It was on the outskirts of suburban Constantia, tucked away behind an ordinary suburban gate, that we stumbled upon a most magical find one Sunday – a patch of earth dedicated to the cultivation and care of tiny trees.
We could hardly believe our eyes as we strolled along the well-curated garden paths and studied the incredible array of species on display. There were Juniper, Cedar, Pine, Spruce, Ficus, Maple, Elm, Celtis and many more in varying degrees of tininess. Miniature forests rooted to grey rocks, grandpa bonsai dating back to the 1930s and babies that had just been trimmed for the first time. Some were for sale (prices ranging from just under R100 to well over R1 000), while others had obviously required a lifetime of love, attention and care that there was simply no way to put a price tag on them.
Inside a little Wendy house among the diminutive trees, owner, Gail Theron sits plying her trade and perfecting her art – day in and day out. According to an article on Cape Town ETC she fell in love with bonsai many moons ago, so much so that she left her job as a radiographer to train as a nurseryman. She and her husband opened a nursery together in 1980. Both keen on cultivating bonsai, they made use of every opportunity to add to their knowledge by travelling extensively throughout Asia where the art form was, of course, born.
While we didn’t get a chance to chat to her while we were there, it’s obvious that Gail has a passion for sharing her more-than-40 years of bonsai knowledge with fellow enthusiasts. Not only does the nursery stock all the tools you will need to take care of your own tiny tree, but they also offer bonsai coursers and workshops – both for beginners and those who are more advanced.