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Author Topic: Bonsai and You!  (Read 2462 times)

Avec

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Bonsai and You!
« on: 06 Jun 2011, 07:41 »

Hello!
So to celebrate my graduation I finally committed time to construct my very own bonsai tree. This included finding the right soil, the right species (assuming I'm taking it to college with me), and overall getting a feeling for the art that has been practiced for centuries. Because I'm relatively new to it, I thought it'd be interesting to keep a log of my first tree (bougainvillea). This thread, however, isn't only for myself (as indicated by the title). I'd love to hear about that bonsai you've been working on for years, or maybe that you were inspired to have your own just now. Tips and tricks are welcome, too, with pictures of course. So to get us started, this is my own:


 
I've yet to do any work aside from planting, as the roots themselves needs to adjust to the new soil (a mixture of wood and other organic matter, calcined (baked) red clay, and some fresh compost). I'm trying to get a feel for how often the plant needs to be watered in the early summer through personal experience as well as internet and book research.
« Last Edit: 06 Jun 2011, 07:46 by Avec »
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Barmymoo

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Re: Bonsai and You!
« Reply #1 on: 06 Jun 2011, 13:27 »

That is one of the cutest trees I've ever seen! I know almost nothing about bonsai - what does it entail? From your post I've already figured it isn't just a matter of buying a pot plant and watering it sometimes.

My eldest girl in Paris was very keen on buying a bonsai tree for her birthday. Are they hard to care for?
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There's this really handy "other thing" I'm going to write as a footnote to my abstract that I can probably explore these issues in. I think I'll call it my "dissertation."

Avec

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Re: Bonsai and You!
« Reply #2 on: 06 Jun 2011, 16:09 »

History and Etymology
Bonsai is the art creating the right conditions under which a tree (or ornamental shrub) can become a miniature copy of its larger brethren (quite literally bon means 'tray' and sai means 'tree'). Although it can be a controversial topic, it seems that the art of bonsai originated in China, rather than Japan, with which it is traditionally associated. Some distinguished experts attribute the art form of growing miniature trees in pots back to Chinese monks, who instead of planting one tree had several in a decorative rock garden (what is known today as pun-ching). It took a while for Europeans to consider this oriental practice as art. The first showing at the World Fair in Paris in 1878 had largely negative reviews of the small garden (the English had a different perspective, but didn't get their version of it until 1909). Now, however, it has sprouted on several continents with many nations adapting their own native species of flora to the art of bonsai.
« Last Edit: 06 Jun 2011, 16:28 by Avec »
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Avec

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Re: Bonsai and You!
« Reply #3 on: 06 Jun 2011, 16:26 »

Tending to your bonsai can depend purely on the amount of time you want to invest (still consider though, that very few works are worthy of being considered a true bonsai, with some specimen being passed down between several generations). You're still growing a tree, you just need to make several adjustments as to how it is taken care of. This involves pruning, watering, adding fertilizer, and replanting as necessary. Some of these tasks are done on a nearly day-to-day basis, and others are done only once or twice a year if not with longer intervals of time in-between.

In nature, trees adjust to their respective environmental conditions by growing in a specific way, shape and size. A tree very high up in the mountains, with soil that isn't rich in nutrients, has little rainfall, and less oxygen by the nature of the altitude, readily grows in the style we desire to replicate. The first part of your journey is choosing your own tree. Oriental philosophy has you traveling into the wild for weeks at a time to find the one tree that is worthy, but now-a-days you could just as easily buy a starter tree at your local gardening store. Those of you who are more adventurous, can grow from seed or propagate a branch you've collected.

Did you have a specific species you want to work with Barmymoo? And as for your question, that depends purely on what type of a tree it is.
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Tom

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Re: Bonsai and You!
« Reply #4 on: 06 Jun 2011, 16:53 »

Someone's been doing their homework. Got a reading list?
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Avec

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Re: Bonsai and You!
« Reply #5 on: 06 Jun 2011, 17:31 »

Some of it is through my environmental class, the rest is through the person that introduced me to it. If you already know what tree you want to work with I'd look for a book specific to your tree. Although that may take a little of time, it's probably worth the investment. You grow incredibly attached to your specific bonsai--like a person it has it's own idiosyncratic attributes and needs. You can actually start to predict how the tree will respond to the treatment you give it, whether that's a specific amount of light, water or what have you.

