Our Local Bonsai Doctor

January 15, 2021

“Mental activity is just as important as being physical, this is why I keep busy,”

Maurice loves Bonsais, Sausage Dogs, and his Mayflower Home Care Team, but nothing comes close to his wonderful wife Isobell. Maurice met the love of his life while completing his internship as a GP in Perth.

“I met a nurse, and that’s the story!” says Maurice with a smile.

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In the early stages of their courtship, Isobell was hospitalised with Tuberculosis, sparking Maurice to spend many hours sitting by her bedside. “That's how our love affair really started,” he says

As newlyweds the pair initially lived in Warracknabeal, in the picturesque Wimmera region of Victoria, before moving to Brighton. “We were married in 1950 and moved to the country,” says Maurice, “I was a GP in Warracknabeal and later Bay Street in Brighton, which is no longer there.”

The happy union brought about three children, Bruce, Neil, and Helen, and a wonderful life. “Isobell was a very good mum and wife,” says Maurice.

Miniature trees

When Maurice and Isobell moved back to Melbourne in 1963, he found himself missing his large garden that boasted a Norfolk Island pine, eucalypts and bountiful fruit trees.

“There weren’t anywhere near as many trees in Melbourne,” says Maurice, “and I really missed them.”

So, Maurice started his miniature garden, and soon became a founding member of the Bonsai Society of Victoria - well before the hobby became a trend.

“At that stage hardly anyone did Bonsai,” says Maurice. “We eventually got organised and a club was formed in 1971. “I am now the eldest and longest serving member!” says Maurice.

Maurice is proud of his Bonsais, which attract international visitors when our borders are open. “Japanese masters come out here and they are enthralled with our figs,” says Maurice.

But COVID-19 hasn’t stopped this spritely 97-year-old from doing what he enjoys most. “I’ve been doing Zoom meetings with our club and other Bonsai lovers since lockdown, and I have a lot coming up,” says Maurice.

“This is what really keeps me going - my love for Bonsai.”

A little bit of help goes a long way

At 97 years young, Maurice still loves living independently at home, with a little bit of support from Mayflower’s Home Care team.

“I have a gardener to help me keep things in order,” says Maurice. “I also get some help with the housework and the shopping.”

This helps ensure Maurice has enough free time for his favourite hobbies, and to spend leisurely time enjoying his immaculate garden.

As part of the service, Teresa has been visiting Maurice each week, spending some one-on-one time with him for a chat, and they have found plenty to talk about.

“We have so much in common,” says Teresa, “including Bonsais and Sausage Dogs!”.

“I had a brown sausage dog, Pretzel,” says Maurice, “and Teresa also had a sausage dog of the same colour, called Willis.”­

“Pretzel reached 15 years, and we knew her parents before she was born,” says Maurice, “You see them around a lot more now, and when I do see one, it brings back memories.”

“I find Teresa’s visits very interesting, it’s good companionship for me,” says Maurice.

Joanne is also a regular visitor and has known Maurice since she helped care for Isobell, 12 years ago. “Joanne does the shopping for me now,” says Maurice, “she knows exactly what I like and what brands I enjoy. It’s a great help.”

‘Dr Bonsais’ top tips for Bonsai care

  • Feed them every 2-3 weeks with a soluble fertiliser
  • Good quality potting mix with fine gravel works just as well as expensive Bonsai potting mix - the gravel works well for air and drainage
  • Keep up the water! Keep the soil moist but not water-logged
  • Bonsais need plenty of sun light to thrive – but not too much or they will dry out or burn
  • Check on them regularly – there is always something to do!

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Maurice works with Teresa on her fig tree bonsai, giving her tips along the way.

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Maurice is proud of his perfectly manicured box-hedge. These hedges are from cuttings from his original bonsai in the 1960's, along with many of his bonsai specimens pictured below.

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Pictured above: His backyard is filled to the brim with bonsais, and the occassional succulent.

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Pictured above: These incredible bonsais are more than 50 years old

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Pictured above: Up close, you can see the incredible root systems - it is hard to imagine they are so tiny. Also in this picture, a hot tip: a fertiliser dispenser to allow for slow release of nutrience.