My first experience with bonsai was at Disney’s EPCOT when I was young. I remember seeing the trees and being amazed. They looked like ancient statues and I wanted one badly.

I had no experience growing anything and didn’t even understand that there was horticulture involved at that time though. Many years later, in my college years, I decided to actually start learning about bonsai. I killed many nursery trees and decided to purchase a couple of trees from Bonsai West in Littleton MA.

My first tree that actually lived (for a while)

My first real purchase was the tree seen above. It’s a Hawaiian Umbrella Tree or Schefflera Arboricola. They’re (nearly) impossible to kill and are great trees for starting out.

I worked on this tree and some nursery stock trees for about a year and wanted to really start learning. I began watching the YouTube series “The Bonsai Art of Japan” by Bjorn Bjorholm. I watched every single video in the series at least twice. Bjorn is very charismatic and able to explain things in very simple terms. He is also amazing at making simply perfect trees. When I got the chance to meet him for a class, I jumped at the opportunity.

Bjorn Bjorholm on the left and a younger longer haired version of me on the right.

We styled a small juniper in the class, and I learned quite a bit. Bjorn suggested I drop everything and go to Japan for an apprenticeship, but it just didn’t match up with my plans at the time.

I continued my work and especially my passion for creating nice looking trees out of nursery stock.

A nursery stock juniper that I styled early on (I killed this one)

Around this time, my fiancé and I decided to get an apartment together. There were no good balconies for trees, we didn’t have a yard, no south-facing window even. The trees had to be left with my parents, so I effectively put bonsai on the back-burner, and put it out of my mind because it wasn’t possible at the new place. Long story short, we saved up some money during this time and bought a house. “Great!” I thought. “I can get my trees back and start up again!”

Shortly after moving into the house, my parents announced they were going to come over with my trees! When they arrived, the first one didn’t look too good. Definitely almost dead if not dead. Second one was worse. The remainder weren’t brought because they were definitely dead.

I was pretty upset and my parents felt horrible as well.  Looking back now though (three years after that date), that is a long time to take care of trees for someone else, and without careful detailed maintenance work (that they would not know how to perform), the trees would have looked much worse than when I left them anyways. Maybe I was a little bit aggressive in gathering 10+ trees before having my own yard 🙂

Has anyone else left their trees with someone else only to end in disaster?  Who can beat me in number of trees killed?  Anyone manage to kill a Hawaiian Umbrella Tree? 🙂

Let me know in the comments.  See ya! Till next time.


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