Bonsai and other small trees.

If you are a regular reader you will know that we love trees and have many growing on our land.

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We let most of them grow as big as they want to but for many years we have also been fond of keeping some of them small, growing them either as Bonsai in a shallow tray or in a confined space of soil. We trim them to shape and enjoy gradually exposing their roots and growing them over rocks.

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Bonsai, literally meaning ‘tree in a pot’ is an old Chinese tradition adopted by the Japanese of growing trees in shallow trays and pots. Some specimens can grow to be hundreds of years old.

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One of our oldest small trees is this Hawthorn grown on a large stone in the garden which has a natural planting area on top. It is about 40 years old now. We let moss grow all around it to keep the roots moist and protected.

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Covered in snow in February.

We feed all our small trees with special Bonsai food because contrary to some popular belief you should not starve these trees of nutrient. If they are well cared for and pruned regularly they will reward you with glossy leaves, flowers and sometimes fruit.

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Outside the back of our house and conservatory we are lucky to have a relatively sheltered area that is perfect for growing slightly more tender trees like the Japanese Acers. We grow many different varieties with leaves ranging from green through yellow and orange to red. In the Autumn they all change colour and for a few weeks the area is like a firework display.

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We did write about a couple of our indoor bonsai a few years back in this post. You can see photos of this particular tree back then and how it compares to now. We were surprised to see how much it has actually changed in the course of three years. It can be very meditative to prune your trees and look at them from different angles. Traditionally a Bonsai has an angle it is supposed to be viewed from but it is nice to make it look good all around.

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We pruned the tree above six years ago and stuck all the long thin shoots in a pot. Three of them took root and we platted them together to create a trunk for a new tree. Since then the platted trunk has completely fused together as one. All that remains is a lovely pattern. Again, we have chosen to grow it over a stone to expose the roots. It still needs to grow a more defined crown to get a nice proportion.

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This is another Hawthorn growing out of a stone with two holes. It is about 35 years old.

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If you would like to try your hands at growing small trees there are numerous books on the subject. It is a very rewarding experience that teaches patience and appreciation of natural beauty. There is no limit to how much you can learn and along the way you will be amazed at the slow transformation of each specimen. We think that is something to celebrate in our time of instant technological gratification.

 

 

 

 

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8 thoughts on “Bonsai and other small trees.

  • My Pa happens to be a bonsai master in the Pacific Northwest. ‘Tomeo’ is pronounced sort of like ‘Tomayo’, so some people who have heard of him are surprised to find when they meet him that his is not of Japanese descent.

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  • Maria May: I enjoyed this post. I am embarking (haha) on a bonsai experiment with a few tiny red maples and some red cedars. These are 12″ high outdoor plants. Do they need a deeper pot to survive the winter, or do they get a shallow pot? I see yours were covered in snow. Is that a common occurrence in your neck of the woods, and does it frequently get well below freezing? Many thanks for the pictures!

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    • The main thing to be careful about is the roots getting frost as this can kill the tree. You can put the trees in bigger pots, bury the pots in soil if you don’t get too much permafrost or place the in a green house or under a sheet of glass in a box or small shed. Just don’t forget them in the spring! But really anywhere the roots won’t freeze. I always keep my bosai in larger pots than ‘recomended’ as this saves on watering two or three times a day in hot weather. Hope this is of some help good luck.

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