Bonsai are dwarf trees that are cultivated to appear as small versions of full size trees of their type. The practice of Bonsai has existed in Japan & China for over 1000 years. Here are some Bonsai facts.
Bonsai trees are simply ordinary trees such as Pines that have been grown in pots that restrict their growth. They are not different species to full sized trees. For example if there was two seedlings from a Scots Pine and was planted in the ground and the other in a Bonsai pot the latter would grow to be a minature, whereas the one planted in the ground would be taller than a house.
The Ficus Bonsai Tree in Italy is considered to be the world's oldest bonsai, at over 1000 years old. It is on display at Crespi Bonsai Museum in Milan.
The word Bonsai comes from two Chinese characters meaning a tree planted in a shallow container.
After the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 a group of professional bonsai gardeners from Tokyo moved to Omiya to rebuild their lives and established a bonsai village. The area is now a place famed for its bonsai production and has an excellent bonsai garden and museum.
The main difference between Chinese and Japanese bonsai is that Japanese bonsai trees tends to be more formal and sculpted, with more subtle pots in terms of colour and design. Chinese bonsai, or 'penjing' often uses figuirines and rocks as part of the display, whereas Japanese bonsai rarely do.
The image is a Japanese White Pine bonsai tree that has been trained since 1625. It is on display at the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum at the United States National Arboretum. What makes it so special is that it was in Hiroshima, Japan on the 6th August, 1945 and survived the atomic blast that destroyed the city. It is thought that a wall protected it from the blast waves. Bonsai master Masaru Yamaki donated it to the American arboretum in 1976, and it was only in 2006 that the full details emerged when his grandsons showed up unannounced to ask to see it.
The UK National Bonsai Collection is hosted at The Birmingham Botanical Gardens. It was officially opened by the Japanese Consul-General Mr. Yamazaki in 1993. Some of the trees have been donated or bequeathed after death. Others have been purchased or loaned for display.
Bonsai can be grown indoors and outdoors, with some species more suited to one or the other. For example;
Indoor: Ficus, Hawaiian Umbrella, Serissa, Gardenia, Camellia, Kingsville Boxwood.
Outdoor: Juniper, Cypress, Cedar, Maple, Birch, Beech, Ginkgo, Larch, Elm.
Various companies sell Bonsai trees on Amazon.co.uk, to view them HERE.
The bestselling Bonsai book is Bonsai Basics: A Comprehensive Guide to Care & Cultivation. Available on Amazon.co.uk HERE .
Image credit: Ragesoss