Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Fig Bonsai

Disclaimer: I am no bonsai expert and I don't claim to have any special bonsai artistry. I've never even been to a bonsai show, although I'd really like to go. I have read about bonsai on the internet and own a book on bonsai culture. I excitedly photographed the bonsai specimens at Kew gardens in London, England, where I jumped up and down in front of their bonsai Amelanchier canadensis. Some would say I need to get a life...

I find the hobby fascinating and I have been putting my amateur efforts into this little fig tree. It started out as a 3 foot specimen at a grocery store -- three years ago. Actually, there were three plants in the pot and this one seemed to have the most potential. That was, if it lived despite being hacked to a few inches tall. I have been pruning and bending it in accordance with my own mini-tree asthetic for three years now. If anything, it looks cool sitting on the table next to my 6 foot tall fig tree with a trunk the size of my calf. As you can see, I have tried to make sure the branches radiate in all directions when you observe the tree from above. I wire the branches with anodized bonsai wire to make them grow more horizontally, giving the appearance of an aged heavy branch.

It is a challenge to grow bonsai in the far north, because you are limited to tropical shrubs or trees (such as the fig) that live at indoor household temperatures year-round, unless you have a greenhouse or conservatory. The temperate climate trees -- such as maples and pines -- need some sort of cooler winter period, but could never survive outside in our harsh winters.

Are you a garden-blogger-bonsai-grower? Are there any northern growers with bonsai success stories?


quu said...

No really succeed.. I had two bonsai - one were indoor plant (Ficus benjamina) and it lived happily many years, but at that time I studied, so..

Other one was pine tree - that outdoor plant is now planted in the ground. And I try to keep it small by cutting, but I don't bend it, because we can have over -35c degrees cold. Usually they bend with wire and that gets so cold.

If I had a old farm house with stable and all, that would be a perfect place to grow bonsai.

Gardenista said...

Yeah, I guess I never thought about wiring outdoor trees! I suppose the cold on the wire could be a problem. I'll be sticking with my tropical trees indoor for now!