2016-09-01 / Shorts

in Training

Boen Wang

Ross Adams doesn’t consider himself a patient person, despite practicing the Japanese horticultural art ofPhoto courtesy Happy Valley Bonsai ClubPhoto courtesy Happy Valley Bonsai Club bonsai for over 40 years.

“Some people say it really takes patience to grow bonsai, but there’s nothing you can do. You have to wait until it’s time,” Adams says. “I’ve a tree with very large leaves. This year I cut off the leaves and they came out a little smaller — next year I’ll do the same thing, and they’ll be a little smaller still.”

Adams first became interested in bonsai while living in California in 1975 as a landscaper, where gardens were more influenced by “Eastern cultures than England.” Literally translated from the Japanese, bonsai means “plant in a pot.” Trees, shrubs and other plants are relocated to a container, where they are trained and styled to mimic natural forms in miniature. “They take you to a place that’s beyond that little pot,” he says. “You can look at a little grove of bonsai and you can be in the woods.”

In 1989, four years after moving to State College for grad school at Penn State, Adams started taking classes at a bonsai studio outside Harrisburg. Two years ago, Adams founded the Happy Valley Bonsai Club so bonsai enthusiasts in Central PA no longer had to drive to Harrisburg for company. The club itself is quite small — about 11 regular members, ranging from age 26 to 70 — and hosts monthly meetings at the Art Alliance of Central PA in Lemont. Visitors are always welcome, Adams says.

“We come together to have an open work session where we bring a tree and work on it,” Adams says.

“We’re not at the point yet where we can invite internationally known people, but that’s our aim, to provide training here in Centre County from people across the country and the world, so that we can continue to learn and other people will become interested in it.”

Adams would also like to attract younger members to the club, but until then, he and other members will continue to train their trees. “You can only do what you can only do,” he says. “You can’t rush it.”

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