Bonsai guy

The South Dade Garden Club is hosting a presentation by master bonsai artist Randy Brooks, right, at Fruit & Spice Park.

HOMESTEAD — The basics of bonsai, the art of creating miniature versions of mature trees found in nature, is being offered in a free two-hour class at the Fruit & Spice Park.

The South Dade Garden Club is hosting master bonsai artist Randy Brooks during its meeting on Thursday, Jan. 14. The event is open to the public.

“We invite everyone to come to learn or bring a bonsai to share with the group,” said garden club president Loretta Alvarez.

Brooks has been a master bonsai gardener for more than 20 years and has served as the past president of the Bonsai Society of Miami.

“Buttonwood makes great plants,” Brooks said when asked which native species work best. “Any kind of buttonwood with old dead wood on it. They make an impressive specimen. There’s also sea grapes, stoppers and pigeon plum.”

The idea is to train the tree to produce miniature leaves so flowering trees may have visual challenges.

For instance, the flowers of hibiscus shrubs are “absurdly disproportionate” to the leaves, Brooks said.

“You have this little tree with these huge flowers, so it looks a little funny. The leaves get smaller but the flower always stays the same size,” he said.

Lantana and bougainvillea make good bonsai, he said.

Event goers are encouraged to bring soil, a pot and a plant they may want to bonsai.

“Bring it and we can discuss it. As for soil, I like to use fast-draining soil with a little organic material mixed into it,” Brooks said.

“Us bonsai people are really good at sharing knowledge.”

Alvarez is considering turning her 5-foot-tall royal poinciana into a bonsai at the event under Brooks’ guidance.

Free vanilla orchids will be given to attendees while supplies last. Alvarez has begun cultivating her own vanilla orchids and is encouraging other gardeners to grow their own as well.

The bonsai presentation will take place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Fruit & Spice Park, 24801 S.W. 187th Ave. in Homestead. Space is limited for this free event. COVID-19 guidelines will be followed. All attendees must wear masks and social distancing must be practiced. The presentation may be available online.

For more information, find the South Dade Garden Club on Facebook under the name.

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