The Bonsai Society

At the very mention of the word ‘bonsai,’ one conjures up images of Mr. Miyagi, the sagacious sensei in the Karate Kid movies, grooming his dwarf tree and making references to its strength.

“Bonsai tree have strong root. Same you. Inside you have strong root too, Daniel-san,” Miyagi said to his young student. Interestingly, Miyagi has been credited with advancing the art of bonsai and renewing an interest in its practice. It is an art that is said to bring calm to one’s life as it brings nature to one’s home. Japanese masters have practiced bonsai for centuries, each bonsai being passed down to a new generation.

Thanks to the Central Oklahoma Bonsai Society (C.O.B.S.), the millennia-old art form is still going strong and is alive and well in central Oklahoma. The Japanese word ‘bonsai’ literally means ‘potted plant.’ It is the art of miniaturization of trees by growing them in containers.

In 1987, hobbyists Dale Haworth, Charles Elmore, Sandy Hernandez and Frank Baird were among those who got together and formed an official Bonsai Club. In the spring of 1987, TLC Nursery offered a bonsai workshop to overwhelming public response. It was obvious at the time that there was a need for such a club.

“There are about 35 to 40 members and we meet once a month to share information on how to do bonsai,” said Dale Haworth, the club’s co-founder.

“When we first started, TLC Nursery was gracious enough to let us use their facilities for our meetings and supported us in so many ways,” Haworth said.

The organization is affiliated with other clubs in the nation through Bonsai Clubs International and is registered officially with Oklahoma’s Secretary of State as a non-profit organization. According to Keith Warren, club historian, the purpose of the club is to educate members in the aesthetic features of the art form and “to promote the knowledge, interest, appreciation and enjoyment of bonsai through monthly meetings.”

The society hosts an exhibition at the Will Rogers Gardens each year. This year’s show will be held on May 31 and June 1 with a display of 100-125 trees and daily demonstrations. The bonsai club provides an atmosphere where hobbyists can learn to develop their trees into aesthetically appealing shapes by growing, pruning and training them in containers according to prescribed techniques. For more information on the Central Oklahoma Bonsai Society visit

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