Bonsai, Baby


Knowing that I’ve always had an interest in trying my hand at bonsai, Charlie brought home (again, at 1/2 price!) a small bonsai juniper last evening.  One of the nicest things about these little unexpected gifts is that it forces one to do some research and learn more about the process.  I guess this will be my “practice bonsai” — I’ve always wanted to try to bonsai a small Japanese maple or a tree that is native to our area.  Some of those that Masters grow are nothing short of spectacular.


This was purchased at the supermarket, so I’m just assuming it is a juniper — it is certainly prickly enough.  “Bonsai” translates roughly as “tree in a pot” in Japanese.  In the West, the word is used as a blanket term to describe virtually all miniature container trees, whether they are authentically trained bonsai or just small rooted cuttings.  One thing I didn’t realize is that this little fellow will need to live outdoors.  Apparently, the small conifers are not meant to be houseplants, which makes perfect sense.

To enjoy the art of bonsai fully, of course, one should leearn to trim, train, wire and root-prune a plant as it matures.  Information on how to do this is available on the web sites of the Shanti Bithi Nursery, the Bonsai Clubs International and the American Bonsai Society.  There are no formal Bonsai Societies here in Nova Scotia, but there are several in Canada that branch off the American Bonsai Society, so I’m sure there are many sources of help.  Buying a good book on the subject is my first priority — anyone who can recommend a good one, I’d appreciate it if you’d do so, keeping in mind that bonsai is brand new to me.


Whether or not this little guy actually performs for me, only time will tell — if I don’t kill it!  But with the light of a window prism falling on his tiny branches, it all looks very Zen, very hopeful, to me.  And it struck me that I’ve just found a new use for the beach and river stones I tumble and polish.  I can also see where this could become an obsession. ;)


Author: nancybond

A writer, photographer, naturalist from small town Nova Scotia, Canada.

10 thoughts on “Bonsai, Baby”

  1. I wish you well in your new interest, keep up updated along the way. :)

    Thanks, Racquel — I’ll be happy if it lives. :)

  2. These look a little bit like Cryptomeria japonica to me. I have two bonsai starters of it.

    I buy a lot of these at my local nursery for a few bucks. Who can resist? (I end up planting out half of them in the garden where they are no longer suitable for bonsai treatment!)

    Chuck, it could very well be Cryptomeria japonica — in fact, I rather hope that it is. The tag that comes attached listed four options, juniper being one of them. I think the others were ficus, holly, and boxwood. So I assumed Juniper as the most logical choice. But as I said, this came from our local supermarket, so who knows?

  3. I’ve always wanted to try bonsai–it looks like fun. Keep us posted on how it does! And this will give you something to do until that white stuff finally disappears outside:)

    Hi Rose — I’ve always been intrigued by bonsai, too. Some reading is in order before I try anything else. I wouldn’t know where to start. :) I think this little fellow is ok for a while, but I do know you have to be vigilant with them. Love a new challenge!

  4. Looks like a very healthy specimen and its “trunk” and main “branches” are already pretty nicely shaped!

    I thought so too, but I’m glad you agree. :) Thanks for stopping by.

  5. How exciting to have a little shrub/tree to try bonsai. I have always wanted to try it but figured that I would just kill the poor thing. I will be anxious to see how yours comes along. Best of luck.

    Thanks, Lisa — I’m looking forward to learning more about the art. :)

  6. I had a bonsai once, and promptly killed it. Now that I have become much more attentive to my houseplants, I know think that I could handle the pressure a little better! Now to find a bargain like you did.

  7. Oh boy, I have only one houseplant and it’s not looking so good. It’s a Christmas cactus. Now that Bonsai looks pretty interesting and the pot is grand. I want to know how this turns out and how fast the thing grows. Do you have a good set of scissors with a sharp end? Do you have a magnifying glass? I’m just asking cause I’ve seen people trimming them that way on TV. This is one time where you wouldn’t want to accidentally slip and cut the wrong branch.

  8. You picked some pretty ones. I saw the tomato soup coneflower in one of my catalogs this winter. Isn’t it bright? I wonder how hardy it is?

  9. Your husband is a peach of a guy! I love all the wonderful things he brings home to you. Good luck trying your hand at Bonsai. Should be fun and great for passing time during the winters.

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