Bonsai – Garden Clippings

December 21, 2019

Imagine working on a sculpture that you will never finish. Never. And you can pass that task on to your children who will also never finish.

The art of bonsai is a commitment and requires a bit of each of the following: patience, horticulture know-how, dedication and artistic ability. Those who embark on a piece find the process very gratifying as they enjoy watching their plants become more beautiful each year.

China and Japan, countries with more moderate climate have long been headquarters for growing bonsai. Growers and artists will attend bonsai exhibitions, take classes, display their creations and compete professionally – all in the name of bonsai.

In Canada, our summer climate is perfect for growing bonsai, but the challenge is wintertime when deep freeze prevents us from leaving the plants outdoors.

For indoor bonsai gardening, choose and small-leaved tropical woody plant such as fig, podocarpus and shefflera. These can be brought outdoors in summer and placed on the porch or patio in a semi-sunny location.

The list for outdoor plants used for bonsai is long and includes beech, Japanese Maple, Juniper, Pine, Spruce, Boxwood and Cedar. Enjoy them indoors in spring, summer and fall, but be prepared to give them het from November to March. A greenhouse, barn or partially heated garage would be ideal. During winter, they won’t need as much fertilizer or light, and will need just enough water to survive.

The primary goal of growing bonsai is to modify the tree’s growth in order to keep it dwarf. This is done by controlling its climate, careful pruning of both roots and stems, restricting pot size and withholding fertilizer.

Sculpturing is achieved by pruning and bending the branches to a desired stem. Short pieces of aluminum or copper wire is used to guide the plants growth. Wire is wrapped around the branches and removed after a Season’s growth.

Those who are interested in starting a bonsai project would be wise to join a bonsai club. Our nearest is Detroit, and on the Canadian side of the border look for bonsai clubs in Brantford, Guelph, Toronto, Niagara on the Lake, and at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington.