Marty Brown, a science teacher and leader of Gray Middle School’s Bonsai Club in Tacoma, kneels with recent bonsai donations from the Dungeness Bonsai Society in the Sequim area. The school’s greenhouse was vandalized twice in May, leading individuals bonsai clubs across the country to help the teens out with new trees, pots and more than $5,000 in donations. (Ron Quigley)

Marty Brown, a science teacher and leader of Gray Middle School’s Bonsai Club in Tacoma, kneels with recent bonsai donations from the Dungeness Bonsai Society in the Sequim area. The school’s greenhouse was vandalized twice in May, leading individuals bonsai clubs across the country to help the teens out with new trees, pots and more than $5,000 in donations. (Ron Quigley)

Dungeness Bonsai club helps Tacoma teens after vandalism

SEQUIM — A Sequim-area bonsai club is helping Tacoma teens regrow their efforts following vandalism that destroyed trees in their greenhouse in May.

Earlier this month, Ron Quigley, president of the Dungeness Bonsai Society, delivered about 30 starter-bonsai trees and a few bonsai trees along with bonsai containers and books and magazines to eighth-grade science teacher Martin “Marty” Brown, who runs Gray Middle School’s Bonsai Club.

The club, which operates on about $500 a year for supplies, has received donations — including bonsai trees from Florida and about $5,000 in cash donations from various contributors, Brown said.

“A lot of clubs have been telling me their members are older and they’ve expressed a lot of interest [in helping] because I’m teaching younger kids about bonsai,” he said. “Bonsai takes a lot of patience, and eighth-graders don’t have a lot of patience.”

That’s what first struck Quigley, he said, after hearing about the vandalism.

“I thought how horrible it was,” he said. “Here’s this gentleman teaching young people about something that is a lifelong hobby and how to learn patience instead of sitting on an iPhone and whatnot.

“There’s not that many instructors with students this age doing this, and when I talked with our members, they stepped up and a number of them gave us pots and plants to take.”

The school’s club hosts as many as 20 students, depending on the time of school year, in a solar-powered greenhouse.

Brown said that with the donations, they are looking into a security system that works and connecting the greenhouse to electricity so it can have heat in the winter.

The club’s donation is appreciated, Brown said, because the trees are “really, really nice.”

The Dungeness Bonsai Society held its annual show June 16-17.

For more information, visit dungenessbonsai.wordpress.com or call Quigley at 360-681-7589.

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Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].

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