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"And the LORD God made ... trees that were pleasing to the eye ..." Gen. 2:9, New International Version.

"Bonsai isn't just something I do; it's part of what I am." Remark to my wife and daughter.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

A Visit to Wigert's Bonsai

     One of our older girls and her husband, Kira and Trent, flew my wife Princene, our youngest NaevEnya, and me to south Florida for a few days as a Christmas gift. While there, we were able to visit Wigert's Bonsai, about a 30-minute drive away. I'd already gotten one tree from Wigert's online store. Now I was able to see the place in person!

Wigert's Bonsai raises and sells tropical species for bonsai, as well as some trees that aren't strictly tropical but still grow well in their area. They offer a tremendous selection: I saw well over a dozen species and varieties of Ficus, as well as Fukien tea, Florida buttonwood, sea grape, bougainvillea (with half-a-dozen different bract colors), tamarind, gumbo-limbo (Bursera), podocarpus, bald cypress, Chinese elm, Brazilian raintree, parrot's-beak, sageretia, Premna (popular in southeast Asia), Barbados cherry, and, and, and - you get the idea. I even saw Ceiba, or kapok, which I knew from my boyhood in Ecuador, each trunk covered in stout pyramidal thorns.

Their display of prebonsai and partially-shaped stock probably covers more than 2 acres. Here are a few pictures:

Partly-shaped bonsai-to-be beside a Casuarina tree near their store.

Florida buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus), some of them collected.
I joked to the family that they could leave me here and come back in 2-3 days!
Erik and Andrea Wigert own and operate the nursery together, and have their own collection of bonsai. Some of their trees are simply stunning. Here are some more pictures. A few of their own trees are kept by their koi pond ...

This buttonwood (which I presume is a yamadori) is one of their finest bonsai.
You can see my wife in the background, holding her own camera.
Each trunk of this bougainvillea clump is as thick as a man's thigh.
The pot is - literally - the size of a small bathtub. 
.. and the rest of their own trees are in a gravelled area near their house.
I told NaevEnya that this Ficus salicaria was the tree I "would be most tempted to steal!" <wink>
(Forgive the "photobomb" by the power pole in the background.)
Princene, NaevEnya and me beside that Ficus salicaria (willow-leaf fig).
A collected buttonwood. You can see how well the species works for jin and shari.
I got the impression that Erik is the grower, the "behind the scenes" partner, while Andrea handles the store and is usually the one to talk to visitors. I asked her whether they use akadama in their planting mix, and she immediately answered "No." In their rainy climate, she told me, it simply stays too wet. That matches what I've been told by Adam Lavigne, who practices and teaches bonsai not that far away in central Florida. (He in fact refers to it as "aquadama.") Andrea showed me their mix: a coarse blend of scoria, composted bark, and what she called an "expanded clay product," which she said holds no water. It felt to me like a lightweight pebble.

Our son-in-law Trent, chauffeur to us all, is also interested in bonsai and was ready to get his first tools. Wigert's store prices are quite reasonable, and I recommended a few items to start with, such as concave cutters. The Wigerts also offer a schedule of classes, which he hopes to take advantage of.

Ever since I read some things that Jerry Meislik had to say about Ficus rubiginosa, the Port Jackson or rusty fig, I've been interested in getting one. But I wanted to see one "in person" first, before I took it on. When I mentioned my interest in Port Jackson fig, the family members with me offered to help search the display area for specimens. I gave them the scientific and common names again. Then, as we were all about to scatter over more than two acres packed with prebonsai trees, I happened to glance down at the sign identifying the trees beside - right beside - which I was standing. You guessed it - "Port Jackson fig!"

Trent and Kira kindly bought me a Port Jackson fig as another Christmas present, and the airline and TSA kindly let me bring it home on the plane. Here's a picture taken after I got it home.
My Ficus rubiginosa; you can see why one of the common names is "rusty fig".
The pot is 8 inches across (about 20½ cm); base of the main trunk just over an inch in diameter.
Thanks for everything, Trent and Kira!

For a link to Wigert's website, see the sidebar. 

(For any regular readers who have wondered at my 6-month silence on this blog, various health issues, mainly related to the passing of time, have been largely responsible. I hope to resume writing often enough for it to be worth your while to read - assuming you consider it worth your while in the first place!)

:-)  :-)  :-)


  1. Great post, Steve! Really happy Kira and I got to visit Wigert's with you. Your Port Jackson fig is looking great!

    1. Thanks, Trent. I'm glad I was able to introduce you to a professional near you.