I THINK we all appreciate that special talent that makes an artist gently bend the branches and leaves of an everlasting tree into a shape that’s truly unique, a bonsai.
For thousands of years in China where we tend to believe it originated, old and young alike have been plying their trade, some for the money but all for the love of making a thing of beauty.
Buddhist monks later introduced the practice to Japan as a method of meditation, where it became a one off miniature of some giant forest tree, so small, but so perfect, to defy even the most sceptic among us.
It is not so much a plant in a pot, but a statement of an ancient art handed down thousands of years, from generation to generation.
Bonsai is taking a plant that can grow to its natural size, but by restricting its root system and pruning its branches, it then becomes a bonsai artwork, some of which are worth many thousands of dollars and are often traded by those who value the art.
It’s a bit like a sculpture or painting but much more, it tests the artist’s ability in so many ways. Testing patience and requiring fine motor skills with discipline and nerves of steel.
But unlike a painting when finished, a bonsai plants life will never be over till the tree’s life expires.
From the everlasting green forest trees to the many trees that actually flower, the choice is yours.
Before one even starts along this road, there is much to think about, choices about style, do you want a formal type with an upright shape or slanted as if the tree is on a hillside, wind blown, struggling to survive the onslaught of winter.
There are many other styles to choose from, too many to be discussed in this column, however if one were to take this form of gardening to heart then there is quite an array of tools to help accomplish this particular new project.
There are tools that one would need like pruners, wire cutters, bud scissors, root cutters and the like, however many Bonsai gardeners would recommend reading as much as possible about your new interest to begin with and to nurture ideas and the knowledge to go forward.
Progress can be slow at times and for some the “ficus” variety of trees and bushes are uniquely Australian and is ideal for beginners, given that it is of low maintenance and resilient to watering.
So, if this has whet your appetite for something different, rewarding, time consuming but ultimately questioning your sanity, why not give it a go.
Buy a ready-made pot from the nursery and try your hand at bonsai.
Till next time.