Between the Lines: Art of Bonsai comes to Demopolis

The Higher Education Center of Demopolis hosted a wonderful demonstration on the art of creating bonsai trees. Bonsai, which means “ plant in a tray”, is the art of training a plant, shrub, or young tree into a miniature form that resembles the shape and growth habit of a large tree. The art of Bonsai began in China almost 2,000 years ago, but was refined in Japan.

The practice of Bonsai is both an art and a science, as taught by Victoria Madison of Linden. Ms. Madison learned the art of Bonsai in classes at the Botanical Gardens in Denver, Colo., and she generously shared her knowledge with a group of gardening enthusiasts at the Higher Education Center. Several beautiful examples of Bonsai were spaced about the room, created from various easily acquired plants, including azalea, crape myrtle, camellia, maple, and juniper. Ms. Madison also brought a variety of tools used for shaping the plants, trays for potting the bonsai, and a selection of books and handouts that she thought would be of interest to the participants.

The highlight of the evening was a demonstration of the creation of a bonsai plant. Using the tools of the craft, Ms. Madison unpotted a small willow, shaped the roots, and re-potted it in a decorative tray, demonstrating the proper way to trim, shape, and train the plant into the desired shape.

Besides the beauty of the plants, much of the pleasure of Bonsai comes from the ongoing care, training, and shaping of the specimen. With proper care, the gardener can have a multi-dimensional piece of art that changes over time and can give pleasure for years to come.

Various classes for ongoing adult education are offered at the Higher Education Center of Demopolis in conjunction with the University of West Alabama. The faculty and staff of the school are always looking for interesting educational opportunities to offer at the Demopolis campus.

If you are interested in creating Bonsai plants, or would be interested in taking a class in something else offered there, please contact the school at, or contact the University of West Alabama at 205-652-5436.

Lynda Ray is a local enthusiast of all forms of art. Her column, Between the Lines, will appear periodically on