I first have to admit that I own a Bonsai. It’s a Chinese elm, Ulmus parvifolia, and I’ve owned it since 1993. I won’t be showing a photo of it because, well, it looks a bit down-at-heel. Of course, it’s winter here, so my tree has bare branches just now. However, even when it was covered with leaves last summer, I failed to achieve that perky cloud-pruned look, despite my best (but not quite dedicated enough) efforts.
People seem to have rather strong views about Bonsai, ranging from adoring them to positively hating them. There’s even a Twitter feed about hating Bonsai! Some arguments against are about cruelty to trees, mould spores, insect infestations and simply disliking the way a Bonsai looks. Positives include helping to improve the air ( if kept inside) and again, appearance. I suppose the patience and dedication required to own and maintain a Bonsai could fall into either camp.
I recently visited the National Bonsai and Penjing* Collection in Canberra. It’s part of the National Arboretum which is itself, worth a visit. The Bonsai collection has about 75 trees on view at any one time and I was entranced by them. (Obviously I belong to the group of people who like Bonsai, even though I lack patience and dedication). In the late afternoon sun, and with the Bonsai kept in an area with slatted walls and roof, it was difficult to take photos, but I have managed a few to share with you.
Having once owned about 400 olive trees, I was fascinated to see this 52 year old Bonsai.
If you are interested, you can click on the link below which will take you to the National Arboretum’s 3D virtual tour of the collection
*The main difference between Bonsai and Penjing is that Bonsai is a more refined, stylistic depiction of nature (often in single tree displays), whereas Penjing is more natural and wild (usually displayed in a landscape form). Penjing originated in China and has been practised for over 1400 years. The National Aboretum website has a history of Bonsai.
I wonder which group you belong to? Do you like Bonsai and admire the work that goes into maintaining them, or would you never want to have one in your house or garden? Perhaps somewhere in between?