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bon·sai (bone-sigh) n.

Etymology: Japanese, literally, tray planting; a potted plant (as a tree) dwarfed and trained to an artistic shape by special methods of culture

Also: the art of growing such a plant

Plural: bonsai

Bonsai calligraphy by Eri Takase


What Bonsai is NOT

by Bonsai Buddy

Please allow me to introduce myself... I'm Bonsai Buddy! I've decided to finally come out of the closet and say Hello!

Greetings to all you new kids on the block. I’m always happy to see more people take an interest in this hobby. Bonsai is a craft that combines art and science, which makes it very interesting. Bonsai Bruce has done an excellent job of explaining what bonsai is, so I won’t repeat any of that. I will, however, tell you what bonsai is not.

Bonsai is not instant gratification. If you need that, drink a beer. It works for me. Growing trees takes time, so please learn to be patient. Besides, watching them grow and develop is part of the fun.

Bonsai is not a $3 tree in a $4 pot with a $20 price tag on it. You will find such “bargains” in the local garden shops, but they are not really bonsai. You’re better off to buy nursery stock and cut it down (see Bonsai Bruce’s Ilex pictures), or go to a reputable bonsai nursery and pay the price. Another alternative is to find a club. They will have good quality bonsai and pre-bonsai material at a reasonable price.

Bonsai is not just a dwarfed tree. Growing a tree in a small pot to keep the size down does not constitute bonsai. It is, however, a good start. The tree still needs to be trimmed and trained.

For those of you who are still apprehensive, bonsai is not rocket science. It isn’t as scary as you may believe. It requires sound botanical practices, and styling according to the rules of bonsai, but it isn’t all that scary. Start with cheap plants, and plan on killing one or two. I have destroyed several beautiful trees, but each time I learned one more thing not to do again. Even experienced people kill a tree once in awhile, especially when working with a new specie. So shed a tear, learn a lesson, suck it up and move on.

~ Bonsai Buddy 

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