Bonsai Arrangements Aren't In Short Supply Here

Bonsai Gardens 400-4 Talcottville Road, Vernon 860-872-9400

Bonsai Gardens

VICTOR ENG, bonsai master and owner of Bonsai Gardens in Vernon, trims a 30-year-old Chinese fukien tea bonsai at the shop. Customers can choose from finished bonsai arrangements or buy pre-bonsai nursery stock to make their own. (MARC-YVES REGIS I / November 13, 2007)

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What's Selling: Bonsai master Victor Eng makes all of the bonsai arrangements he sells. They come in a range of sizes and prices, and feature all kinds of plants. Bonsai literally means potted tree, and is the ancient art of making any plant or tree or shrub look like a miniature. Customers can choose from finished bonsai arrangements or buy pre-bonsai nursery stock to make their own. The kinds of plants include juniper, cypress, Japanese maple and many unique edible fruit trees. Eng also sells the pots, soil and other materials needed to make your own bonsai arrangement.

Who Goes There? Eng's customers vary in age and interest, but most are repeat customers who get into bonsai, and much of them hear about it by word of mouth. "Like any hobby or interest, it gets to be a passion," Eng said. Even high school students have shown interest in the art form.

Who Works There? Eng, 57, runs the shop by himself, which is "the back third of the back corner" of the Terra Gardens store. He rents the space from Jim Chipello, owner of Terra Gardens. Eng studied bonsai under Frank Okamura at Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, which had one of the foremost bonsai collections in the country.

Cool Fact: Eng sold bonsai arrangements to Art Garfunkel and Alan Alda when he ran his store in New York City. He also presented a bonsai tree to Gov. M. Jodi Rell on behalf of Connecticut small business owners. The oldest tree he has for sale is 30 years old, and he has one in his house that is 60 to 70 years old. He calls it "Nixon" because he got it during the Nixon years.

Shawn Beals

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