Bonsai come in all different shapes and sizes, from large (60cm+), medium, small, mini, and super-mini (3cm), and can be created out of almost any tree. The life of a bonsai is quite fascinating, and I’m sure my gardening skills will bloom next spring after reading Miniature Bonsai: The Complete Guide to Super-Mini Bonsai by Terutoshi Iwai.
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Miniature Bonsai was just realeased by Tuttle Publishing this month and they were kind enough to send us a copy so we can plan what we’d like to create next spring. Actually, this book should be called ‘Super Mini Bonsai’ as this is the main focus; creating bonsai that are so small they fit on the tip of your finger!
Some may think that bonsai are a ‘special’ breed, but really, they’re just regular plants and trees; like goldfish, they grow according to the size of their surroundings. In this case, the size of the pot they are planted in.
I once purchased a little bonsai plant when I lived in Belfast, not long after Phil and I started dating. Alas, while in ‘care’ it didn’t survive while we were away on honeymoon. Tristan arrived early 8.5 months later and life has been ever so hectic since.
Last year at one of the Japan Society events the Northern Ireland Bonsai Society brought along some of their collection and gave a talk about bonsai both in Japan and on the island of Ireland. It was very interesting, and seeing the beautiful bonsai was inspiring.
When Miniature Bonsai arrived, I was at first impressed with the quality. It’s a hard cover book with a fabric binding and had some weight to its 80 full colour pages. It would be a wonderful coffee table book (I haven’t had a coffee table in 20 years, is that term still used? I always think of Jerry Seinfeld’s coffee table book episode when I hear that term).
The book is loaded with beautiful photographs throughout, adding visual detail to the written words, which is important as viewing bonsai is about the aesthetic experience, while growing them is another experience altogether.
There are 5 chapters in Mini Bonsai:
- The basics of super-mini bonsai and how to prepare for them
- Making super-mini bonsai
- Super-mini bonsai maintenance
- Displaying and enjoying super-mini bonsai
- All kinds of super-mini bonsai
The book takes you right from choosing the right tree or plant to take clippings from, how to do this, and how to transfer it into an appropriate pot for display. How to ‘train’ your bonsai into the desired shape…did you know there are actually 9 differences in tree form? From a basic straight trunk, to windswept twists, to having more than one trunk in a pot to make a forest; you’ll learn about them all!
Did you know that there are 4 types of bonsai?
- Small trees
- Flowering trees
- Fruiting trees
And you’ll learn the best species to use for each of these as well.
Miniature Bonsai gives such clear and easy instructions about everything along the way (even how to prevent and treat pests), that I’m sure just about everyone could do it, even me, and I don’t have a green thumb at all.
I really want to do this, grow a super-mini bonsai! But autumn isn’t the best time to get clippings (March – April is best). But this is okay, it will give me the winter to think and plan my bonsai.
Which tree will I use? I’m thinking our sakura and Japanese maple will be perfect.
- What will I use for pots? Either one of my little mini milk jugs from Toyama, or maybe we can make our own out of clay.
- I will have a look around and enquire with our local flower shop if they would sell me just the tiniest amount of sphagnum moss.
- What shape will I go for? Bold and straight, or twisty and unique? Maybe one of each!
So watch this space next year, and if everything goes well, we’ll share our mini bonsai with you! It could be an ongoing experience as it could take up to 20 years for the tree to mature! Wouldn’t it be a fun project to make for a mother-to-be, and then she can gift the bonsai to her child when they both mature; a first housewarming gift!