I'd look to your library before investing in literature, but this is a great crash-course;
Code: [Select]
http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Book-Bonsai-Harry-Tomlinson/dp/1558591184/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1307406422&sr=8-10
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Barmymoo

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Re: Bonsai and You!
« Reply #6 on: 07 Jun 2011, 03:15 »

So you can grow any kind of tree as a bonsai? I could grow a bonsai oak, for example? Or is it only certain types?

I'm not sure I would be able to keep a bonsai tree alive, because every plant I've ever owned has died almost immediately, but the idea of having a tiny oak tree in my room is very seductive.
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There's this really handy "other thing" I'm going to write as a footnote to my abstract that I can probably explore these issues in. I think I'll call it my "dissertation."

Avec

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Re: Bonsai and You!
« Reply #7 on: 07 Jun 2011, 08:58 »

The only requirements that come to mind right now (I'm pretty hungover and not at home) are that the plant must be able to survive at least fifty years and the size of the leaves shouldn't be larger than your hand. The tree of heaven, for example, is very difficult if not impossible to work with.

And yes, absolutely. Oaks are great bonsai trees. I'll put together a small list of popular natives that you can probably find in your local park if you were dedicated to not buy your tree.
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calenlass

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Re: Bonsai and You!
« Reply #8 on: 07 Jun 2011, 09:02 »

I have a wisteria that is currently maturing in the ground before I pot it this autumn. His name is Fuji. I am so creative.
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Hey everyone, I need to buy some new bookshelves. When I get back from Ikea and put them together you're all invited to the bookshelf launch party.

Barmymoo

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Re: Bonsai and You!
« Reply #9 on: 08 Jun 2011, 03:42 »

OHOHOH that is awesome because we have a tiny baby oak tree growing illicitly in the path (at least we used to, if no one has grubbed him up) and I could grow him! Or could I? I should read about this before I start taking people/tree's lives into my hands.
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There's this really handy "other thing" I'm going to write as a footnote to my abstract that I can probably explore these issues in. I think I'll call it my "dissertation."

Avec

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Re: Bonsai and You!
« Reply #10 on: 08 Jun 2011, 07:23 »

[Deciduous Trees]

-Field maple
-Sycamore
-Montpelier maple
-Common alder
-Silver birch
-Hornbeam
-Sweet chestnut
-Walnut
-Common beech
-Common ash
-Common crab apple
-Wild pear
-Common oak
-Mountain ash
-Small-leaved lime

[Conifers]

-Common juniper
-European larch
-Norway spruce
-Arolla pine
-Mountain pine
-Austrian pine
-Scots pine
-Yew

[Shrubs]

-Arctic birch
-Hazel
-Hawthorn
-Spindle
-Blackthorn
-Willow

There are obviously plenty of non-native options, they just demand different conditions and probably aren't found in your backyard (assuming you're a US resident).
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valley_parade

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Re: Bonsai and You!
« Reply #11 on: 08 Jun 2011, 07:27 »

-Montpelier maple
-Common alder
-

Okay. I'm doing this, just so I can one day chop down my little bonsais and make a tiny, tiny guitar.
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Wait so you're letting something that happened 10 years ago ruin your quality of life? What are you, America? :psyduck:

Avec

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Re: Bonsai and You!
« Reply #12 on: 08 Jun 2011, 07:34 »

A ukelele?
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bainidhe_dub

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Re: Bonsai and You!
« Reply #13 on: 08 Jun 2011, 17:11 »

Ooh I can do this! I have a little rogue Japanese Maple growing in my yard next to the big one. Also a bunch of regular-type maples in the backyard but I mostly regard those as weeds at this point. The Japanese Maple has like five little red leaves on it and seems pretty happy next to the steps until I can get a bowl...
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Barmymoo

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Re: Bonsai and You!
« Reply #14 on: 09 Jun 2011, 02:17 »

I just checked and my tiny oak tree was removed by my grandmother when she came to visit. Huh. But I'm sure there'll be another one somewhere in the orchard or wood or field, I'll keep an eye out.
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There's this really handy "other thing" I'm going to write as a footnote to my abstract that I can probably explore these issues in. I think I'll call it my "dissertation."
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