Why Bonsai?

I am often asked why I find such enjoyment in “playing” with trees. I always smile and say, “they don’t talk!”. In all seriousness, bonsai has become some what of an outlet for me; A release of some sort where I can be “zen” and become one with nature.

Before starting with bonsai, I barely noticed the nature that surrounded me. Ofcourse I would notice beautiful flowers and every once in a while or a cool looking tree, but I never truly appreciated it. The beauty I find in a majestic 300 year old spruce when I go for a hike, the lush green foliage on a cedar in summer, the bright buds popping on an elm in spring, all seem to make me take a deep breath of fresh air in and feel better about myself. The beauty has always been there, I just walked around with a straight-ahead-stare and never truly took it all in. With that being said, I now can’t keep my eyes off of the trees and plants around me! Even the decorative shrubs in a well landscapes front yard make me want to pull over and check out the trunk line and base! I’ll be driving and my fiancé will yell, “can you keep your eyes on the road!”. What’s cooler than an enormous oak with knarled bark that hundreds of years old. All the history that lies within it. It’s seen decades of people an animals cohabitating with it. It’s whethered treturous snow storms and wicked lighting from booming thunderstorms. I can go on an on—but the real meaning of it is that I get to take these amazing features of historic trees and miniaturize it to a scale so that I can fully appreciate every single inch of it. It becomes so personal that I feel a sense of nirvana when I see my trees healthy and beautiful and growing in to my vision of what I think of when I think of my idealistic natural landscape. This beauty is what makes bonsai the art form that has made it so widely popular and last thousands of years. We’ll talk more about that in the next blog.

This week in the garden—the trees are currently in their winter storage(my unheated garage). I did some wiring on my Northlight Dwarf Dawn Redwood, metasequoia glyptostroboides, as well as created a Jin out of a main branch on my Shimpaku Juniper, juniperus chinensis ‘shimpaku’. This was an unfortunate event that had to be done as the branch had recently died. The foliage turned a crispy golden brown and there was no green when the bark was scratched. I had been hoping it wasn’t the case as the branch was a main feature of the overall design but after creating the Jin I was again reminded of how beauty can come from nature taking its course. Even something that dies can be made in to an interesting focal point of the design. I am letting the wood dry out and finishing up some carving on it with a dremel tool and then going to later apply lime sulfur—STINKY STUFF!! All the leaves have fallen off my deciduous trees. I got some nice dark maroon colors on my Japanese maples. Though my kiyohime Japanese Mapls turned more of a yellowish-red. The few leaves left on my trees I cut off to get the energy going back in to the trunk for storage until spring when new buds will pop. I’m done fertilizing with my organic 0-10-10 fertilizer—Last dose was the day before Thanksgiving. That was an alternation every two weeks with foliage feeding for my conifers and full soil fertilization for all of my outdoor temperate trees. Next project is making my organic fertilizer for the spring growing season. Will dilvulge more about that next week.

As always I hope everyone has a great week and stays green.


Chris Willette