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Today is December 6, 2022

Brussel’s Bonsai Nursery:

The intersection between art and horticulture

By Steven Ward

If you hear the terms “bonsai” or “bonsai tree,” thoughts of Mr. Miyagi from “The Karate Kid” might spring to mind.

You may even think of a small tree with a certain, clipped look.

That’s partly correct, according to Brussel Martin, co-owner of Brussel’s Bonsai Nursery in Olive Branch.

Martin and business partner McNeal McDonnell operate the largest bonsai nursery in the United States.

“Bonsai has origins in Asia with Japan having refined it into an art. Bonsai means tree in a pot. Bonsai is a connection of art and horticulture. There is no such thing as a natural bonsai tree. Bonsai is the technique you use to create a tree,” Martin said.

The techniques include wiring, trimming, and occasional repotting. Over time, using these techniques, a bonsai develops character. 

“You start with trees that have small leaves, short needles, or compact foliage. The value of a bonsai is determined by how well and how long these techniques have been applied,” Martin said.

The nursery, on Center Hill Road, is powered by Northcentral Electric.

When Martin was young, his father — an architect — brought some bonsai back from a business trip to California.

“I was very young, and we had the original trees for several years. I started growing more bonsai in my parent’s back yard as a teenager,” Martin said.

When Martin was in his 20s, he outgrew his parents’ back yard. 

“I rented an old abandon nursery for a couple years and then bought five acres next to our current location. McNeal and I built our current location in 2004. It has been enlarged several times.”

Martin has gone on annual buying trips to Japan, China, Taiwan, and South Korea where he has friends he has worked with for years.

Brussel’s Bonsai mainly sells the trees online.

“We have our own website but mainly sell through other sites like 1800Flowers, Amazon, Pro Flowers, FTD, Walmart, Home Depot, Costco, and many others. They take the order, send it to us, and we ship directly to the customer. Our geographic location works well for ground shipping to most of the United States. Our packing expertise assures a bonsai arrives to the customer in good condition,” Martin said. 

A typical shipping Monday is anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 orders.

Brussel’s has bonsai from two years to 200 years old. 

“One of the cool things about bonsai is being able to hold a mature old tree in your hands.”

Martin said bonsai is not for everybody, but it can be a great hobby.

“You can find an easy-care tree that fits your skill level. All bonsai are living plants and require maintenance, like watering and other care. Bonsai is not rocket science, or I wouldn’t be doing it,” Martin said.  

For more information, visit or call 1-800-582-2593.

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