to limit how big or small a Bonsai tree grows.

Wires are wrapped around a tree's branches to manipulate the direction they grow as well.

"It'll take three to five years to be the design you want," Decker said. "That's probably a good average."

Some of the trees on display Sunday were almost 50 years old, yet no bigger than a small bush.

One of the more eye-grabbing pieces was a false cypress grown by retired Perkins teacher Merle Arndt.

It's a relatively large and full Bonsai tree, which Arndt has been working on since he received it as a retirement gift from his coworkers in 1985.

Local Bonsai expert Leo Pelka, 75, said many think the art of Bonsai is rooted in Japan, but it actually started in China more than 1,000 years ago.

The Japanese didn't adopt the art form until the 15th century, Pelka said.

Bonsai became popular in the U.S. during the 1950s after American servicepeople from World War II brought it back the States following the occupation of Japan, according to Pelka.

Sandusky's Bonsai Club has been around since 1974.

"It's like a painting," Pelka said about why he enjoys Bonsai. "I really enjoy watching it grow and creating it is like a painting; the art form of creating and styling it."

The Sandusky Bonsai Club and Cleveland Bonsai Artist Ken Huth will host a public Bonsai demonstration at 7 p.m. Sept. 4 in in Osborn Park.