Hey, it’s a PLANT! Actually, a tree-like plant, miniaturized, if you will. I say “tree LIKE” because it isn’t always a tree. So, what is the definition of a “tree”? Here’s the definition of a tree right from a dictionary: “a woody perennial plant, typically having a single stem or trunk growing to a considerable height and bearing lateral branches at some distance from the ground.”
Hmmm… That’s not exactly any bonsai I’m familiar with! Usually they (bonsai) don’t have a single stem growing to any considerable height, with branches high off the ground. It’s a small, tree-like structure (plant) that doesn’t get
high at all, nor does it have high branches. The whole purpose is to make it look like a very aged tree, that has been stressed all it’s life so it’s gnarled, stumpy, maybe growing on top of a rock, looking like it’s hundreds of years old. BUT, it’s not old at all.
The art involved in bonsai is to make it LOOK old. You do that by training (usually with wire), pruning, pinching, root trimming and root compression. I guess nature can be pretty tough! So, we give this little tree plenty of “tough love”. Are you with me?
I understand the word, literally translated from Japanese is: “bon” meaning “a shallow tray”; and “sai” meaning “plant”. So, literally, it’s a plant in a shallow tray. So far, so good!
Bonsai is also understood to be an “art form”, originally Chinese. It is something that takes patience and lots of TIME. If nothing else, it helps you to contemplate and appreciate the way trees grow, and how they look in nature. What is it that makes them interesting…and how can you translate that into your bonsai?
But, above all, bonsai is a tree, or a grove of trees IN MINIATURE. It can sit on your windowsill or table top. They can be grown exclusively indoors-or outside for that matter. Sometimes these little trees are really generated from shrubs, so they aren’t necessarily what we generally understand a tree to be.
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