Small but Perfectly Formed

If you are fortunate enough to own already a ‘tree in a pot’ – the literal translation of the Japanese term Bonsai – what mystery there is in something that may have been born well before you and, with the appropriate care, will almost definitely outlive you!

Sadly, the vast majority of bonsai plants purchased from Garden Centres and supermarkets suffer from previous neglect – months of travel and lack of water, food and light. The best advice I can give is to repot these trees as soon as you can into a proprietary Bonsai growing medium and water and mist them regularly. Once they are established in this open, gravelly, free-draining potting mix, appropriate feeding can begin. The lucky Bonsai that survive will go on to give years of pleasure. Most remain evergreen indoors and may occasionally drop leaves in winter. This is nothing to worry about.

Among Bonsai enthusiasts, many of the popular Bonsai species belong within the outdoor category, mainly the Pines, Junipers and Japanese Maples. Although outdoor by nature, they can be brought indoors occasionally for display purposes. Flowering cherries (Prunus) and Japanese Quince (Chaneomales Speciosa) in full flower in early Spring are as breathtaking in your home as the bud-breaking Larches a month later. Autumn in the outdoors is typified by trees donning Autumn hues and this is also a very special time for the Bonsai enthusiast.

To get started, you can either grow trees from seed or buy mature trees and begin to train them in one of the recognised Bonsai styles. Growing from seed may take from seven to twelve years, hence the popularity of the tree nurseries and Garden Centres! Here you can buy mature trees that will look the part after a few hours judicious pruning and wiring to shape.

If you would prefer to own a spectacular Bonsai immediately, then the nearest specialist Bonsai nursey is the fabulous Willowbog Bonsai Nursery in Northeumberland ( The Scottish National Collection of Bonsai is kept at the Suntrap Centre, near Gogarburn.

Trees that germinate well and grow quickly, making seed growing a worthwhile option, include: Maples – Sycamore (Acer platanoides) Silver Birch (Betula pendula) Horse Chestnut (Aesculus) Hawthorn (Crataegus Mongyna/laerigata) Rowan/Mountain Ash (Sorbus Aucuparia) Ash (Fraxinus Excelsior) Larch (Larix Deciduas)

Trees from which cuttings establish well and grow quickly include: Japanese Quince (Chaneomales Speciosa) Junipers, Hawthorn (Crataegus Mongyna/laerigata) Willows, all indoor species especially Elm, Serrissa, Pomegranate, Ficus and Sagretia.

Garden Centre/Nursery trees that respond well to pruning and training from an already mature age include: Juniper (Juniperis) Pines, Norway Spruce (Picea Abies) Cedar (Cedrus) Yew (Taxus baccata) Maples, Beech, Hawthorn (Crataegus Mongyna/laerigata) Oak (Quercus robar) Crab Apple (Malus sylvestris) Small leaved lime (Tilia cordata) Blackthorn/Sloe (Prunus Spinosa)

Published by

Suse Coon

Suse Coon started life training to be an architect but ended up as a fashion buyer then civil servant. After some time out to bring up her family of three, she returned to what had been a hobby and entered the field of freelance journalism. After becoming regional correspondent, then editor of the orienteering magazine CompassSport, she formed Pages Editorial & Publishing Services. In this guise, West Lothian Life was launched, while Suse maintained a level of freelancing and wrote the award winning children's novel Richard's Castle. In 1999, Suse bought over CompassSport and found her time taken up pretty well exclusively with the two magazines. In 2004, West Lothian Life was expanded to form Lothian Life, however, the workload was too great. In 2006, CompassSport was sold and Suse concentrated on the web version of Lothian Life. Her hobbies include gardening, orienteering, sea kayaking and Tai Chi.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *