Working on the Bonsai

Dear Liza,

Just about one year ago, I planted some birch and maple seedlings into a shallow pot and named it The Hundred Acre Wood. I have always been fascinated with bonsais and wanted to create my own tiny forest.

The Hundred Acre Wood, May 2019

Of course, there is more to bonsai than just sticking seeds in pots. Their beauty is in their perfect proportions and their aged, rugged beauty. Most fine bonsais, like those displayed at the Japanese Garden here in Portland, are hundreds of years old, taking generations of gardeners to create and maintain.

One of the bonsai at the Japanese Garden

The gentleman showing the bonsais told a story about a man who had taken on the care of an ancient bonsai and then died suddenly. The Guardians of Heaven asked him if he had arranged for the care of his bonsai and when he said “No,” he was sent back to get that in order before he would be allowed to pass away. A bonsai is a serious commitment.

The Hundred Acre Wood, September, 2019

My Hundred Acre Wood lives on my balcony, getting just an hour of direct sun a day, and it seems to be doing well. Since it is a year old now, I have started to try and develop the gnarled, twisted trunks that I admire so much.

Hundred Acre Wood, being trained to lean

Using a soft yarn to be gentle on their fragile trunks, I have given most of them them a lean, all in one direction, to look like they have all been subject to the same winds. I have tried three different techniques to hold them at about a 45 degree angle: yarn tied to a rock; yarn tied to the pot’s support; and a stick, wedged against the side of the pot. It’s like a science experiment that will play out over many years.

My bonsai is a good companion, especially in quiet, slow times like the current shutdown. I can lavish attention on it or just give it the required water, and it is fine. I can wander its tiny acreage and escape myself for a while.

I look forward to watching it grow and develop over many years.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Author: Judy

I am a new transplant to Portland from Salinas, a small city in Central California. This is a blog about my new city.

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