Princess calls on Bonsai tree master to resurrect plant

jpco 26-3-14 Bonsai tree hobbyist Ray Ward in his garden in Broadfield, Crawley. (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-140320-124742001
jpco 26-3-14 Bonsai tree hobbyist Ray Ward in his garden in Broadfield, Crawley. (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-140320-124742001

A Royal princess asked a Bonsai tree master to bring her miniature tree back from the dead.

Ray Ward, 70, from Broadfield, is chairman of Crawley Bonsai Group. He was looking after a damaged Bonsai tree given to him by Princess Michael of Kent.

Mr Ward said: “I have a tree that I’m trying to save belonging to a royal princess.

“It was 80 per cent dead but now it’s flourishing.

“I get numerous telephone calls from people but no one quite as spectacular as that.

“She has said she will most certainly want to meet me.”

Mr Ward, who keeps up to 60 of the miniature trees in his garden, was added to Federation of British Bonsai Societies Roll of Honour at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens on March 16.

He said: “It’s quite special. Only one other person has got this and he’s the leading Bonsai specialist in the UK.

“It’s because I got involved in many shows throughout the country displaying trees.”

Mr Ward started keeping the miniature trees after he was given his first one on his 50th birthday 21 years ago.

He said: “I can recall thinking I’ve always liked looking at these but what do I do now?

“The hobby’s given me a lot of pride and by going to various exhibitions in the UK and Europe I’ve met a lot of very nice like-minded people.”

Mr Ward said he had been involved in up to 40 Bonsai tree exhibitions across the country over the past six years.

He won nine gold medals at the prestigious annual Chelsea Flower Show in London for displays he was involved with.

He said: “It’s the most famous garden event in the UK.

“We won for the excellence of the trees and way they were exhibited.”

Mr Ward said Crawley’s Bonsai exhibitions at the K2 were internationally renowned.

He organised two shows at the leisure centre, which were the biggest in the UK in 2011 and 2013.

The International Bonsai Magazine dedicated a two-page spread to the shows.

Mr Ward said: “It was so big and to appreciate Bonsais best you need to get back a bit and we can do it there. It really has put Crawley on the international map of Bonsais.”

The Crawley Bonsai Group was preparing the next show at the K2 with the ‘very best of Bonsai’ from the UK and visiting experts’ demonstrations in August 2015.

Mr Ward said the group had 22 members and was growing. “It’s quite small but a friendly group where everybody helps each other.”

On keeping the trees he said: “When new leaves come back out it makes you believe how life goes on.

“It’s taught me a lot of patience and lot of respect - you have to respect the trees you work on and other people.”