TAMPA, Fla. — Today’s On The Town story is all about one succulent species, one neighborhood’s yard trash and one man’s mission to spread the Bonsai in the Tampa Bay area.
The succulent species is called Portulacaria Afra — commonly called Dwarf Jade or Elephant Bush.
“We use these species at the workshop because it’s extremely beginner friendly,” said Larry Naeder of Thunderstruck Bonsai in Pinellas Park.
Naeder’s been taking his bonsai tree workshop to Tampa Bay area breweries and distilleries for about a year — called Bonsai and Brews.
It’s the Japanese horticultural art form centuries old.
It’s derived from a Chinese practice from a millennia ago.
And it’s all put together over a local brew made pretty recently.
Naeder leads the workshop, trimming the little succulent from the top of its leggy growth to the bottom of its lacy, beard-like root system.
He repots it in fast draining, rocky soil and secures the bonsai root ball with wire.
There’s a little more soil and food — and bonsai life begins.
Naeder explain how bonsai became his career.
“I fell down a rabbit hole on the internet years ago,” he explained, “fell upon bonsai and kind of became infatuated with it. Found it very calming, relaxing.”
He also found himself growing more patient.
“There’s not much instant gratification at all ‘cause you’re watching a tree grow.”
Truth be told, naeder can and will make a bonsai out of whatever is in front of him, including his neighbor’s unwanted landscaping.
Naeder has rescued, revived and made living art.
Ever the propagator, Naeder OF COURSE recycles his leggy bonsai cuttings.
He waits for the cut to heal on the stem and has a steady stream of re-potted plants.
“And we are going to go ahead and get ready for these to become next year’s trees — a sustainable resource,” said Naeder.
Love and care in the form of water, sun food — and the right trims.
“The magic will come alive,” Naeder says.
Nature Magic y’all.
“One of my favorite parts for me is enjoying and sharing the knowledge and love of Bonsai.”