A stroll through the Wielands' yard is like walking around a landscape similar to what can be found in Japan.

The public is invited to enjoy that experience this weekend as Fred and Caroline Wieland are opening up their Bonsai garden for others to see. The autumn weather has turned the leaves of some of their Bonsai plants to vibrant reds and other vivid fall colors – it's the best time for the Wielands show off their little piece of paradise.

The couple has been practicing the art of Bonsai for more than three decades and have been offering the open garden for around 12 years.

Fred and Caroline started studying Bonsai with world renowned experts when living in Japan in the 1970s. At the time, Fred was working at the U.S. Embassy.

“Bonsai appealed to us greatly – to have some ability to manipulate nature,” Caroline said.

Bonsai is not a type of tree but rather a technique which originated in China thousands of years ago and was later brought to Japan. These miniature trees or shrubs take time and patience to master.

Young plants are removed from the soil, the roots and foliage are reduced and they're placed in a Bonsai container. Wire is used to shape the tree's branches and moss is added to give the plant an aged look.

The couple added that no unnatural shapes are acceptable in Bonsai – though these trees or shrubs are kept small, they must remain in keeping with what's typically found in the wild.

“It's an artistic appreciation of nature,” Caroline said. “We work with nature, not against it.”

Fred said preparing the Bonsai tree is the most tedious but maintaining them doesn't take much time at all.

These small trees are often mistaken for house plants, Caroline added, but they mostly thrive outdoors.

The Wielands' Bonsai garden includes Japanese maples, Chinese elms, boxwoods, serissa, zelkova, junipers, pines, azaleas and hornbeam. It's a little piece of Japan in Aiken and the rest of their yard is scattered with boulders with the trees that surround the property situated in a way that creates an effect of large windows framing the sky.

Fred said he has had friends visit from Japan and say that they felt right at home, which made him feel great.

Not only do the Wielands offer the open garden but they also give lectures and teach others how to put together and care for a Bonsai plant.

“It's a unique way to experience nature up close and personal,” Fred said.

The Wielands' open garden event is free and will be held at their home located at 3933 Woodvalley Drive in Aiken.

It will be held Saturday and Sunday. Residents are invited to drop in any time between 1 to 4 p.m. on both days.

For more information, call 641-6875.

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