Via Voyage Tampa
Today we’d like to introduce you to Larry Naeder.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
My bonsai journey started seven years ago when I first saw a small tree in person and was instantly mesmerized. From that point forward, I wanted to know everything and anything I could learn about the art. I’ve since turned my hobby into a full-time business and now own/operate the only bonsai nursery in St. Pete, where I cultivate and practice the art of bonsai on multiple species of tropical trees!
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Surprisingly, yes it has been pretty smooth. Although my biggest struggle would definitely be keeping up with the demand and constantly creating new trees for customers.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
First, I’d like to explain what bonsai is because there is a common misconception. Most people think bonsai is the small little Juniper tree that Mr. Miyagi made so popular through the Karate Kid franchise. While that is true, it does not end there. Bonsai is not a specific tree or species, it is the art and technique of creating the illusion of a small tree in a pot. With that being said, living here In Florida, I tend to use mostly tropical species that are native to our climate. Specifically, I prefer to use unwanted and or neglected local landscaping to create my trees. I seek out material through various ways and will go and dig stumps out of neighbor’s yards and work on them for a few years to turn them into living pieces of art!
We’d love to hear about how you think about risk taking?
The first thing that comes to mind is certainly when I decide to pull a tree out of the ground, chop it down to a stump and put it in a pot with the hope of keeping it alive in order to turn it into bonsai. It is definitely a risk every time I do this because there’s always a chance of the tree dying and the last thing I want is to lose that tree by not properly caring for it during its recovery process. There are many things I do to minimize shock and get the tree back to a healthy point but there is always a risk! You have to realize that you are taking on the care and responsibility from that point forward for the rest of the trees existence and no longer Mother Nature.
- Trees range from 25$-7,000$
Original article courtesy of Voyage Tampa: http://voyagetampa.com/interview/meet-larry-naeder-of-pinellas-park-st-pete/
Though bonsai is widely recognized as a Japanese art form, its roots can be traced to China as far back as the Han Dynasty in 210 B.C. In fact, their earliest documented proof of existence can be found in the tomb of Prince Zhuang Huai, who died in the year 706. Wall paintings in the prince’s tomb depict servants carrying a miniature landscape.
The solitary sample trees raised in China more than a thousand years ago were very basic. They displayed very little foliage and their gnarled roots and trunks resemble animals, most notably fiery dragons, arched serpents, and other imaginative creatures and landscapes. Today these ancient bonsai remain among the most highly prized.
Embraced by the Japanese
It wasn’t until the 12 th century that the Japanese began to adopt bonsai, as they did many other Chinese art forms. The art and technique of dwarfing trees became popular with Zen Buddhists, and for many years was restricted to the religious seclusion of monasteries. The art of bonsai eventually evolved outside the monastery walls, however, and became a symbol of prestige and honor among Japanese aristocrats.
By the 17th century, bonsai had become one of the most preferred of all the Japanese arts, and had far surpassed its development as an art form in China . Eventually, bonsai trees were brought indoors by the Japanese elite, at first to be displayed on special occasions. Eventually they would become integral to the tokonoma, a place in the Japanese home where valuable ornaments and prized possessions are displayed.
It wasn’t long before the art of bonsai permeated all of Japanese culture and became common even among the public. Now firmly established in the culture and traditions, bonsai began to take on diverse styles. Artists strived to introduce unique elements to their bonsai plants, including rocks, supplementary landscapes, and small buildings or bon-kei. With the bonsai’s cultural boom, the artistic possibilities were almost limitless.
The bonsai moves west
It wasn’t until the middle of the 19 th century that the art of bonsai opened up to the rest of the world, after centuries of isolation in Japan despite the cultural boom. Travelers who visited Japan raved about the miniature trees in ceramic containers that mimicked the age and weathered appearances of full-grown trees in nature. Exhibitions began to appear in London , Vienna , and France , including the Paris Word Exposition in 1900.
The world’s eyes were open, and The Japanese learned to capitalize very quickly.
Nurseries were dedicated to slowly grow, train, and export bonsai, and different species were being trained that were more suited for worldwide climates and artistic tastes. At the end of World War II, interested in bonsai was sparked in the U.S. when soldiers returned from Japan with the trees in tow. It became an invaluable opportunity for Japanese Americans, whose knowledge was important to Americans eager to learn the art.
The bonsai as “modern art”
Today, for better or for worse, bonsai trees can be found in department stores, garden centers, and nurseries, and are even sold over the Internet. It has grown to become a widely respected horticultural art form in the U.S. , South Africa , and Australia . But even as the popularity of bonsai reaches greater heights, one thing has not changed. As an art form, it represents the harmony between man, the soul, and nature. It is a philosophy with centuries-old roots that still defines this ancient yet somehow modern art form.
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