Bonsai at Oyama

Bonsai began in South Africa in Johannesburg in the mid "50s" by the Timms brothers and came to Cape Town during the mid "60s". Becky Lukas, one of the drivers of the establishment of bonsai South Africa who stayed in St James went to Japan and studied for several months under a Japanese master.  Bernard Coetzee was on of her students and in 1985 decided with Des Slate to start a new club in the Plumstead area; they called the club Oyama Bonsai Kia (literally translated to big mountain bonsai club).

The club held its first exhibition at Kirstenbosch in 1986 and has never looked back.  It has been a leading innovator in national bonsai ever since its inception producing some of the leading figures in bonsai in SA.

Whilst Des took on the responsibility for running the club from day to day, Bernard focused on teaching bonsai design.  He was a proponent of "design without style" a process for designing trees around their good features and the tree would end up in a style rather than trying to force a tree into unnatural designs.  Over the years the system of growing Bonsai to a style ruined many trees that were forced in the style of the growers choice.  Bernard realized that this was not the way to go about designing and led Oyama members to rather design the tree around good features, making more natural bonsai.  This is a principle followed by a great many growers today and is taught at Oyama's Beginners Course

We hold our Easter Show yearly on the Easter weekend at Kirstenbosch's Richard Crowie Hall, where most club members get involved in the running of the show and interacting with the general public.

There are many types of growers in the club.  Social growers who just enjoy a few trees and dabble in growing them.  There are growers who want good trees but never have enough time to give.  The bonsai fan who is not interested in growing bonsai but just wants a fabulous display and buy's established trees.  And of course the bonsai grower who eats and dreams about bonsai going to all parts of the country to dig out material as well as going to conventions all over the world.  Oyama welcomes them all.

The main feature of the club is the monthly meeting held every second Wednesday of the month. The meeting, conducted via Zoom, starts at 8:00 PM. 

Regular workshops are also scheduled throughout the year.  These are great opportunities to see other growers trees.  Bring trees along for advice and to work on them with other members. 

A monthly newsletter containing useful growing hints for the month as well as other articles and club news, is emailed to members