It’s a Bonsai!

I took a ‘Bonsai for Beginners” class with my mom. I really had no idea what to expect when she asked me if I would join her for this class, but it ended up being a lot of fun and I learned a lot.

For starters most people assume Bonsai first originated from Japan, but it was really China were the art form of sculpting miniature trees in small bowls derived from. Similar practices exist in other cultures as well – Chinese and Vietnamese to name a couple.

What my work area looked like when I arrived.

What my work area looked like when I arrived.

The bonsai trees we were provided were indoor bonsai plants.

A survey of the supplies we were going to use.

A survey of the supplies we were going to use.

A close-up of the gloves, chopsticks and wires provided.

A close-up of the gloves, chopsticks and wires provided.

A close up of one set of pliers and two squares of plastic matting.

A close up of one set of pliers and two squares of plastic matting.

The first thing we were instructed to do was secure our two squares of plastic matting to the bottom of the small ceramic containers where the bonsai trees were going to be contained with two pieces of wire provided to us. These “roots” if you will, were going to help prop the tree up eventually in the container.



photo 1 (2)

Next we were told to take our bonsai trees out of their plastic containers and start to separate the soil and roots of the plant. (This is what the gloves were for in case you didn’t want to get your hands dirty).

After we were done doing that it was time to start trimming away! I decided I wanted to do a slant-style (or shakan) with my bonsai tree since it already had a natural lean to it anyway. Wikipedia describes this style as possessing straight trunks like those of bonsai grown in the formal upright style. However, the slant style trunk emerges from the soil at an angle, and the apex of the bonsai will be located to the left or right of the root base.

Other bonsai styles include:

  • Formal upright trees are characterized by a straight, upright, tapering trunk. Branches progress regularly from the thickest and broadest at the bottom to the finest and shortest at the top.
  • Informal upright incorporate visible curves in trunk and branches, but the apex of the informal upright is located directly above the trunk’s entry into the soil line.
  • Cascade-style are modeled after trees that grow over water or down the sides of mountains. The apex (tip of the tree) in the semi-cascade-style  extend just at or beneath the lip of the bonsai pot; the apex of a (full) cascade style falls below the base of the pot.
  • Root-over-rock is a style in which the roots of the tree are wrapped around a rock, entering the soil at the base of the rock.

We really didn’t receive that much direction for trimming our trees. We were told to look and snip dead pieces of the tree and dead leaves and to snip any parts of the tree that overlapped another branch or leaf. Other than that we were instructed to just do as we felt.

photo 3 (2)

Our finished products! Mine is on the right.

I will say I trimmed my tree significantly. Originally I didn’t want to but I had to change course when I realized that my tree was having a hard time standing upright (even with the support system we had created at the beginning) because it was a little too heavy on one side with several branches and leaves. So off they went!

It was a very interesting class and I am now the proud owner of a bonsai tree! I hope I don’t over water it and I can keep up with the leaf trimming!


Have you ever taken a bonsai class or had a bonsai tree?


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