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. ;)