My curiosity has always been directed to miniature trees; the skill, care, and patience needed to nurture a tree to grow to its full potential while growing within a small clay pot, is something that has always intrigued me.
Gardening has always been a passion for me but I always worried about growing Bonsai trees, until early this year, that is, when browsing through a green house my eyes landed on this interesting miniature looking tree; still young at perhaps between 10 and 15 years old, it had green lush foliage growing on branches that spread out at the top of a straight smooth trunk. I looked at it for a while, but resisted the impulse to take it with me that day; my birthday was coming up soon and I thought that it would make a great present for myself. A few days latter, for some reason... I ended up at this same place and looking at this tree again, this time, however I knew it had found a new home; my gardening skills had found a new challenge. It was early in January and the tree had some difficult time adjusting to the new environment; the main challenge for me was to give it the right amount of water at the right time. It is said that a Japanese gardener apprentice is given a pair of shears on the first day of training , but not given a watering can for 4 years.
Bonsai trees grows with little or no soil and they take nutrients from water and from fertilizing, so water is critical for survival, and my Bonsai was feeling the effects of an inexperienced keeper. To my amazement, my tree survived indoors through the winter months; as soon as the weather warmed up, I moved the tree to my back yard and placed it under a canopy; with experience, I learned that watering is a four step process: once for the pot,once for the roots,once for the trunk and once for the branches and leaves. A nice layer of green moss was growing under the shade and it was an indicator of its overall health. I had been researching about fertilizers and decided to try fish meal; it comes in liquid form and is made with fish guts,heads and bones, the smell is putrid and I learned, by experience, that if you get it on your skin you will be smelling like dead fish for a few hours.
The fertilizing process consists in mixing the fish meal with water and then place the tree in this mix for a few minutes until the root ball is soaked throughout.
Summer was good to this tree and it thrived in the sun; growing many leaves, roots and small branches. Fall quickly arrived and I was fretting about moving it indoors once again, the moved was postponed to the last possible minute when the chill in he air became a threat; the first few days all was good, but one morning there were a number of leaves on the table and the tree was turning a sickly yellowish color. After a few weeks of nursing and worry, it slowly recovered back to health.
Sometime during mid summer I came across another Bonsai tree; a Chinese Elm Tree that became a companion to my other tree. This new Bonsai suffered through a lot of stress after the move indoors; a small white insect had attacked it and now it looked dead with bare branches and a quickly drying up tree trunk.
It was in critical condition and it called for quick action; I pruned off most of the once beautiful branches, washed it with water and soap and gave it a fish fertilizing treatment. A growth light was placed over it; now it was just a matter of time before finding out if it would make it or not.
Every morning I would carefully check it for signs of life, but there were none, until one morning when there was the smallest leaf growing on a branch; I was glad and kept on nursing the tree. Within a few days more and more leafs started to appear, it was like spring all over, only that this was the end of November.
Growing this kind of trees have broaden my gardening skills and brought a new perspective on the delicate life balance of plants.