Bonsai: The Original Container Garden
Bonsai (pronounced: Bone-sigh), literally translated means tree in a tray or pot. However, it is a lot more than just that. One of the oldest forms of container gardening, Bonsai, was brought to Japan via Buddhist monks from China around the 12th century. (It is believed to have been practiced in China as early as 200 B.C.)
In the 1900s, the art form caught the West’s attention as Japan slowly opened to outside cultures. After the Second World War, Bonsai began to explode around the globe as Japan entered the world stage, and the small potted trees captured the hearts of the world.
Bonsai is a mixture of horticulture and artistic principles. Both aspects function to create aesthetically pleasing forms in trees that can survive in small shallow containers. A major misconception is that Bonsai is a type of tree. It is not. Bonsai can be any species of tree. It is the principles, techniques, training, and cultivation that are performed upon the tree that make it Bonsai.
A few techniques that Bonsai practitioners use to create miniature forms of trees that live in small containers are Root pruning, wiring of branches, deliberate and concise pruning, as well as horticultural practices to keep the trees healthy and vigorous. Any shrub or tree can be trained as Bonsai. Ordinary nursery stock is often the starting point of some remarkable trees. But one has to be patient. Bonsai doesn’t happen overnight.
Training from beginning to end can take many years. Most beginners will start with a few untrained trees to practice on and a few other trees at various stages of development. This way, an inexperienced practitioner can experiment with the untrained trees while simultaneously maintaining and developing a few already-started trees.
Bonsai is a lifelong journey for many people. Come check out our homegrown selection of Bonsai, pre-bonsai, and starter plants. If you have any questions while you’re in the store, ask for Matthew, he’s always ready to chat Bonsai with our guests.