Words by Jessica Peace
You can’t afford a garden, or a balcony and you’ve got no space for a window box - we feel your pain!!! Do not despair, fight the power and garden small. We’re gonna give you a few ways to garden small, starting with Bonsai...
“Ahh, I feel zen... at one… I am training my Bonsai tree…”
Bonsai actually began back in the Chinese Empire, the aristocracy created small versions of China’s vast landscapes. Students stared into these tiny worlds to pull out magical properties. During the Kamakura period (700 years back), the Japanese concentrated this meditation by focusing on just one plant (Bonsai literally means ‘planted in a container’, anti-climax, we know.) and introduced concepts from Zen Buddhism into their growing.
THE ZEN FACTOR
Here’s a layman’s list of a few Zen concepts in Bonsai...
GET YOUR WONK ON
These trees are wonky - ‘asymmetrical’; they’re perfect in their imperfection, they’re allowed to flow out of themselves.
THE WRINKLIER THE BETTER
Think ‘Calender Girls’, there’s no botox here. The older, gnarlier and stripped of glitz and glamour, the closer to the plant’s truth and beauty.
Cop an eyeful of your tree - what is it telling you? “I am resilient … I am still and moving… I am like you…” Ooh see it!
Zen is not about constraints or limitations, if your tree is trained to be upright and rule following it’s just not Bonsai - and neither is it’s gardener.
Growing your bonsai is like thinking on a Zen riddle: a ‘koan’. If you’re doing your Bonsai right, you’ll be far from your daily worries and deep into your own enlightenment...
CHOOSE YOUR BONSAI
KEEPIN’ WITH TRADITION
Choose Pine.The oldest Bonsai at the National Foundation of Bonsai in the U.S. is the ‘Japanese White Pine’, it has been ‘in training’ since 1625!!!
DOING IT OUTDOORS
The acer, it’s deciduous - drops its leaves in autumn, BUT before then you can have red, orange and purple shades of Bonsai.
A VERY ENGLISH BONSAI (AND CHEAP!)
The hornbeam keeps it’s beautiful gold, crispy leaves hangin’ on throughout winter before it’s limey buds in spring. You can literally yank out a sapling (tree baby) from a park and start your Bonsai for free, like a little gift from Mumma Nature herself.
If you’re into your succulents and cacti you can bend your jade plant into a Bonsai and sit it by the sofa.
‘COS IT’S SOOOO SEXY
Wisteria. Nuff said.
Get Bonsai. Get Zen mate.