Archive for the ‘Bonsai’ Category


It’s a question I often hear, and often answer as simply as I can, usually after asking a few questions.

  1. Is it an orchid that has just decided it doesn’t want to bloom in the next year or two???  (and you don’t care to wait!)
  2. Whatever kind of plant it is, is there anyone you know who might want to adopt your plant?
  3. Is the plant diseased or buggy?
  4. Are you willing to WORK on it, or are you DONE with it?

After we talk about those possibilities, we then go on to a possible solution.

#1-There are a few people here at Horizon House who will “adopt” spent orchids and bring them back to flower. What they do with them at that point is unknown!

#2-Would a neighbor, or family member like to have it?

#3-If it is diseased or buggy, it should go “down the shoot” into the garbage.  Put it in a plastic (or paper) bag and into the garbage.  It is neither recyclable, NOR compostable.

#4-If it’s just beyond your interest or appears to be dying a natural death, or you can’t find an adoptive “parent” for it, here’s what you can do.

If the plant is small, and in fairly good condition, put it on the shelf in the Service Room.  Perhaps someone on your floor will take a liking to it.  OR maybe the person who empties the trash may know someone who would like it.

If no one takes it…or it’s beyond help…

Allow the plant to dry out.  Take a large, PAPER grocery bag, dump the plant (with it’s soil) into the bag WITHOUT the pot.  Close up the bag and put it (carefully sealed) in the compost container in the Service Room on your floor.  If it is too large for that, bring it to the Potting Room on B-2 and put the bag into the compost container there.

Just so you know, this is perfect compost!  It is living (or having once been alive) material.  compost-handSoil is exactly what compost will become, and is a needed part of the composting process.

The pot remaining, if you don’t have a use for it, can be washed out, and put into the recycling bin.  If it’s a pretty one, consider Monday Market!


I hope this answers your questions.  Happy Gardening, inside or outside!!!

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We were gone to the East Coast for 4 weeks!  It was a wonderful trip, but I have to admit, we returned EXHAUSTED!

The plants all survived very nicely, thanks to my good friend Helen, who came once a week and watered.  The only plant I figured I’d probably lose was the Bonsai.  BUT, although it looked awful…lots of dead “stuff” in and around the little branches, I figured I had nothing to lose, so I pruned it and really just TORE OUT the brown clutter.  Guess what?  It now looks terrific!  Better than it’s looked since I got it!  I’m back in the BONSAI business!


If you look at this photo, it shows how it looked when I got it…more or less like a little bush.  No longer!  I’m happy!!!IMG_1432


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I finally got brave, took out my little pruning scissors and began to snip!  Scarey, but it seems to look fine, better in fact, in MY humble opinion!

Here is a photo of how it looked when it first arrived. IMG_1432

It isn’t exactly totally clear, but I hope you get the idea.  It looked pretty much like a little bush…a JUNIPER bush!  More of what I thought a shrub would look like than a bonsai.  I guess that would be up to me…so yesterday, I did it!

imagesI followed directions wherever I could find them about pruning bonsai.  I also used some of the knowledge I have gathered through my years as a Master Gardener.  I also tapped my information about doing espalier that I did with a few apple trees on the side of our garage in Connecticut.

So here are the results of my first foray into BONSAI PRUNING!

IMG_1491        IMG_1489At least at this point, you can see there is a little bit of a trunk showing through.  The top will have to wait for another day.  I don’t want to stress my little bonsai.  Maybe I need to give it a name?  Should it be a female or a male?

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Well, I’ve got my little bonsai sitting on the window sill, in the sun (that is the sun available in Seattle), acting like a real plant.

I have taken advice I’ve read about watering it.  I’ve set it in a dish filled of water so it can drink from the bottom, rather than watering from the top.  Actually, there’s very little room to water from the top. IMG_1468

Here’s a link that will tell you WAY more than you ever bargained for.  If you want a little less sophistication, you could try reading this page.

I’m watering mine about every other day and hoping that will work.  As you can see from the photo I took of it having a drink, I set it in a shallow dish, and the water does NOT get to the top of the bonsai pot.


