Club History

The club was formed as a result of a talk given to the California Gardening Club by John White in October 1993. At that time John was chairman of the British Bonsai Association and his talk and accompanying demonstration was one of the most popular ever given to the California Gardeners. His subject was creating a bonsai from ordinary nursery stock, in this case a rather misshapen juniper which, because it was such a bad shape, he had obtained at a knock-down price. He started speaking just after 8pm and, apart from a short refreshment break, he kept going with the demonstration and answering questions until 11.15pm when he finally said "I'm sorry but I really am going to stop there and go home". John then arranged a meeting in Barkham Village Hall in December, which was attended by 14 people, who decided to form the Berkshire Bonsai Society and the new club met for the first time in January 1994.

Most of the founding members were complete novices and John insisted that although some instruction through talks was a great help, the best way to learn, as members soon came to appreciate, was to take one's courage in one's own hands and fashion bonsai for oneself starting with an inexpensive shrub from a garden centre. To their surprise members found that they didn't kill the shrub but by judicious pruning and shaping with wire they were soon able to produce specimens worthy of a place on the show bench.

The club activities soon settled into the current pattern of a mixture of talks, workshops and fun evenings. The workshops are particularly important as they give members the opportunity to bring their trees and get ideas about their development from other members.