Bonsai. Even the word is cool.
The word originates from the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word pen-zai which loosely means tree planted in a container. The first bonsai were grown in China, over a thousand years ago.
There has been interest in Bonsai for use in the Fairegarden for several years now, as gardens were visited with compelling displays of this ancient art. The trip to the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville last fall opened the final gate to seriously attempt this style of planting. The specimens were studied, noting what types of trees were used and the low pots in which they were planted.
A most wonderful gift was received by offspring Brokenbeat and his missus for Christmas.
An Asheville potter was commissioned to make this bonsai pot. It is so beautiful and such a thoughtful present that will be treasured always. An empty pot can mean only one thing, …
… It must be planted up as soon as possible. The hunt was on for a dwarf evergreen. Asheville nurseries were perused and this likely looking Chamaecyparis of some sort, there was no tag, was chosen as The One. A little pot of lemon thyme, the only name on the tag, was added. The golden spikemoss already growing in some indoor pots here was the final touch. This looks terrible at the moment and might even be dead, but there is some growing inside the greenhouse that can replenish, or maybe moss would be better. The large rock was borrowed from the spot by the tree formerly known as Ferngully. It is my favorite rock and belongs in the special planting. A little ceramic gazebo has been added as well. (Not shown in this photo, but it’s there now, believe me.)
After planting comes pruning. The toenail clippers were put to the task, resulting in several choice stems that were given the rooting hormone routine and potted up into the mix of two thirds perlite to one third seed starting mix. Waste not want not.
There are some other bonsai attempts located along the wall behind the main house, a spot that allows for close supervision by the gardener and ease of watering. And maybe a little work with the toenail clippers. The largest pot holds several Chinese Elms. A post was written about this planting, to read about it click here-How To-Bonsai In Hypertufa. Another small bit of ceramics was added to this pot. We call him Confucius. I love these little miniatures.
Another experiment is with a very tiny pot and a seedling dogwood tree. This little tree was growing in the middle of the gravel path. There are baby dogwoods, maples, pines, cedars, redbuds and every other sort of tree that grows in this neighborhood sprouting hither and yon. When this interloper was pulled from the stones, the roots came out intact and the stem, it is too small to be referred to as a trunk, had a nice twist. We have a set of three of these miniature bonsai pots, also a gift from Brokenbeat. There is a Serrisa, shown in the opening photo, growing in one of these small pots, growing in the greenhouse. The dogwood is wired to this one to hold it in place and there is one empty one left. You know how we hate an empty pot.
In the leaf man trough, two miniatures that were purchased at the University of Tennessee’s fall plant sale are growing well. Golden Chamecyparis obtusa ‘Nana Lutea’ and Juniperus horizontalis ‘Blue Pygmy’ have weathered the harsh conditions of this record breaking winter. I think the gold one needs to go into another pot though, this is too crowded for my sensibilites, leather as they are. The Armeria needs spread about as well.
The idea is to have small trees and shrubs that can be left outside all year for four season enjoyment. Some will be pruned in the Bonsai style, some will be left to grow naturally. Both types will give us great joy as we enter the great outdoors from the back door, the Fairegarden in miniature, Bonfaire.
Added: Joanne and Karen have brought up an important point in their comments about the very tiny bonsai, how to keep them watered during the hot summer. I had planned to move them to a shadier area, but the little dogwood in the miniature pot is a worry. How can this be kept watered enough when we are away during summer trips? Any and all suggestions are welcome. (Your comments add so much to these posts, thank you, everyone!!!)