It’s not often we feature photos of people on this blog, but, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to show you this photo of Jim Smith, one of the true gentlemen in our bonsai community, and a master of large tropical trees (this one looks like a Portulacaria). The photo was posted on facebook by Mareta Martell today with this caption: ‘big bonsai 300 years old by Jim Smith’ (we know it’s not really 300).
A remarkable place
It’s been way too many years since I visited Jim Smith’s Durastone Nursery in Vero Beach. Florida. It’s a remarkable place; just the sheer volume (shear volume too) of bonsai and bonsai stock is overwhelming. So overwhelming in fact that I still can’t quite figure out how Jim and his son Doug keep the whole place from turning into a jungle (it almost the tropics down there, you know). But they do, and the results are a delight to behold (Here’s a note from Mary Miller that I received after I posted this: Jim Smith’s son Doug passed away in 2009 from cancer. It was a sad time, he was a very special guy).
Just gentleman will do
I mostly try to keep personalities out of the picture and just focus on bonsai in this blog. But, I so enjoyed the time I spent with Jim Smith going through his nursery, and his how his kind and gentle demeanor always made the experience doubly enjoyable, that I was going to call this post ‘A Gentelman’s Gentleman,’ that is until I wisely decided to look the term up and discovered that it refers to a Gentleman’s manservant. So we’ll stick with just gentleman. I think if fits just fine.
A Narrow leaf ficus by Jim Smith. If you look closely, you’ll see a bunch of tiny bromeliads in the crotches and along the main branches . The rugged natural feel on this tree is characteristic of Jim’s bonsai. The photo is from ‘A living tribute to the bonsai styling of James J. Smith.’