Denver's bonsai trove

The age-old horticultural art now in Denver
Colleen Smith

Blending horticulture and art, bonsai was born in China more than 1,000 years ago and developed further in Japan. The term bonsai comes from two Japanese words: bon, meaning "tray," and sai, meaning "to create." By training plants in trays or shallow containers, bonsai growers create miniature versions of trees and shrubs.

Bonsai became firmly rooted in the Denver area when a Japanese-American couple, Victor and Taeko Tawara, opened the Bonsai Nursery in Englewood, Colorado, in 1960. Twelve years later, Ron Malik began working for the Tawaras, and he purchased the business from them in 1977; he runs its now with help from his wife and siblings.

As the holiday shopping season approaches, the nursery stocks a variety of plants that do well as indoor bonsai, including azalea, bougainvillea, boxwood, pomegranate, and rosemary. The nursery also sells prepared specimens. Prices range from $7 for seedlings in plain 4-inch pots to $295 for a dwarf Japanese juniper in a handsome container.

Bonsai Nursery: 9-5 Mon-Sat, 10-4 Sun. 3750 S. Federal Blvd., Englewood, CO; (303) 761-3066.