Bendigo Bonsai Club members with one of their creations.

The Japanese art form of bonsai, a tradition which is over 1000 years, often seems a mysterious and exotic hobby to many people.

David Allen, the vice president of the Bendigo Bonsai Club, cheerfully dispels any apprehension people may have.

“Whatever tree you see growing and thriving around Bendigo are the same trees you can have a try at growing as a bonsai,” he said.

Bonsai uses cultivation techniques like pruning, root reduction, potting, defoliation, and grafting to produce tiny trees that mimic the shape and style of mature, full-size trees.

Along with other members of the club, Mr Allen is keen to share the knowledge they have accrued over the years. In fact the Bendigo Bonsai Club is celebrating its 40th Anniversary at this year’s Bendigo Easter Festival.

“People are very welcome to come along and see what we do,” he said.

“I had a go when I was younger but managed to kill everything I grew.

“It was when we were walking around the Bendigo Easter Festival in 1993 that I saw the bonsai exhibition and joined the club.”

Mr Allen said he has 200 bonsai at his home and about 2000 “in training”.

“A tree doesn’t become a bonsai until it has been trained,” he said.

As testament to their skills, the club has three bonsai on display at the National Bonsai Collection in Canberra.

Meetings are held on the fourth Saturday of each month at 1.30pm at the Community of Christ Hall in Havlin Street and they take the form of demonstrations and workshops.

You can see the Bendigo Bonsai Club exhibition during the Bendigo Easter Festival.

Their exhibition is at the Uniting Church Hall, Forest Street, Bendigo.

Opening times are Saturday March from 10am to 5pm, Sunday from 10am to 5pm and Monday from 10am to 4pm.

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