The Wonderful Art of Bonsai
The potential for enjoyment of Bonsai trees is enormous. These
are the dwarf-sized trees that have been developed in the Asian
countries of China and Japan for many hundreds of years. Most
people have to go out to a forest to experience the marvelous
plants that we call trees.
But in the hands of a master Bonsai creator, the beautiful
trees can be reduced in size to the point where they can be
brought indoors to be enjoyed at any time. And the person who
learns this age-old art so that he or she learns how to create
this small piece of beauty experiences even more of a thrill --
something closely akin to producing a child, but with the added
advantage of being able to shape and design it themselves. And
these trees grow more beautiful with age. Some renowned trees are
as old as five hundred years or more.
Naturally, they need nurturing and care, just as any prized
possession does, especially things that are living and
developing, in the same way a child develops. But the care that
is needed is not difficult, though it may require some time and
some special equipment (not overly-expensive). And, of course,
these beautiful trees can be purchased at any Bonsai nursery.
Usually it never enters the head of the admirer of Bonsai that
they have the potential of creating them on their own. Becoming a
member of any local Bonsai Club (they're virtually everywhere)
will provide all the support and direction a person might
require. It's exciting to sit in front of one of these miniature
trees and realize that this tiny tree in its tiny pot might
otherwise be growing tall in some forest somewhere. And you can
pick it up, turn it, and see all sides of it without leaving your
They truly are a marvel, these Bonsai trees. The word Bonsai
itself means "tree in a pot." And there is not just a single
species of tree that is adaptable to your particular area. There
are hundreds -- even species that would normally not be
considered a tree, such as shrubs, bushes and even plants like
roses and many herb species. But, no matter what kind of plant
you may have in your pot, it's always called a "tree" in Bonsai
I was fortunate enough to have been able to study with the
great master, John Naka, also addressed as "Sensei" (master
teacher). Sadly, Sensei Naka left us a few years ago, and has
been greatly missed by all who knew him and knew of him. He wrote
the consummate manual on the subject of Bonsai, which was his
true passion. He traveled all over the world to teach and judge
competitions and he loved every minute of it. He made his home in
Southern California, but the world was truly his, gaining
enormous respect wherever he traveled.
If you're thinking of creating or buying a Bonsai tree, you
must bear one thing in mind at all times -- these are living
things, and do require care and even love. You can't go away on
vacation for a week or two and expect to find your tree alive
when you return -- unless you've wisely made arrangements to have
someone take care of your tree for you. And that person must know
intimately the requirements of the tree. A trusted neighbor who,
upon seeing the tree for the first time, says, "Oh, isn't that
cute?" is not the person to entrust your tree with.
The principle tree for a beginner to start with is the
Japanese Black Pine (pinus thunbergii), primarily because it's
the easiest to grow and work with, and also that it's available
in most areas and climates. It can be grown anywhere in the U.S.
and most of North America. It's extremely hardy and adaptable to
even adverse weather conditions and makes a superb-looking Bonsai
If you're looking for a new adventure and hobby, I believe
you'll be happy and contented with your own Bonsai trees. It's an
especially good interest for people who are home-bound, and who
need something to make them feel vibrant and needed, and to give
them continuing joy. Yes, a good Bonsai tree is a tru
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