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Bonsai, yes or no?

Posted: 02 Apr 2014, 06:08
by Bronzewing
I was given a young bonsai tree for Christmas. It was an odd gift to give someone who lives amongst tall trees every day but I can see their reasoning. Loves trees = would love a bonsai. :) I must admit my instinct is to plant it out so it can stretch its toes. :grin: I know trees can bonsai naturally but surely even those might have preferred to have grown somewhere where they wouldn't struggle so much for nutrients, space etc? Just wondering how my fellow Druids feel about bonsai?

Cheers,

Bronzie

Re: Bonsai, yes or no?

Posted: 02 Apr 2014, 06:23
by ShadowCat
Interesting...

I do love the aesthetics of natural looking bonsai-trees. On the one hand, the tree suffers quit a bit of abuse with the rigourous pruning of branches and roots, the rather poor soil, and practices of shari and jin (debarking and creating dead wood on porpose to imitate aging). On the other hand, there is a enormous amount of attention and energy required from the grower, so in a sense the tree is spoiled rotten compared to most trees (or houseplants).

Is it really very different to a pet? I am sure my cats would love to roam free and wild, unbothered by fleabaths and unrestrained by those pesky doors everywhere. Yet, they also enjoy the warmth of sleeping under my blankets at night and their regular mealsupply. Considering that many pets don't live natural lives, yet they wouldn't exist if nature would have taken it's course. So too the tree: it has been grown especially to become a bonsai. If not for the gardencentre, it would not have existed. And after all, trees in nature also get invaded by pests, die from droughts or stormdamage. Life hurts sometimes and you either survive and grow from it, or perish, only to become nourishment for those following in your foodsteps.

I'm not to thrilled about bonsaifolk cultivating their trees to the limits so that they become somewhat of intensive care patients. I think you should always keep the tree in a state that, when you would transplant it out into the woods, it would have a good chance of survival. Also, if the young tree is a species that can survive outside in your climate, consider training it into an outdoor-bonsai. They can grow bigger and live more naturally.

So when working mindful with the tree, and accepting that life is both growth and pruning, and never letting cultivation hurting the tree more then nesseccary for its survival, bonsais can be very druidic. A group-planting can even be a beautiful grove.

Re: Bonsai, yes or no?

Posted: 02 Apr 2014, 09:07
by elementalheart
My response to bonsai in principle is to go within the boundary of what the tree might achieve if it landed in a restricted environment naturally eg some trees grow on cliff faces, there is one that has grown in the tower of a ruin over the road, some trees can be very hardy and thrive in places you'd not think they could and they may as a result of the soil/space be limited in growth but they are doing it anyway. What I wouldn't be comfortable with is the things that make something appear what it is not eg the aged look or cuts that draw shape into an unnatural pose it would never do itself. To me that's the difference between replicating nature and abusing it. Pruning of some sort is useful to preserve growing effort and achieve stronger branches against future weather damage, overpruning is damaging.

Couple of personal thoughts arise from this question - I have some pot grown saplings, ditto bushes, which I feel I should plant out somewhere but haven't managed yet, but also some I have kept in pots with the intention of selling on as part of the smallholding business. I also learned to graft apple trees, which I see the purpose of now I know about the pollination variables etc. But I have had to work through a sense of unease about both, wondering if I am lacking respect for natural process. In the end I work with a mix of my conscience and what I feel each tree is communicating, whether spiritually or more simply physically in its response to my choices to date.

If it thrives, even in restricted form, so be it, but if it looks unhappy then I need to change what I'm doing, that's my simplest answer for you too.

Re: Bonsai, yes or no?

Posted: 02 Apr 2014, 09:53
by Crinia
I use to grow bonsai as a teenager but didn't create any in the following decades I just couldn't bring myself to wrap wire around the branches to make them grow where I thought they should go. I agree if a tree grows naturally say on a cliff face as a bonsai I can appreciate its will to survive, but in a pot for my satisfaction - not any more.

Re: Bonsai, yes or no?

Posted: 15 Apr 2014, 11:59
by DaRC
On the whole I agree with Shadowcat - pruning and shaping is a natural part of managing any tree whether in an orchard, in a hedge or in a large pot.

I think aiming to keep it natural is a good idea. Bonsai can become more difficult to look after than pets or you can aim for a small tree of restricted growth.

I have a natural grown 4 year old Horse Chestnut as a Bonsai (the original planting of the seed was aimed at getting one of my sons interested) - I do minimal work on it (some pruning, re-potting etc...) but am more interested to see how it works.

Re: Bonsai, yes or no?

Posted: 15 Apr 2014, 12:09
by Whitemane
I have been thinking about Bonsai too. I live very close to the city centre and have a very small yard, and it is going to be redone to make it very bird friendly. So, bonsai may be one way of bringing more trees into my Druidic space.

I do wonder about the way trees are treated, but I have seen some arrangements by Japanese bonsai masters that are visual poetry.

Re: Bonsai, yes or no?

Posted: 16 Apr 2014, 06:08
by Bronzewing
Great answers everybody. Thanks!

I think for now I will plant it out into a bit bigger pot and put outside and see if it looks happier. The one they got me was a cute idea with a bigger-shaped pot than usual for bonsai, but with half the pot divided for a 'pond' and half for the plant. As a concept it doesn't work as well as it looks like it might, and I think the drainage is questionable too.

I totally agree that if one is in the city with little access to trees, a spoiled and fussed-over bonsai might be just the thing. I do love the look of them, I must admit, but i am generally busy planting and caring for their bigger cousins outdoors, and am not sure I will give it that fussing that would make up for the restriction.

And of course I am forgetting that in OBOD we get the perfect training to ask the plant itself what it wants. :grin:

Hugs,

Bronzie

Re: Bonsai, yes or no?

Posted: 24 Apr 2014, 00:47
by deepwater
I found a natural bonsai growing in full shade in the forest,, its a sugar maple growing from a rotten tree stump,,It was in the way of construction so I cut the stump off at ground level and placed the stump in our flower garden out front in partel shade to full late day sun,,That was 7 years ago and it hasent grown more than an inch and we haven't trimed or cut the roots ,,I have no idea how old this tree is,,,for its size and growth at one inch in 7 years,,its almost 60 years old ,,maybe lots more concedering the care water and ferterlizer it gets in the garden ,,one inch could put this tree at over 80

Re: Bonsai, yes or no?

Posted: 24 Apr 2014, 00:48
by deepwater
if ya want a pic I can email one

Re: Bonsai, yes or no?

Posted: 06 May 2014, 09:35
by Bronzewing
Sure! :)

I planted mine out into a pot and it looks happier. I think looking after artificially created bonsai is probably a much bigger learning area than i am willing to give time to. It is not an old tree by any means. Looks more like an ordinary seedling to me. I'm sure it will be fine and later i can plant it out if that is what it would like. It's a Common Cotoneaster so would probly really just prefer to be a large shrub in my garden. :)

Hugs,

Bronzie

Re: Bonsai, yes or no?

Posted: 06 May 2014, 09:37
by Bronzewing
Whoops, on looking it up it looks like it can easily go feral here in certain parts of Oz so think it will be staying a pot plant. :)

Hugs,

Bronzie