Bonsai at Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden

I’m an abject failure

My wise old grandmother

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

When I was just a youth of 11, my wise old grandmother forced me to work in the yard. Today it might be called child labor…. :). We had a big yard. In order to provide us privacy in a city subdivision, our yard was bordered by ligustrum in the back and oleanders in the front and on the sides. I was the one that kept the oleanders and ligustrum trim and neat, looking nice, but that might be the reason why I have never had ligustrum or oleanders around my homes…. :)

Morning gloryOn the back patio and in the foundation planters she had poinsettias, crowns of thorns, nandinas, pansies, snapdragons, petunias, and morning glories, all with billions and billions and billions of beautiful flowers. Of course, I never got to help with the beautiful plants, just the ligustrum and those nasty oleanders. Note that all parts of the oleander are toxic, and the sticky sap can play havoc with your skin, causing a pretty good rash if you’re sensitive or allergic (like me!).

One day I asked my wise old grandmother if I could have a garden of my own. I never expected her to say yes, but she gave me a pretty good-sized plot of her yard for my garden. Unfortunately, it was the only spot in the yard where nothing would grow. It was sunny and hot, and the hot air from the air conditioner blew there.

Golden Barrel Cactus flowersHa! I fooled her! A friend and I went down to Mexico (with his parents; we were too young to go by ourselves) and bought a bunch of cactus and succulents. We planted them in my garden, and just a few months later I had beautiful cactus and succulent flowers.

That’s where my dislike of ligustrum and oleanders came from, and where my love of cactus and succulents started. In fact, that’s where my love of plants started, and I’ve developed my gardening skills such that I have only failed at growing vegetables and herbs…………

………….and bonsai.

How I love bonsai, but as many times as I have tried to grow and care for bonsai, I’m an abject failure there. Thus I always enjoy getting out & about and finding a beautiful bonsai collection. There is a permanent display at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in the Bonsai Pavilion, and there is a four-week display each summer at the San Diego County Fair.

Recently when I was up at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Garden, I found another display, albeit just a weekend display for a bonsai show they were having. Following are some pictures from the show. My favorites are the little forests and the wind-swept pines.

Bonsai at Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bonsai at Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bonsai at Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bonsai at Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bonsai at Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Best in ShowBonsai at Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bonsai at Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bonsai at Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bonsai at Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bonsai at Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bonsai at Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bonsai at Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bonsai at Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bonsai at Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

21st Century AwardBonsai at Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bonsai at Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bonsai at Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bonsai at Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

29 thoughts on “I’m an abject failure

  1. Chas Spain

    Agree the mini forests are amazing, as is the Ginkgo (wow). I don’t think you’re a mortal failure for not mastering the bonsai – I’m sure you’re just a normal human with other things to do with your life.

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        1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

          If only I could do all the things that Zoey the Cool Cat does all day — sleep, stalk birds, sleep, eat, sleep, poop, sleep, eat, stalk birds, sleep. What a life. I want to come back as a spoiled cat!……..lol

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  2. sa saliw ng awit

    hello, sir Russel. you’re just saying, you’re missing grandma again. and now, there’s something to be said for your gardening skills already, ahaha. :) am sure she’s proud. those are nice bonsais… ;) hope you are well.

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  3. Angeline M

    These bonsai are really beautiful. How do they grow those? Once they’ve grown, though, easy maintenance I would think…a little snip here and a little snip there will do it.

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  4. acflory

    Those bonsai truly are exquisite, but I can’t bear to own any. I did buy one a few years back. A couple of months after buying it I set it free. It lived a good life in the garden until the alpacas ate it. Oh well, the circle of life…

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  5. baconbiscuit212

    Good for you! I bet that your cactus garden was beautiful. There is a cactus garden as part of the New York Botanical Garden up here and I have always wanted something like that of my own.

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      New York Botanical Garden is one of the few that I have not ben to. In fact, the Bronx is the only borough that I haven’t been to in the city other than riding a train through it.

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  6. kanzensakura

    I LOVE THESE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Talk about child labor and cruel and unusual punishment: Years ago while visiting my Grandma Bessie during a particularly hostile July, my cousin Tommy and I got into a bout of fisticuffs. That was about 10 minutes after we had complained about being bored, hot, blah blah, in the deep country with only 1 TV station…..Grandma Bessie heard us and came out to find us rolling around and covered in Mecklenburg red dust. “If you are not too hot and bored to fight, then you can go help JN down in that garden and pick me a bushel of butterbeans!” Lesson learned? Go down past the wood pile where Grandma Bessie couldn’t hear and have that next fight.

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