As the by-line below the title of my blog indicates, a major part of my work is with the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens’ bonsai collection. Over the past four years, what I’ve found is that we bonsai people are a unique phenomenon. We routinely perform procedures that are considered among the most complex and advanced in the botanical and horticultural world; we have intimate knowledge and unique hands-on experience of working with trees that is rarely found elsewhere; we are masterful technicians of applied botany.
This knowledge and experience are worth a lot of money. The bonsai professional would be well advised to establish himself as a trusted, respected, and often-consulted expert not only inside the bonsai community, but among the botanical and horticultural communities as well. This is not only a potential revenue channel – the connections and professional relations that can be developed from consulting to these latter circles offer myriad advantages and opportunities.
For example, a lot of time, money, and effort are being invested world-wide in tree conservation and in forestry management. Consulting to these operations not only helps serve an important cause, but also puts the bonsai professional in a position to receive top-quality material that otherwise might have become firewood. Bonsai professionals working with botanical gardens can generate valuable ties and income for their organizations.
Leveraging our unique knowledge and skills outside the bonsai world, and establishing mutually beneficial connections with forest management authorities, horticultural organizations, and botanical projects will build bonsai’s positive reputation, bridge some of the traditional distrust that these organizations have towards the bonsai community, and provide fascinating and lucrative opportunities for collaboration.