Bonsai garden being nurtured in Franklin Co.

Published 5:00 am Monday, July 31, 2000

MCCALL CREEK — A garden filled with special trees on the edgeof McCall Creek has served as a place of tranquility to a FranklinCounty man for five years.

“We call it Serenity Gardens. Everybody says it’s so peaceful,”said Lane Foster about his garden of bonsai trees.

He began creating the garden, which is now filled with over 100trees, about five years ago.

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“A friend of mine named Ed Matthews had a bonsai collection, andhe was moving to a new house and couldn’t take all of them withhim, so I bought them from him,” said Foster.

Every year Foster adds to his collection. Matthews has alsocontinued his bonsai garden, and the two work together to createbonsai trees in Franklin County.

Matthews, who lives in Roxie, has served as a mentor to Fosterby teaching him how to give trees a bonsai look. Foster has alsoread books about the art of creating bonsai trees.

He has given his garden a special look by creating bonsai treesfrom maples, azaleas, elms, junipers and ficuses.

“Bonsai means a tree in a pot. You can put any tree in a pot andmake it into a bonsai,” said Foster.

After the trees are potted, he uses copper wire to shape thelimbs and train them to grow in certain ways.

The under side of the limbs must also be trimmed frequently tocreate the bonsai look. It is also important to care for the rootsproperly, said Foster’s wife, Terra.

“You’ve got to trim their roots every couple of years so theywon’t get root-bound, which is where the roots grow together andthey don’t get enough nutrients,” she said.

During the hot summer months, bonsai trees must have extraspecial care. They must be watered daily and some must be placed inthe shade so they will not suffer damage from sunlight, sheadded.

“The sun will fry some of them, like the ficuses, maples andazaleas,” she said.

Many of the bonsai trees are given a unique look when Fosterplaces them in unusual places. Some are grown on top of rocks andin pieces of petrified wood. The petrified wood and rocks serve notonly as bases for some of the trees, but they are also used fordecoration.

A few of the pieces of petrified wood are as long as four feet.Foster has gathered them from the banks of McCall Creek, which isaround 50 yards from the garden.

“I’ve been collecting petrified wood since I was a kid,” saidFoster, adding how the pieces really came in handy when he startedSerenity Gardens.

He has developed such an interest in the trees that he saysthere’s no way he will ever stop creating bonsai trees.

“It’s a lifetime thing. Once you get started in it you don’tever want to quit,” he said.

He hopes to educate more people and get more people interestedin bonsai trees by giving tours of Serenity Gardens. He also had afirst annual event at his garden in May where he showed a group ofabout 50 people how he created bonsai trees. He plans to haveanother show next spring.