The wonderful bonsai collection at Smith-Gilbert Garden was created by Atlanta Bonsai Society (ABS) member Dr. Bob Gilbert and Richard Smith over a 35-year period. The growing bonsai collection includes trees donated by Gilbert, Sid and Mary Pratt, Don Schuck, and other area enthusiasts. Garden volunteers and members of the Smith-Gilbert Bonsai Study Group are working under the direction of ABS member and internationally recognized bonsai master Rodney Clemons to care for the trees.
“It is a tremendous asset for the bonsai community,” says Clemons. “It has the potential to become one of the outstanding collections in the southeast.”
Our members receive a tremendous amount of hands-on experience working with these bonsai and being able to gain that knowledge while working under Rodney’s direction is an additional privilege. Study Group members meet on the second Saturday of each month to improve the collection and their own bonsai skills. Visitors are always welcome.
During the February meeting, 10 members, including collection donor Don Schuck, spent the day working on garden and personal trees. The highlight of the day was a three-hour session during which Dennis McHugh, Rodney, and other helpers rebuilt the top of a 50-year old black pine. This grand old bonsai had lost its top a few years earlier, as sometimes happens with even well cared for trees. Using a trunk splitter, copper wire, raffia, and quite a bit of leverage, the members were able to bend a large, one-inch diameter upper branch 90º to form a new top. The pine will look great is a few years as it is redeveloped. Come visit the collection and track its progress!