Selby Gardens, Sarasota, Florida – A Bonsai Retreat

By Guest Author – Sho Fu Member – Kay Karioth

Southwest Florida’s premiere bonsai garden is proudly sponsored by the Sho Fu Bonsai Society of Sarasota.

This is a project that started in 2007 after Sho Fu members John and Cindy Petterson returned from a visit to the Morikami Gardens with the thought that Florida’s West Coast would be the perfect location for a bonsai exhibit, and the Marie Selby Botanic Gardens would be the perfect home for that display.

John and Cindy Petterson (shown here,) together with Erik Wigert and Mike and Lunetta Knowlton, set about to make the dream a reality.

After months of negotiation and planning with Selby – and months of fundraising efforts by Sho Fu – the bonsai garden was unveiled in the spring of 2009 at the annual Asian Festival, which draws thousands of visitors to Selby.

The Society itself was established in December of 1975. In celebration of their 35th anniversary in December 2011, the beautiful Torii Gate was installed as an entrance to the exhibit, with several original founding members in attendance.

The Selby Gardens permanent bonsai exhibit is maintained by Sho Fu’s volunteer curator Richard Dietrich (here by the Tori gate.)

Richard works with a dedicated exhibit maintenance team made up of Sho Fu members. Selby Gardens provides the perfect venue for the display and support staff to help volunteers care for and protect the trees.

By the formal opening in February of 2009, Sho Fu had accumulated an inventory of eleven trees and two forests for the small but impressive display.

These bonsai trees came through a combination of donations from members, as well as from noted bonsai artists such as Erik Wigert, Mary Madison, Hal Mahoney, and Cliff Pottberg (all Sho Fu members), as well as Jim Smith, Alan Carver, Joe Day, Ernie Fernandez and Dorothy Schmitz.

Sho Fu is constantly upgrading and adding to the exhibit. This assures returning visitors of new and exciting bonsai.

Selby Gardens hosts over 130,000 visitors annually. Sho Fu is happy to share our exhibit with these guests. What a wonderful collaborative effort this is!

Courtesy of Sho Fu Bonsai Society

Where to Go From Here

To see photos of the actual trees in this bonsai garden and learn more about the Sarasota, FL society visit: Sho Fu Bonsai Bonsai Society website.

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