Bonsai: a little master

If you've ever come across a bonsai, you've probably been spellbound. There is something about these dwarf trees that conveys peace, balance, serenity and harmony just by looking at them. This is no accident, as these characteristics are part of the essence of their technique.

They are hardier and easier to care for than you might think, and they can become the centrepiece of your living room or office.

The origin of bonsai

Bonsai is a Japanese word meaning "tray culture". It refers not only to the plant, but to the complete set of the pot and the plant, as the value is in the aesthetic composition and design of the nature scene. Bonsai are not a species of plant, but a tree that retains all its characteristics and functions but in miniature, i.e. the tree can flower and bear fruit if this is characteristic of its species. Any tree can be transformed into a bonsai, with the knowledge and precise application of the technique.

Bonsai is an ancient art. Its origin goes back to China, some 2,000 years ago.

This miniature tree was a symbol of the eternal, the connection between the human and the divine, the earthly and the transcendental. The cultivation of a bonsai was related to eternity, insofar as if a person was able to have the patience, contemplation and dedication to cultivate it, then he or she was worthy of eternity.

Bonsai is almost a millennium old in Japan, where it was adapted to the Zen way of life. Specimens dating back to the 17th century are still preserved and are considered national treasures of Japan. Some are on display in the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. By the 18th century the art of bonsai, once the preserve of monks and royalty, had spread to the general public. It was not until well into the 20th century that it became popular in the West.

Curiosities about bonsai

- Bonsai were the trees of nobility, a physical representation of pedigree and permanence. If a family was considered to be influential and traditional, it should have among its treasures bonsai trees that were hundreds of years old.

- Bonsai cultivation is considered a form of meditation in motion. They require active observation, attention to detail and a lot of patience to shape the tree to perfection. It takes generosity and kindness for the tree to respond. This creates a bond between the person and nature, allowing you to live in the present moment.

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- If you plant a bonsai in the ground, it should return to its normal size over time.

- A bonsai can be classified by size and by design. By size they are classified as shito (5 cm or less), mame (5 to 15 cm), shohin (less than 25 cm), Komono (15 to 31 cm), chumono (30 to 60 cm), Omono (60 to 120 cm) and Hachi-uye (more than 130 cm).

- The tree and the pot are a harmonious unit. If you have a tree of a certain age and stature, it should be in a pot that represents it, which also denotes its age.

- There are traditional rules that a bonsai should respect to be considered perfect, although nowadays there are several schools that have developed other style guidelines:

- The trunk should be conical, wider at the base.

- The branches and leaves, the top of the tree, should have a triangular line from any angle. This shape must be respected even in compositions involving several trees.

- The branches should be arranged in an orderly fashion, alternating in the outer curves of the trunk.

- Bonsai are trees and as such should be outdoors. Depending on their species, it is important that they receive plenty of sunlight and are exposed to the elements and seasonal change.

- One of the aims of the technique is to make the tree look much older than it is, so wires are used to shape the trunk and branches. This gives it a leaning and thickness reminiscent of ancient trees.

- You can create a bonsai from scratch with any cuttings or seeds, but you will need to take a course on the technique. You will learn about root trimming, branch clipping, uses of wire, among others. If you want to enjoy the serene beauty of these miniature trees, just buy a bonsai online. You will receive a fully grown tree, potted and ready to care for.

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A bonsai is a perfect gift, because it is a symbol of strength, freedom and autonomy, strength and perseverance. A bonsai is an independent tree, which approaches perfection through patience, love and discipline. When it is given as a gift, it expresses wishes for long life, health and tranquillity.

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About the author
Ame Rodríguez

Dedicated to creating an army of cacti, succulents, poodles and cats to help me conquer the world. In the little free time I have left, I play, write and dance.

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