Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bonsai Styles

I never had much interest in bonsai before, but recently (maybe with the Winter depriving me of time in the garden) I have started to toy with the idea of trying it out. So I looked at some bonsai books at the library the other night. Most of them were quite boring, and some had examples which I wouldn't consider bonsai, just little constrained trees.

Then I opened the Reader's Digest "Bonsai Secrets" by Peter Chan, and I couldn't put it down. It has some beautiful examples of bonsai, and techniques all the way from choosing the tree variety and style of pot, to the various techniques of growing, shaping, pruning, watering, and maintaining the bonsai, to the advanced techniques of creating driftwood effects ("jins" and "sharis"), grafting, and trunk thickening. I didn't know there were bonsai with berries and fruits (sadly, no photo of this) and flowers.  Pretty cool.  I was fascinated by one section which shows a juniper bought from a nursery, before (in its gallon pot) and after drastic trimming and wiring and repotting into a bonsai pot. Pretty cool, and pretty inspiring.

I really liked these 3 pages, which show different shapes of bonsai.

I'm inspired enough to want to try something.  So I dug out some Japanese maple seeds which I collected maybe 6 years ago (I hope they're still good), and have winter sown these in a plastic tray outside.  I'll need to take a look for bonsai pots (I suspect I won't want to pay the price for them, but I'll take a look at what I can get away with), and maybe look for a nursery plant (like that juniper example) which I could try my hand at radically pruning & shaping.  Also, I'll need to figure out where I'd keep such a thing.  I'm usually not much for keeping pots of any kind.

Today was a mild spring-like day, so I was able to spend a half hour or so in the front yard, cleaning up leaves and pulling old straw-like blades out of my ornamental blue oat grasses so I can see the blue-green colour again.  So pretty soon the urge to try out the bonsai will compete with my urge to lose myself in the garden.  Perhaps I can work on the bonsai after it gets dark.

Anyhow, I'd highly recommend this book, if you want to be inspired by the art of bonsai.


Kate said...

Looks like a fab book. I have 2 bonsais: a flowering plum and a miniature pomegranate -- I would HIGHLY recommend both. They bear tiny fruit, pretty flowers, very fun.

Garden Lily said...

Kate - I would love to see your bonsai, especially in fruit or flower! Have you posted any photos?

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