Bye-bye, bonsai
August 23 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Bye-bye, bonsai | Friday, Aug. 23, 2002

Friday, Aug. 23, 2002

Bye-bye, bonsai

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

From the first time I looked upon the undersized, twisted shape of a bonsai tree, I have been enamored with the ancient Japanese art form.

To create bonsai plants, shrubs and dwarf trees are grown in small containers that do not allow for adequate root growth. The plants are dug up periodically and their vital roots trimmed back so that just enough is left to keep the plant alive, ensuring that the plant grows older, but not larger.

The trunk and branches of the tree are often bent into artful shapes, held in place by thick copper wires until the form becomes ingrained and the bonsai takes on the look of an aged and weathered plant that bespeaks wisdom and care.

I admired bonsai plants from afar until about a year ago, when I purchased a small, swooping fir that looked as if it had spent years in a howling wind. After successfully keeping the plant alive for six months, I dared to take on a dwarf holly whose bent trunk sported two 90-degree angles.

I bought books on bonsai plants and delighted in a gift of tools designed for their care. I watered the plants carefully and kept them safely inside through the winter, moving them into fresh air with the coming of spring.

My pampered plants sprouted new growth, which I carefully clipped, and I added a wire-induced twist here and there, taking pride in my artistry.

And then I went out of town for a couple of days, not thinking to bring the plants inside or provide additional water. The days were dry and the temperatures exceeded 100 degrees. My little trees wilted and died, and all attempts to revive them were fruitless (and leafless).

Thus chastened, I confess to being an unfit caretaker for bonsai. For now, I'll limit myself to the admiration of others' efforts, and enjoy the tall maples that are taking over my house.

Psalm 1, and the deep-rooted tree planted by living waters, comes to mind. What the growing tree lacks in artfulness, it makes up for in life.

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8/23/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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