Louis Nel passed away tragically on 20 April 2011. This blog is dedicated to him.

Memorial sketch of Louis Nel’s famous ‘Platkroon’ bonsai by
Bonsai artist and illustrator Nacho Marin (Venezuala)


Louis wrote the following about himself:

One of the great secrets for a successful and happy life is ‘balance’.  The art of Bonsai has been that balance in my hyperactive and physical lifestyle.  I love the high mountains, empty African plains, deep valleys, long distances, big dogs and small trees.  I trained as a pharmacist and make a living by being actively involved in two Pharmaceutical companies as well as a cosmetic manufacturing company.

I was given a small Bonsai as a gift in 1974 – it very mysteriously died in my care within two weeks. That was something a 27-year-old male ego could not handle! The result was visits to the library, nurseries and generally making a nuisance of myself at flower and plant shows. Even the Department of Forestry and the Botany department at the University of Pretoria were not spared a visit or two by an ignorant seeker of knowledge on the subject of Bonsai.

Taking part in endurance events like the Comrades Marathon has taught me to ‘never give up’. At last I came in contact with the Pretoria Bonsai Kai and have been a member since 1975.  While again training in the veld for the 1984 Comrades Marathon, I came across some Buddleja Saligna trees, which I dug up and started training as Bonsai. The trees responded very well and my interest in Bonsai changed to a passion – (especially Buddleja Bonsai). One of my Buddlejas was selected as a top 100 tree in the Japanese Airlines competition of 2000 and another in 2003.

I have had the privilege to be a demonstrator at four previous National Bonsai Conventions. A great honour was to be invited as a demonstrator in Australia for their seminar. I have been invited as demonstrator at the WBFF convention in Puerto Rico this year. An article of mine about ‘Bonsai in South Africa’ has been published in the British and Dutch Bonsai Magazines and has also been translated and published in the Czechoslovakian Bonsai Magazine. Another was published in the American bonsai and stone appreciation magazine.

To gather more knowledge I try to attend conventions, partake in workshops presented by International artists like the late John Naka, Ben Oki, Roy Nagatoshi, Harry Tomlinson, Walther Pall, Salvatore Liporace, Marco Invernizzi and Gijs de Boer. I once even talked myself into, and participated at a workshop by the Taiwanese master Cheng Kung Cheng during the Munich convention of 2001! The brains of Vaclac Novac, Marc Noelanders and Danny Use have unobtrusively been picked during private discussions.