Bonsai Boom in the UK

Aug. 31, 2017

Bonsai is becoming increasing popular in UK gardens and homes as green-fingered Brits embrace not only the sight of the miniature potted trees but also the skill required to maintain them. 

According to iconic metal toolmaker Suwada, which celebrated 90 years of operations in 2016, the UK’s growing love of bonsai is part of wider global interest that is growing year on year. 

British gardeners’ discerning taste in bonsai tools has boosted business for the Niigata Prefecture-based firm. In 2017 it recorded record sales of its bonsai tools at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show in London, where it has had a stand since 2010. 

“It’s the most famous flower show in the world and visitors have an experienced eye,” said Tatsuki Mizunuma of Suwada’s sales section. “They expect Japanese products to be high quality but some visitors see our stall and say they have never before seen such wonderful products.” 

Mr Mizunuma attributes the quality craftsmanship to the manufacturing process. Suwada uses rods of high-carbon stainless steel to make bonsai tools as well as nail nippers and kitchen items. After heating and forging a rod, only the centre, which is the strongest part, is used to make the tools. The other 70 percent is passed on to another firm for recycling or used by Suwada's metalworkers to create giant display art at its open factory. 

This year the show awarded Suwada four stars for its stand, which displayed a wide range of items, from tweezers, wire cutters and twig scissors to trunk splitters and shears. Most popular was garden secateurs.

The Suwada stand gathered crowds on each day of the five-day event, which is estimated to have attracted 150,000 guests over the period. 

 Produced by Sterling Content for the BCCJ