Some of the inventory at Wigert Bonsai Nursery.
If you drive along Route 41 in North Fort Myers and see a sign that reads “Bonsai –>” you owe it to yourself to take that turn because frankly, bonsai is about our only chance to control nature without it coming back to bite us. Just think about it: little dish, large root, tiny branches and enough repressive wire to make G. Gordon Liddy long for the good old days. It’s bondage in its most natural form. Thank you, Japan.
Regardless, if you take that turn, you’ll wind up on South Road, staring at the entrance to Wigert’s Bonsai Nursery (www.wigertsbonsai.com), southwest Florida’s only hardcore bonsai business. It’s all bonsai, all the time. They don’t sell anything that doesn’t relate to the ancient art.
Situated on six prime acres of Florida dirt, Wigert’s is exactly like a regular tree nursery, only, you know, smaller. There are rows and rows of trees for sale, the biggest barely reaching shoulder height—and that’s with the help of a tree stand. Everything from bougainvillea to ficus to Brazilian raintrees are on site in various stages of bonsai-ness. In fact, most of the trees at Wigert’s are actually “pre-bonsai.” That means they are just in plastic pots. In order for a little tree to be considered an actual bonsai it needs to be in a shallow tray. The word actually translates to “tree in a tray.” Again, thank you, Japan. Prices start at $25 and work their way up to an eye-watering $12,000 for a few of the “specimen trees.
Bonsai trees like this can go for more than $10,000.
Erik Wigert, and his wife, Andrea, own the place (which is lucky because their name matches the sign) and are bonsai devotees. In fact, Erik is a highly respected bonsai artist who travels across the country teaching workshops on the art. Wigert’s Nursery even has a classroom on premises for workshops geared to all levels of experience. (In our freshmen year of college we were given a maple bonsai and when autumn came, all the leaves fell off… By graduation, having never seen the leaves reappear, it was decided the tree was dead… According to the Wigert’s, that makes us a “beginner.”) Nevertheless, hope springs eternal and if having living works of art in your home seems cool, you should head over to Wigert’s and buy a small tree, a shallow tray and enough wire to let it know who’s boss.
If you feel like checking out the local bonsai scene and mingling with others who can’t see the forest for the tiny trees, The Bonsai Society of Southwest Florida (www.thebonsaisswfl.com) has its annual show and sale Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 1-2) at the Lee County Election Center, 13180 S. Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers. It’s free admission!