Vriends Bonsai

This weekend I finally had the chance to take a visit to what I assume is Edmonton’s only shop specializing in Bonsai plants and supplies. Mhip and Harry of Vriend’s Bonsai run this little shop out of their home. The couple have been mastering the art for 45+ years now, and finally had the chance to take a trip out to their place to pick all of the supplies that I need for this coming spring, meet them and have a look around.

As you already know there is not much in Alberta for Bonsai enthusiasts and with a hardy zone of 3ish it makes it difficult for me to find anything relating to bonsai. Gardening Zone 3b explains this hardiness zone quite well. Most of what I acquired today I would have had to order online had I not had the opportunity to visit Mhip and Harry. Can you imagine the shipping I would pay ordering a bag of lava rock from the states or Akadama from Japan?! This was the first thing I seen walking into their greenhouse/shop.

V1 V2 V11

Jackpot!! I hit the gold mine. The moment I walked in here I thought to myself thank goodness, now I won’t have to order everything I need online. Over the next few weeks I will be preparing to bring my bonsai’s out of dormancy and I’ll be needing to prepare soil, get all of my wire ready and have fertilizer at hand. Vriends had everything I needed to get this job started. Typically, February is the time in which to decide which of your trees will require repotting and to check your quantities of supplies, wire, etc. When March approaches, this will be the time most appropriate to begin repotting and root pruning deciduous trees, pending the tree of course. At this time you’ll also want to begin planting seeds, and working on nursery stock.

Unfortunately Vriends has to decided to close it’s doors after many years of service. I will definitely be back to purchase some more of the stock they have that they are trying to get rid of. I’m happy to say though that Mhip and Harry will carry on with their hobby and have ever so kindly invited me to join them in the spring/summer when they begin more extensive work on their bonsai’s. I’m really looking forward to learning a thing or two from this very experienced couple. Most importantly, they have been “bonsologists” for many years and know a few tricks about growing bonsai’s in this climate since raising a Chinese Elm in Edmonton is a lot different than raising one in Florida.

They have sold a large number of their trees. Regardless here is some of their amazing work. Perhaps I will purchase a bonsai from them in the future as a reminder of how inviting and encouraging this lovely couple has been.

V3 V4 V5 V10 V8 V6 V9Sorry the photos are kind of crappy, I only had my phone with me.

I’m really excited to see what their large trees that are covered with snow look like. Mhip mentioned that she will be planning on working on plum and apple trees this summer.


Harry cleaning some moss off a trunk

All in all I bought Akadama, Pumice, Charcoal, lava rock, 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 mm annealed copper for wiring. Two beautiful pots which I will take pictures of and post when I use them and some fertilizer.

I’m really excited to take a visit back here. Pretty soon I will post about making soil for my bonsai’s including tips and how too’s that I’ve plucked from researching. As well I’ll be updating you on my preparations for the spring and what I plan on doing. Additionally I would like to see how yamadori will fair. The time is coming for this to happen too.


6 thoughts on “Vriends Bonsai

  1. I’m looking to pick up an indoor bonsai right now and have just perused a local Bonsai specialty store in Vancouver. Any suggestions for an absolute beginner? I remember liking the look of juniper, and the first bonsai in your photos looks beautiful.

    • The specialty store located in your area is a good place to start, hopefully they will give you some good advice on how to begin. Read, read, read as much as you can about soils, trees, pots, wiring, climates, dormancy etc. Being a beginner myself some of the things that I have learned is that it is better to grow your own bonsai than to purchase one from a grocer or garden centre. Typically you will see the Juniper in these stores because they sell. They are often referred to as mallsai bonsai and are a bit of a nuisance to the community of bonsai since they provide the wrong direction to beginners such as you and I. They were started as a fad back in the 70’s and have since been commercialized to provide instant gratification to those who want an instant bonsai. Regardless, if you would like to purchase one of those junipers, I recommend watching it carefully and do not under any circumstances grow it indoors. These trees need outdoor exposure year round or you will exhaust the plant and it will ultimately just die. What I recommend doing if you would like the satisfaction of quick results, is to go to your local garden centre once spring has arrived in your area and purchase a few nursery stock plants, (usually in a 5 gallon black container). Prune, defoliate, wire, transplant and use these as learning trees. Try an keep them alive and if they die at least you spent 5$ and not 15$ on a mallsai that was doomed in the first place. I have purchased a mallsai as a little experiment to see how it will fair and I plan on repotting it this spring. There are several other blogs that provide a lot of beginner insight and good teachings like Adam’s Art and Bonsai Blog, Bonsai Eejit, Lakeshore Bonsai and many others. All the best of luck to you!

  2. Darn wish i would have seen this store before they closed. i am very new to bonsai and trying to figure out the basics.

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