The art of growing bonsai trees is a popular hobby that involves the cultivation of a small tree. Looking after the tree is a relaxing pastime that involves patience and care, with the aim being to have a miniature version of a certain species. But what is a Bonsai tree and how do you cultivate it?
Although commonly associated with Japan, the earliest mention of bonsai trees occurs in China, where cultivating a bonsai seems to have been an ancient horticultural practice. An illustration has been found of a bonsai tree in a mural at the Tang dynasty tomb of a prince, whilst reference is also made in a number of texts during the same period. It is believed that monks from China brought the practice to Japan, where it has been developed and is associated with Zen Buddhism. It has also became a fashinable hobby in the western world, increasing in popularity after world war two. The actual word ‘bonsai’ roughly translates from Japanese as ‘planted in a container’ and despite what many people believe, a bonsai tree is not a genetically dwarfed plant and it is possible to cultivate any species, although some trees are more suitable than others for growing indoors.
One of the reasons for its association with Buddhism is that the Zen philosophy believes in removing all of the parts of life that are not essential. Tending to a bonsai tree involves a similar process, where the most important parts of the tree are cultivated, allowing it to flourish. It is believed that Buddhist monks used the cultivation of the plants as a means to develop their meditation technique.
A container is used to restrict the growth of a bonsai tree, although it is also possible to grow them in the wild, although because of the many variables involved, this is more difficult. If seeds are planted, it takes some time for the tree to grow, so some people prefer to use a cutting from a tree. The idea is for the grower to sculpt and model the growth of the tree, making it a miniature version. Trimming the leaves and pruning the branches is something that is done regularly. It is also possible to use wiring on the branches, so that the grower can actually shape the tree. It’s even possible to graft on new parts to the tree, in the form of buds or branches. It’s important to be aware of the needs of the bonsai tree in terms of water and light, as well as knowing if your tree can survive cold temperatures.
Growing a bonsai tree is to follow an ancient tradition that requires time and patience, but with the right amount of care a tree can live for a long time. In fact, there are bonsai trees in Japan that are thought to be hundreds of years old. It’s a rewarding and creative hobby that allows the grower to direct and mould the development of the tree, and it is also a beautiful adornment to any room or apartment.
Some plants and flowers require careful attention if they are to thrive. TheLovelyGarden.co.uk are experts in all forms of Sussex landscaping and garden design, who have been building exotic and contemporary gardens for over 20 years.