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Indoor bonsai growing for brown thumbs at Clark Botanic Garden

A rose sculpture in the rose garden at

A rose sculpture in the rose garden at Clark Botanic Garden in Alberston. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Brown thumbs can learn to turn green at Clark Botanic Garden, the Town of North Hempstead’s 12-acre “living museum” and educational facility in Albertson.

If you want to master the notoriously frustrating art of indoor bonsai cultivation, professional landscape gardener John Capobianco will show how to snip your way to success with the Japanese art at a demo/talk on Saturday, July 23.

Capobianco, 52, of Farmingdale, president of the Bonsai Society of Greater New York and bonsai instructor at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, sympathizes with those who have struggled — and lost — battles with bonsai. “I’ve killed more bonsais than you can imagine,” he admits. “Most people are given incorrect care instructions and they end up losing the plant.”

With indoor bonsai “living works of art” on display for inspiration, Capobianco will cover topics such as choosing trees suitable for indoor growing, and getting temperature, lighting and humidity conditions right. Capobianco, who runs a landscape gardening business in his hometown, will also demonstrate techniques to transform tropical and subtropical trees into a bonsai.

A living museum

Teaching new skills to help home gardens grow is an objective at Clark Botanic Garden, says John Darcy, deputy commissioner of parks for the Town of North Hempstead. “The entire place is organic, and you can see things to do in your own yard,” he says.

Among the attractions is a new, improved rose garden featuring more than 90 types of roses, which have been cultivated using organic gardening practices, Darcy says. The gardens also feature conifers, day lilies, wetland plants, herbs and butterfly plants. For the full effect, take a stroll along garden paths winding around scenic ponds.

Says Darcy, “It’s a secret oasis.”

Visitors can learn how this garden grew at Clark House, the red brick and clapboard home Grenville Clark, a lawyer, peace activist and friend of Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and his wife, Fanny Dwight Clark. An exhibition about Fanny Dwight Clark is currently on display there.


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