I have always loved Bonsai plants, loved their miniature replication of natural, full-grown, trees in the wild. There is something so precise, so magical about creating a miniature garden.
However, like most pursuits, it is not as easy as it may seem. Over the past several years, I have bought bonsai plants, and I bought ordinary juniper and jade plants and attempted to create bonsai from them. None are with us any longer. All are dead and thrown out long ago.
But the Bonsai bug bit me again recently. This time, I told myself, I am going to do it right. In preparation, I went online, read articles, watched You Tube videos. There are rules, so many rules.
I will be happy with modest success – a plant or two that survives, and one or two that actually resemble Bonsai.
Bonsai is from the Japanese, bon ‘tray’ + sai ‘planting’.
A Master Bonsai Gardener, I am not aiming for. I am beginning this activity waaaaaay too late in life for that to be reality. Real Bonsai take decades, and even centuries of growth, trimming and wiring to become lovely specimens.
So, here goes ….
I forgot to take ‘Before’ photos of the scraggly, awkward, plants I bought on sale at Walmart. Horrors, you say! Walmart! Well, I am an hour and a half drive from the nearest Bonsai Clubs and Bonsai Garden Centers. And I wanted to practice on really cheap/inexpensive specimens. These I bought for $7.50 each because they looked so pitiful.
So, here is the same plant with a partial hair cut.
I am attempting to produce a Bankan style Bonsai. That is the gnarled, twisted, upright style.
– Branches should never grow up or down. If they don’t naturally grow sideways, they must be trained with wires to do so. I had only 2 small pieces of thick aluminum bonsai wire, so am using thin floral wire, but to prevent the thin wire from cutting the bark, I am quadrupling it to create thickness. Again. not ideal, but using what I have.
– You trim so that the branches alternate left and right up the trunk. Again wiring may be necessary to create that pattern.
There is a lot more to it, but again, I am keeping to the basics. And, with these, I am working with INDOOR plants.
This specimen had more dead leaves than live, and terrible growth patterns, hence the need for the extreme haircut. Not to mention my sloppy wiring! Wiring is difficult!
Just a week ago, I watched a Japanese Bonsai enthusiast in Toronto show me what to do. He worked deftly, neatly. Not moi! This man said he has been in a service station parking lot at Davenport and Bathurst Streets for 25 years.
If this plant lives, I will transplant into a proper Bonsai dish.
Do any of you recognize the type of plant in the photos above? Not ficus. I am not familiar with the curly-que new growth on the ends of each branch. At first I thought that due to some critter infestation, but now wondering if that is the nature of the beast.
Following, is the first plant I bought this week and played with. It was the healthiest specimen and is the most pleasing, to me …
Bradford Garden Gallery in Barrie, Ontario was where I bought my Bonsai dishes. They were terribly low on them now so I will check in regularly.
Bonsai require frequent watering, probably because the roots were cut right back to stunt growth and fit into the small dishes with little soil. Hence, they dry out quickly. The moss and stones curbs that process a little.
This is a blast! Now all I have to do is sit here and watch them grow!!! Wish me luck folks!