Littleton, MA & Online
Bonsai nursery, retail center and gallery
There is a quiet nursery near where I live - it is one of those places that you can easily drive by every day for a lifetime and never pay attention to, until one day you just pull in - and then suddenly you can't imagine that you missed something so extraordinary for so long. Bonsai West is that kind of place. I first stopped in a couple summers ago and was blown away but went back today to share its magic with you.
Turns out Bonsai West, owned by Michael Levin, is a regional (if not national) mecca for bonsai enthusiasts. Today I went back with the sole purpose of asking questions (something in my earlier awe, I was incapable of doing), taking a tour and photographing so I could show you this amazing place.
I was shown around by a woman who volunteers there - just because she loves it so much. She kindly shared with me the beautiful bonsai collection that is part of the nursery, as well as those plants that belong to the many clients (including her) who winter board their collections.
To give you a taste, there are many greenhouses (I toured 3 but there were a few more that I didn't enter), a pot shed (filled with all sorts of interesting bonsai containers), a couple of cold frames for boarding customer's cold hardy bonsai (keeping them out of the wind and giving them a little protection but not robbing them of the cold season), tropical greenhouses (for tropical bonsai) and a plant hospital. Yes, a plant hospital — they will take in your plant or bonsai, nurse it back to health and take care of it and then give it back to you. This single service alone made me giddy with excitement and loving that such a thing even exists. Plus, I have a few ailing citrus I am that I am thinking of signing up for an extended servicing at the clinic.
Bonsai West has a plant selection beyond your wildest imagination and they ship (for those of you farther afield). But if you are within driving distance of East Central Massachusetts, I advise you make a trip - it is well worth the drive.
Winter at Bonsai West is just as interesting as summer. Right now there are so many bonsai to see that are being winter boarded, but in the summer the collection moves outside and you can walk the beautiful gardens (that, as I said before, you would never know exists until you tuck inside).
I have lots of reading that I picked up — and I am thinking that I will probably share a bit more about the basics of bonsai next week (I'm a newly minted bonsai addict -- and plan to sign up for some of Bonsai West's extensive classes). More to come....
(Images: Rochelle Greayer