Bonkers for Bonsai
We know an 11-year-old boy who has developed a lofty interest in growing bonsai. This post was kindled by him.
Bonsai is actually pronounced (bone-sigh). Bonsai is an art form that can provide a lifetime of studying and understanding trees. It is the art form of growing miniature trees to look like full-size mature trees from the inspiration of nature. However, the plant is not dwarfed genetically. The plant,(from regular root-stock), is kept small by growing it in a pot and using several techniques to keep it miniature. The tree can grow very old as a bonsai and often becomes a prized possession. Some of these trees outlive their owners and are passed down through the generations.
A good quality bonsai tree can be purchased from a bonsai nursery. It is worth seeking one out because you can ask a million questions and they love to share their knowledge. Be sure to get some guidance on maintenance such as fertilizer, pruning, water needs, and re-potting. The tree should feel firm in its pot.
There are many books written about growing bonsai. A well written book should give a lot of information about technique, tools, re-potting instructions, different styles, plant directory for indoor and outdoor, how to display it, soil types, working with the wire, propagating, and collecting plants from the garden. I looked through quite a few books when I was seeking information for growing bonsai and the best I found was “Growing Bonsai, A Practical Encyclopedia“, by Ken Norman. This book provides step-by-step instructions with pictures. This book, with its fabulous pictures and instructions, will turn anyone into a bonsai enthusiast. It makes me feel like I could create one of these works of art too. One day I will. I would like to collect some bald cypress and start a small forest with bonsai ferns growing underneath. I would also like to bonsai a kumquat tree. How sweet would it be to see miniature kumquats growing?
I bought several bonsai trees at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival last year. The vendor was informative about pruning technique and sold me three breathtaking trees. Unfortunately I didn’t ask the right questions. One of the trees was completely unable to survive in my climate and the other tree (hibiscus) died overnight from lack of water. I think it needed to be watered twice a day, not just once. That was an expensive mistake. The final surviving tree, a Fukien tea, has become my treasure. It is approximately fifteen years old and blooms lilliputian white flowers. It requires care, but not too much. I move it inside quite often to display it and then move it back out to it’s “spot” after a few days. This year I will put my “blinders” on when I walk past his booth. His beautiful display opened my eyes to the beauty of bonsai and made me notice them when I never did before. However, this year I am going to try my hand at creating my own.
Come grow with us!