For a large number of Americans the only exposure to bonsai is having seen the Karate Kid movie. There may be a roadside stand in your area, or if you're lucky a local shop that happens to carry a few small bonsai trees. What many may not know is that there is most likely a bonsai club nearby.
Having a friend in bonsai is a great way to remove the fear associated with doing something new. Far too many beginners are timid with their trees, resulting in overgrown shrubs with poor shape or no definition. Worse yet are those that are overly aggressive due to lack of knowledge and end up killing tree after tree. The face to face interaction with someone who shares your interest is something that can't be matched. Still, there are some that are successful doing bonsai on their own.
A lot of bonsai is personal preference. Some prefer to spend their bonsai time in isolation, almost in a Zen meditative state, they are perfectly content working on their trees alone, and end up with fine results. The problem with this is that they are not giving back to the bonsai community. They are not passing on their skills and knowledge to anyone else.
We should all strive to remove the mystery associated with bonsai. With increased exposure to bonsai more and more people will grow their interest in the art form. As the basic principles of pruning and repotting are learned individuals will seek to learn more. We need the knowledgeable to step forward and teach others. It is through teaching that we continue to learn.
If a good club exists in your area take full advantage and attend all that your schedule allows. Don't have a club in your area? Start one. Not sure if there is any interest in a bonsai study group? Ask around, you would be surprised how many might be interested. So, come on all you Lone Pines out there, join the community and share your bonsai knowledge with your neighbor.
What is your preferred method for learning bonsai? Are you a member of a club? Study group? Add your comments below.