Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A visit to Tropical Bonsai Paradise – Wigert’s Bonsai Nursery, North Ft. Myers, Florida

by Matt Connelly, ACBS president

My family and I were on vacation over spring break in Florida. I was curious what Bonsai nurseries or groups were in the area. I happened to stumble upon Eric Wigert’s nursery in Ft. Myers. It was less than an hour from where we were staying. So when one of the days were blustery and over cast so we decided to take the road trip over to check it out.
I was absolutely blown away upon arrival. There’s over 5 acres of bonsai and pre-bonsai trees to take in.  Every conceivable size and type of tropical and sub-tropical trees was there for sale. Plus, he and his wife maintain over 150 specimen trees in their personal collection, many of which have been featured in prominent bonsai magazines or on display at Epcot.  These range from majestic pink bougainvillea to brazillian, rain tree forests.  It takes over 5 hours to water the collection! Needless to say, they do a happy dance during the rainy season.
He also has a small warehouse full of pots, small to giant sized and an impressive display of netsuke and Chinese mud men figurines. I fell in love with a few of the netsuke, especially these
adorable little oxen and Chinese style, jungle huts. Hopefully, they will compliment and add to the experience at the show this coming summer. I had to really exhibit some restraint when it came to buying trees. There were so many wonderful trees I’d love to own and
work on, but I have to think about how I going to care for this during the winter. I decided to admire them and wish for a time when I live in a more temperate climate.
My five year old was actually more entertained chasing chameleon lizards than playing on the ipad, and believe it or not we actually got more sun walking through the nursery than we would have at the hotel – so call it a win-win.
The local bonsai society meets there as well as many honored artists from around the world come to hold shows and classes.

If you are ever in SW Florida, I’d highly recommend stopping in. You won’t be disappointed.

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