|A lonely 12 y.o. White Spruce Bonsai waiting to be put to bed for the winter|
For some unknown reason, it is often thought that Bonsai are exotic, difficult, and beyond the skill set of the average gardener.
Upon close observation, nothing could be further from the truth --excellent gardeners already know what plants and trees need to survive; soil containing nutrients and moisture. The only thing missing is the patience required, the will to do so --and some basic techniques that make the process not more difficult, but faster, and more likely to succeed. The white spruce above is about 12 years old and "designed" to some degree.
If you can successfully keep a potted plant alive from year to year, you can grow a bonsai.
|10 yr. old Trident Maple Bonsai (c) r.a.kukkee|
The truth is that bonsai can be exotic species, or made exotic. With formal rules of design, the art can be both difficult and exacting at times, if one insists on starting out with all formal bonsai rules to the letter--not a smart place to begin, since we do not become NASCAR champions, Olympians, or NHL stars instantly either.
The average gardener CAN, with reasonable effort, grow and maintain a 'bonsai' -- for a bonsai is, with all of the mystery stripped away, "a tree in a pot".
Ready or not, (and green thumb or not) the ancient art of Bonsai--can be dabbled in, experimented with, and enjoyed, inexpensively and successfully, --by growing your own using several methods of propagation.
Don't be fooled by "bonsai kits" offering expensive "bonsai seeds"--for they are little but overpriced, quite ordinary seeds from mature trees.
How about just planting an ordinary tree seed yourself--or grow a new tree from a twig. Find a baby sapling and work with it. Use indigenous species to start, --if only because you have lots of material to work with that will survive in the climate in your area.
That sounds easier already, doesn't it? Why "grow" a bonsai? The preferable question might be "why NOT grow a bonsai?" Mostly because they're beautiful and fascinating. They also teach one patience and offer an affinity with nature.
The red leaves displayed above are flaunted by one of my favourite trees, a trident maple in full autumn colour,-- and the leaves are even a bit faded. It is in an ordinary clay training pot. Beautiful, isn't it? I started this one from a mere slip of a twig with a couple of tiny leaves on it-- you got it--about 10 years ago.
You can grow one too. Stay tuned, we'll get to that later. This week we're putting our bonsai to 'bed' for the winter using our own method. Over about 15 years, we've lost fewer than a half dozen trees and a couple of soft clay pots from freezing--an excellent record for a climate with severe weather.
Trident maple, White Spuce, et al, good night--for the winter. Sweet dreams.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.