Last weekend was a marathon of repotting. I returned from Japan to find that the pines had started moving and that time was running short to get them in shape for spring. It’s always the one time of year when I feel the clock is against me. I usually repot my most developed trees early in the season, leaving the least developed ones for when I can find the time. And usually I get through most, but not all of my trees, before springs hits.
This year, for maybe the first time in 15 years, I finished repotting all of the trees that needed it by cranking through the last 19 all on Sunday. Today the sun is out (for a change) and I’ll finally learn what it’s like to walk through the garden without feeling the burden of repotting that has to wait for another year.
One garden in which I have never felt this burden is Okamoto’s, a favorite when I first visited in 1993 and again a favorite this year. More than any of the bonsai gardens I’ve visited in Japan, Okamoto’s has the look and feel of a nursery. Like varieties are grouped together and the whole place sprawls across a fairly large and tidy space. Growing up with a nursery as the family business, I find visits to Okamoto’s garden comforting in a way that’s different from visits to the other great bonsai gardens.
And the trees are beautiful. While grouping similarly wonderful trees together tends to lessen the overall effect, each tree on its own is a pleasure to behold.
Deadwood on a shimpaku
Japanese maples and a stewartia
Looking across Okamoto’s garden toward the house and workshop
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