Taking Root

The art of bonsai may emanate from the Far East, but in a small nursery in the northwest corner of the Valley this ancient hobby is alive and well.

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  • Written by
    Heather David

“How many people can say they’ve held a tree in their hands?” questions botanical guru Bob Pressler. For the last 20 years he’s been giving students of all ages a chance to do just that at drop-in bonsai workshops he holds at Kimura Bonsai Nursery in Northridge.

Based on the literal translation of bonsai, “tree in a tray,” it sounds pretty simple. But it’s not. Bonsai is a fine art dating back 1,000 years and requiring skill and patience. Artists use various techniques to stunt the growth of a potted tree or shrub so it appears as if it’s a tiny but full-size specimen growing in nature.

Bob directs first-timers as well as the horticulturally-impaired to hardy tree types he deems “bulletproof.” Throughout class he patiently walks clients through the process of determining which branches need to be cut or wrapped with wire to force growth in a specific direction. The balance is creating something visually appealing while not stressing the plant out beyond repair.

Bonsai are not for anyone with a penchant for instant gratification; you do not take home a miniature masterpiece that first day but rather something that looks like a few scrawny branches in need of a little TLC. From that point on, aside from a few trims each year, growing bonsai is simply about letting nature take its course.

Months later you’ll see it take shape. Years later, if all goes according to plan, you’ll have a beautiful, miniature tree to show off.

Kimura Bonsai Nursery  |  17230 Roscoe Blvd.  |  Northridge  |  818-343-4090