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Bonsai Talk

The hobby of bonsai should be a pleasure not a punishment.

Did your first bonsai die ? ? ? ?

Do you know the reason why ? ? ? ? ?

So many people receive a bonsai as a gift from their love ones. Bought with so much expectancy, the tree that is given as a symbol of love, will represent a moment of passion, loving and giving, for many years to come. Believing it will become a living sculpture of the receivant’s personality that can be handed down in the family as a heirloom.

But short is the treasured moments when the “bonsai” starts to die a few weeks later without warning or ceremony. First a mood of insecurity is experienced and you ask yourself where did i go wrong ? After examining the information received you realize you did exactly as instructed, by mouth or by leaflet. The tree was moved around from room to room but the poor tree only got worse and the leaves started to fall. A few days later the tree produces new leaves !!! What a relief you think. Suddenly you realize the new growth is a very light green and double the size of the original growth. Then a few days later the whole process of falling leaves starts again.

The hunt starts for someone who has enough knowledge and know how to supply you with advice on how to revive the poor tree. Whilst running around trying every bit of information given the condition of the tree deteriorates until death steps in. After the sudden death of the beloved tree which has been treasured so lovingly, you feel a sense of betrayal to the loved one who gave you this ultimate token of their love. With feelings of guilt, uncertainty and disappointment the death of the “bonsai” is announced with the remark :

“ bonsai is not for me, they die too easily on me. I don’t have green fingers ”.

But, if given the correct information and backup service in the first place, your gift of love would still be alive today.

Unfortunately most “bonsai ” sold in South Africa is not genuine bonsai. Normally it is ordinary nursery stock potted and pruned incorrectly at the wrong time of the year and when receiving it, it was perhaps already dying. For the novice it is difficult to judge the quality or condition of such a tree. Normal potting or garden soil is used. Keeping the moisture contents in the soil correct is a battle. Looking at a “bonsai” you will swear it is a bonsai but beneath the soil another story is told.

In South Africa, bonsai became a roaring trade to anyone who had read a bonsai book and thought they knew something about bonsai. In the meantime a variety of plants are sold as bonsai, just for profit and not for the love of the art of bonsai. Succulents, cabbage trees, various dwarf Conifers and also cypresses which are sold as “bonsai” is a proof of a racket in South Africa. Not to mention the normal nursery trees costing close to a hundred rand or more as “bonsai”. Whereby the purchase of the same tree at a nursery as a normal nursery tree could, be bought for, twenty rand or less. Most of the above mentioned trees are “made up” with washed river sand and a piece of moss placed around the stem to conceal the previous weeks planting to create a picture of stability, health and age.

When buying a bonsai tree ask the dealer to uproot the tree for you to inspect the root system. If he uproots the tree and the root ball does not fall apart but stays in the shape of the container, exposing the fine feeder root system, then it is almost certain the tree was potted the previous season. When the soil crumbles apart and exposes the roots, then it is almost a certainty it was potted a week or so ago.

The majority of trees sold by bonsai friend are grown from seed in an indoor environment specifically suited for bonsai purposes and are potted the previous season prior to selling. The ground cover we use does not only prove our method, but also serve a meaningful purpose which will be covered later. Bonsai friend also provides various services to assist the novice in the quest for information on bonsai.

As a result of the above mentioned, your bonsai friend have decided to put pen to paper, or shall i say, finger to keyboard, for what is my purpose in life if i gather all information about bonsai and die without sharing it with you as a fellow bonsai lover.

A bit of bonsai history

Various versions about bonsai history are told but the most acceptable version is, the roots of bonsai history started in china about a thousand years before the Japanese.

In Japan the art of bonsai was developed to the stage where the western world began taking notice of bonsai the first time, in Paris, at a world fair show at the turn of the nineteenth century and thirty years later in London in 1909.

During and after World War 2, bonsai became part of the western world as a hobby and most countries in the western world adopted, and adapted the art of bonsai to suit the local trees in their own country.

In South Africa we adopted the Chinese, “ clip and grow “ bonsai method and the Japanese wiring styles in the hobby of bonsai.