TULSA, Okla. — "It's a very relaxing hobby and for the most part, it's not as much work," Tom Howard said.
Howard has been involved with the Green Country Bonsai Club since the early 1970s. After Vietnam, he was living in California when he discovered these tiny trees. It was love at first sight.
"I just find it so relaxing," he said.
Howard said during these crazy times, bonsai is a great way to deal with stress from the pandemic. As good, he said, as a four-legged friend.
"To me, tending a plant is akin to having a dog or a cat that you sit down to pet in your lap," he said.
For those wanting to get into bonsai, Howard recommends starting with what's called a Saikei.
"You can start with really small young plants, a pot and maybe a rock, some imagination, and create a little landscape," he said.
The reward, he said, will be immediate.
"It gives you something to work on and enjoy and to look at," Howard said.
The plants are the same plants you'd find anywhere. The art of bonsai is training them to become something miniature and beautiful. The hardest part is coming up with a good trunk which takes the longest to grow.
"This right here gives you like the base of a big old tree out in nature that you could be sitting under," he said.
Through pinching and grooming, you create the rest. The goal?
"It's not a bonsai until it looks like a tree," he said.
Howard is now president of the Green Country Bonsai Society, and he said his group is always looking to spread the art of bonsai. They're always looking for new members. Howard said you'll make some great friends and learn how to relax.
"Personally, I can come back here and while I'm working on this tree," he said. "I kind of lose myself like I'm in this landscape."
The Green Country Bonsai Society meets at 7 p.m. on the first Monday of every month at the Tulsa Garden Center.
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