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By Nadezhda Chayka Otterstad–
Ron and Kelly Anderson found themselves moving to Citrus Heights four years ago to live near their children, and in 2018 opened a backyard garden center to the public with a half-acre of bonsai and succulents on display.
Ron is a certified bonsai instructor (third generation) and takes on the instructional role of bonsai care and pruning, while Kelly creates live art: succulents, accent plants, mixed medium art, and refurbishes collectors furniture pieces.
Bonsai refers to potted trees and shrubs that are artistically pruned to be a dwarf version of what would ordinarily grow to full size. The term bonsai means “tree in a pot” and Ron says it can refer to anything small-leaf or needle that can be put into a pot, except for fruit-bearing or flowering trees.
In an interview Tuesday, as the tinkling of wind chimes could be heard in the background along with the smell of incense wafting in the air, the couple spoke with The Sentinel for an on-site interview, often taking turns filling in for each other in a nearly synchronized but natural fashion.
The couple said oftentimes customers like medical workers, veterans and people with physical trauma come to the garden center for art therapy.
“We want an artistic feel from the moment our client walks into the garden to the moment that you leave,” said Kelly Anderson.
“Clients just disappear when they’re working on their trees,” said Ron. “It truly is a living art form.”
“We had one person come in and ask us if they can walk the garden and meditate,” Kelly recalled. “They just walked around alone around the garden. We also had an anniversary party here where the couple came, and we set out candles all around and they had a nice dinner out here.”
Despite the expansive current garden area, the couple say they have big plans for the future and are only a quarter of the way done. Future projects include a koi pond and a studio for bonsai art.
Training courses are offered by Ron in their backyard garden, ranging from 30-minute to two-hour classes, and even up to six hours, in a half-year course in bonsai art form.
News of the garden center is mostly by word of mouth. Facebook also contributes to keeping the public informed of any sales, and workshops.
Those interested in visiting and shopping at the center can only do so by appointment, to allow for individual needs of each customer to be met. A small office space functions as a display room for tools and custom pottery for sale for anyone interested. Soil mix is also made on site, which is sold to stores in Santa Cruz.
The couple’s artistic knack also appears to run in the family. Their son, Shane Anderson, is a local singer-songwriter who was featured in The Sentinel in 2019 after he released a song addressing the challenges of soldiers coping with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He continues to produce music and operates a recording studio in Citrus Heights.
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