Guy Guidry's new Uptown nursery isn't very big — it's about 1,000 square feet — but then, neither are the trees that are its specialty.
"NOLA Bonsai will promote bonsai to a new level," says Guidry, who studied the art under bonsai masters John Yoshio Naka and Vaughn Banting. "It used to be a mystery and a burden: People would receive one as a gift and kill it and feel guilty. We want to make people successful at growing it, and make it an alternative to cut flowers and roses."
The store will offer classes where participants can make their own bonsai, a process that consists of choosing a plant, potting, wiring and pruning it, and learn the scientific and horticultural techniques behind maintaining the tiny trees. Classes are 1.5-3 hours in length and start at $45. There also are azalea, juniper, pine, bald cypress and ficus bonsai for sale that range in age from 5 to more than 300 years and are priced at $25-$1,000, as well as all the tools and supplies a bonsai enthusiast could require.
"I was taken under the wing of a bonsai master as a kid and learned the way of life. It was the Karate Kid story without the karate," Guidry says. "For the last 30 years, I've been growing bonsai and enjoying their power. I feel passionate that anybody can do it. I love trees and nature, and it's contagious —if you come to my shop, bonsai will more than likely become an addiction and a compulsion."
NOLA Bonsai (1529 Jackson Ave., 985-705-3357) celebrates its grand opening from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17. There will be music by Luke Winslow-King and Esther Rose.