Mary Corrington was 5 years old when she started her first bonsai tree. Now the middle-age Eugene resident has trees that she has been working with for more than20 years.
People who see her work often ask in amazement about the age of the little trees.
“What’s important is not how old they are; it’s how old they look,” Corrington tells them. “That’s the art.”
Her love of bonsai has taken her across the country and around the world. She has traveled to Japan many times in pursuit of knowledge of the art and craft of growing bonsai trees. In addition to tending to her own trees, Corrington teaches others, as tradition dictates. She also sells her bonsai.
Corrington is a member of the Eugene Bonsai Club, which is part of The American Bonsai Society, an umbrella organization for clubs around the country. The club meets monthly at the Eugene Garden Club’s building and is a place for those who love the art to gather, share and show off their bonsai trees.
At a recent meeting, owners brought in their bonsai and talked about each one. One of the examples, a sculpted juniper tree, had been one member’s first tree seven years ago.
The meetings are also a place to learn. On March 1, the club had its yearly beginner’s day. After the normal club meeting, each new member was given a Japanese juniper tree to work on as a first bonsai.
The club provided all the necessary tools and earth and pots and wire and sticks, for the beginners. More experienced members worked with, and gave advice to, those starting on their first trees.
There was an air of excitement in the room during this first session for the new members. There was also nervousness. “Do I cut off this branch? Do I bend this tree into a semi-cascade with wire or leave it upright?” asked beginners.
By the end of the session, each new member had a bonsai to take home, the beginning of a new art, hobby and pastime for each of them.