Bonsai is a 2000 year old living art form capturing the imagination. As a self-admitted compulsive gardener, I am no exception. I’ve tried my green thumb with a few and have some beautiful specimens. I’ve also had my rare casualty. But I love to hang out in what i call the Bonsai zen zone!
Bonsai is a hobby that is not for the faint of heart. Cutting, shaping, and man-handling frequently are tasks I do while holding my breath for fear passing beyond the point the plant can tolerate. But, the rewards of success take my breath away, and fill my heart and soul. Those special moments in time – the spring blooming of a wisteria bonsai, the fall leaf color of a Japanese maple – make all the effort pale in comparison.
Winter being upon us may seem somewhat gloomy, but it’s bonsai heavy lifting season. I love to go to the zen zone spending hours evaluating, shaping, and re-styling. It’s a bright spot for me each year and dispels the short day syndrome and post holiday hum drum. For outdoor (cold hardy) bonsai, the biggest jobs – pruning, repotting, and wiring, need doing – right now!
Cold weather sends your garden, landscape plants, and bonsai into their dormant season. The biggest bonsai jobs must happen while they are resting. Otherwise, stress may bring undesired consequences.
For clarity, bonsai plant types that are cold hardy are those that might otherwise be planted in your garden. Depending on your gardening zone, your landscape plants have a natural dormant season. Outdoor bonsai also need the cold season they would normally get, and want outdoor living conditions year-round. Fun days come though when your bonsai is at it’s peak. Enjoy showing off it’s beauty by displaying indoors for a few days at a time.
Popular and fascinating as the hobby of bonsai is, many misconceptions are alive and well. For instance, do bonsai plants live indoors? They do not, except the few tropical or houseplant types. Unfortunately, that is frequently not information provided by less scrupulous bonsai purveyors. Some unfortunate bonsai plants are actually glued into their tiny pots so as not to topple out. Not a healthy practice for the plants longevity. If you’ve purchased a bonsai and watched helplessly as it withered, it probably wasn’t your fault. With a little knowledge, success can be yours!
It is a busy time, and I’ve spent most of the last two plus weekends just pruning my collection. Next on my agenda is repotting and wiring. I’ll be at it until the end of March.
P.S. I must be truthful, the azalea bonsai photo (top) was taken at the Chelsea Flower Show a few years ago. I can only aspire to such heights of bonsai accomplishment!