Adventures in Bonsai

Hello all. I wanted to share with you some of my latest adventures in the world of bonsai. Let’s go.

‘Bonsai on the halfshell’ – named by me

Bonsai is a living art form. It expresses the artist’s relation to the natural form of the tree. This creates a back and forth between artist and tree, a conversation that lasts for years.

Which leads to the question: what do a tree and an artist talk about?

The Pacific Bonsai Museum

Recently I went to the Pacific Bonsai Museum in Federal Way, Washington. They have a stellar collection of bonsai, and it is well worth going.

Each bonsai is lovingly displayed and cared for. Every tree looked to be at maximum health. Its really nice to see such care taken.

Taking myself out on a date to the bonsai garden. You may remember, I did this once before, after my last breakup. Well, I got dumped again. So here we are lol

One of the trees was a Domoto maple that had been growing since the 1800’s. The artist’s story includes leaving the tree with friends while he was imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp. The messed up history of our country can truly be found everywhere you look.

A six foot tall bonsai may seem like a contradiction, because bonsai are supposed to be small. But you can see the difference here. When you stand near the tree, it looks like it could be a hundred feet tall.

I also went to the Rhododendron garden nearby. Another very well maintained outdoor garden space. I took the time to do a watercolor painting of the small pond at the base of the garden.

The pond is green because it was covered in duckweed, and there was a sign saying ‘do not step on the plants the pond surface is not solid’ which is hilarious because it implies people were stepping into the pond often enough they had to make a sign.

Repotting Svani

It was also the time of year to repot my ficus religiosa, named Svani. I have had this tree for three years now. I named the tree after a good friend who I used to meditate with.

Repotting a bonsai means taking all the old dirt out and putting new dirt in. It’s intimidating how much you have to handle the tree.

I didn’t change the pot that the tree was in, just pruned the roots and replaced the soil. Bonsai require root pruning, or they will get root bound and die. This process should happen every few years. It’s been 2 and a half years since I last repotted Svani.

Since I now have twice the room in my apartment, I have been able to give Svani the best seat in the house, right by a north facing window. I had her under a grow light for a while, so we will have to see how she adapts to the sun.

On the left is Svani 2, a clone that has been going for about a year. I repotted it a few weeks ago and the growth is already starting again. Before long both trees will have a bunch of new leaves.

The trick to bonsai is stability and consistency. I’m terrible at both. But I’m trying. Hopefully this repotting works, and I can have some good progress to show off later.

Thanks for reading this weird blend of the personal and informative. How do you keep your bonsai alive? Let me know. I need all the help I can get!

Till next time,