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I found this fascinating.  It’s loaded with pictures and explanations of what this Bonsai group of Irish guys is doing at a workshop they attended.  Amazing.  It’s called Lyon’s Bonsai.  Do visit!

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Until I’ve visited the Seattle Flower Show, I’ll not be doing any work on my little Bonsai.  However, that doesn’t say I can’t go looking for all kinds of information while I wait.bonsai_tree_Wallpaper_nl7cp

There is a link here to a site from the Washington State University Extension Service about Bonsai.  It appears to be a good one.

Here is another site that has all kinds of information, including additional sites to visit.  It’s called the Bonsai Site.

Living in the Northwest, you might be interested in visiting the Bonsai collection at Weyerhaeuser.

If you’re interested in joining the American Bonsai Society, try that link.

At any rate, that should keep us all occupied for a little bit!

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I have decided that I have been blessed with a fresh palette in my new little Bonsai.

I think I need to make some decisions about how I would like this to look ultimately.  As you can see, it looks right now, like a little bush…not a work of art by any means.  Which means I can plan from the ground up with it…quite literally!  IMG_1432

I will need a picture in my mind first and then I will need to get the tools to make this “picture” work.  I imagine I’ll need to tie down a branch or two in order to have it go in the direction I want.

Here is a link that talks about the artistic principles of bonsai.  It is quite interesting.  I hope you’ll go there and read what it has to say.

The Seattle Flower Show is in about a week and a half.  I’ll track down a bonsai expert there and hopefully get some good advice. As I go along, I’ll post what I do, and what I’ve learned.

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It came!

It is a Cold Hardy Conifer-Juniper Bonsai!  It’s smaller, but very pretty.  I think the leaves are such that will be unattractive to black aphids…  I’m happy!  It should probably be outside, but for now, it’s inside here with me.  In the summer I will hopefully be able to park it on a shelf in one of our Garden Terraces.

IMG_1429Here’s a picture of it as it arrived.    As you can see, it has needles.  I have been doing a bit of reading on the care of this little guy.  It appears it should be tucked into a garage or shed for the winter.  I should water it every other week.  THEN I can bring it inside to sit on the window sill.  I hate to part with it.  I think I’ll disobey the experts and keep it inside!

Actually, the directions that came with it said that I should do just that.  Guess who I’ll pay attention to???

The window sill where it sits is a little chilly because of the window.  Hopefully that will be enough to keep it  sufficiently chilled!  You can’t really see it, but there is a little rock behind the stem.  It makes the stem look very wide.

IMG_1432Hopefully, this will become more apparent as the plant matures and grows.  We’ll see.

I am supposed to trim any new growth every week.  Hmmm…I’m feeling a bit intimidated by that.

It also says it’s supposed to get fresh air.  Maybe I’ll open the window right above it at night.  BUT, I can’t imagine that will be good for my other plants that require a steady temperature.  I’ll be thinking about that issue and researching it a bit further.  BUT, I don’t want my pretty, new, little tree to be buried in the shed downstairs in the garage!  I want to enjoy looking at it EVERY day!

Stay Tuned!

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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

search-1 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?

searchBut, 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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My son gave me a small Bonsai as a Christmas present.  I’m pretty excited about it.  I don’t know much about

IMG_1386Bonsai, except I find the practice intriguing.

When I lived in Connecticut, I had three apple trees espaliered against the garage wall.  I loved taking care of those trees and the fruit was superb.  I think Bonsai is similar, except I never did anything with roots on the apples.  I think I’ll need to do that with the Bonsai.

Interestingly, I had purchased a book giving  tips about dealing with Bonsai when I was at the Seattle Flower Show this past year.  I put the little plant next to the book so you can check them both out.  You can see the way the plant came out of the packaging.  It had been sent by mail, so it really traveled pretty well, don’t you think?

At any rate, I am now going to try to figure out how to keep this little guy alive and thriving.  I’ll attempt to keep you posted, so maybe you can learn right along with me!


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Joke for today


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